eBay has rolled out a new high-end web destination, eBay Collective, catering to interior designers and consumers with curated inventory of furniture, antiques, contemporary design and fine art.
All dealers and galleries featured in the Collective marketplace have been invited by eBay, and are required to meet the company's criteria for ensuring a high-quality shopping experience.
Collective also integrates visual search artificial intelligence technology it brought in house through eBay's recent acquisition of Corrigon, whose image recognition technology enables a "Shop the Room" capability that allows shoppers to hover over an image and collect search results on relevant inventory.
Collective is another major boost to eBay's curation strategy eBay started the year with a much-touted hiring of Fab.com and Bezar founder Bradford Shellhammer as chief of curation and merchandising. Since then, the web auction house added an eBay Wine curated shopping experience, and eBay Collective looks to be the next step in that effort.
In addition to flat-rate, white-glove managed shipping service for users with money to spend on antiques, fine art and similar items, the eBay Collective marketplace will be syndicating select editorial stories from both Architectural Digest and Archdigest.com about decorating, shopping and industry happenings, inspiring customers to shop based on the latest trends in the design world.
The Collective announcement also might set some kind of record for how quickly a company announced an offering using technology it acquired from another company, as the Corrigon acquisition was announced by eBay less than two weeks ago. The two firm had been working together, of course, and it seems like eBay must have known for some time what capabilities eBay Collective would require, and how it would plug Corrigon's technology into the effort.
Amazon is the company in eBay's competitive sights as it uses artificial intelligence solutions to improve the shopping experience. Those efforts may have taken a bit of a blow recently, when Amazon hired away A.I. expert Hassan Sawaf from eBay. Yet it's still early in the evolution of A.I. for retail. What will eBay do with it next?
Something of note from the eBay press release: eBay employs the phrase "Shop the Look" to describe the visual search engine capability, which is exactly what Google calls its own similar AdWords-based shopping feature. However, TechCrunch's story on the launch calls the feature "Shop the Room," and those words can be seen quite clearly in one of TechCrunch's screen grabs. We can only assume eBay got it wrong in its own press release. If not, it may have some explaining to do to Google.