Usually, I write about services that help sellers sell products online. But there's another type of activity that comes at ecommerce from a different angle: helping shoppers shop smarter.
That's what Ryan Sit does through his eBay shopping tool, PicClick. Anyone who's shopped on eBay knows that it can be time-consuming, scrolling through page after page of listings with only thumbnails and brief descriptions to guide you.
PicClick gives you another, more visually oriented way to search and browse eBay's voluminous catalog.
When you do a search on PicClick, you get a much different presentation of search results. Instead of having to scroll down vertically through the results, as you do on eBay, PicClick takes advantage of a laptop or tablet's width and arranges thumbnails horizontally. At a glance, you see a dozen or more results. In contrast, on eBay you might see two or three results before starting to scroll. The thumbnails are in HD resolution so they are clearer than on eBay.
The search results are subtly different, too. I did a search for "fountain pen" on both eBay and PicClick. The first few results are the same. But the Promoted listings that appear on eBay don't appear on PicClick. This is good, because the promoted results are often low-quality, low-budget imports that are of no value (in this fountain pen collector's humble opinion). When you click on a thumbnail, you get a large photo and a brief description. "Similar items" are arranged in rows of thumbnails beneath, and they continue to appear as long as you want to scroll down.
"The whole idea is that the human brain can process imagery much faster than text," explains PicClick founder Ryan Sit. "If you are looking for a "red dress," the human brain can find a "red dress" much faster in 100 images than 100 words."
eBay is a perfect candidate for match for improved visual search because there tend to be dozens or even hundreds of similar items - a fact well-known to buyers and sellers alike. "When shopping on eBay the more product photos you can browse through in a faster time, the better chance you will find what you are looking for at the best price," he adds.
Once you search eBay using PicClick, you'll see a drop down menu on the left side labeled "All Listings" - you can filter searches with the following options:
But It Now
Free shipping only
Returns Accepted Only
Completed Sold & Unsold
There's another drop-down menu on the right side of the page labeled "Sort by Best Match." This gives you the ability to sort using the following options:
You can also use a "zoom" slider to make the thumbnail images bigger or smaller on your screen.
Ryan Sit, 38, now lives in San Diego, CA. After receiving his BS and MS in Computer Science from UCSD, he turned his Master's thesis into his first funded startup. He gradually learned almost all areas of running an Internet business. In subsequent years, he helped found and invested in Dollar Shave Club and was VP of Social Products at MySpace.
In 2006, Sit created ListPic.com, a photo-optimized browsing experience for Craigslist. "It was like an iPhoto view for the web," he comments. "After ListPic grew to drive 1% of Craigslist's traffic, Craigslist banned it to keep control of its user base." (You can read more in this 2007 article in Wired magazine.)
About a year later Sit translated ListPic's innovations to eBay. PicClick was launched in 2008. Not only does eBay not object to the visual search service, but PicClick is a certified eBay Compatible Applications and licensed to work directly with the eBay platform. Sit is also part of the eBay Partner Network Advisory Board.
PicClick has no ads; it makes money through affiliate sales commissions that bring eBay "additive sales" - purchases made by new and reactivated users.
In fact, Sit says, "eBay is very happy with the amount and quality of users we send to it." I can see in my back end the number of new sales and new or reactivated users we bring to eBay. It is a large amount and eBay is very happy with the amount and quality of users we send."
Those buyers come from around the world, because PicClick covers many of eBay's international marketplaces, including Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and the UK. At one time, PicClick searches covered Amazon as well.
"We used to do Amazon, but we removed it," explains Sit. "Amazon made some changes that made it harder for it to work, and most people used the eBay section on our website since eBay has more one-offs, so it works better with our visual search product."
Since he's been working with (and trying to build upon) eBay's design, Sit has become familiar with how eBay has changed in recent years. "eBay hasn't improved much through the years," he comments. "This is because they are hampered with a very large user base where innovation can be hard."
PicClick supported mobile devices and was fully responsive before eBay, he says. "We provide a number of filters and sorts eBay doesn't have like Sort by Most Watched. We provide up to 50 similar items for each eBay listing, allowing people to shop more alternatives that are ranked better than on eBay itself."
Through the years PicClick has gone through six complete redesigns, almost one per year, adds Sit. "The most recent added search suggestions, additional sorts and filters, and a logged-in option so users can see their saved searches. Photos load faster, too." The features are those a shopper would presumably want, and not surprisingly, Sit shops on eBay himself.
"I probably do more buying than selling on eBay. I usually look at old Casio calculator watches that are discontinued, plus sneakers, and I browse cars for fun."