What Small Businesses Need to Know about the 'New' eBay

by Kevin Casey on October 18, 2012
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Online auctioneer eBay is undergoing a major makeover that includes a new logo, a site redesign, and an updated shopping experience/purchasing process.

“Technology is revolutionizing the way people shop, and eBay is shaping the future of commerce,” President Devin Wenig writes in a post introducing the “new” eBay. “In the next few years, the $10 trillion global retail market will be transformed.”

Wenig predicts a future in which commerce is more personal, global, and mobile. Expect that third category in particular to get a lot of attention from eBay: The company says its mobile apps have surpassed 100 million downloads, and there’s been “an exponential increase in transactions via mobile devices in 2012.”

Does your small business sell on eBay? Here are three things you need to know about the “new” site.

1. Home page feed — The folks at ChannelAdvisor note in their eBay Strategies Blog that eBay is adding “a Pinterest-esque feed to the home page.” (Their comprehensive breakdown of eBay’s overhaul is recommended reading.) Among other features, the feed allows eBay users to tailor what appears there to suit their interests. ChannelAdvisor recommends opting into the new feed now to better understand how eBay’s customers will use it and to consider business opportunities accordingly. You can opt in by visiting ebay.com/feed.

The critical takeaway: Top-notch images are more important than ever for driving sales. This is underscored by related updates to how eBay search results and item pages appear. Both feature more prominent product shots. Thus, low-quality photos and other types of cut-rate images are likely to hinder sales.

2. Two-click ordering — Shoppers will soon be able to link their eBay and PayPal accounts for faster ordering and checkout. Linking accounts will allow buyers to complete most transactions in just two clicks. The integration will be available to most users by the end of October, eBay says.

Julia Wilkinson, editor of the AuctionBytes Blog, gives the streamlined ordering process high marks based on her early experiences with it. “What’s not to like about a faster checkout?” Wilkinson asks. “To be honest, I am one of those impatient buyers … sometimes Amazon would get my business just because of their one-click checkout.” She adds that the change should benefit both buyers and sellers.

ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo concurs in his bottom line for sellers: “Buyers can buy stuff faster and pay for it immediately — what’s not to love about this?”

3. Social media integration — It seems just about everyone is comparing eBay’s revised look and feel to Pinterest, but the influence of social media extends beyond design. Sellers will be able to add links to their Facebook pages and embed YouTube videos directly to their profiles. The latter addition might be particularly good news for small businesses already making effective use of online video. And for those that aren’t, eBay’s move gives them one more reason to start.

A closing note of caution: When popular websites like eBay make significant changes, online scammers usually follow suit. Indeed, cybercrooks are already trying to cash in on the new eBay. Even if you don’t sell on eBay, be particularly wary of emails that appear to be from the site. The Naked Security blog lists tips for sniffing out a phishing scam. A dead giveaway: If you get an email from eBay featuring its old logo, you can bet it’s a fraud.

Kevin Casey is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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