eBay is where the world goes to shop, sell and give, from securing great deals to discovering unique finds. With 20 million active sellers hosting 1.7 billion live listings, application program interfaces, or APIs, are crucial to the success of our marketplace. Whether by surfacing targeted inventory, streamlining payments and shipping, or even enabling shoppers to purchase items from eBay without visiting our marketplace, APIs help sellers both scale their businesses and contribute to positive change in their communities.
Our third-party developers are some of our most important partners in creating an engaging shopping journey on eBay. At eBay Connect 2021, our fifth annual developer conference, we gathered developers from around the world to share the latest updates in eBay’s APIs. Here are some of the ways we highlighted how APIs can contribute to a vibrant marketplace and an inclusive form of commerce.
Growing Businesses with New Sell API Capabilities
We’re committed to investing in the tools and technologies that our sellers need to scale their businesses and thrive. In the past months we’ve enhanced our API capabilities to help sellers highlight their inventory and increase their velocity.
The Media API: An API-first Partnership
In item listings, videos can help sellers better showcase their products and brand, and drive buyer engagement and sales. Recently, we launched the Media API to enable video uploads. This feature is currently available in the U.S. and U.K., with more markets coming soon.
We’ve heard from our developer community about the importance of getting early access to eBay’s products and initiatives, and the Media API is an example of our API-first strategy. We ensured developers were at the heart of our design process: from collaborating with trusted partners on the requirements, to drafting and reviewing the contract with colleagues in the developer community, to partnering on our betas and product release.
The Terapeak Beta API: Supporting Research and Analysis
Terapeak is a suite of data-driven tools, exclusive to eBay, that provides sellers with essential eBay marketplace intelligence to improve their businesses. Terapeak Product Research helps sellers decide what to sell, when to sell, where to sell and at what price, by analyzing up to a year of eBay data. Powerful filters can narrow searches to a small subset of listings for deeper analysis. To enable developers to create similar tools with their own visualizations, we are rolling out the Terapeak Beta API later this year.
The Feed API: Saving Time with Automation
The Feed API gives sellers a way to upload input files and download both reports and output files. These files are processed asynchronously, and the API now allows sellers to schedule reports and feed tasks. Also, feeds and reports available in the Seller Hub and Large Merchant Services are currently supported, as well as customer service metrics.
Payments APIs: Facilitating Managed Payments
As we transition the majority of sellers around the world to managed payments this year, there are opportunities to streamline currency conversion. For cross-border transactions, sellers are paid in the default currency of their domicile, regardless of the listing marketplace. Currency conversion happens at the time of the transaction, and is reflected in the holding currency until the proceeds of the sale are released to the seller. The Finances, Post-Order and Fulfillment/Payment Disputes APIs expose the transacted price/currency and converted price/currency, and have also been enhanced to streamline how fees are netted and charged from sale proceeds.
Ongoing Improvements: A Spirit of Innovation
Thanks to feedback from our strong partnership with the developer community, and a drive to incorporate the latest technology in our API portfolio, other enhancements to Sell APIs include:
- The Marketing API will have support for coded coupons in Q3, driving buyer engagement at every stage of the purchase funnel on mobile and desktop. Coded coupons have been the fastest adopted and most impactful velocity driver to date.
- The Inventory API now provides support for auctions, secondary categories, scheduling listings and specifying availability across warehouse locations.
- The Recommendation API has been upgraded to offer item-level recommended bid percentages for Promoted Listings campaigns.
- The Fulfillment API now supports Authenticity Guarantee; buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) proof of pickup; and advanced payment disputes.
Enhancing Advertising Campaigns with APIs
Our sellers leverage our advertising capabilities to increase exposure for their items and drive more sales. To ensure they can stay current on campaign performance, we’ve streamlined compatibility between the Marketing API and Seller Hub. Now, sellers can edit a campaign in either tool, regardless of where it was created.
Also, later this year eBay is expanding the Promoted Listings portfolio by introducing Promoted Listings Advanced (PLA). This industry-standard, cost-per-click model will be ideal for many large merchants looking to manage their marketing spend, and will increase velocity with enhanced keyword control. In preparation, the Marketing API will have support for managing PLA campaigns (including reporting capabilities) by the end of July.
Altviolet LLC, a U.S.-based publisher and eBay affiliate since 2008, is an excellent example of how different types of APIs can be leveraged for advertising, fueling innovation and increasing sales. They are recipients of eBay’s 2021 Rapid Growth Star Developer Award for their work pioneering Bing product listing ads in the U.S. and Australia using eBay’s Buy APIs, and they have brought incredible value to the eBay Partner Network.
Expanding Commerce with New Buy API Capabilities
Our Buy APIs make it easy for sellers to showcase eBay inventory anywhere on the web, and are changing the way we do business. Since January 2017, eBay’s Buy APIs have generated $6 billion* in Gross Merchandise Bought (GMB) globally, and we continue to enable further integrations with our marketplace. Buy APIs have been released as General Availability, including supporting initiatives like Authenticity Guarantee and Certified Refurbished. Also, APIs have been expanded to Poland, Ireland and the Netherlands.
The most important update is support for managed payments. In addition to the Order API v2, we released the Checkout with eBay widget to enable guest transactions in any partner experience. The widget allows guest users to complete checkout with their preferred form of payment, with support for additional payment methods coming soon.
We’re also exploring drop-in solutions to simplify further integrations with our APIs and streamline developer partnerships. For example, we just released — and open-sourced — an eBay Items widget for affiliate-like partners which surfaces eBay inventory in third-party experiences. The tool is fully customizable and supports diverse layouts. One innovative option is the ability to surface only items benefitting a specific charity, helping sellers give back while getting sales.
Enhancing Communication Using APIs
Translation capabilities are critical for our sellers to cross language barriers and amplify reach, especially for cross-border trade. Now our Translation API supports new language pairs. The machine translations are based on in-house-trained models, and the algorithms have been optimized for ecommerce.
Also, subscribing to notifications about business moments is just as important as integrating with poll-based APIs. Event-driven architecture is gaining traction — especially in complex systems. We’re in the process of modernizing our notifications platform, including a new RESTful Notification API which enables developers to subscribe to notifications for relevant topics. The payload schema is versioned; the current supported format is JSON, and we use the AsyncAPI specification to describe the event notification contract.
Providing SDKs to Further Integrations
While APIs are building blocks that allow developers to create new products, software development kits (SDKs) are tools that simplify how people put the pieces together. To help partners integrate with our APIs and our platform, we have continued releasing SDKs. The latest two in eBay’s public GitHub repository facilitate integrating with our new notifications platform:
We open-sourced these SDKs to give developers full transparency into their integrations, and to empower our partners to contribute to eBay’s solutions.
Sharing OpenAPI and AsyncAPI Documents
We’re a proud member of the OpenAPI Initiative Business Governance Board, and for all our new modern RESTful APIs we’ve published contracts based on the OpenAPI specification. At eBay Connect 2018, we demonstrated that integration with our read-only capabilities only takes a few minutes when starting from the OpenAPI documents and leveraging tools to generate API clients.
This year, we adopted the AsyncAPI specification for our event notifications to help standardize how we describe asynchronous, event-driven APIs. There are tools that generate code based on the AsyncAPI documents, as well as visualizers that facilitate understanding the asynchronous API contract. An additional useful benefit is that the AsyncAPI specification is both human- and machine-readable. This will make it easier for our developer partners to understand our event notifications and quickly integrate with our asynchronous API capabilities.
Using APIs to Power Social Change
We’re still in the global pandemic, and there’s an excellent opportunity to use APIs to make the world a better and safer place. Last year we partnered with the U.K.’s National Health Service to launch an online portal to distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to healthcare providers across the country. The solution is 100 percent based on eBay’s Buy APIs, and more than three billion PPE items have been delivered via this channel to date. We’re extremely proud of this opportunity to help save lives.
eBay’s 2021 Early Adopter Star Developer Award was presented to Volo Commerce, who has been a fantastic partner managing the seller side of the portal. Volo’s developers volunteered hundreds of hours to build and maintain the connections necessary for this enormous undertaking. They’ve also provided an ecommerce service platform to a wide array of merchants, retailers and brands since joining our developers program in 2010, empowering other businesses to sell and grow on eBay.
Innovating for the Future
The enhancements described above are only some of the many ways eBay’s APIs are continually evolving. As we further our API-first mentality we’re excited to continue our partnership with developers around the world, and we look forward to collaborating on a form of increasingly inclusive and connected commerce.
* $6B in GMB is as of Q1 2021.