Target and Toys R Us posted overall sales declines during the holidays.
The online marketplace says it has sped up load times and added new features.
In preparation for the holiday season, eBay Inc. today launched a redesigned home page that features more personalized content, faster loading times and the deals consumers can find on the online marketplace.
EBay also is prominently playing up the holidays with a countdown to Christmas ticker located next to its logo. When a consumer clicks on the ticker, he sees the site’s Gift Spot, where he can search for gift ideas based on the recipient’s persona—such as techie, sports lover or urbanite—age or gender, price point, category or items that are “uniquely eBay,” such as a vintage rotary phone.
“We’ve been working on this redesign for the last year, but we wanted to launch it around the message that eBay is the place to find great deals on gifts this holiday season,” says Andy Feierfeil, eBay senior manager of buyer experience.
That notion also ties into today’s launch of a group gift-buying service that allows several consumers to collectively buy a gift for another consumer on eBay. Feierfeil says the feature is now a fixture on the online marketplace, and as a Facebook application that allows consumers to collaborate on the purchase on the social networking site.
The redesigned site’s home page features product recommendations based on a consumer’s previous visits to the online marketplace, images of the hottest-selling items in the categories that a consumer has previously browsed, and a Trends on eBay graphic that shows the most searched-for terms on the site. The Twitter-like Trends on eBay graphic will be particularly useful during the holidays as consumers will be able to see what gifts other consumers are looking for, Feierfeil says.
The home page also features an “Our price beats theirs” box that highlights one item from the site’s DealFinder page. The box compares the lowest-priced listing for a particular item on eBay to its price on another site, such as Zappos.com, Amazon.com, BestBuy.com or Walmart.com.
“EBay is trying to show consumers where it has an advantage over other sites,” says Scot Wingo, CEO of Channel Advisor Corp., a company that helps merchants sell through online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon and through comparison shopping sites.
The home page features a left-hand column with 10 categories that range from fashion to motors to classifieds. The tabs replace the horizontal navigation bars that previously appeared at the top of the page. When a shopper moves his cursor over any of the categories, he can see various subcategories, such as “women’s clothing,” “men’s shoes” or “women’s handbags.”
Clicking on a subcategory, consumers can further narrow their search via subcategories depicted at the topic of the category page. For instance, on the “men’s clothing” category page, a consumer can select “athletic apparel,” “blazers and sport coats,” “outerwear” and other options.
The online marketplace’s move toward more structured data, which groups like items together, also is incorporated into the redesign. For instance, if a consumer is searching for an iPod, one product page features several listings of that item from multiple sellers. This simplifies the shopping experience because it means consumers don’t have to visit so many pages to see their options. EBay has made significant strides in structuring its data: 8% of the items on the site were structured at the start of 2009, now that figure is up to 20%, says an eBay spokeswoman, noting that the online marketplace plans to boost that percentage to 40% by the end of 2011.
The online marketplace wants consumers to get comfortable with its new look, Feierfeil says.“The overall philosophy for this redesign was consistency,” he says. “Many consumers never knew what to expect from the eBay home page, so they bypassed it. We want this to be as consistent as possible, while using the billboard to provide engaging content that changes daily.”
The new look also is aimed at providing the site with faster load times. That could boost sellers’ Google rankings, which, in turn, could increase sales, says ChannelAdvisor’s Wingo.
“EBay’s home page has historically been old-school HTML, but it looks like the site uses new technology,” he says. “Because Google is really looking at site speed in its rankings, this should help sellers.”