Its former CEO spent over $140 million only to lose to a former California governor here on the west coast on Tuesday’s election, but Meg Whitman’s legacy, eBay, is still humming along strongly and will always have a strong presence in the world of e-commerce. One criticism of Whitåman’s eBay tenure, launched by publications like The Economist, is that she missed the boat on Web 2.0. eBay caught up quickly, however, and to that end, has launched a new service just in time for the holidays.
Yes, the holidays–not that the election is over, it is time to think about what you are going to buy online on Cyber Monday, unless of course you plan on waking up at 1 a.m. on Black Friday to snag that cheap flat-screen TV or laptop. Well, if you plan to give presents as part of a group, eBay may just have the solution for you.
eBay GroupGifts promises consumers that its users can give fabulous gifts as part of a gift, whether it is the grandchildren pitching in for grandma or the worker bees collaborating for their co-worker’s birthday.
The process is simple. First someone, let’s say the group leader, enters some information about the gift recipient. Details about the gift occasion and most importantly, the contribution deadline, is included. Next the user tasked with the gift search selects the present. The user sends invitations to friends and family by email or Facebook, and those invited to this group event may pay by PayPal or their favorite debit or credit cards. Finally, the gift, with personalized notes from each of the contributors, is shipped to the lucky person’s address.
In some ways this is really nothing new: birthdays and special occasions around the world are often more of an excuse to get together rather than have a focus on gift giving–the one or two gifts that may be presented are often a collaborative purchase. eBay takes this approach up a notch with the use of 21st century technology. Some call this “collaborative consumption,” a wave of social media that has a large role in the transformation of consumer behavior.
Cursory anthropological surveys aside, eBay’s new GroupGifts is an example of how companies can adapt to changing consumer behavior–which at least here in the US is due to a lagging economy. Social media has allowed us to be “friends” with almost anyone, share rides with them through a service like Zimride, and pitch or poach goods via Freecycle. In the end GroupGifts is another step that can help society reduce its consumption: a welcome money-saving trend.