EBay has launched a personalized shopping feature, dubbed "Interests," through its mobile app that allows users to have a mobile shopping experience curated around personal passions, style preferences and hobbies, according to an eBay news release.
To take advantage of the feature, app users need to "answer a few questions" about their interests. The app combines that information with algorithms and data on the user's patterns to create a customized eBay home page for the users around a theme that closely matches their interests, the company stated.
Interests is now available to U.S. eBay shoppers through both the iOS and Android versions of the mobile app. The feature will be available via mobile web and desktop website in the coming months, and eventually will expand to other markets, the company said.
Some media coverage of eBay's Interests announcement already has pointed out that it bears some similarity to what Amazon has done with Interesting Finds (right down to the similar name), as well as Pinterest's approach to curation. It wouldn't be the first time observers have suggested eBay is trying to emulate Amazon or the giants of social media.
However, it's also true that eBay has been pursuing personalization goals for a while now. This is only the latest of several efforts it has undertaken to make experiences more customized and further distance eBay from its auction site beginnings. Last summer, it was moving in this direction when it rolled out Find It on eBay and Image Search. More recently, it launched Grouped Listings to enable more relevant shopping searches.
A TechCrunch story on eBay Interests noted that the marketplace has been pursuing the personalization Holy Grail even longer than that, having acquired technology firm Hunch in 2011 and launched the "Pinterest-like" Setify tool a year later.
Now, eBay is taking a more direct path to trying to personalize user shopping experiences by asking them literal questions like "What's your style?" and "What are your favorite activities?" The online marketplace is looking to blend that data with technology tools to create a customized page. This kind of page ideally would present a richer, more refined, more appropriate and more personally satisfying shopping experience than simply receiving recommendations based on previous browsing data.
All the work eBay has put into changing its marketplace identity appears to be paying off. The company noted that 80% of all merchandise sold on eBay is new, and that 88% of items sold are Buy It Now items that don't involve auction-style bidding. Yet, company watchers continue to want more. This particular launch comes a few weeks after eBay posted a double-digit first quarter revenue jump but left sector analysts disappointed with its somewhat downbeat second quarter revenue forecast. We'll see if eBay's latest stab at personalization can help.