This week, eBay announced the launch of some new personalization and curation features for the eBay Marketplace, and that it is expanding its efforts in local commerce, including the extension of its eBay Now delivery service into 25 new markets by the end of the year.
Will these offerings keep sellers around and buyers interested in shopping with the ecommerce giant once simply known as an auction site? Share your thoughts on eBay's current direction.
It has been about a year since eBay unveiled its Pinterest-like feed design, which it rolled out to users in February. Now, eBay is continuing in the Pinterest/Etsy-esque direction, launching five new specific features: Collections, Curators, Follow, Profiles and eBay Today.
Collections are described as groups of products that have ben handpicked by "expert curators, buyers and sellers." Curators are "top trendsetters across a variety of interest areas, who create beautiful collections on eBy to help you easily connect you with items you'll love.'
At least they didn't say "tastemakers."
The Follow feature lets eBay users personalize their feeds by following collections, curators or regular eBay users, as well as specific interests. The Profile is pretty basic. It applies to both buyers and sellers, and lets you share info about yourself, the collections you've created, your interests, and the people you follow.
Finally, eBay Today is a new page aimed at helping users discover "the very best collections of items" on eBay, selected by the company's Chief Curator and Editorial Director Michael Phillips Moskowitz.
eBay has 200 curators including: Alexandra Cousteau, Andrea Linett, Ashley Avignon, Benjamin Clymer, Billy Farrell, Brian Walton, Cecilia Dean , Chris Benz, Chrissie Miller, Darcy Miller, Eddie Borgo, Graham Hill, Janie Bryant, Jauretsi, Jen Atkin, Jeremiah Brent, Jon Rose, Justin Bell, Kelly Oxford, Lucy Sykes, Pharrell Williams, Richard Rawlings, Ryan Block, Solange Knowles, Tenzin Wild, Todd Selby, Veronica Belmont, and Zem Joaquin.
eBay tells sellers, "This new experience puts great new tools in your hands for driving sales and developing loyal, repeat customers. You can use the new collections, following, and eBay profile to transform moments of inspiration into purchases of your great inventory. We’ll also be introducing new features and an exciting new look for your eBay Store. From bigger, bolder listing images to new ways to spotlight inventory and share on social media, subscribers will soon have even more tools available to them to turn browsers into buyers. All sellers will have this option by the end of January 2014! "
I have to say, the discussion out there around these features from what I seen has basically consisted of tumbleweeds. One reader, however (commenting on this very article) makes an interesting point, saying, "The new Follow/Social Trending features on eBay are the silliest and most useless things to happen to date. Stop trying to make the web site something that it is not. eBay does not equal Facebook, Twitter, etc."
Is eBay in fact trying to be something that it's not? Must everything consist of social/follow features? Frankly, I personally don't have a lot of use for them on a site like eBay, but perhaps a substantial amount of people do. It will be interesting to see how the enormous eBay community engages with these features over time. Will sellers really see a significant difference?
The local stuff, on the other hand, may just turn out to be huge for businesses and consumers alike. We're talking rapid delivery of products, and it's only the very early days of this roll-out.
eBay Now was first introduced a year ago. It lets shoppers have products from local stores delivered to them in an hour or less. As mentioned, it's expanding into 25 new markets. It goes live in Chicago on Tuesday, and then in Dallas later this year. This will be followed by unspecified international markets, including London early next year.
eBay also plans to offer eBay Now same-day delivery for local goods on eBay.com in cities that have the service. eBay will also release scheduled delivery for eBay Now so that customers can buy something and pick an appropriate time to have it delivered to them.
In addition to that, eBay is letting shoppers order online and pick up products at local stores. This particular feature is live immediately for Toys 'R' Us and Best Buy, and will be for other retailers in the near future.
Finally, the company announced that it has acquired Shutl, a marketplace that utilizes a network of couriers to deliver local goods on the same day. The pick-up should help eBay its expansion efforts for eBay Now.
“The world is changing, with the lines between online and offline commerce blurring and the expectations of buyers and sellers rising rapidly,” said Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces. “With eBay’s latest steps, we are bringing together the best of what people need from a shopping experience – speed and convenience – with things people love about shopping, like discovery and inspiration.”
“eBay is a technology company; we understand that retailers, brands and sellers of all sizes need a new set of solutions to deliver the kinds of experiences consumers expect in today’s environment,” he said. “We’re making fundamental changes to our business that put us in a position to be the right partner for merchants and the best place for people to shop – anytime, anywhere and on any device.”
Are you an eBay seller? We'd love to hear your reaction to eBay's announcements. If you're not a seller, do any of the announcements make you want to reconsider? Share your thoughts in the comments.