eBay Introduces Group Gift-Buying Service on Eve of Redesign
As the Wall Street Journal reports, a freshly redesigned eBay home page will soon offer recommendations to users based on their previous searches, as well as a new list of hot items currently on the market. Over the past few weeks, the site has introduced unique pages for DVDs, MP3 players and GPS devices, where users can easily find all available models of a given product, the best deals being highlighted at the top of each product page. The site's first redesign in four years comes right in time for the holiday season, during which eBay traditionally sells 30-percent of its yearly merchandise.
The auction site is also rolling out a new group gift-buying service today, which will allow groups of people to collectively buy gifts online, using their e-mail addresses and social networking accounts. As USA Today explains, the service is designed to help families or friends chip in for gifts without having to go through the hassle of soliciting individual contributions. Once a user finds the perfect holiday gift on eBay, she'll be able to use her Facebook or e-mail account to invite friends to throw in some money for the item. Each invitee can either choose to pay a certain amount, or agree to pay an amount suggested by the organizer. In the event that the group fails to raise enough money for a particular item, the organizer can ask her friends to contribute more, or suggest a less expensive product.
In order for the social program to work, though, eBay may have to spend some extra time convincing consumers to join. A recent survey from Accenture found that one in five consumers used Facebook for purchases last year, but that 88-percent said they wouldn't be doing their holiday shopping on social networks or mobile phones this year. Of those, 26-percent cited privacy concerns as the primary deterrent, while 20-percent simply didn't see the benefit in mobile or Facebook-based shopping. "To make this work, you need to really promote it, and you need to change consumer habits around how they may be doing group-gifting," says Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principle online retail analyst for Forrester Research. "I'm not convinced the market is so huge that it will change anyone's habits."