Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Ebay vs Amazon

MSNBC report EBay traffic leads online shopping sites states that on 'Cyber Monday' Amazon got 5.6m visitors compared to 11.7m for Ebay. The share price of eBay (EBAY) has almost doubled over 2yrs, Amazon (AMZN) has remained the same.

Why is EBay in such apparent ascendance and Amazon looking so tired?

When you visit the Amazon US site as a guest user - there is not one single book presented on the home page - DVDs, toys, watches, XBox 360 and jewelry upsold all over the page - but no books. When you try to navigate to a book you have to wade through lots of unrelated upsell, and many books you would expect to be there - just aren't.

When you visit Ebay - you get what you expect - auction stuff, lots of it, with very little unrelated upsell - and it's easy to navigate to exactly what you want.

Until last year I used Amazon weekly - I originally stopped because of their slow delivery times (same reason I don't use Dell). When I buy online I don't want to wait more than two days for my goods - unless I'm getting a significant discount for the delay.

Until two months ago I had never used eBay (because of concerns over fraud) - now I'm using eBay weekly as they have fixed the fraud issues.

Has the massive influx of new product ranges diluted Amazon's content quality and left them uncompetitive against the more boutique retail sites? - it's very hard to monitor every SKU to be price competitive or offer detailed technical support for every product or offer simple navigation that gets the customer to what they want fast.

But isn't Ebay just an aggregation of all retailable products into one site?.

In my view the difference is the navigation and quality of the listings.

Ebay provides a superb navigation interface and outsources the content to the sellers on a per product basis - they effectively list 100,000s of products with one product manager per product - who maitains the product's description etc. - and they don't clutter the page with unrelated upsell.

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