eBay Pushes AI Curation For The Holiday

22. November 2017.

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eBay is giving its marketplace shoppers the gift of artificial intelligence (AI) this holiday season in the hopes of better connecting consumers to the things they really want.

“If we know you like superheroes, there’s a world of things on eBay you don’t even realize we have,” said Bradford Shellhammer, eBay’s head of personalization and engagement, in a CNBC report published Monday (Nov. 20).

eBay, though perhaps best known for its auctions, operates one of the world’s largest online marketplaces with 168 million active buyers. But size and scale can be a curse, because where much is had, there is also a potential for much to be overlooked.

Trying to solve for that has been the motivation behind the “Don’t shop like everybody else” theme in the eCommerce company’s holiday advertisements.

Instead, eBay urges, find the truly unique items with which its marketplace can connect consumers.

“The diversity of our catalog makes us like no other retailer in the world,” Shellhammer said. “The hard part has been where do you start? And how do you find things?”

To make discovery easier, eBay has been upping its technology game. It bought out Sweden-based Expertmaker and redesigned its web portal with a more “Netflix-style” curation scheme.

Last month, eBay began rolling out its “Grouped Listings,” which condense listings by product, not seller, to cut the clutter on the site. Going forward, the eCommerce marketplace will move beyond monitoring purchases and instead try harder to connect shoppers with more specific preferences.

The push toward more and greater curation comes alongside a series of holiday offerings eBay is putting up in 2017. It is also pushing its guaranteed delivery program, ensuring more than 20 million items will arrive within three days. The online marketplace has also put price-matching into place for more than 50,000 deals.

eBay generates approximately one-quarter of its revenue in the fourth quarter of the year, according to analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, and holiday shopping is particularly important to eBay as it is trying to make a comeback. The marketplace’s share of online dollars in the U.S. slipped 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, compared with 7.5 percent the previous year.

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