Though the company has been keeping a low profile about it, eBay has recently begun to test out new features that bear striking similarities to another popular web destination for avid online shoppers.
From Groupon, eBay will borrow the concept of special deals for local services, calling its version eBay Lifestyle Deals. It has now been made available in a few select cities, including Washington D.C., Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. For example, a deal recently offered through eBay was a discount of $60 for yoga: $50 for a month of yoga classes normally worth $110.
Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces, told Reuters, “We have a big marketplace and a lot of people who come to eBay don’t just come for one thing–they stay and buy across categories. It makes perfect sense to experiment with new categories, and services is one of these things. We’re seeing whether deals and services are attractive to our customers.
“EBay’s local deals marketplace comes as a new and welcome addition to a website that has traditionally involved products rather than services, and will have its work cut out for itself as it competes with the hugely successful Groupon.
To deliver its deals, eBay has partnered with Signpost, a start-up, which takes care of the practical arrangement of setting up deals with local businesses and quickly posts them to a new section on eBay’s marketplace. Signpost is also presently working with Google Offers, another Groupon rival in the emerging discounted deals industry; however, the two sites have their own unique deals independent of each other.
Groupon is not the only site that has seen its key features borrowed by eBay; the auction giant also looks to Facebook for inspiration. Most notably, eBay has recently undergone a significant redesign of its site, which included the addition of a feed service that suggests products on a shopper’s eBay homepage based on purchase history. And again, much like Facebook’s ‘like’ option, the feed service allows users to follow items and receive relevant updates to their news feed.
Deals on eBay follow a purchasing process similar to the that of products available on the site; while there are no auctions for local deals, there is a “Buy It Now” button which is fully integrated with Paypal, and prospective clients can find information and reviews about sellers before making purchasing decisions.
And while the addition of the local deals feature was designed to fit in seamlessly with the rest of the site, since it’s foreign terrain for eBay, several rounds of preliminary testing have been scheduled across a small but representative sample of markets to see how eBay Lifestyle Deals fares on the online services marketplace.
Where does all this leave Groupon? Facing competition from AmazonLocal, Google Offers, LivingSocial, and now eBay Lifestyle Deals, to name a few, the company may have to step up its game. While it remains to be seen whether competitors will outpace the original discount deals site, already we have seen a drop in Groupon’s share price as soon as news of eBay’s Lifestyle Deals hit the press. This may not bode well for the social deals heavy-hitter, but there is still a possibility that this particular Internet town is big enough for all parties concerned.
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November 22, 2012: http://bhive.ca/5.0/BHIVE-blog/ebay-turning-groupon-esque.html