On Monday, the online auction giant launched eBay Look Book, a new feature wherein users are encouraged to upload photos of their favorite outfits which will then be linked to similar purchasable products within the site’s marketplace.
The incentives for shoppers to actually use this new tool are huge — EBay is offering a $5,000 shopping spree to the person whose look is popular both with the public and with the site’s panel of judges. Another reason to participate: Every time you vote, you’re entered to receive a free fashion accessory.
The new program is all part of eBay’s new focus on marketing fashion, which is, according to Marketwatch, “one of eBay’s biggest categories, generating more than $5.45 billion in merchandise volume in 2009.”
The Look Book is a smart way to immediately add user generated content to the site (and to boost interactivity), but we have doubts that the company can grow a real community using it alone. For one, there are already many other established forums for outfit sharing (like the extremely active Flickr group Wardrobe_Remix, as well as fast-growing sites like Fashism and GoTryItOn) and an incredible amount of street style blogs to compete with in the space.
Meanwhile, eBay’s hard-to-navigate auction section is still in need of a real overhaul. As the Times diplomatically noted today, “the effort to restore the site’s luster remains a work in progress.”