EBay announced Thursday that it's implementing a series of personalization features for shoppers aimed at showing consumers items that suit their interest and fit their shopping habits.
The features range from recommending "Recently Viewed Items" for shoppers without eBay accounts, sharing trending items, tailoring sales offers and showing customers a personalized homepage, according to a company blog post.
Beyond using machine learning to customize users' shopping experiences on the platform, eBay also introduced features aimed at simplifying finding and purchasing specific items. For consumers who can't quite describe the item they're searching for, the site has an image search function that is enabled by artificial intelligence and machine learning. The latest visual shopping feature also utilizes AI to better recognize objects so customers can use words and pictures to shop. Machine learning identifies coupons and deals for a "customized coupon experience." Users can also re-buy items they've already purchased even if it's from a different merchant and save items that catch their eye for later.
EBay's effort to improve its search experience may be aimed at catching up to Amazon.
Nearly one-third of consumers begin their online searches for merchandise using Amazon and eBay. But much like Amazon has done with brick-and-mortar retailers, the e-commerce giant has also edged out its online competitors, too, including eBay. Amazon was the top international marketplace last fall, pushing Alibaba in second place and eBay in fifth, per a 2018 Website Builder Expert ranking. Additionally, eBay sued Amazon for luring away its sellers, accusing Amazon of trying using eBay's internal system to recruit its best sellers, according to a court filing. However, both Amazon and eBay joined forces with Alibaba and other e-commerce sites to combat counterfeit sales, a problem that has run rampant on online marketplaces.
With its new features, eBay wants to put the sellers and merchandise that users care about front and center even for consumers that don't have an eBay account yet.
"The new experiences we've built are about inspiration and discovery, value and selection, simplicity and ease. When I shop on eBay, these technology tools work like my personal shopper," Bradford Shellhammer, eBay's vice president of buyer experience, wrote in the blog post.