eBay Watch: Countdown Application Review

Countdown provides easy access for shoppers, spices up the auction format style and prompts sellers to use high-quality product shots.
EBay is currently offering links to preview the eBay Countdown beta by invite or through its "Shop Victoriously" contest promotion. While I missed out on my chance to instantly win money, I did get a link to try eBay Countdown to see what the new tool for buyers is all about — what impact it will have on sellers.

EBay Countdown is a Flash application that you access through your Web browser. You can choose to add shortcuts directly from your desktop or Windows start-up for easy, one-click access.

Countdown lets buyers log into eBay for instant access and updates on items they are watching or bidding on. It offers a visually pleasing interface and quick access to bid placement, bid history and auction end dates. The application also lets shoppers see larger pictures, contact the seller and immediately see outbid notices.

When using eBay Countdown, shoppers can also add personal notes that can be referred to as the item is monitored or as they enter the bidding process. Shoppers can also place a bid on an item through the interface, without having to load the eBay Web site into their browser.

As an added benefit, if you have already placed a bid on an item once, but are outbid, eBay Countdown enables one-click bidding, meaning the bid-confirm screens are not shown — when you bid it's submitted directly and immediately.

From a shopper's perspective, eBay Countdown, like the new eBay desktop, adds a fresh and lively spin on a platform that mainly offers static, flat and often boring auction pages. The downside is that in your immediate view you see only the auction images and pertinent details, and novice buyers may not realize that you still need to click through to ensure the auction page itself hasn't been revised by the seller since you first added it to your Watch List.

Still, the latest string of widgets and gizmos has really brought a much-needed up-to-date look and feel to eBay. One thing is for certain: Sellers need to step-up and really focus on getting at least one excellent, close-up quality image for each listing. Most of these eBay widgets strip the auction listings down to titles, price, date and image views in their "brief view" format. As a result, low-quality images are going to woefully stand out for buyers who use these new tools for shopping eBay.

Vangie Beal is a seasoned eBay seller and a regular contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com. She is also managing editor of Webopedia.com.

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