eBay to Test Changes to Search Results Pages

EBay plans later this month to begin testing a redesign of its search results pages that will contain more information for each listed item and will sport a new look and layout.

The online marketplace hopes the changes will enhance the shopping experience for buyers, wrote Nico Posner, a senior product manager, in an official announcement posted Tuesday on eBay’s website.

Specifically, search results will be bigger and price information will be highlighted with larger type and a new color. Each listing will have a button so buyers can save it to a "watch list." Most listings will also have a link labeled "see quick details" that, if hovered over or clicked on, will show information like shipping and handling charges and accepted payment methods.

A small percentage of randomly selected buyers will begin seeing the new search results pages later this month. EBay will reveal its plans for a wider rollout of this new design once the testing period ends.

Last year, eBay announced its intention to test new search functionality it called Magellan. "Finding is incredibly important on eBay. The more effective we can make finding, the higher the [sales] conversion rates and the more robust the marketplace is for buyers and sellers," said President and Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman in July 2005 regarding Magellan.

In May of this year, eBay struck a wide-ranging partnership with Yahoo, which in part calls for the companies to collaborate on search technology and advertising.

It isn’t clear whether the new redesign of the search results page is related to the Magellan effort and to the Yahoo partnership. EBay didn’t immediately reply to a request seeking comment.

The partnership with Yahoo was widely seen as a defensive move by both vendors against common rival Google. Google is using its leadership position in search to expand into the Web portal space, which is Yahoo’s core territory, and into the product listings and online payment market, eBay’s stomping ground.

EBay is also fighting internal demons. Last month, eBay executives said during a conference call that core marketplace revenue and gross merchandise volume should have grown more in the second quarter, which ended June 30.

They blamed an imbalance between eBay’s traditional product listings, which include both auction and fixed-priced products, and store inventory listings, which on average now make up 83 percent of active marketplace listings. To correct the imbalance, eBay is marketing traditional product listings more aggressively and raising store listing fees, never a popular move with sellers.

-Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service (Miami Bureau)

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