From the Editor
By Ina Steiner
This week, eBay entered into an agreement to acquire comparison shopping site Shopping.com for $620 million (http://auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m06/i02/s01). Merchants send Shopping.com a feed of items they have for sale on their own websites. Consumers can then compare items from various stores. If the shopper clicks through to the merchant's store, the merchant then pays Shopping.com (a "pay-per-click" advertising model).
eBay said it will add its listings to the Shopping.com service. This should be good for those selling exclusively on eBay, since this will drive more traffic to their listings, but not so good for multi-channel sellers and sellers looking to brand themselves with their own retail sites.
If a visitor to Shopping.com sees one of your items on Amazon, one on your own website, and one in your eBay Store, where would you prefer that the customer purchase the item? For many sellers, eBay would be the lowest margin venue.
eBay's impending acquisition of Shopping.com (subject to regulatory and shareholder approval) looks to be a move to reduce eBay's dependence on Google Adwords and to move into the off-eBay world of ecommerce.
The acquisition is not expected to be completed until the third quarter, so we have plenty of time to speculate on what this will mean for buyers and sellers.
The California bill that would regulate eBay drop-off stores (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m04/i29/s02) did not meet Friday's deadline for making it out of the Assembly. Assemblyman Yee's office said all parties have come together to talk about how to make the regulation workable and good for consumers. They hope to tack it on to another bill in the senate, so discussions continue.
In early May, we reported on a test eBay was running called, "New Way to Shop on eBay" (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abn/y05/m05/i05/s01). It allows people to browse categories, but rather than "drilling down" into sub-categories, they can limit results by attributes relating to the category they're browsing.
One example is shoes - you can select type (women's shoes), brand (nike), size (7), condition (new in box), etc. The interface is really nice when you are shopping for something like shoes. I was easily able to limit search results to the style, size and condition I wanted.
The new way of searching would not be possible without Item Specifics, those fields that sellers fill out, like "size" and "condition," when listing their items. (Buyers might know Item Specifics as Product Finder.)
It struck me recently that it is a shame eBay didn't communicate to sellers their vision of a new way to shop using Item Specifics. In fact, last Spring, eBay did a pretty lousy job of implementing the feature (remember category rollups?).
eBay's communication problems that were so glaring a year ago came to a head in January, and seems to have been a wake-up call to upper management. eBay has had a new approach to communicating with users since late January, from personalized announcements on the Boards to audio town hall meetings. eBay still gets to choose the medicine, but at least now its delivered with a spoonful of sugar.
eBay management says it wants to hear from users, so check out "a new way to shop on eBay" and let them know how you feel about it.
Look for a big announcement from one of the major players in the online auction space tomorrow. We'll cover it in Monday's NewsFlash newsletter - and we promise that it will get the OAI forums buzzing. In the meantime, we have a great issue this week, including part 2 of Andy Geldman's Storefront series.
Happy anniversary to Ron McCoy, who celebrated the 10th year of publishing the Antiques & Collecting newsletter (http://collectingbuzz.com)!
Thanks for reading!
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 email@example.com.
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