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eBay Ramps Up for Big Changes with Help of Developers

eBay Developers Program

eBay Developers ProgrameBay introduced new options for third-party developers at last week’s “eBay Connect” DevCon. New Buy APIs will allow vendors to create tools and services that present eBay listings to shoppers off of the eBay website.

The consensus among attendees: changes to its technology for third-party vendors will have a major and generally positive impact on eBay sellers, including the new Buy, Sell, and other APIs.

Paul McCorquodale, Chief Operating Officer of Volo Commerce, told us he thinks it’s great that eBay has “finally” been able to wrestle with its legacy platform and reshape it for the future. “They have now separated out their software architecture which means they can expose more functionality. They are heading for a fully open platform which developers can do anything eBay can do.”

eBay Connect 2017 was its first developers conference in 7 years, Gail Frederick, a senior director of eBay Developer Ecosystem and Services, tweeted during the event, and eBay will follow with more meetings with developers around the globe over the summer.

Greg Anderson of the Open Sky Project, which publishes the longtime Auctiva and Vendio seller tools, said his team gained a lot of insight on eBay’s reinvestment in their developer ecosystem and how much eBay values its third-party partners while attending the event.

Ilja Iwas of iwascoding, developer of a Mac-based selling tool called GarageSale, said he believes eBay is “on the right track again” by supporting its third-party developer ecosystem.

“The new API seem to be a lot more modern than what eBay previously had to offer,” Iwas said, but he pointed out that auction listings aren’t supported in the new APIs. That raises questions about the direction in which eBay is heading, he said.

Developers can continue to use the existing Trading API, which supports auctions. However, third-party vendors like Iwascoding that support fixed price and auction listings have a difficult decision to make: “Stay with the old APIs and possibly miss out on new eBay features that are only available in the new APIs; ditch the old APIs and lose the ability to list auctions; or add additional complexity and user interfaces to support both APIs in their products at the same time.”

When we asked eBay about the issue, an eBay spokesperson simply referred us to the press release it had issued detailing the APIs. The press release makes it clear the new Sell APIs are centered on commodity goods with “retail-standard inventory.”

Anderson seemed less concerned about the auction implications, stating that Auctiva would continue to support and enhance features around auctions. “The great thing about eBay’s API implementation is that they can be used in a hybrid model. Auctiva will use all the best features of the new APIs while continuing to use the features our users love in the existing APIs, like the trading API.”

Also generating a lot of interest from developers was eBay’s Buy APIs. “We are excited as it aligns with our future,” McCorquodale said, as it enables purchases through APIs.

In eBay’s press release, it states the benefits of the new Buy APIs for sellers: “Off-eBay buying helps eBay sellers to list their inventory on eBay, and enable shoppers to discover that eBay inventory anywhere on the Web, including social sites and other contexts.”

eSnipe’s Tom Campbell tweeted his reaction to the news: “eBay CEO Devin Wenig on the eBay API: “My highest aspiration for eBay is that it lives outside the eBay website.” Amazing!”

The idea of shoppers being exposed to eBay items across the internet is laudable (eBay has tried this before), but it’s seems unlikely that auction format listings and non-catalog (i.e., unique, non-SKU) goods will benefit – no surprise to those following eBay’s focus on structured data.

The clue that this is not your father’s eBay anymore: Campbell tweeted that pick-up-in-store, a feature popular with shoppers of brick-and-mortar stores – is now supported by the eBay Inventory API.

A version of this article appeared in the June 26th issue of EcommerceBytes 411.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.