By now everyone knows that eBay has redesigned its site to reflect a more Pinterest-like facade.
There are some keywords contained in its introductory post – The New eBay – that signal why the company chose to make the changes: “…cleaner, contemporary look and feel…”, - “…curate your own shopping experience…”, and “…discover…”
The advent of HTML5, jquery and responsive design, combined with the growing prevalence in the use of tablets and mobile devices has mandated a shift to the use of images, grid-based layouts, less clutter and more whitespace. In that respect, eBay is simply keeping up with the times. But that’s certainly not the whole of it. It’s the issue of curation and discovery that are of particular importance to me, especially where social commerce is concerned.
In our new book, The Social Commerce Handbook, Paul Marsden and I say that one of the secrets to unlocking sales is to focus on people’s interests and passions. According to a post at AllThingsD, ”Recommendations will appear based on your past searches, and the algorithms will change as you interact with the feed.” In making the shopping experience more personal, eBay is leveraging the interest graph.
Paul and I also suggest that one of the reasons shops exist is to encourage shoppers to discover new things. Shopping is as much about product discovery is as it is about buying. The opportunity for social commerce, therefore, is to assist not just the “buying” aspect of social media, but also the “discovery” component. I believe the new design reflects that paradigm.
What’s most intriguing is eBay’s take on the future of online retail, which includes three factors:
- The future of commerce is personal, driven by data.
- The future of commerce is global.
- The future of commerce is mobile.
Interestingly, the one point the post did not make – and that I would add to it – is that the future of commerce is also social.
Apparently, the redesign doesn’t include an array of new social features – other than the fact that users are able to share their feeds with others or follow feeds from others. What it does do is take the Pinterest model and make it “instantly shoppable” (to quote the AllThingsD post). When it comes down to it, Pinterest is for sharing stuff; eBay is for buying stuff. That’s the difference.
It should be noted that the new design is the latest development in an ongoing overall plan to increase revenue and profitability that was initiated in 2008 when John Donahoe became CEO. “Chief Executive John Donahoe took the post in 2008 and, shortly afterward, said he planned for a three-year turnaround for the company. Since then, eBay has worked to remove clutter from its website, improve its search engine and promote fixed-price sales and free-shipping offers,” said a Wall Street Journal article from earlier this year.
“Technology is revolutionizing the way people shop, and eBay is shaping the future of commerce,” proclaims the eBay post. In a day when older sites are reinventing themselves through design it’s good to see one of the oldest e-commerce sites follow suit. (So, where does that leave Amazon?)