In case you haven’t heard, eBay Stores are now open for business. But actually, it’s hard to imagine anyone not hearing about the grand opening.
It arrived with trumpets blaring and a spin-the-wheel, win-a-prize promotion not only online, but in a bunch of malls across the country. In other words, eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) was very eager to make sure you knew the stores were here.
So what’s all the hullabaloo about? Not much, as it turns out.
Maybe this is another example of playing (or overplaying) and losing the expectations game.
eBay’s big storefront experiment had been rumored to be on the way for weeks before it was officially announced. And then there was an extended preview before the doors were thrown open for good.
From the start, the eBay storefront story seemed to have major ramifications, as analysts pointed to the potential head-to-head battles it set up with the likes of Amazon.com. Maybe the hype spun a bit out of control, but after all, eBay is a dominant player in the e-commerce world.
So we were led to expect great things. And storefronts may yet be a great thing. But not yet.
The most graphically arresting part of the eBay Stores experience is the so-called “hub” where you start your explorations. It’s a color-splashed page with links to various shops, categories and individual items for sale.
The only problem is that once you get inside a store, the most visually appealing thing on your screen is the “Back” button on your browser. The stores are, at least to date, straight-forward text listings of items for sale.
Even the storefront maintained by Big Blue has little more than the IBM logo in one corner to distinguish it.
Maybe this is the early stage of eBay Stores, and we need to give it some time. Maybe this is intentional: eBay is opting for ease of use and simplicity of design over flash.
After all, eBay’s auctions pages aren’t exactly Boo.com reincarnated. They are a triumph of function over form.
But flash is one thing. Boredom is something else.
To be sure, most eBay shoppers aren’t browsing the way I did. They have something specific in mind and they will take the shortest path to that goal. Splashy graphics only get in their way.
Wake Me When It’s Over
And, there’s a strong possibility that this is the way sellers want it. Remember, the stores are supposed to be a reward of sorts, a way for eBay’s most successful and ambitious sellers to distinguish themselves a little more from the crowd.
Still, it’s only natural to expect more from something preceded by so much hype.
The best thing that can be said about the stores right now is they’ve got nowhere to go but up. Let’s hope the eBay TV show is a bit more polished when it hits the airwaves.
Note: The opinions expressed by our columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the E-Commerce Times or its management.