Highlights of eBay improvements announced today (10/22/13) Part I/II

October 22, 2013

ChannelAdvisor Scot Wingo By Scot Wingo

Earlier today at a kick-off event in NY, Devin Wenig, President of eBay Marketplaces, announced several new features.  These features are best separated into two buckets: engagement and utility.  In this post, we’ll dig into the engagement features and look at what they mean from a seller’s perspective.  In the second part, we’ll look at the utility features.

Engagement

The engagement features will help users have serendipitious experiences that result in them finding more products they love and hopefully buying more.

One of eBay’s challenges as it keeps up with the state-of-the-art in e-commerce from Amazon and others is their lack of a product catalogueueue.  Because eBay doesn’t have a product catalogueueue, it’s nearly impossible for them to tell what you like and make intelligent recommendations.  Also, since they don’t have control over their inventory and the inventory they do have tends to be un-aggregated into a catalogueueue, if they recommend something, chances are it will be sold by the time you check out the recommendation.

Sounds insurmountable right?

Well, what if you could give users an interface where they can TELL YOU what they want?  eBay has had wishlists, but they can be cumbersome and tend to be search driven.

Today eBay is launching Pinterest-style collections (pinboards) where users can use the Feed feature announced last year and other entry points on the site.  Here’s a quick walkthrough.

On any item you can add the item to a collection: (click on any image to enlarge)

Collections_1

You can name your collections and describe each item:

Collections_2

Your collections are summarized on your profile page.  Here is mine.

Finally, you can see trending collections by going to http://www.ebay.com/cln and eBay has hired some professional curators and a Chief Curator who will be populating a new area called eBay Today. Here are some trending collections.

Collections_4_explore_collections

On top of collections and the feed you can now also follow a variety of items.  For example, you can follow your favourite collections:

Collections_5_follow

When you follow items, you can browse everything you are following from your profile, and your feed will summarize and highlight things you are following.

eBay solves the recommendation problem

Viola!  eBay has solved the recommendation problem by leveraging their social network of hundreds of millions of users.  Why let a machine recommend something when a human that shares the same interests as you can make recommendations through a collection.   Even better now eBay has the ability to both – machines can use your collections and follows along with what other humans are doing to make much better informed automated recommendations.

It will be interesting to see if this new feature drives more interaction (and sales) as we enter the critical holiday selling season.

Seller action item

As a seller, I think you should go ahead and create 4-10 curated collections of your items.  Perhaps you have some gift ideas, or something for golfers, or certain sale items you want to highlight. Given the push eBay will make with this feature, it is definitely worth seeing what kind of social activity you can drum up.  One bonus is everything in the system is very transparent – you can see how many and who is following your collections.

 

That concludes the engagement features.  In the next post we’ll look at the utility items.

Written by Scot Wingo, CEO, ChannelAdvisor