eBay: Forget auctions, we are all about curated boutiques. (Just like everyone else)
Last year, like many, many commerce and social sites, eBay got a little Pinterest-y. The entire shoppable web is moving from text search and algorithm recommendations to browsable tiles of images curated by humans. I called it the Great Pinterestification. Images are the language of the web now, and it takes a human to pick the good ones.
Naturally eBay, one of the biggest retailers on the web with a 500 million listings and 127 million active users, had to follow suit.
Today the company took it a step further. Short version: Curated collections, follow buttons, Pharrell Williams.
Slightly longer version: eBay is more like Pinterest than ever before.
In a West Village studio that's typically home to fashion week events and art shows, eBay CEO Devin Wenig outlined eBay's plan to continue moving away from its image as an auction house or flea market.
Wenig also disclosed some less fashionable, but meaningful, news related to its one-hour delivery business, eBay Now. The company has acquired Shutl, a London-based local delivery startup. eBay will expand its same-day delivery services (now available in four cities) to 25 more cities starting with Chicago. It will also partner with chains like Toys R Us and Best Buy, which allow users to pick up their eBay purchases in those stores.
But that's not why the crowd of bloggers, designers, other influencers were gathered today. eBay introduced its new features with no shortage of dramatic flourish. "These are the biggest changes we've made at eBay in over decade," Wenig said. Pharrell Williams, who awesomely referred to Wenig as "The Dev," declared that eBay is "like the cure to the fear of missing out." In a promotional video, author Kelly Oxford said, "I've been shopping online my whole life for this moment."
It's just a follow button, guys.
Besides, eBay is just catching up to what the rest of the Web has been doing for awhile now. Aside from Pinterest, curation sites like TheFancy, Wantworthy, Wanelo and Keep all offer the same level of curation that's shoppable. eBay even named today's event "Need + Love" which I'm sure has the team at Wanelo (short for Want, Need, Love) seeing red.
Nevertheless, eBay is fighting hard to change its image from an auction site to a go-to browsing destination. Three quarters of eBay's goods are BuyItNow, meaning they don't use auctions.
Last month, eBay acquired curation site Bureau of Trade. The company's founder, Michael Phillips Moskowitz, will become eBay's Editorial Director and Chief Curator. (This is just further proof that it is possible to make your good taste into a career. I call this the Bradford Effect, after Fab.com co-founder and chief creative officer Bradford Shellhammer.) Last year eBay also acquired Svpply, a New York-based fashion curation site.
The site's 200 expert curators, including Williams, Oxford, and Solange Knowles, will lead the charge, but any user can create collections (which look exactly like Pinterest boards), and anyone can follow collections. In the first days of making collections live in North America, 56,000 collections were created, Wenig said.
Search is dead, long live human curation.