July 2, 2013, 4:32 PM

eBay introduces a site search tool designed to bring more products into view

Unlike some other eBay innovations, Cassini has gone smoothly, an expert says.

Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Lead Photo

Online marketplace giant eBay Inc. last month rolled out a new site search engine, dubbed Cassini, to all North American users. While the move doesn’t yet appear to have a noticeable effect, it should soon begin to surface more sellers’ listings that may have previously been buried on the marketplace, helping more shoppers see what those sellers are offering, says Scot Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor Corp., which helps merchants to sell on marketplaces including eBay and Amazon.com Inc.

EBay did not immediately respond to a request for comment. According to Wingo, Cassini has been under development for at least two years.

Eventually, Cassini should also allow the e-marketplace to add functionality, such as improved product recommendations and indexing to organize listings in a catalog format, grouping them by product like on Amazon, Wingo says, “All of which should be good for sellers.” Unlike eBay’s old search engine, which was built on older web technologies, such as the PHP programming language, Wingo says Cassini makes use of technologies built for Internet applications, such as Hadoop, open-source software geared to organizing large quantities of structured and unstructured data.

Because the old engine was slow to index product information, sellers might have had to wait a few days for their product listings to start appearing in search results, Wingo says. The old engine  also couldn’t sort through as much data as the new one, meaning it might only index terms in the title of a listing, but not in the product description, for example. Adding more indexing will allow Cassini to pull up more results, helping sellers to be more visible to customers, he says.

Historically, eBay’s rollouts of technology have often been “tumultuous,” Wingo says. For instance, sellers were disrupted in a big way when the marketplace first switched from displaying listings chronologically to a best-match order. “Sometimes eBay takes a step back to take two forward,” he says. However, so far all signals point to a smooth transition to the new search engine—so much so that the change hasn’t even registered yet in any of the metrics Wingo tracks, nor has he heard any reactions from his clients that sell on eBay.

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