Celebrating 20 Years: eBay’s New APIs Enable Developers to Create Modern Buying and Selling Experiences

eBay launches APIs for Managed Payments, Seller Initiated Offers, Charity and more for developers to help their businesses thrive.

APIs, or application programming interfaces, at eBay are the front door to our global marketplace platform. They enable our business to expand into new contexts, allowing third-party platforms to extend their value proposition while also bringing their customers to us. We give our developers data and capabilities at scale, and in turn they invent and create fantastic buying and selling experiences for their users.

Despite the challenges of this uncertain time amid the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, eBay is open for everyone. We haven’t missed a beat on our deliverables. We are fully committed to our employees, our customers, our local communities and, of course, our developer community.

And, we’re also using our platform for good as our founder Pierre Omidyar envisioned when he established our marketplace in 1995. Earlier this year, we partnered with the U.K.'s National Health Service to launch an online portal to help health care providers get personal protective equipment (PPE). The solution is 100 percent based on eBay buy APIs. This illustrates the quality of the API portfolio and the great flexibility it offers. We’re extremely proud to have the opportunity to help save lives and get PPE into the right hands. 

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20 Years of the eBay Developers Program

This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the eBay developers program. The intent behind our first set of APIs, launched in 2000, was to help sellers manage their eBay businesses at scale. These APIs were SOAP-based APIs, and initially, API access was granted only to a limited number of licensed partners and developers. We later expanded our API portfolio to include buyer experience capabilities. Many of these APIs are still heavily used, and while they continue to bring a lot of value to both eBay and our customers, they also show their age. That is why we decided to revamp the developers program in 2016 and deliver a new family of modern and consistent RESTful APIs.

New Payments API Capabilities

We are getting ready for our managed payments global expansion, beginning on July 18.

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To enable our developers around the globe to properly manage their sellers’ finances and bookkeeping, we released numerous API capabilities around eBay managed payments. 

In addition to details about program enrollments, the Account API now allows sellers to check whether they are eligible for eBay managed payments. It also surfaces steps that sellers need to take to complete the managed payments enrollment process. Know Your Customer (KYC) is a set of regulatory and compliance requirements that any financial institution must support. Increased selling activity and other events may require sellers to provide additional data to meet these requirements, and the Account API exposes KYC capabilities to sellers. 

The breakdown of taxes and fees is available in the Fulfillment API when retrieving order details. We also enhanced post transaction capabilities. Through this API, developers now have a way to manage their sellers’ external, buyer-initiated payment disputes. 

The Finances API provides insights into financial activities on the platform for sellers enrolled in eBay managed payments. The API now supports various transaction types, including shipping labels, fees and disputes. Starting this month, final value fees will be deducted from sellers’ sales proceeds instead of being charged to sellers’ monthly invoices.​ Support for active cross-border listings for sellers enrolled in managed payments is coming in August.

New Selling API Capabilities

We also continue to deliver new sell API capabilities to help our partners’ businesses thrive: 

  • Promoted Listings Supported in France, Italy, Spain, and Canada in Marketing API - Ad campaigns help sellers to stand out from the crowd. Promoted listings show up in sponsored placements on the eBay site, including search and listing modules, and across channels: desktop, mWeb and native apps. The Marketing API now supports promoted listings in France, Italy, Spain and Canada. We’ve also increased the  maximum number of items per campaign to 50,000. 

  • Customer Service Metrics in Analytics API - This capability is for sellers to retrieve metric and benchmark data as well as the overall seller rating to understand if they are meeting buyers’ customer-service expectations.

  • Offers to Buyers in Negotiation API - We announced the Negotiation API last year at Connect and released it in September 2019. This allows sellers to send offers with customized discounts to interested buyers. Promotions are important. Buyers want deals and transparency on savings, and sellers want sales. In some cases, like high-priced unique items, offers to buyers are optimal promotions.

  • Enhanced Aspect Guidance in Taxonomy and Compliance APIs - The Compliance API now surfaces listings at risk for becoming non-compliant against eBay aspect listing policies. Also, we recently enhanced the aspect guidance in the Taxonomy API by adding the expected required date for item specifics. This is to give developers more insight into our initiative to improve the shopping experience by enriching aspects across listings. The aspect relevance indicator is coming in Q3 this year. The Taxonomy API now provides an easy way to retrieve aspect metadata across categories via a new bulk method. 

  • Feed API - This is a new API in our portfolio that enables sellers to upload input files and download reports and output files. Both upload and download files are processed asynchronously. Currently, supported use cases are downloading order reports and acknowledging fulfilled orders. Customer service metrics and remaining feeds and reports available via Merchant Integration Platform and Large Merchant Services will be supported in the future. The capability to schedule reports and feed tasks is coming later this year.

  • Auctions, Scheduled Listings and More in Inventory API - Sellers can now specify charity donation percentage when they create their offers. Support for auctions, secondary category, scheduling listings and specifying availability across warehouse locations is coming soon.

  • Consumer Selling API - We announced this API at eBay Connect last year and released it in October 2019. The API allows users on partner marketplaces to create eBay item drafts starting from the partner platform's information. After creating item drafts, sellers use the listing experience on eBay to finish and publish their items. The eBay consumer selling flow provides guidance and recommendations on pricing, aspects and more to help sellers optimize their listings in search results.


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Additional New API Capabilities

We have announced many enhancements across the buy APIs. Global Shipping Program import charges, coupons, auto-spelled keyword corrections, eBay guaranteed delivery and eBay Plus eligibility are enabled in Browse API. Goods and Services Tax (GST) for our Australian marketplace is supported across the Buy APIs. Deal API is a new API in our portfolio on the buy-side for affiliates and other partners interested in eBay deals and sale events, and it allows sales event discovery and retrieving items associated with such events or other deals on eBay. 

Our commerce API family includes capabilities that span both buy and sell activities. In addition to Taxonomy API enhancements, in April this year we released a new Charity API. This API enables buyers and sellers to discover charitable organizations supported on eBay. We are incredibly proud of our eBay for Charity program. There are 83,000 charities enrolled on our platform, and the total funds raised by eBay for Charity since 2003 has crossed $1 billion. Our marketplace users have an easy way to support their favorite charities when they buy or sell on eBay. On the RESTful API side, we have all of the capabilities now to enable sellers to sell for charities and to allow buyers to shop for charities. 

Translation API supports new language pairs and HTML markup in item descriptions. Translation capabilities are critical to our seller community to cross the language barrier and amplify reach. The machine translations are based on in-house trained models and state-of-the-art algorithms optimized for the ecommerce context.

SDKs and OpenAPI documents

We continued releasing SDKs that simplify integrations with our APIs. We open-sourced these SDKs to give developers full transparency into their integrations, and we welcome contributions from our developer community. Our SDKs are consistent with the APIs and easy to use. To further simplify aspect adoption, we recently released the Taxonomy Metadata SDK that compares item specifics across two category trees. This tool goes well with the new bulk capability in the Taxonomy API

We are still a proud member of the OpenAPI Initiative. For all our new modern RESTful APIs, we have published OpenAPI documents, and we support both the 2.x and 3.x specifications. At eBay Connect 2018, we demonstrated that integration with our read-only capabilities only takes a few minutes when leveraging contracts based on the OpenAPI specification. We suggest that developers leverage OpenAPI documents to simplify and speed up their integration with eBay APIs.

eBay developer ecosystem by the numbers

Since October 2016, eBay’s Buy APIs have generated $3B* in Gross Merchandise Bought (GMB) globally.

eBay serves ~150 - 250M API calls per hour.

In an average week, eBay serves ~30B API calls.

In Q1 of 2020, external developers used our public Sell APIs to:

  • Create more than 500,000 new listings

  • Manage about 2x that number

* $3B in GMB is as of Q1 2020.