Encouraging customers to create gift lists

by Shareef Ayyad. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.

In the lead up to Christmas I spent time browsing for potential gifts on eBay, and I found myself using the list feature for the very first time. I hadn’t noticed it before, but you can create as many lists as you need and add items of interest from anywhere on the site. It’s a great feature because it allowed me to create a list for each of my family members and add gift ideas – a bit like a moodboard approach to shopping.

It got me wondering why eBay doesn’t push the list feature more heavily, especially during peak seasons like Christmas. The ‘Add to Watch List’ is pretty obvious across the whole site, but that is for items that the shopper personally wants, and doesn’t really fit well for the gift shopper’s use case.

A missed opportunity

I believe there isn’t enough emphasis on using eBay as a tool to plan for purchases. I think eBay could better position itself as the sole destination for seasonal shoppers by promoting the list feature more heavily, especially in its daily deals section.

Imagine a customer, Paul, who is looking for Christmas gifts for his wife, daughter and parents. He hates shopping at the high street at this time of year because it’s too crowded, making him impatient and more likely to leave a store and miss a suitable gift. He decides to do all his Christmas shopping online using his laptop.

In this scenario, Paul should be encouraged to create a gift list for each of his four recipients. A call-to-action should be placed in a prominent position on the page, much like in the following example:


Posing a question, followed by a suggestion, gives some context to the call-to-action. The button should follow the visual language of the ‘Add to Watch list’ button found on product pages, and the drop down should provide links to lists already created by the user. A ‘Learn why’ hyperlink could provide a landing page that sells the benefits of gift list creation.

By encouraging Paul to invest his time in creating gift lists as he browses the site, it becomes less likely that he will turn to competitors (e.g. Amazon, Ebuyer, Etsy) to expand his search. The lists offer Paul the ability to save items that may be suitable gifts for each recipient, meaning he can revisit and revise them later, as his ideas become more focused.

This new call-to-action should also be visible at the top of category pages for users that enter from email marketing and other traffic sources. It should not be added to product pages because the ‘Add to Watch list’ button would make it redundant.


The concept of list creation should not only be limited to seasonal sales. The contextual question-suggestion copy next to the call-to-action should change appropriately to encourage users to create lists for any number of reasons. For example, in late Spring the copy could read “Planning a summer getaway? Create your list of travel items”. It could also be triggered by recent searches that the user has made (e.g. beach towels, flip flops, sunglasses).