eBay says AI-powered improvements in its search rankings, knowledge of its inventory, and other areas are driving more than $1 billion per quarter in incremental sales on its marketplace.
eBay has used machine learning technologies in many parts of its business for more than a decade to optimize the matching of buyers with the right sellers. Until now, though, the company never publicly tried to qualify the overall impact of these technologies on overall sales.
Tom Pinckney, VP of applied research at eBay, said in an interview with VentureBeat, “It is indeed north of $1 billion per quarter.” AI and ML are driving incremental sales that wouldn’t otherwise have happened, he said, citing in particular AI used for search ranking, inventory understanding, buyer intent, and personalization. He said these incremental results are being achieved “quarter after quarter, and year after year.”
To be clear, sales for eBay are not the same thing as revenue. eBay is a marketplace that charges a fee for each item sold, and so its revenue is just a portion of what it calls its “gross merchandise volume.” Pinckney did not say how eBay’s AI activities drive revenue specifically.
(This is just one in a series of interviews in the run-up to our Transform event on August 21-22, in which we showcase real examples of companies using AI to drive their business results. Our motto for the event is “You can do it too!,” because it’s not just the giant tech companies — Google, Amazon, Facebook — that can use AI.)