Helping eBay Find Its Next 100 Million Customers
Junior is proud to have partnered with eBay to create eBay’s first e-commerce bot, eBay Shopbot. The service, which launched in beta earlier this month, utilizes artificial intelligence, cognitive computing and visual search to make eBay’s vast inventory (1+billion listings) shoppable via Facebook’s Messenger service. Ebay Shopbot has the potential to become an effortless shopping expert; you can use text, speech or photos to find a particular product or simply browse for ideas.
Intelligent, Distributed Conversational Commerce
When we began working with eBay, we shared the fundamental belief that the future of commerce would be distributed, and most likely powered by machine learning and conversational mechanisms.
RJ Pittman, eBay’s Chief Product Officer wrote:
“The days of the ‘build it and they will come’ approach are long gone, with people downloading apps less and spending most of their time on messaging and social platforms.”
eBay had the engineering power to solve almost every major technical challenge, the magic would be in creating the experience. eBay needed to literally invent the future of retail experience through the limited structure of a chat interface.
Rapid Invention and Rapid Iteration
To help eBay meet the invention challenge, Junior fully integrated with eBay’s team — strategy, UX, product design and tech — that was built around the core tenets of start-up culture and rapid invention and iteration. Fully embedded, totally transparent and sprint-based, the joint team hacked the brief and then rapidly deployed functional prototypes to test and prove out initial concepts.
“Junior is a hugely valuable strategic and creative partner,” said Dave Lippman, VP Design, Executive Creative Director at eBay. “They worked with us to create a new sprint-based approach to making and problem solving — that allowed us to move at a start-up pace inside a large, mature organization.”
Learning in Beta
eBay Shopbot is still learning, and the millions of people using it on Messenger will help eBay Shopbot better understand context and how to make better recommendations via conversation. You can get a good sense of it right now by using the beta, whether you browse curated collections or instruct it to find a specific item through natural language or visual search.
eBay Shopbot is still evolving, growing. And as it matures, we think you’ll find that shopping with eBay should really be no different than talking to a friend.
And it all starts with “Hello.”