First announced last October as part of an eBay brand refresh, Feed is the company’s new visual search service, providing users with an image based homepage tailored towards their browsing habits and preferences.
The press shots bandied about for this new feature have been pretty glossy, showcasing nicely coordinated collections of lifestyle photography with search terms such as ‘orange handbag’ and ‘mid-century furniture’. eBay’s acquisition of Svpply last July may have had some bearing on this window-shopping approach to discovery - the ever growing patchwork presentation feeling all too familiar.
My first experience of feed wasn’t quite the high-fashion, visual feast I was expecting. Having authorised the service I was basically presented with the digital equivalent of my understairs cupboard, i.e loads of random crap. This seemingly arbitrary set of results was really down to my rather sporadic and incredibly varied use of eBay. Like a lot of eBayers I don’t use it that often and I buy all manner of items.
Where feed starts getting useful is through it’s ‘edit’ functionality. You can filter which interests affect the feed; removing items, searching and following new ones or refining the parameters for the ones you want to keep. These controls help you to shape your set of results, building up a picture you really want to see. At present you’re limited to one feed and what I’d really like to be able to do is group collections of interests. It’s questionable whether the broad nature of eBay’s content (basically ANYTHING of ANY quality) really suits a visually rich, exploratory form of browsing such as this, but used with caution it might just have it’s place.
If nothing else, Feed has helped remind me that my watchlist and search history, just like my cupboard, needs a bloody good clearout.