eBay has struggled with poor-quality product images for years. Despite many sellers who take great care to upload professional photos, small, low resolution photos (sometimes covered with text), litter search results pages far too often. Fortunately, it finally looks like eBay is taking aggressive steps to turn that around.
Today eBay announced that starting on July 2nd, eBay hosted-photos will be free for sellers on all listing types (up to 12 per listing). Previously sellers paid between $0.15 and $1.00 to post multiple pictures. These pricing changes mean that there will no longer be a financial barrier to include as many images as possible, especially since images play a large role in increasing sell-through rates and selling price.
In addition, this Fall sellers will be required to adhere to much stricter photo guidelines. These aggressive guidelines should raise the quality of images on eBay dramatically. It looks like eBay taking a two step approach: (1) encourage sellers to post more photos, and (2) require those photos to be of high-quality. Here are the four main changes:
1. All listings must have a picture
No more listings with the all-to-familiar gray polaroids. Every listing must have an accompanying photo.
Image: an auction listing without a photo. One can only guess what the “Bird” brooch looks like.
2. Photos will have minimum sizing requirements
Under the new guidelines, photos must be at least 500 pixels on the longest side of the image. Previously, many sellers uploaded small photos that obscured product details and made judging true product quality difficult. This new requirement will ensure that product photos contain details that buyers would have otherwise missed.
3. No borders or “image graffiti”
Many sellers resorted to modifying images to make them stand out more on search result pages. Popular modifications have included adding colored borders to images and overlaying text on top of images. Although in some cases, “image graffiti” helped sellers to brand their listings, it generally resulted in listings that degraded the search experience for buyers.
Image: Sample search results for “USA USA USA!”, I mean…”usb cable”
4. Stock photos will not be allowed for used items (with certain exceptions)
For all used items, stock photos cannot serve as the primary listing image, except for listings in the Books, Movies, Music, and Video Game categories. This means that many more listings will have original pictures. Sellers can no longer simply upload a stock product photo—they must take the time to photograph each used item. Many sellers already adhere to this practice, but it will certainly impact listings in many different categories.
Image: Under the new guidelines, this used bike auction would need to have an original product image.
We’re very excited for these changes and the renewed focus on image quality. By the end of the year, eBay will host one of the largest collections of original high-quality product photography. Listings will be displayed with greater detail, from more angles and views, and without being obscured by gimmicky image manipulations. We feel strongly that product discovery in many categories is best done visually. As these changes roll out, we’ll be able to do an even better job of building beautiful new ways to browse and search eBay listings.