eBay will move to a new "product based" shopping experience on a large scale this year to replace the current listings based experience - and it will become the only way to shop on eBay, according to the company's CEO Devin Wenig.
Speaking at a Wall Street conference last week, he talked about initiatives such as structured data and product pages (they are "evolutionary" and ongoing) along with his priorities for the year, which include customer features built on structured data:
- eBay's Guaranteed Delivery program will expand quite dramatically this year, not just in the US, but around the world.
- eBay will implement a significant simplification of C2C (consumer to consumer) selling.
- eBay will expand the Authentication program for high end goods into new categories this year.
But Wenig described the biggest change coming to the site as a move from a listings based marketplace to a product based marketplace.
He described the challenge for shoppers looking on eBay for a particular smartphone - there may be 10,000 iPhones, and now it's the shopper's job to find the right one, he said. eBay is looking to change that through its catalog (structured data) approach.
"In a catalog world, all of that is coming together and being compressed, and we're showing you the best (iPhone) for each of the unique aspects that represents eBay. Rather than just have a Buy Box - because that's not really eBay - you might have four."
Wenig said in that example, eBay might show four iPhones rather than 10,000: the best price for a new iPhone, the best price for a used iPhone, the best price for a refurbished iPhone, and "the best analog for the iPhone, which is an Android phone at a different price."
"It's that breadth - what we internally call "spectrum of value" - that is so unique to our marketplace, better than anywhere else."
He talked about collapsing the complexity. "Nobody wants to go through 10,000 iPhones. Show me the four best options."
"I think this is the year you'll really gonna feel us on that efficient frontier of choice versus simplicity. That's to me when it really starts to get unlocked. You're going to see us move wholesale categories into that in 2018, and that will be the only way you shop on eBay. So it's really exciting this year." (In this context, Wenig was speaking about moving a large number of categories, not categories in which wholesalers sell.)
It's a big gamble for the company, given Wenig's revelation that the new experience would become the only way to shop on eBay. And he failed to address what would happen to the 9,996 sellers of iPhones that don't make it into one of the 4 Buy Box positions and their counterparts in all of the categories where the new experience rolls out.