A Reimagined Shopping Experience

By: Mohan Patt, Vice President of Buyer Experience, eBay

We continue to evolve the experience on eBay by innovating and launching new features to make shopping personalized and intuitive.

We’ve made bold changes at eBay in the last year. We’re building a new shopping experience for our customers that’s starting to come to life. We began this multi-year journey to replatform eBay in 2015, with the goal of delivering relevant and personalized experiences to our consumers—so every person who shops on our platform can find their version of perfect.

We’ve evolved the shopping experience by applying artificial intelligence at scale, leveraging augmented reality and driving a distributed commerce model. Below, I’ve outlined the ways we’ve evolved eBay’s shopping experience, and where we’re heading.

The biggest advantage of shopping on eBay is the unparalleled selection and value of the more than 1.1 billion listings on our marketplace. From brand new to vintage, if it exists in the world, it is probably for sale on eBay. As we move forward, we will hone in on an even more tailored experience, making shopping easier and more intuitive.

Technology That Redefines Shopping

We have heavily invested in AI across our platform. You can see this powering many of our efforts at scale, including those in personalization and image recognition. We use AI to find patterns and trends across our massive data sets, so we can deliver highly personalized results and help shoppers find the things they really want.

At the heart of the reimagined shopping experience is our structured data effort, which provides insights into more than a billion items on our site. And, when paired with decades of data on the buying preferences of millions of shoppers, it enables us to explore new paths of personalization and inspiration.

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  • Our new browsing flows and standardized product pages allow users to see relevant items unique to them, based on their shopping behavior.
  • A new discovery-based homepage delivers a highly personalized experience.
  • Structured data across our Motors category enables you to buy tires in the U.S. or Germany and have them professionally installed in your local area.
  • Computer vision makes the entire internet shoppable from your mobile device. Last fall, we launched Find It On eBay and Image Search on the eBay app, which lets you use pictures to search our marketplace. Whether it’s a photo you snap in the world around you or an image that inspires you on your favorite blog, our AI helps you quickly find the things you love.
  • We’re meeting our consumers on their social networks. eBay ShopBot is our AI-powered personal shopping concierge on Facebook Messenger that helps people find the best deals.
  • Through conversational commerce, we enabled shoppers to “Ask eBay” on Google Assistant, so finding the items you want is as easy as asking a friend.
  • Our Seller Hub is mobile-friendly, highly customizable and offers real-time recommendations. It arms sellers with meaningful guidance on pricing, restocking and sourcing.
  • By revamping our API platform, we’ve made it easier for our developer and seller partners to grow and scale their businesses, giving them the tools to quickly integrate with eBay and onboard all their inventory using retail and industry standard practices.

The investments in new technologies that we have made and the new model of shopping we are working toward are already making an impact across our business. We’re seeing an uptick of traffic landing on structured data enabled pages and strong conversion on SEO. And the eBay app has the best reviews in its history.

And to really underscore the experience we’re building, we will begin to intermediate payments on our platform. We believe that it is strategically important to improve the buyer and seller experience on our platform and will enable us to further innovate on behalf of our customers.

Our improved shopping experience is bolstered by new services and features that increase shopper confidence in the items they are buying.

A Culture of Innovation

Another key element is our focus on promoting a culture that allows our technologists—and employees across the company—to think bigger and innovate. We hold an annual Hackweek where teams from around the world spend a week focused solely on creating, inspiring and showing their own projects to mentors and sponsors around the company.  

Many of the ideas that begin at Hackweek have become integral parts of product portfolio. Two years ago, a team at Hackweek had an idea that used image recognition technology to search using pictures instead of words, which paved the way for Image Search.

Forging a New Path

The cutting-edge technology that we are investing in will redefine ecommerce. Shopping will be more conversational and personal. When you come to eBay.com or our mobile app, you’ll see a simpler, more intuitive way to shop. We will focus on key areas of our shopping experience, including search, delivery and returns, customer service and payments. 

In 2018, we'll focus our AI capabilities on computer vision, personalization, search and dynamic pricing capabilities for our sellers. AR, VR and mixed reality are becoming viable platforms for development and we will take advantage of their unique capabilities to deliver immersive and engaging buying and selling experiences.

We will also use AI to sharpen the overall search experience, leveraging data and AI to improve our recall and relevance. And we’ll use AR to merge the online and the physical. We’ll open a world of possibilities with computer vision.

We’ll use structured data in a more holistic way than we’ve done before to take the next step in transforming the user experience on our platform, by launching a full product-based commerce experience for relevant inventory.

We will begin the work to unify conversational commerce with our core shopping experience, providing seamless voice or text assistance when needed within our desktop and app platforms.

Over the next year, you’ll see eBay forge a new path—not just for our company, but for the industry at large.