Unlocking $Billions via Customized Shopping

[listen instead of read]

eBay is an amazing marketplace, and we at Bidiom are huge fans of the resource it provides to millions of people around the world. However, our observation is how much opportunity still exists to innovate and improve the way people shop for items on the website. eBay search results and item detail pages are areas where new shopping concepts can be explored. Improvements that unlock more potential in online shopping & eCommerce are worth $billions.

Search Results

eBay search results are currently presented primarily in a List or Gallery layout as shown in the screenshot above. On a 1680x1050 computer monitor, in List mode, approximately 3 thumbnails can be displayed in the first search results page, and 5 thumbnails once scrolled past some of the filter options. In Gallery mode that number grows slightly to 8 and 12 respectively. List and Gallery display modes are definitely layouts that should be available for shoppers, however there are other alternative ways to display search results that would enable shoppers to be more efficient and effective.

Frequently an eBay search returns an enormously large quantity of search results. In the example above over 14,000 search results were matched on the term “redline hotwheels”. Simple math, assuming ~8 seconds to review each listing, would take 31 hours to review all those results. Clearly that is not reasonable. Visualizing quantity within various item properties like “Year of Manufacture” or “Vehicle Type” would better inform a shopper, and there are many other factors that could be visualized. Alternative approaches of presenting search results and item information could help shoppers evaluate search results more swiftly.

Sorting and Filtering Options

Sorting and filtering options as shown in the screenshot above offer shoppers the ability to more precisely define criteria. These options are primarily how shoppers narrow search results. The available filter options also increase as a search criteria is narrowed within an eBay category. These elements consume a considerable amount of space on the screen.

Sorting and filter user interface controls are relatively primitive in the example above. eBay leverages traditional user interface controls like drop-down boxes, toggle buttons, check boxes, and hyperlinks. These controls were the original features of HTML forms which offer basic ways of presenting and selecting options. Much more dynamic custom controls could be implemented to better visualize and communicate sorting, filtering and refinement options.

Item Details

Item details pages are visited after selecting an item from search results. These pages provide more in-depth information about an item including additional pictures, title, price, shipping details, seller information, description, and other facts. This information is critical for shoppers to make final decisions on a purchase.

There are observable inefficiencies in the item detail page layout. Many areas of the page are wasted for side gutters, and rectangular content alignment produces white space. Important elements are not effectively using the available screen space. Much more information could be presented in the same available areas. Interactive behaviors could expand the possibilities even further. Refactoring detail pages and producing alternative search results layouts are a design frontier worthy of exploration.

Gamut of Shopping Use Case Needs

eBay is a gigantic platform considering the quantity of items, categories, buyers, and sellers. Servicing all those buyers through the same shopping experience and web page layouts limit the capacity for inventory discovery and member behavior maturity. The main web site design is primarily optimized for beginner shoppers. Offering customized alternatives would accommodate varying needs. Examples:

  • Watching the marketplace — “Borough Furnace Cast Iron Skillets” are rarely available on eBay. eBay is a dynamic, non-commodity marketplace supplied by many sellers on a daily basis. One of those skillets may not be available today, but at some point in the future someone will likely post one. Build a shopping experience focused on monitoring the marketplace for this use case.
  • Optimizing for imagery — Redline Hotwheels are a huge collectible item category. The listings have numerous photos that provide many angles of the vehicles. Providing a page layout that enables a collector to quickly view many of the angles more easily can increase assessment efficiency. Construct a shopping experience optimized for imagery assessment.
  • Observing supply & demand — iPhones are the premium smart phone. The quantity and price of iPhone models vary relative to their age and Apple’s product release timeline. Examining the changing inventory of models and cross referencing the fluctuations in prices enables budget conscious shoppers to be strategic about a purchase. Providing a shopping experience that gives a perspective into the supply and demand of items for well informed shopping can benefit those buyers during the year.

Transitioning to Customized Shopping

For 22 years eBay has grown a marketplace with a singular approach to searching and review items. They likely have a monstrous legacy of code and constituents leveraging the current website which make it difficult to innovate. A recent era of relatively minor user interface changes have been an attempt to restructure the initial experience within some categories, but true customization requires a new platform. A new platform can coexist with the current website, yet offer the customized shopping experiences without disrupting the current operations.

Customized shopping requires rethinking the marketplace as objects, properties, methods, and events. Combine those elements with use cases, and then reconstruct an interface platform of data fronted with visualization widgets organized into layouts. A new platform collectively provides a resource that enables the construction of customized shopping experiences. Bidiom has produced a platform that provides customized shopping experiences for eBay. It leverages the eBay API, and presents the live marketplace data.

The advantages and benefits of customized shopping are unlimited, but some of the initial concept features are:

  • Increasing the dimension of images on a page
  • Organizing the page to fit more images in a single view
  • Charting of search results based on price and/or shipping
  • Indicating seller location on a map thumbnail
  • Combining search results and item details into a single, cohesive view

The Bidiom customized shopping platform currently has these features and more are being built.

Looking Ahead

Items are produced by societies around the world everyday. More volume of available items to exchange gets larger everyday. eCommerce and online shopping have an upward trajectory that is unfathomable. Online shopping user interface has to adapt and enable people to more effectively find what they desire. Transaction guarantees, artificial intelligence, and other process improvements are a focus of innovation, but enhancing the shopping experience improves the final frontier where purchasing decisions happen. Bidiom has built marketplace innovations that can unlock potential in online shopping & eCommerce worth $billions.

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