|Tue May 17 2011 20:46:02|
New eBay Search Feature Makes It Too Easy to Buy?
By: Ina Steiner
A new eBay feature lets shoppers preview items on search results pages rather than going directly to the item pages - see Wednesday's AuctionBytes Newsflash article for details. It's an "experimental" feature that shoppers must opt-in to on the eBay Garden page if they wish to use it.
The preview pane gives a glimpse of what standardized eBay listings might look like minus the templates. There's been speculation in the past that eBay could do away with customized templates and use a standardized listing page - I'd be curious to hear what others think.
What's nice about the new "preview pane" is that it stays in place while you scroll down the search results page looking at other listings.
However, sellers may be concerned with the fact that eBay has included Buy Now and Bid buttons on the preview pane. This means shoppers can buy an item without ever visiting the item page and reading all of the information the seller has provided.
I asked eBay spokesperson Johnna Hoff about this, and she said the information shown on the preview pane was based on what customers told eBay they wanted to see before purchase, and that those who want additional detail can find it from the preview pane in several ways: "see full details," "read details" (returns) and "see full description" (description).
"In the research we did for the development of preview pane, approximately half of the respondents requested direct purchase from preview pane so we are making that functionality available in the Garden version," Hoff said.
In a search for "Rolex watch," I noticed that when I clicked through to the item page of one of the listings, the seller provided information that the watch would fit up to a 7 3/4" wrist. On the item preview pane, that information was absent.
By including the Buy Now button, is eBay making it a bit too easy to buy?
It reminded me of something Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos said last week at the ShopSmart Summit. He was talking about providing information to shoppers that might make them think twice about buying a product.
For example, Amazon.com includes negative product reviews, and it includes messaging on product pages if the consumer had previously purchased the item - Amazon.com doesn't want the customer to accidentally purchase a duplicate item. Bezos said Amazon.com doesn't make money when it sells things - "we think we make money when we help customers make purchase decisions."
Giving shoppers tools to help them wade through search results is good, but letting them actually buy things without reading the details the seller has provided is not.
If buyers are unhappy when items arrive because they failed to read the listing details, not only would sellers have to take the time to process returns, it could lead to disputes, claims and poor seller ratings - and these days, with DSRs and open claims penalties, that spells big trouble on eBay.