A parcel in eBay Inc. packaging is seen on a conveyor belt with other small parcels at the United States Postal Service sorting center in Louisville, Kentucky, on Jan. 13, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Luke Sharrett.

EBay working on tech tools to make online shopping more fun

EBay Inc. will roll out new augmented reality features this year to make buying and selling goods on the website more engaging, and is exploring a credit program for sellers to encourage them to keep their money on the platform.

The San Jose, California-based marketplace said it’s working on an AR kit that, for example, will let car enthusiasts see how the images of new wheels would look on their vehicles before making a purchase. Another feature will help sellers select the correct box size for an item by overlaying an image of the box on the merchandise.

EBay had a strong holiday quarter with 170 million buyers on the platform and a 10 percent increase in gross merchandise volume to $24.4 million. That is a key metric of the value of all goods and tickets sold on the company’s marketplaces.

Key strategies to maintain growth are to improve the way artificial intelligence and data are used to personalize what visitors see on the home page and to introduce features such as the AR tools to make online shopping more fun, Mohan Patt, EBay’s vice president of buyer experiences, said in an interview. The goal is to expand EBay’s customer reach beyond mission-shoppers who know precisely what they want to enthusiasts in different categories seeking inspiration, Patt said.

“Personalization is all about getting you to buy things you didn’t know you wanted,” he said.

The company also is considering a program to give sellers credits to entice them to use the money they make on EBay to buy additional items on the marketplace, he said. That feature will become possible as EBay transitions to a new payment provider after its relationship with long-time partner PayPal Holdings Inc., Patt said.

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