Augmented Reality on Tap at eBay

February 19, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

There’s a lot of change going on at eBay lately. First, we heard about the near-total split from PayPal in the works, a development which is nothing short of earth-shaking in its own right. Now, word has emerged that America’s biggest online yard sale is making some new changes, and this time, it’s all about augmented reality (AR).

The new AR tools eBay’s development are said to have several potential uses. Shoppers will be able to use the AR systems to see how something looks in or on the place it’s set to occupy; a knick-knack on a shelf, a shirt on a wearer, tires on a car and so on. Sellers, meanwhile, could use it to determine the best box size for an item for sale, useful given the USPS “if it packs, it ships” boxes in several pre-selected sizes. The AR tools would overlay the box over the item itself, and if it was clear that parts of the item were out of the box, then it’s clear that’s the wrong size box.

All of this is part of a larger growth plan as eBay takes some exciting new measures, including the use of artificial intelligence data to customize the homepage. Indeed, some even suggest that this is part of a larger development track in which shoppers are getting the benefits of brick-and-mortar shopping from their homes. Granted, the immediacy factor is still gone, but as online shopping venues develop their own brick-and-mortar presence, this last bastion of brick-and-mortar supremacy may be on the outs.

With retailers from Wayfair to Ikea giving shoppers the option to see an item in their homes by AR, and mobile devices being central to the concept—did you think you were going to walk your PC around your living room to see what that couch looks like—a development like this makes mobile payments particularly useful. After all, reducing latency in shopping is vital to businesses of all sorts; turning everything into an impulse buy is a great retail strategy.

See it, like it, buy it; that’s the great goal for retailing. Online shopping has suffered somewhat in that sense, but with AR tools stepping in and mobile payments shortening the gap to purchase, it may about to become an even greater force than ever.