eBay.com introduces Amazon-style buy box

eBay.com have announced some changes to the product pages for items listed with pre-filled item information. The biggest change is the introduction of an Amazon-style ‘buy box’ at the top of the product page, featuring one “trusted seller”. eBay say that this item will be selected by Best Match, considering total price (purchase price plus shipping), and that the seller’s search standing must be “raised”. Below this, buyers who scroll down further will see a mixture of fixed price and auction listings.

non-media item page

It’s not quite clear at the moment whether the buy box will remain the exclusive preserve of just one seller, or whether different sellers can appear in it at any one time: initial testing makes me lean towards the former scenario, but eBay haven’t specified exactly how this will work.

Of more concern is that the buy box is not necessarily comparing like with like. I’ve been searching for a camera where the item in the box is a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than the average; this turns out to be because, unlike the normal kit, it comes without a lens. eBay really need to work on refining this system, because buyers are going to assume that the buy box is the “recommended purchase”, and read the listing less closely even than they normally do.

In media categories, items will be sorted by condition: newer items are listed above used ones, and the initial search results page shows a selection of each condition, with a link to “view all like-new items”, etc.

eBay says that the new page layout “makes it faster and easier for buyers to find the book, music, movie or game item they’re looking for from sellers they trust.” Sellers, however, are likely to be less enthusiastic about the changes; the new pages will give buyers very little incentive to move beyond the first page of search results, and that’s not going to be popular with many sellers who are already complaining about plummeting eBay sales.

Currently the new product pages are on eBay.com only, but I’d be very surprised if they don’t roll out across other eBay sites in the next few months.