The stand-out feature of the redesign is a new “feed”, where users can select their interests to see a scrolling list of large photos of products currently available that they may be interested in. It will be then be populated with more tailored content as users search and buy across the site.
Of course, visually, this will work a lot better for people with interests in clothes or guitars than those who want to get bargains on computer games or DVDs, but for either case, Ebay will become a much more pleasant home to inhabit.
The feed looks more than a bit familiar. In fact it looks the spitting image of Pinterest. Technology blog The Next Web went as far as asking Ebay whether it had “been inspired by” (read: copied) Pinterest’s design. The auction site rebutted the claim, saying the redesign stems from observations about how people shop in store, where they browse, how they shop online and where they search.
Ebay admitted it needed a change to bring it up to date as users demand more convenient ways to shop online and mobile. Devin Wenig, Ebay president, said the company believes the future of commerce is data, driven by data.
The redesign, which will begin to roll out in the US and then the UK over the coming months, is certainly contemporary. Items on the site are now more like decent attention-grabbing display ads – or even high street window displays – than unified listings. Ebay won’t look like the flea market of the internet for much longer.
Pinterest has soared to success because of its unrelenting focus on discovery. Ads work so well on Google because people are searching with a purchase intent. Ebay is striving to harness the best of both to achieve a winning combination.
Ebay faces scores of competition across the web, with Amazon’s Marketplace being one of its biggest threats. It hopes that by building in a Feed structure, similar to that of social media, people will be more inclined to visit Ebay for inspiration – or even entertainment – rather than when they want a cheap motor.
And hopefully, because users already have their PayPal details plugged in to their Ebay accounts, they are only a swipe or a click away from purchase.
Eventually it won’t just replicate social media aesthetically, it will invite users to share their Feeds with friends – and so the Pinterest references will inevitably continue.
For brands who have their own stores on Ebay, the new site represents a huge new opportunity for visibility – particularly for those with beautiful products that lend themselves to large hi-resolution images.
And ultimately it is those brands who will help shape Ebay’s future, away from perceptions that it sells dodgy second hand knock offs to the world’s global superstore that stocks beautiful products from around the globe that you may never previously have known existed but are just moments away from getting delivered to your door.