eBay ramps up developer strategy with series of API updates

The e-commerce player has been focused on the developer community for the last couple of years as part of its growth plan.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Video: eBay launches curated product page built from shopper data

eBay is ramping up its developer strategy with a series of API updates designed to spur marketplace growth through better buyer experiences. The e-commerce player has been focused on the developer community for the last couple of years as part of its growth plan, and today says that external developers drove more than $9.6 billion of gross merchandise volume globally and created more than 2.1 billion new listings in the first half of 2018.

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eBay's latest moves on the developer front aim to give developers more access to its own back-end technology. This includes opening up its Image Search API, and providing developer access to its Machine Translation API that powers English-to-Mandarin translations for search queries. eBay is also providing full support for OpenAPI specifications for all of its RESTful public APIs, allowing developers to generate code and call up an eBay API in about 90 seconds.

"Through our APIs, our developer ecosystem plays a critical role in helping us build and deliver the best experiences for our buyers and sellers," eBay said in a blog post. "Over the last two years, we've worked to modernize our API platform and cultivate our eBay Developers Program."

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The company's most recent developer-focused features are based on eBay's custom built computer vision and deep learning technology. The Image Search API includes the image search, drag-and-drop visual shopping, and Find It On eBay capabilities. Image search and Find It On eBay rolled out natively on the eBay platform in 2017.


The Image Search feature compares images that a shopper uploads to the eBay app to the images of live listings, and then ranks the results based on visual similarity and displays them for the shopper. Find it on eBay is conceptually similar to Image Search, but instead of pasting photos into the search bar, shoppers can share URLs with eBay, and then the eBay mobile app will surface listings of the product.

The drag-and-drop AI tool came out in July as the next step in the platform's computer vision evolution. The tool lets buyers drag an image to the search bar to find more items using images of similar products on eBay's mobile app. eBay's efforts are in step with the broader retail industry as more players turn to AI as a way to improve customer satisfaction and overall conversion.

Also: eBay's app update makes it easier to list items for sale

In addition to the Image Search API, eBay also announced a handful of new and updated APIs. The updated APIs include the Buy APIs, which were today made available in the US, UK and Germany; the Inventory API, which was tweaked to let developers serve large sellers more efficiently; the Trading API, which now lets developers remove variations from MSKU listings that have transactions; and the Fulfillment API, which is now available in eight additional territories including the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Australia, France, Italy and Spain.

New APIs to the portfolio include the Developer Analytics and Limited Release APIs. eBay said the Developer Analytics API helps developers understand their progress to rate limits, while the Limited Release APIs, which include tools for Marketplace Insights and Remote Shopping Carts, are specifically for vetted eBay partners.

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Previous and related coverage:

eBay announces Apple Pay acceptance as part of payments revamp

The company has also teamed up with Square Capital for seller financing.

eBay launches Interests, a curated product page built from shoppers' data

The Interests feature aims to show shoppers products that are individualized to their preferences.

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