An interesting eBay search test and Apple vs. PayPal?

August 4, 2009

ChannelAdvisor ChannelAdvisor By ChannelAdvisor
Two interesting tidbits today.  First, I was doing some broad searches on eBay today and in some cases was seeing this result set:
Search_results
What this treatment does is take a broad search (ipod in this example) and it injects a category filter below the first two results.  This seems to be the kind of test you would run if you had found that people aren’t using the left nav to do category filtering and you want to put it right up in their faces.   A couple of thoughts:
  1. Whether you like the treatment or not – it’s good to see eBay is starting to test some more dramatic changes to search than we’ve seen in the past.
  2. I’ve long thought that eBay’s search engine is at its worst for these broad terms (ipod, nintendo wii, etc.) where there are so many listings that typically what you are looking for isn’t in the first 20-50 results.
  3. I’ve been criticizing eBay for not changing search enough in SR1 with SR2 they are ramping up the changes and this is another datapoint that they are starting to (finally!!)really tackle their biggest weakness.
Apple to complete with Paypal?
This article in Silicon Alley today caused lots of speculation around Apple entering the payments space.  You have to admit it is interesting to think about the potential for Apple to come in and compete with Paypal.  I like the iPhone aspect as well – what if you could pay for goods on and offline with it?  They do this kind of stuff in Japan all the time and it hasn’t worked it’s way to the US because we lack the infrastructure.  So to put it in perspective we have these companies currently competing or looking to compet with Paypal:
  1. Google Google Checkout is largely on hiatus right now, but could be an area Google revisits should it decide that ecommerce is important (Bing is going to force them there sooner rather than later.
  2. Amazon – CBA (Checkout By Amazon) is alive and kicking and slowly being added to
  3. Facebook – Is rumored to be expanding their ‘virtual goods’ payment system to other oline purchases.  Boy wouldn’t retailers love access to that user base?
    1.  Within social, the social games are raking in the cash and they use a whole new class of payment system (good article here)
  4. Twitter –  In their leaked documents to TechCrunch, I found it interesting that one of the areas they were looking at is payments. FYI – there’s already tweetpay.
  5. Apple –  Now we can put them on the list.
The only big internet name missing from this list is Microsoft/Yahoo!. With their new marriage and focus on ecommerce, a deeper partnership with Paypal or a competing system seems like an interesting option to pursue.
SeekingAlpha Disclosure – I am long Amazon and Google.  eBay is an investor in ChannelAdvisor