The electronic auction website eBay still wants to remain relevant even as competitor Amazon continues to take up marketshare. eBay was once king of online shopping, but that throne has slipped away from them. In order to try to rebound, the company is now going to start making it possible to search for auctions on its website via social media or cell phone pictures.
As CNBC.com reports, the plan is to allow customers to take a picture of an item that they would like to purchase and search it out on eBay. This image could come from their smartphone or even from social media. That image is then uploaded in the search, and the new eBay technology searches out similar listings on the auction website.
This new feature is available because of something known as machine learning. That is when computer programs start to become “smarter” as a result of having enough data loaded in to the system. Basically, the system learns more and more from the photos that have been sent in from the past. It tries to match up the photo with a product that is similar. If it is correct, then it learns that this is the right representation of what the person was looking for. On the other hand, an incorrect listing will get weeded out rather quickly as well.
It is said that eBay has approximately 1.1 billion auction listings at any given time. That is a lot of information to search through as an individual. If the computers can speed up the process, that will produce more happy customers and an easier time finding the items that are being searched for.
eBay hopes to capture some of the business that comes from those who see something that they would like to have while scrolling their social media feeds. This happens all the time, and eBay would like to capture some of that market. Their best hope to do so is to use some of the technologies that they are rolling out right now.
This has been a project that has been in planning since at least 2011. The company has been attempting to rebrand since at least that time. They know that their days as the number one online auction website has gone by the wayside, but they are looking to start to fight back against those who have outmaneuvered them up to this point.