eBay is getting ready for the holidays with a new take on its home page and a new shared gift-giving feature.
The auction site refreshed its home page yesterday with the goal of helping people find and buy items more quickly and easily. The redesign, which eBay said was months in the making, offers a different look and feel to the home page as well as several behind-the-scenes changes.
eBay's search functionality is trying to be smarter by pushing the exact product you're seeking to the top of the results. You can also now find an item by browsing across a variety of different product categories without leaving the home page. eBay has given its new page more of a personal touch as well. You can glance at your watched and recently-viewed items, the latest search results, and a list of products recommended just for you.
The enhancements to the search tool and the product catalog borrowed a page from eBay's mobile apps, which have already adopted a more user-friendly approach to these features. Beyond those changes, the new page is trying to draw in people and drum up business by highlighting daily deals and tracking shopping trends.
The revamp itself was prompted by requests from both sellers and shoppers, eBay said, and included input from eBay's Chief Technology Officer Mark Carges.
The home page "has a great look and feel," Hugh Williams, eBay's vice president of search engineering, said in an eBay internal interview. It's more personalized too. For example, you can sift through searches you recently did, and explore hot, trending products."
Beyond the home page redesign, eBay is also trying to make holiday gift giving a bit more social.
The company rolled out its new Group Gifts feature yesterday, an attempt to let people share in the costs of buying the right present for family or friends. Any shopper with a Facebook account can invite others to contribute to the cost of a fixed-price (non-auction) item on eBay, with people able to pay via PayPal or credit card. When the full amount of the item is covered, the gift can then be sent to the buyer or directly to the recipient.
The "crowdsourcing" approach to buying a gift can help people collectively pick up an expensive present that they normally couldn't afford individually. And by connecting eBay to Facebook, the Group Gifts feature can tap into information from the recipient's Facebook page to suggest gift ideas, according to eBay.
"eBay Group Gifts was designed to address a real world need for people who want to join together to give a bigger and better gift for someone they care about," Amit Menipaz, who led the project at eBay, said in a statement. "Through this innovative application we are defining the concept of group gifting online by leveraging deep integration with eBay, PayPal, and Facebook to provide a simple and friendly solution that addresses every stage of the process."