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Ebay: Designing for convenience

John Sanbourne has just talked through ebay express [which was news to me] at the [otherwise pretty disappointing] BTWEEN forum in Bradford.    His slides should be on the BTWEEN site later.  The development of express has been prompted by the market for ‘convenience’ purchases, instant gratification, rather than an auction, this is "buy now" as a sub-brand to capture those searching for products via search engines and make the process of purchasing a simple one.  It’s interesting to see how they strip away the ‘experience’ that has made ebay such a phenomenon, the social, ‘frictional‘  experience  and replace it with standard, homogenous experience in the form of style guides and shopping basket processes; go from the car boot sale of bric-a-brac to the retail store, from emotional, experiential purchases to more functional purchases – the sorts of things that you can search around and buy instantly [and of course price comparison sites are massive drivers for this development].  However, to do this is a massive job.  Think of professional photographs for the things you may want to buy.  Think of 11000 photographs of things you might want to buy at a category level!   Express then serves to reinforce ebay as a key sales platform  putting it up against direct sellers to gain some of the affiliate marketing so key to web revenue models.

Express comes to the UK later in the summer.