eBay takes a giant leap in the Classifieds direction: a new feature that allows customers to post want ads for items they are looking to buy on its Web site.. Amazon has Wishlists, and now eBay does too… CNET:

The launch of the “Want It Now” feature represents a departure from eBay’s traditional setup, which allowed people to search the auctioneer’s listings, but didn’t give them the opportunity to display what sort of products they were looking to purchase.

The company also created a tool that allows individuals selling products on eBay to search the want ads and find buyers who might be interested in their auctions.

Using the system, registered eBay users can place a 30-day ad that describes what goods they would like to buy. The system gives anyone searching the postings access to the buyer’s background information, such as their community feedback rating and geographical location. The tool does not give sellers direct access to customers’ account names, but instead allows them to e-mail information on specific auctions to an eBay member, while keeping the potential buyer’s screen name anonymous.

The “Want It Now” tool appears to be catching on with eBay users already, despite the fact that the company has not yet publicly promoted the feature. eBay first started letting people post the ads Nov. 30. By Friday morning, close to 200 people had created want ads in the eBay Motors section of the company’s site, one of its most active product categories.

eBay expects the new feature to allow its customers to find the items they are looking to buy faster, while giving people selling items a chance to make sales more quickly. The company also believes the system will give its sellers a chance to gauge demand for specific categories of products.

The launch of the want ads represents eBay’s full-fledged entry into the classifieds sector, a business it recently stepped into when it bought a 25 percent stake in Craigslist.org, a bare-bones classifieds site operating in 45 major cities. In early November, eBay announced plans to buy Marktplaats.nl, a Dutch classified-advertising Web site, for about $290 million in cash.