eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency

eBay Sacrifices Usability for Sake of Mobile-Desktop Consistency

Sellers continue to find fault with eBay’s new “unified” listing tool, but eBay remains committed to rolling it out to all users. eBay explained the rationale for the new tool as follows: “The new tool provides a unified listing experience across desktop and mobile web browsers, so sellers can efficiently list at home or on the go.”

We heard from yet another seller on Friday who encountered the new tool for the first time this week, and his complaints are similar to those we’ve been hearing from sellers since eBay formally announced it on January 19, 2021:

“This morning I went to list an item on eBay and found there is a new item listing page. Completely different than the previous one. 

“I called “customer service” at eBay and the old page is said to be retired. No way to opt out. 

“It is too clever by a hundredfold. Just about everything has a drop down menu to select from. I think it was designed to be done on a phone, not a laptop. 

“IF I use it, productivity will be down 75%. The old listing page was stupid and slow to use. This is just about unusable. Not sure where I am going with this. And I have been selling on eBay since Pierre was peddling PEZ dispensers.”

Here’s a roadmap to some of our coverage since the launch, including additional letters from readers:

Excerpt: “Listing items for sale on eBay can feel different depending on whether you’re using a mobile device or a desktop computer. eBay set out to change that, and today it announced the new “Unified Listing Experience” and made it available to some sellers. eBay said the new capability brings greater consistency to how sellers list across devices.”

Excerpt from seller’s letter: “I think more publicity needs to be given to the new eBay unified listing experience tool. We need a unified pushback as sellers to this horrible update.”

Excerpt: “eBay announced in a filing on Tuesday that its Chief Product Officer Pete Thompson is leaving the company next month. The news comes just 12 days after Thompson spoke to Wall Street analysts about the company’s vision for a “tech led reimagination” at eBay Investor Day on March 10, 2022. In his presentation, Pete Thompson reviewed some of the projects he had worked on, included seller tools such as a unified listing tool and the ability to add video to listings.”

Excerpt: “Sellers report eBay is forcing them to use a new listing tool that they say makes the job of adding items for sale more difficult. If you have a feeling of deja vu, it’s because the same thing happened a year ago. In March 2021, a seller had written in a letter to the Editor that more publicity needed to be given to the new eBay unified listing experience tool, calling for a “unified pushback” to what they called a horrible update.”

Excerpt: “Sellers have pleaded for weeks for eBay to fix its new listing tool foisted upon them last month, and last week, they reported signs of improvement in the tool. But last week’s update also seem to have resulted in a glitch impacting sellers listing books and music involving ISBN and UPC codes in Item Specifics.”

Excerpt: “eBay CEO Jamie Iannone told investors at a presentation following the company’s annual shareholder meeting on June 8, 2022, that the company’s previous strategy was not working.”

“The CEO said eBay was delivering a better user experience for buyers and sellers, citing videos in Stores; a new image listing tool; and a unified listing experience that has begun rolling out. Iannone also said that by taking over payment processing, eBay was reducing unpaid items.

Excerpt from seller’s letter: “I was just hoping (and what seems like thousands of other full time sellers) you could shed some light in the fact that it’s been 3 months now since eBay forced the new unified listing tool on a portion of us. It is a mobile app that was extremely poorly adapted to a desktop. Not adapted at all really – that is the problem.”

As we noted in April, relying on a platform’s own tools isn’t always the best option. Third-party developers often offer additional features marketplaces don’t necessarily offer, but they usually come with fees, leaving sellers to weigh the cost versus the benefits.

It’s vital for marketplaces to provide sellers with the ability to complete tasks accurately and efficiently on desktop and on mobile. But why not provide tools that play to the strengths of each format? Is it a cost-saving measure so eBay programmers need only work on a mobile-friendly design to which desktop users must adapt? Sellers and programmers, feel free to weigh in. 

We’re also curious to hear from sellers who’ve been migrated to the new tool since 2021 – has eBay improved the unified listing tool since you’ve been using it?