|Wed July 14 2010 11:37:31|
Try, Try again - eBay UK Tests Shopping Cart
By: Ina Steiner
eBay will conduct a test of a shopping cart in the UK that allows buyers to purchase multiple items from multiple sellers, making it eBay's third attempt at a shopping cart. Little information was revealed in the announcement, which was tucked inside the Seller Release 3 changes announced in the UK on Wednesday.
The shopping cart is eBay's Holy Grail, and it has been trying to launch it for years with no success. In 2006, eBay launched a separate marketplace called "eBay Express," which allowed shoppers to buy multiple fixed-priced items from multiple sellers. eBay was ambivalent about the site - it did little to promote it, resulting in low traffic to the site. The shopping cart on eBay Express was extremely limited, only allowing buyers to order from no more than 5 different sellers.
When eBay shut down eBay Express in the UK in January 2008, it said, "Many of the innovations pioneered on eBay Express have been integrated into the main site, helping us to bring in more buyers and to provide them with a better experience, for example in search, checkout and seller standards." It closed eBay Express in the U.S. in August of 2008 with little fanfare.
In 2007, eBay again tested a shopping cart, called "Next Generation Checkout," on its UK marketplace that featured the ability to pay for all PayPal items from multiple sellers with one payment, though like eBay Express, it was limited to a set number of sellers within a single session. But while it was supposed to roll out globally by the end of that year, Next Gen Checkout was never launched and simply faded away.
Three years later, it's trying its hand at a shopping cart again. eBay said it would test a new shopping basket on its UK site that would support both fixed price and auction-style listings from all eBay sellers in a single site-wide shopping basket experience. "For fixed price listings, a new "add to basket" button will replace "Buy It Now" on the item page, and buyers will have to checkout and pay for the item in order to purchase it. Until the payment is made, the item can be purchased by another buyer. This should help reduce instances of unpaid items."
No other information was made available, and eBay UK said it would announce the "beta opt in test" on its General Announcements page.
David had tested eBay's first shopping cart in eBay Express in 2006, and the article helps to understand its limitations from a buyer's point of view.
Only certain sellers will be able to opt-in to the coming eBay UK shopping cart test. (*SEE UPDATE BELOW.) That means buyers trying to purchase from multiple sellers could likely be confused and frustrated if they can only add some items to their cart and not others - a big challenge for eBay to overcome.
Mark Mahaney of Citi Group issued a report this month showing eBay's troubling traffic trends - he expects Amazon traffic to grow 21% year over year in Q2 and expects eBay's traffic to drop 2% year over year. Even if eBay achieves a shopping cart that equals that of Amazon.com and independent retail websites - which is a big question - will it be enough to revive eBay?
UPDATE 7/14/10: In announcing its tests on Wednesday, eBay UK wrote, "Sellers may participate in these tests either by invitation or by opting in to beta versions." However, eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff wrote to me today to explain that the shopping basket test would be on the buyer side, so buyers in the test group would be able to use the cart with any seller. She said more information on the UK test would be announced soon.