How Developers Power eBay’s Product-Based Shopping Experience

eBay is moving towards a Product-Based Shopping Experience (PBSE) in 2018. With the new experience, buyers will be able to easily find merchandise that meets their search criteria and quickly decide which products they want to purchase.

eBay continues to refine our platform, applications, and tools to make our marketplace the best place to buy and sell. Likewise, we continue to expand and distinguish our developer offerings to enable buyers, sellers, and developers to integrate with eBay in ways that allow customization and scalability.

About the product-based shopping experience

eBay’s product-based shopping experience makes it easy for buyers to find and compare products, identify the best deals, and make purchase decisions with confidence. With the current listing-based experience, searches can yield thousands of different listings and offers that buyers must comb through to find the product, offer details, and seller that are right for them.

With the new product-based shopping experience, similar listings are grouped by product and product aspects. With the new experience, buyers get a short list of products with pricing and relevant rating information to help narrow the search.

Once buyers select specific products, they can select product aspects, such as color. Then, they simply choose the buy box corresponding to the relevant listing details, such as item condition or listing type, to get the best deal.

How the product-based shopping experience impacts sellers

As the online retail industry moves to a product-based commerce model, buyers have come to expect the simplicity and control provided by a product-based shopping experience. With over one billion active listings, this model is critical to providing our buyers the best retail experience. This will, in turn, enable continued success of eBay and the sellers who use our platform. eBay is taking steps to ensure we provide the best retail standard shopping experience in the industry with the following advancements: 

  • eBay’s comprehensive product catalog with high-quality structured product data

  • API capabilities that enable sellers to easily retrieve the information they need to fuel a product-based shopping experience

  • Capabilities that help sellers and manufacturers continuously grow and refine the contents of eBay’s product catalog

  • Seller integration options that are simple and scalable 

eBay refers to a seller’s act of associating their inventory with specific products from the eBay catalog as product adoption. Product adoption is required for listings and offers to qualify for inclusion in the product-based shopping experience. While seller participation is not mandatory, by adopting products in the catalog, sellers’ items will be part of a retail-standard experience that will enable buyers to easily find what they want and need.

Throughout 2018 and 2019, we will extend this approach to other categories across the eBay catalog in phases—and provide sellers and developers with sufficient advance notice and tools to help them list with the catalog efficiently and effectively. With each phase, we invite contributions from our expert sellers to improve the catalog and help ensure that products in the catalog are accurate and up-to-date.

eBay’s catalog and the power of product data

In listing-based commerce, sifting through thousands  of listings creates a convoluted search experience for buyers. However, when listings and offers are associated with products in the eBay catalog, similar listings and offers are grouped, filtered, and easily compared. This is why a product-based shopping experience is optimal. 

Convoluted search experience

As eBay expands and refines the product catalog and creates relationships between products, buyers will have a much easier experience finding exactly what they need on eBay. For example, buyers might be able to find parts and accessories for their product or they may find competing products for detailed comparisons.

Finding associated products

API capabilities for product-based selling

Just as the product-based shopping experience simplifies the way buyers shop and make buying decisions on eBay, the product-based selling experience greatly simplifies the process for creating listings/offers on eBay. Once the seller has found the correct product in the eBay product catalog, they can simply attach a listing to a product, leaving them more time to concentrate on more important aspects to the selling process like pricing, shipping service, fulfillment, and returns, to ensure their products are competitive and attractive to buyers in that marketplace.

API capabilities for product-based selling

The following sections outline the added or updated API capabilities that help sellers participate in the product-based shopping experience.

Determining where product adoption is needed

We’ve updated our metadata APIs to allow users to programmatically determine the listing requirements for a given category and brand with respect to product adoption. Currently, this capability is provided by the GetCategorySpecifics and GetCategoryFeatures calls in the Trading API. Soon, we will add this capability to the Taxonomy API. The Taxonomy API belongs to the new modern family of eBay RESTful APIs, which offer many benefits, including consistent modeling, support for OAuth 2.0, JSON format payloads, OpenAPI specifications, performance benefits, and more.

The new Compliance API, also one of eBay’s RESTful APIs, helps identify a seller’s listings/offers that do not meet the product adoption requirements for exposure in the product-based shopping experience.

Finding products in the eBay product catalog

The new Catalog API provides capabilities to find and retrieve product data from the eBay catalog, as well to suggest edits to the catalog product data. With the Catalog API, sellers can find a product that matches various search criteria, including category IDs, keywords, product identifiers, and aspects. It also supports search refinements by applying additional aspect-based filters.

Associating inventory or items with catalog products

Both eBay’s traditional APIs, such as the Trading API, and eBay’s RESTful APIs, such as the Inventory API, make it easy to associate seller items or inventory with matching products in the eBay catalog. Use the createOrReplaceInventoryItem call from the Inventory API to create a new Inventory Item or revise the existing one to associate your inventory with catalog products.

Developers integrated with the Trading API can use AddFixedPriceItem and AddItem to associate new listings with catalog products for enabled categories and brands and the corresponding revise calls can be used similarly to associate existing listings with catalog products.

Soon, when eBay can identify a “high confidence” match in the eBay product catalog for listings that do not meet product adoption requirements, the Compliance API will provide recommended products. This will significantly speed the process of product adoption.

Expanding and refining the eBay product catalog

Three newly released methods in the Catalog API allow sellers to suggest edits to the catalog by submitting catalog change requests to create or revise products in eBay catalog. These new methods are now available in the Sandbox environment for early testing and easy integration. The Taxonomy API provides a way to retrieve required and available aspects for a product or category. These aspects serve as a sort of template for product catalog change request submissions.

Understanding the competition

With product-based commerce, it is critical for sellers to understand the competitive forces at play for their inventory in a given marketplace. The Marketplace Insights API, which is currently in a private beta release, provides sellers with data about demand, availability, and trending pricing for a specific product on a given eBay marketplace. This helps sellers make decisions about where and how to sell their inventory on eBay to maximize exposure on product pages and to, ultimately, drive better conversion rates.

The Marketplace Insights API is in Beta and is available to a limited group of eBay partners at this time. We’ll provide updates on broader availability in the future. Stay tuned.

Creating product-based shopping experiences

The RESTful Buy APIs allow eBay partners to create their own shopping experiences, tailored to the needs of their buyers. All of the data provided to and by sellers to help drive eBay’s product-based shopping experience is available to support buy-side applications, as well.

Making integration easy

Each new API that eBay releases includes a downloadable API contract based on the OpenAPI specification (YAML or JSON). These contracts describe the details of the API interface comprehensively. The OpenAPI specification is the industry standard for describing APIs. An OpenAPI specification is both machine- and human-readable. The OpenAPI specification is community driven and is supported with a large set of mature tools, including Swagger, which provides the ability to generate client code in over 40 programming languages.

The OpenAPI Initiative (OAI) controls and administers the OpenAPI specification. OAI is a Linux Foundation project, of which eBay is a member with a seat on the Business Governing Board.

eBay has also created a user experience for sellers to submit product change requests for the eBay catalog. That is, eBay has done the integration to save third-party developers time and effort. The URLs to access this experience can be retrieved via the GeteBayDetails call in the Trading API. Whitelisted applications can send sellers to this web flow to create or update products in the catalog and to check the status of their submitted change requests. Third-party applications provide access tokens for their sellers to retrieve a session token needed to initiate the session.


As eBay evolves and adapts to stay ahead of commerce trends and user preferences, eBay’s public API portfolio continues to expand and improve to enable third-party developers the means to easily integrate with eBay and to create innovative and valuable experiences for their customers and ours.