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Wed Feb 22 2012 12:30:22

eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?

By: Julia Wilkinson

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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.




Comments (8) | Permalink

Readers Comments

eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?   eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Feb 22 13:01:49 2012

It indicates to me that they are still struggling, even harder now, to keep their heads above water. There are so many other more important things that need attention and they are playing with this?. And, anyway, weren’t we told that eBay buyers did not want auctions any more, that they all now wanted instant gratification with BIN?—Sheesh.

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?   eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?

This user has validated their user name. by: Stockmiser

Wed Feb 22 16:46:04 2012

I just tried it out...not really very useful.

I did like how you can sort both differently.  For example, you can view auctions by ''ending soonest'' and fixed as ''lowest price'' - which gives you a good idea of what your max bid should be.

Since it's really only useful if the item you are looking for is widespread and offered at auction and fixed - it only goes to show that most of the time you are better off using the BIN and not wasting your time with the auction.  

I would seriously doubt this will ever be an active option.

I opted out after a few searches...

eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?   eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Feb 22 17:34:11 2012

I have only seen the split screen version for 1 item in my category.

About the only good thing with the split screen page is that it appears to do away with Best Match search results which was a long time coming.... One question though, what is the benefit for Top Rated Sellers if Best Match is retired?

Problems with the split screen page include:

The item boxes are too small to properly display necessary information and should be larger. If the split screen page is implemented, the entire top of the page should be split in half where item listings will be displayed so as to avoid the hard to read clutter.  This format is the electronic equivalent of Wal-Mart overstocking their stores to the point where customers can not get their carts down the shopping aisles.

It seems that a limited number of items will appear on page 1, making it even tougher for small sellers items to be visible. Hard to say for sure because the item I viewed did not have a large number of listings, so maybe the item display is flexible and will accommodate more listings.

Links to see all Auction listings or all Buy It Now listings need to be at the top as well as at the bottom of the listing section so that they are not missed by buyers.

The so called "Value Box" ( The shameless clone of Amazon's Buy Box) will be of little real value to small sellers as eBay will undoubtedly reserve this space for their Diamond Sellers and Big Box sellers.

I fear that eBay is doing itself and their sellers a disservice in that users may not want to wade through all the extemporaneous bull ship added to the search result page. Assaulting shoppers with too much information is likely going to antagonize shoppers not encourage them. User Reviews, items others looked at, etc.. are all a waste of space, and should be replaced with a link that would open a separate page for those that might find this information necessary.

Catalog information takes up too much space which should be given to displaying more items in the 2 column format. Likewise, the section devoted to what other people have looked at, and the section with customer reviews. Again, this information would be better served with a link to open a separate page with this information.

From the version I have seen, there is no longer a link to view completed listings. Completed listing information is vital to me as both a buyer and as a seller, eliminating easy access to completed listing view is a major misstep.



eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?   eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Feb 22 18:01:34 2012

Ric, this is another eBay “idea”, born of the same people who gave us the DSR stars rating system and the unconscionable interpreting thereof. You didn't really expect this feature to work in any way that would make it useful to anyone, did you?

It is an eBay manufacture, therefore, on the balance of probability, it will not be of merchantable quality ...

eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking

eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?   eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?

This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Feb 22 22:43:06 2012

It looks like the photos for those listings have been cropped incorrectly. I seriously doubt that *all four* of those sellers used mis-cropped photos, so it's likely that the folks who programmed this new feature are ill-trained in the art of using valid CSS. (No surprise there.)

It's just a hot mess if you ask me. Ugly. Too busy. Cluttered. Useless.

If TLC had a ''Hoarders: Buried Alive'' type of reality show for ugly and clunky web pages... they could do an entire episode on this page.

eBay just keeps getting worse and worse. Who would have imagined that such a thing was possible?

eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?   eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?

by: Ron This user has validated their user name.

Thu Feb 23 15:30:12 2012

What genius would auction a new Blackberry?

And who would bother to bid on it?

I just don't get it - can you imagine Sotheby's seeking new consignments from Apple?

The auction method is meant for hard to price, hard to find, second-hand items, antiques and collectibles.  Period.

This just belies the depth of ineptitude over at eBay.  Simply clueless.

eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?   eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?

by: mamie14425 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Feb 24 09:35:59 2012

Ho great.....another useless idea to confuse the buyers even more!!...don't like it at all!!  

eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?   eBay Tapping Best of Both Worlds with Split Screens?

by: mindelec This user has validated their user name.

Sat Feb 25 16:24:08 2012

ebay needs to stop "improving" things.  i know in the DVD category, i can sell DVDs better that i haven't entered catalog info for.  people look at that catelog landing page and get confused.  they don't see any of the info about the item, and in fact aren't even sure that they are seeing it all.



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