EBay Enhances the Shopping Experience

The commerce platform is making a bigger push into mobile shopping.

View Slideshow

Mobile shopping is said to be the wave of the future, and for eBay Inc. that future is now.

This story first appeared in the October 11, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

EBay has redesigned its Web site with enhancements to encourage shoppers to make ebay.com the platform of choice for both buyers and sellers, particularly when it comes to mobile commerce.

The new features were unveiled Wednesday morning in a presentation by eBay executives at Highline Stages in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District.

Among the showcased enhancements were Feed and a smartphone and tablet application called eBay Now. Other changes incorporate technology and imaging to streamline navigation on the site and allow for larger visuals, as well as consistency in page layouts such as when searching for items or reading about product information across all media platforms. In addition, eBay and PayPal accounts can now be linked to make checkouts faster. 

Devin Wenig, eBay’s president, said the changes reflect how consumers shop. “We’re at a real inflection point,” he said, noting that the advancements in technology, such as speed, have given consumers “unprecedented access to things they want.”

EBay’s enhancements are aimed at integrating both online and off-line channels so the San Jose, Calif.-based commerce platform firm can provide a shopping experience that is personal, global and mobile whenever and wherever the consumer wants to shop.

“Choice is everywhere. What matters most is helping consumers find what they want,” Wenig said.
According to Wenig, the search recommendations are no longer enough. Consumers “want a curated experience that isn’t intrusive.”

RELATED STORY: Amazon E-commerce Reign Pushes Retailer to Step Up >>

Feed is a new feature that allows consumers to curate their own shopping experience and “discover” items that are geared toward them. Users who opt-in to Feed can browse and collect items using a visual page similar to Pinterest, with eBay’s data collection capabilities culling items the users have in the past either purchased or clicked on when on the site. Moreover, users can edit their individual feeds by adding or removing product categories or items.

EBay Now is a same-day service that is currently available just in San Francisco. Consumers order items from eBay’s retail partners and the items are delivered within an hour. Some of the retail partners include Finish Line, Macy’s, Target and Walgreens.

Wenig said eBay had $70 billion in gross merchandise volume in 2011, with about 20 percent of the sales classified as cross-border transactions. And unlike the auctions of second-hand items that eBay was known for in its early days and still hosts, today 70 percent of items bought through eBay are new merchandise.

Richelle Parham, chief marketing officer for eBay North America, said there are more than 100 million active users and that more than $2,100 worth of goods are purchased every second. She also said that while users shop with their tablets between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., during the day many use their smartphones.

“The future of shopping isn’t about the transaction, its about the people,” she said, emphasizing the push into mobile. EBay stats indicate that more consumers engage the site on their tablets than their desktops. She also noted that in the past two years, the number of dollars transacted on mobile devices has increased from $2 billion to an expected $10 billion. In fashion, a handbag is bought every 30 seconds on eBay through a mobile device, she noted.

Perhaps more intriguing is the teaser clip Wenig showed shortly before the conclusion of the presentation. While it is supposed to reflect how eBay believes technology will change the way consumers shop over the next few years, it also gave an indication of some of the enhancements eBay is working on.

One section had a shopper looking at a blouse in a store window, and then being able to superimpose the blouse on her image via her smartphone to see how it would look on her. The idea is that if she liked it, she could then buy it on her smartphone.

While Wenig said after the presentation that the clip was just to preview some of what’s to come, he did note that the “connection from the [mobile] screen to the store window isn’t that far off.”

View Slideshow