Building Bots for Messenger – Tips from the Experts: eBay

If there’s something you want to buy, it’s probably for sale on eBay. Connecting millions of buyers and sellers around the world, eBay’s mission is to be the destination for discovering great value and unique selection. Their vision for commerce is one that is enabled by people, powered by technology and open to everyone.

eBay recently sat down with us to discuss their ShopBot:

In 100 words or less describe what your bot does.
Powered by Artificial Intelligence, eBay ShopBot is a personal shopping assistant that saves shoppers time and money. eBay ShopBot learns shopping preferences and intent, allowing the user to find their perfect item when chatting, or even by sending a picture of what they’re looking for. eBay Shopbot guides interactions through intuitive and personalized recommendations while learning about the user along the way.

Who are you trying to reach?
We want to reach people where they already spend their time. By putting eBay ShopBot inside Messenger, we can reach millions of daily active users, bringing eBay closer than ever, with even less effort.

How did you design your bot?
A simple, fast, and conversational approach guided our design process. We focused on removing friction and leveraging technology to make shopping as easy as talking to a friend, whether you’re looking for something specific or just browsing for inspiration.

We want eBay ShopBot to have your best interest in mind by looking out for you, finding you the best deals, and knowing you just like a real personal assistant would. To do this, we leverage AI, natural language understanding (so the user can just tell us what they want) and image recognition technology, making it easy to find that perfect item and purchase it fast and easily.

Additionally, we invested in a base technology layer that puts the billion-item eBay catalog alongside a deep understanding of user intent, to give ShopBot depth of feature and shopping functionality.

What have you learned since launching? Any surprises or successes you want to share?
We’re constantly training our AI, not only to respond to everyday commerce queries, but with new and novel approaches to commerce as well. We started by training specific categories (such as Clothing, Shoes, and Home Décor). More recently, we’ve been focusing on curating inventory tied to key shopping moments (weddings, birthdays) and gifting events (Christmas, Valentine’s Day).


What are you going to build next?
eBay ShopBot gets better everyday, and we’re launching a steady beat of improvements and features. We recently launched Smart Guidance—a feature that replaces old and outdated search paradigms with much more dependable and accurate, contextually relevant results and items. Our approach is bold, and it leverages strengths in messaging platforms. We’re moving away from search approaches, and eschewing long lists of items. Instead, we want eBay ShopBot to present organized suggestion sets that make the shopping process smarter. This essentially supplants traditional search, replacing it with automated, intelligent guided shopping experiences. These experiences aim to provide rich selection without compromising on relevance, accuracy, quality or value.

We also launched Sizeboarding, a feature that allows users to share and update their size profile so we can show results that are fitted for them. This, coupled with smart guidance, creates a great shopping experience that’s personalized for you and saves you time and money.

We’ll soon follow up with seamless checkout, computer vision and natural language understanding enhancements, and much more to come!

Why Messenger?
We’ve only begun to scratch the surface with Messenger. We aim to bring a million items to the billion users on Messenger. We have a unique opportunity to reach shoppers not only where they spend their time, but also where we can test our approaches and hypotheses about shopping with a simple, personalized bot that resonates with Messenger’s main user base. Messenger is a great partner and offers the technically robust platform, developer support and reach to help us achieve our goals.

This series highlights the successes of businesses and developers who use the Messenger Platform in unique and interesting ways.

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