See this post for an overview of the series. As noted these changes were announced in late January and go live in March 30.
I moved up this post because eBay JUST went live with the changes so we can talk about them and show them live.
Background – What is Fitment? ( and why should you care if you don’t sell auto parts?)
One of the biggest challenges in the world of Parts and Accessories (PA for short) is what we call fitment. The basic problem is that parts can fit a myriad of different vehicle year, make, model, engine, trim types.
From the buyer’s perspective, you want to find the part that fits your car so ideally you would enter your vehicle: 1968 camaro for example and then you would see a list of parts (carburator for example). Then you would see a list of ONLY those carbs that fit your specific vehicle.
From a seller’s perspective, ideally you would list a carburator once and then tell eBay all of the makes and models it is compatible with.
In this post, we’ll talk about fitment from a PA perspective, but the same ‘problem’ can be seen in other categories when you generalize it (you have a widget that can work with a variety of things). For example, cell-phone accessories, video game accessories and any kind of ‘accessory’ or ‘add on’ categories of products. I believe that once eBay solves the problem in PA, they will roll out the solution to a wide spectrum of other categories so if you sell in any accessory category, you should follow the PA fitment progress.
Fitment on Amazon – the bar is set high.
With the Kindle and Consumer Electronics categories exploding for Amazon, little has been written about their PA category. However, based on our data it is one of the fastest growest categories on Amazon and is poised to take considerable share from eBay because of a superior buying experience.
As you would expect from Amazon, everything is pretty intuitive. Amazon allows you to store any number of vehicles: (expand any image to enlarge)
In the shot above, I have one saved vehicle and am saving another (my dream ’68 Camaro)
Amazon offers a nice AJAX interface that automatically knows the different Camaro models and fitment as well as the different engine types. Thus it takes about 10 seconds to enter the details for a new vehicle.
For example, in this last shot, I am shopping for a carb and Amazon has nicely narrowed the field for me:
With this experience, Amazon has really raised the bar on eBay and made what has historically been a very complex shopping experience, very simple for the buyer (there is some seller complexity, but well worth it for the bump in sales).
Now let’s look at where eBay is today and where they are going with SR1.0.
Fitment before SR10.1 on eBay – can you say train wreck?
Like most buying experiences on eBay before some modernization were listing based. PA is no exception. For example, as a buyer if you want a 1968 camaro carb, you have to enter: “1968 camaro carburetor”
The shot above shows the results -only 4 items match that criteria. eBay has over 21k carbs and only 4 fit a 1968 Camaro? That’s virtually impossible, and illustrates one of the two problems that you find with the current eBay experience from a buyer’s perspective:
- Sellers can’t afford the time/listing $ to list every make model/combo so a bunch of it is not effectively available to the buyer. The buyer experience is that it appears that eBay doesn’t have a matching part (when in reality it probably has better selection that Amazon).
- The buyer has to check the ‘search titles and descriptions’ this will find more PA, but you end up with a lot of noise -for example, the 1968 camaro search above goes from 4 hits to 250.
- So as a buyer, today’s eBay PA experience gives you too few or too many items.
From a seller standpoint, imagine you have a carburetor that fits the 1968-1978 Camaro. You can list it 10 times, you can maybe list something like “1968-1978 Camaro Carb” (but what if someone searches for a 1969?) You can list all the years in the listing and cross your fingers that the buyer will tick the ‘search titles and descriptions’ search box and sift through thousands of listings to find your item.
Fitment after SR10.1 on eBay
When eBay announced SR10.1, they announced that they were taking the first steps towards catching up with Amazon. In SR10.1, sellers can now provide complete fitment data to eBay. As a first step, eBay will have a “compatibility” tab in the listing that allows the buyer to see all the fitment options for the part.
ChannelAdvisor’s first live PA Fitment listing!
Fitment is on a schedule to go live in a couple of categories to ease into it:
- Lighting and lamps
- air intake and fuel delivery
eBay plans to expand fitment to all of PA by the end of 2010. At that point, if seller adoption goes well, they maybe able to implement an Amazon-like parts finder system.
Just this week (around March 25th, 2010) , eBay quietly rolled the functionality and we already support it at ChannelAdvisor, thus I’m able to point you to a live listing – screen shot here:
As with any new eBay enhancement, we are strong believers that sellers gain a strategic advantage by adopting the features early. For example, we believe that eBay’s search ending is already effectively indexing this information, thus giving you the ability to a) list fewer listings and b) get more traffic to the single listing – this will also result in a significant boost to your recent sales rank.
We are seeing this with variation style listings in the apparel and H+G categories -sellers that were early to adopt are eating market share from those that haven’t adopted yet because they have a super-advantage in the search engine.
So the strategy is simple – Fitment: Just do it! Even if you aren’t a PA seller, the fitment concept maybe coming to a category near you, so keep an eye on it.
In the next post, we’ll detail eBay’s Trust changes from SR10.1
SeekingAlpha disclosure – I am long Amazon and Google. eBay is a minority investor in ChannelAdvisor where I am CEO.