eBay Gets More Personal

eBay, Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY), the online auction company that has delighted investors and spawned a horde of imitators, announced on Friday a new personalized search engine. According to the company, the new feature, called Personal Shopper, will allow users to search through all auction items available on eBay’s site. The Personal shopper then generates periodic e-mails to notify the consumer when specific items of interest become available.

“We designed the Personal Shopper to serve as a personal valet that sifts through the action, zeros in on items of interest, and then delivers information about those auctions directly to our users,” said Brian Swette, senior vice president of marketing and international at eBay. The new service is powered by technology from NetMind Technologies, Inc.

A Personal Valet

The new search feature, which is free, is currently accessible from the “Buyer” link on eBay’s site map. Shoppers enter one or more keywords that may appear in the item’s title or description, plus a desired price range.

The Personal Shopper then notifies the shopper whenever an item of interest becomes available within their search parameters. The notification is sent at user-defined intervals, which can be set for daily, weekly or longer periods of time, so the consumer is not inundated with unwanted e-mail.

The Bigger Picture

To keep on top of the auction heap, eBay has been pursuing a strategy of adding personalization features to its site, like the “About Me” and “My eBay” services.

Launched last October, “About Me” provides buyers and sellers with step-by-step instructions on how to create their own personal homepages on eBay’s site. “My eBay” allows eBay users to track their bidding and selling activity. Users can specify their favorite categories for browsing, review recent feedback, and view account status and all the items sold and up for bid.

Much More Than Pez

Founded on Labor Day in September 1995, eBay, Inc. was conceived initially as a result of a conversation between Pierre Omidyar and his wife, an avid PezTM collector (she currently owns a collection of more than 400 dispensers). She commented to Pierre how great it would be if she were able to collect Pez dispensers and interact with other collectors over the Internet. Well

Today, eBay conducts nearly two million auctions daily and offers items in over 1,500 categories including collectibles, antiques, sports memorabilia, computers, toys and nearly everything else under the sun. It’s not just about Pez anymore.

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