Exclusive Look at eBay Curation Features Coming This Fall
By Ina Steiner
eBay hired a Chief Curator & Editorial Director and will be launching curated collections and other social features that have been missing from its site, but it is keeping a lid on the news until it launches the features this fall. When eBay announced last week it had acquired Bureau of Trade, it was coy about what the founder's title would be in his new role at eBay.
eBay described Michael Phillips Moskowitz as a "tastemaker" who would help eBay's 120 million active users discover items that match their individual tastes and preferences, but said little else about his role.
EcommerceBytes discovered Moskowitz's title on his About Me page: Chief Curator & Editorial Director, eBay, and spotted some of the features coming to eBay this fall.
To understand what kinds of social networking features eBay will be adding, visit the eBay Profile page of graphic designer Joy Cho (previously called "MyWorld" pages when they launched in the days of MySpace) at eBay.com/usr/ohjoystudio. Cho blogs about design, fashion and food and is author of "Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community."
On her eBay Profile page, you can see her collections presented in very much the style of Pinterest boards. Her "Accessorize" collection features 17 eBay products (scarves, sunglasses and handbags); four eBay users "follow" her Accessorize collection. Cho herself has 39 "followers."
Since that is a new eBay account with zero feedback and no listings for sale, it's possible she's been hired by eBay as a consultant as it develops the curation features.
How a Seller Uses eBay's New Social Features
To see how a real seller set up her profile page using the new features, take a look at the profile page of eBay user shopmycollectibles. The profile page shows her picture and description along with her eBay feedback. It shows how many people are following her, how many collections she's created, how many views she has, how long she's been a member of eBay, and her location (United States).
The next section shows thumbnail pictures of her "Items for sale" (with the title, selling price and how much time is left before the listing ends), followed by "Collections by shopmycollectibles," a list of Collections and Members she follows, and tiny pictures of members who are following her.
What's important to note is that she links to products from other eBay sellers. Like Pinterest, too much self-promotion can turn off "followers," and shopmycollectibles may be hoping that by publishing interesting collections on eBay, shoppers will have a greater chance of seeing her name and listings.
Etsy and Amazon Beat eBay to the Punch
eBay launched "feeds" on its home page as part of the "New eBay" that users can personalize. eBay also recently revamped its Guides and Reviews feature, allowing sellers to better showcase their product listings and brand on Buying Guides to attract shoppers from social networking sites and search engines.
But Etsy and Amazon beat eBay to the punch when it came to launching collections and certain other social features. Etsy sellers have long been able to create Treasuries. However, when it launched curated collections last month called Etsy Pages, there was a crucial difference: only influencial tastemakers can create Pages, not regular Etsy users.
Is It Necessary to Add Social Features?
Are marketplaces best served by building out social features that mimic those of popular social networking sites, or is it better to use those social sites to drive traffic to the marketplace?
Niche site Ruby Lane uses its presence on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and its own Ruby Lane Blog to attract shoppers - and the marketplace said it's working. "Pinterest and Instagram as new comers to social networking are highly effective in driving traffic to Ruby Lane and its shops," said Palmer Pekarek, Director of Communications and New Business Development at Ruby Lane. "Social networking has complemented our ecommerce platform and generated traffic and sales. This includes Facebook and Twitter."
In addition, Ruby Lane buyers can create wish lists; pin shop items to Pinterest and Facebook; and Tweet about items with pictures, he said.
In announcing eBay's acquisition of Bureau of Trade last week, eBay's Chief Marketing Officer Richelle Parham said eBay would benefit from Moskowitz's perspective of "exceptional goods with a story" in house.
eBay buyers and sellers are already versed in using social networking sites and features. Sellers will likely welcome anything that can help draw shoppers to their listings, but may reserve judgement until they see eBay's actual implementation of the features.
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About the author:
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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