Why eBay should be more like Tinder

My decor education_ebay should be like tinder

Everything in the above photo was bought on eBay. Hunted + Won + Refurbished = Increased 4x it’s original value.

I’ve purchased over 150 items on eBay in the 8 years I’ve been a member. It started as a way to express my love of hunting down vintage fashions no one else would have. At some point I accumulated too much and it occurred to me I could also sell on eBay. My mini-entrepreneur was ignited.

Today, I only sell on eBay – all secondhand furniture. Particularly in light of my Minimalist Challenge. But today in 2016, eBay is making it really difficult for me and other aspiring casual DIY-sellers to do this effectively because their site is still stuck in 2006.

The dream reality of eBay.

eBay started as the original sharing economy. The perfect platform for anyone to sell things they don’t need to an (online) community of people want exactly that – without the overhead of a bricks and mortar shop.

Today, 20 years later (yes, eBay was founded in 1995), it’s now a place for ‘power-sellers’ selling new merchandise from overseas manufacturers en mass, and their platform has become a clunky warehouse that creates too many barriers for sellers and buyers to connect.

This is a fast growing risk for eBay. They need to recapture this customer, or a sexy new startup will step in, talk to the customer in the language they actually speak, and simply take them. Either way, there are simple but significant things us casual weekend sellers need.

1. Make it easy to setup and search items.

Getting people to post an item should be the quickest thing a customer does. The current barrier (~30mins for a decent post) is too long considering the current quality of the output – messy and distracting. And the process still relies on a desktop to do it well.

My decor education_ebay should be like tinder

The seller and buyer needs a simpler mobile experience that does the meaningful things well. Like an in-built photo editor, auto-cropping of images, a few simple fields for the key info, filters that

The buyer doesn’t want outdated and inconsistent design templates that make it impossible to find the info they need to make a judgement on the item. Some have measurements in the description, some have it in the title. Some have the pick up address in the location field, some have it hidden in the description, some have both and both are different.

The Ebay is like match.com (tons of data entry and clunky UI), but we need Tinder (simple, sleek, gets to the point).

2. Let us judge a book by it’s cover.

My decor education_ebay should be like tinder 3

Pictures of the items listed are what make the sales, but eBay doesn’t make it a priority feature. Instead of a distracting classified-style rows, take a leaf out of Tinder’s book and adopt the card-swiping feature for a better user experience.

  • Swipe left to scroll through items.
  • Swipe right to shortlist/save.
  • Scroll up-down to see more photos from a listing.

This allows a potential buyer to focus on one item at a time (not a distracting classifieds-style scrolling page), see bigger images (not an almost invisible thumbnail), have it all at their fingertips (most accurately, your thumb).

It should go without saying, this should all be driven through a mobile device – allow buyers and seller to easily list and search on-the-go.

3. Use data to personalise the experience.

I want eBay to use their customer and transaction data to give me recommendations to make the best decisions possible for my needs.

For buyers, this means changing what items show up based on what I swipe left and right for. Constantly refining the items I’m browsing to best serve my behaviour. This is a core feature of Tinder, and what should be at the core of any online service that requires you to look through large amounts of options – make it relevant for your user.

For sellers, data could mean instant advice on at what price I should list and at time of day, to get the highest price. Airbnb does this well with their listing price feature. It helps me make adjustments to my listing based on current market supply-demand.

4. Direct messaging.

My decor education_ebay should be like tinder 2

It’s ridiculous how many clicks it takes to send a seller/buyer a question – it’s basically an email service with more steps. Most people end up sending me their mobile number so we can text more directly.

For an activity that will likely have many back-and-forths to question the quality and state of the item, as well as to arrange collection, a simple messaging feature is all you need. Not multiple screens and a CAPTCHA for every question you ask – make it direct and make it visible.

5. Seamless courier integration.

eBay needs to partner up with someone/s to take the hassle of picking up and delivering items, so I can avoid the struggle of juggling eBay pick ups. I don’t need high cost professional couriers. I need someone with a van and time.

My decor education_coordinating ebay pick ups_1

I’ve tried Airtasker a couple times and it worked well – I think TaskRabbit is the American equivalent. Their mobile app allows you to post a transport task and connect you with a community of people willing and able to take on the task. Unlike moving companies, I have full transparency over the pricing and control over the process.

It’s like the Uber for couriers – in fact this could be a product expansion opportunity for Uber themselves.

6. Reviews.

I don’t trust eBay reviews. They’re too vague and dishonest.

And this pain point is compounded by the politics of eBay reviews. Both parties of a transaction will hold off till the other person leaves a review so they can respond accordingly. Or they’ll give vague and meaningless feedback like ‘prompt’ ‘thank you’ ‘all good’. All useless.

I just want to know:

  • How many love the seller?
  • How many hate the seller?
  • How likely they are to recommend the seller (their NPS score)?

And, eBay should take the Airbnb approach and make it private until both parties have entered feedback.

7. Social integration.

The idea of eBay is that it lets you access a community of people to undertake an activity. But it comes with the uncertainty of purchasing/selling to someone you don’t know.

Are they trying to rip me off? Will they be crazy? Will they re-neg on the deal?

Nowadays, we’re used to relying on their online communities to get what we need; it’s part of our everyday behaviour – holiday accomodation (Airbnb), rides around town (Uber), advice (Twitter), entertainment (YouTube).

eBay hasn’t kept up with these behaviours so it’s time for this to be disrupted and give the consumer what we want.

What kind of things have you sold on eBay/Craigslist?

Tell me in the comments below, send me a private email or message me on Twitter @decoreducation.

Also, follow my Snapchat (decoreducation) for a regular dose of decor in Melbourne, Australia.


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