eBay’s Technology Transformation is Made for Evolving Customer Needs

How our advances in edge computing are empowering both buyers and sellers in times of great demand with ease and agility.

As we accelerate the tech-led reimagination of eBay, our goal is to become the platform of choice for sellers and a lifelong, trusted partner for buyers. When our customers succeed, we succeed — and never has this been more true than now. Thanks to our tech transformation strategy and investments in our private cloud infrastructure, the eBay marketplace has met the sudden and rapid influxes in customer demands with ease and agility throughout the pandemic with an even faster, more modern and more seamless customer experience. We are similarly poised to meet the increased demands of the upcoming holiday season as the world continues to turn to ecommerce during this time of physical distancing. 

Forward Momentum

What's exciting to me is that on average in the first three quarters of the year, the traffic that eBay has seen is on par with our busiest shopping days during a normal holiday season. In an extraordinary boost of customers onto our marketplace, more than 85 days in the first three quarters have exceeded peak 2019 traffic.

Our platform is able to handle this sudden rise in traffic and customers' needs in large part because of our tech transformation strategy, providing a seamless experience while smoothly adjusting to this rise in numbers and handling over 250 checkouts per second. We have kept our marketplace available for customers throughout the pandemic at a relatively flat cost, even as we welcomed new customers to our platform. Now, with retail predictions that more than 70% of consumers will do more of their holiday shopping online this year than previous years, with over 50% solely buying online, we have great confidence that our technology is ready to take eBay and our customers into the next quarter century.

Our New Frontiers in Edge Computing

eBay serves tens of billions of requests daily through our platform. In 2017, we started an initiative to modernize our edge computing technology around the world by distributing services to reside within proximity of our customers. By creating this unique-to-us infrastructure, we provide a seamless and consistent experience on our platform regardless of  customers geolocation. Our edge technology can be deployed very quickly in a nimble and efficient way within a short period of time to allow for surges onto our platform so we can continue to scale our services and provide the best experiences for our global customers.

Building this type of sophisticated, dynamic infrastructure in a relatively short time at that scale while keeping our marketplace running at optimal performance requires a level of attention to detail similar to changing the engine on a Boeing 747 while it’s in the air.

The stack was created using a variety of open source software, such as Envoy proxy for data plane and Contour for control plane. This open source approach promotes collaboration with the open source community overall, enabling our engineers to learn while also giving back. In addition, extending eBay’s software-based edge infrastructure closer to the customer has helped us bring in capabilities that were previously considered difficult to integrate, such as dynamic caching — which accelerates loading of our pages by caching time-critical content incredibly quickly at the edge of our network. By doing so, we can observe and act on user experience on the platform in real time by collecting billions of data points and detecting and resolving any potential issues using machine-learning algorithms.

Our roll-out and migration of traffic to the new platform was also innovative. Our teams created systems that used AI — computer vision — to test new features in volume. We built autonomous systems that let us integrate these changes seamlessly by monitoring large volumes of data, again using machine-learning algorithms to solve problems before they interfere with customer experience. This allows us to endlessly innovate on behalf of our buyers and sellers.

What does this mean for our customer? Our edge technology provides increased service resiliency, improved latency and delivered consistent customer experiences. With faster and localized services, we can truly show up for our customers — wherever and whenever they need us.

eBay is Always Open for Everyone

For the past 25 years, we have empowered sellers to thrive and helped buyers find what they want while creating economic opportunity for all. We have achieved advancements over the past few years in our platform through our tech transformation and innovation. Now, we’re seeing these investments pay off with economic benefits and opportunities for our sellers and quicker, more seamless shopping experiences for our buyers during these recent times of massive surges onto our marketplace.

The richness and value of our marketplace offerings, our global reach and our customer centricity are targeted to meet this moment and help people still find meaning, connection and joy in their holiday season. This customer-focused approach will continue to help us empower and enable our communities to succeed.