|Wed Feb 22 2012 12:30:22|
eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?
By: Julia Wilkinson
There's been much talk about how eBay is trying to be more and more like Amazon.com. This has its pros and cons, according to sellers, especially those of auction-style and unique/collectibles listings which "The River" does not offer.
But judging from the tests it's been doing with "split screens," that combine both auction and fixed-priced listings on one page, eBay may have found a workable way to get the best of both worlds. (eBay dubs at least one of these layouts "Side-by Side" in its "Streamlined Search" on its Garden test site).
Depending on which test screen you see, you may see a screen that emphasizes auctions equally as much as fixed-price listings. An example of that can be seen in one screen that came up with a search for the Blackberry Curve 8530:
This allows buyers to view both fixed-price and auction-style listings on one page and also to compare them side-by-side.
Another layout eBay has been testing is that which incorporates product catalog data as well as eBay user reviews. This one is even more like Amazon, and I think that the robust database of user reviews on Amazon is part of what makes its shopping experience so good. So in my opinion this is a good move for eBay, and they should do everything they can to encourage more eBay user-generated reviews. Now, this will only work in categories that have products that have such standardized catalog data (e.g. ISBN and UPC numbers).
(Granted, in the above example, there is only one user review, but there are examples of other screens with products that have more reviews). Also, the "Auction" and "Buy It Now" side-by-side is pushed below the fixed-price listings tabs, and also below the plum "Value" slot billed as the "Best deal from a top-rated seller" (the item has to be in new condition to win this spot). This screen gives a lot of emphasis to that "Value" slot, so its not clear that other sellers would be happy about this layout.
But at least one edge eBay does still have over Amazon is that they are still the place to find those quirky one-off, hard-to-find, and often super-bargain items. If they get too close to the Amazon experience, they're going to lose that advantage.
What do you think of the split-screen options eBay is testing? Have you seen any of them, or opted in to the test at the eBay Garden? Is this a good move for eBay or can it backfire? Post a comment here.