eBay to Launch New Social Features
By Ina Steiner
eBay is launching new social features along with a next generation profile page in order to "drive deeper engagement and inspire people to shop more." eBay announced the first phase of this process in October when it rolled out a new homepage featuring a personalized feed. Users "follow" (specify) their interests, and eBay serves up a visual display of listings that match those interests.
eBay will take this to another level this year with the launch of additional features that allow users to "follow" themes, collections and people - and eventually places.
eBay has always lagged when it comes to adding social features to its marketplace and has been ambivalent about social networking sites. Online marketplace Etsy launched Circles and Activity Feeds in 2010 and was the first major online marketplace to embrace Pinterest, for example. As a result, Etsy shops receive nearly as much traffic from social sharing sites as they do from search engines like Google.
At eBay's recent Analyst Day, Dane Glasgow revealed that the personalized homepage feed has led to higher user engagement and conversion. The feed, which is constantly updated, is a combination of eBay's suggestions and user's direction, he said. eBay has found that on average, people who set their feeds follow 6 - 7 interests and buy more and come back to eBay more often.
Glasgow ran through a demo of the forthcoming social features. By clicking on strategically placed "inspiration" links, eBay shoppers will see themes, which are curated groups of related inventory on eBay. Users can click on a theme to follow it on their feed. eBay can also recommend people to follow (buyers or sellers). "People are powerful sources of discovery," Glasgow said.
Clicking on a person that eBay has recommended brings them to that person's new profile page, which "shows who that person is." From the profile page, you can see what someone is selling, who or what they are following, who is following them, and the collections they've created.
Collections are groups of products that are curated by eBay users. Glasgow said, "Collections are compelling and interesting because users group items in ways that algorithms can't."
He then showed the profile page for Toys R Us. "Just imagine the kind of engagement you can drive if you're a large merchant like ToysRUs," he said. "A prominent destination on eBay to express your brand, highlight your inventory and show users what you're all about."
He called the social features a complementary path to purchase apart from traditional search based on curation, personalization, and the power of eBay data. "This is the new retail - inspired by you, powered by eBay."
On Thursday, eBay told sellers in the UK about the new profiles and told them they would become available in the coming weeks. "As a seller, you can now hook into the power of social media right from your eBay profile. Link to your Facebook fan or profile page, and embed YouTube videos. Plus, buyers see a larger profile image and larger images of items you're selling."
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About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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