SAN JOSE, Calif. — "Grow with us" was the theme at the ninth annual eBay Developers Conference held this week near eBay's headquarters campus.
The annual event gives third-party developers a behind-the-scenes look at eBay, and insights into e-commerce and upcoming eBay changes. Topics covered during the 35 education sections ranged from tips for new sellers, to mobile apps, to Best Match.
While keynoters spoke about specific opportunities emerging within e-commerce, the buzz among attendees seemed to be about changes that are coming to Best Match, the algorithm used to rank search results on eBay.
In one popular session, "Best Match: What is Coming?," eBay's Mike Mathieson announced that the algorithm will be changed later this year. Among the adjustments will be the removal of Featured First, allowing eBay to "reclaim" the top two spots in search results so it can display the most relevant listings.
"We really believe this will lead to increasing activity on the site," he said.
eBay "will begin using more data in ranking functions, and could use image search terminology," he continued.
If we partner up and drive innovation—some planned, some suggested by you—we can [make eBay better]
A mobile future
eBay President and CEO John Dohanoe stressed the need for good partnerships between eBay and developers to create innovative tools for sellers and buyers—both at home and on the go—and to give eBay members a good overall user experience. Mobile devices and social media are changing the way people buy, making this an "exciting time" in development, he said in a keynote speech to kick off the event.
Donahoe noted the infancy of e-commerce, which today accounts for only 6 percent of all retail, but that he projected will represent as much as 20 percent in the next five years.
"The commitment to make eBay better and enable innovation is there," Donahoe told developers. "I believe we have strong assets and if we partner up and drive innovation—some planned, some suggested by you—we can [achieve it]."
Donahoe's mobile vision was shared by Gene Alvarez, research vice president of CRM and e-commerce research at Gartner Group. Alvarez spoke about the prevalence of mobile payments and the importance of mobile apps in e-commerce. According to Gartner Group, 30 percent of smartphone users will use those devices to shop online within two years, and mobile apps could have an impact on how much people spend.
The impact of mobile commerce is already being felt, he said, as he showed Pizza Hut's app that allows customers to place orders from mobile devices.
"People will pay $2 more when they order on their mobile devices because they don't have to tell anyone they're cheating on their diet," he reported.
Reviews and social media will also likely affect how people shop, as consumers continue to look to Facebook friends and user-generated content for recommendations about what products are the best, he said.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.