eBay Re-designing Site, Going Pinterest-y

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eBay has announced that it will be redesigning its site and including a new product feed that will be more like Pinterest with it’s photo collage of items rather than the traditional eBay list-o-goods. The company has not substantially redesigned its website in years.

So far, eBay has run under the model of “if it works, don’t fix it.” eBay’s website has undergone only small, internalized changes and has remained basically the same for over a decade. Some technology in the background and a few services have been added during that time, but overall, the look and user experience on the site have largely remained static.

Now, they plan to shake it up.

Sites now seem to be going to a more touch-screen-friendly layout and the Pinterest model of layout seems to be the most popular choice. The website front-end most users have grown used to over the years will not change so drastically that we will have to completely re-learn how to use the world’s most popular online auction house. What will change are the web-based product feed returns ñ pages that are emailed or served as HTML pages to the browser featuring the latest products in various categories.

Many sellers use those feeds to eyeball what the competition is doing while many users opt for those returns when searching for specific items or types of items. Rather than the straight list of small thumbnail photos and auction title and description line returns, though, those pages will instead become a columnar block of photo-centric listings much like Pinterest shows a photo collage of favorites.

Is this a good idea? Time will probably have to be the one to tell, but given the growing number of mobile users to sites like eBay, the move towards a more touch-friendly list of search or product returns is probably a smart one. While traditionalists will probably prefer the old line-item listings, with Windows 8 coming out soon and touch-based tablets and phones taking over the market, this will not take long to become popular in my view.

The question is whether it will result in more sales. It’s been well-proven by those who study eBay that photography in an item listing greatly boosts sales frequency and price, so it seems like a sure bet that this approach will work well.

The actual redesign of the website itself has already happened and is rolling out subtly, so most users in North America should be seeing it already. Deeper PayPal integration and better visual heirarchy are the shining points of the new changes there.

The new Feed will be rolling out in the U.S. and then Canada over the next 100 days, but U.S.-based (.com) users can activate it right now at eBay.com/feed. Users can also create their own feeds, so your storefront or “wish list” items can be organized as you wish in a graphical way. Just in time for the Holidays!

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