If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Amazon.com should look with pride at the changes going on at eBay.
The Web’s largest auctioneer is revamping page designs, overhauling search functions and launching new services that bear a strong resemblance to features that work well at Amazon, the Internet’s biggest retailer. To be sure, this is no casual face-lift for eBay.
For more than 10 years, eBay, with its fat margins and zealous user base, has been the dominant force in the battle between the two e-commerce superpowers. Currently, however, the momentum appears to be with Amazon.
Wall Street has rewarded Amazon for its ease of use, growing selection, low prices and success at persuading greater numbers of merchants to sell goods on its site. By comparison, some say eBay looks frumpy, with its helter-skelter search results and cluttered product pages. Sure, eBay has seen sharp growth from two significant units–payment service PayPal and Internet telephone service Skype, but investors are showing signs of wariness that Amazon may be eating into eBay’s market share.