Ecommerce giant eBay already allowed you to ask sellers questions before committing your hard-earned cash to a new product, but now the company will allow you to garner feedback from others who have bought the product before you.
The new questions and answers (Q&A) feature is landing in the U.S. today on mobile web and desktop, and it will be added to the eBay mobile app shortly.
The problem eBay is looking to fix here is simple. When buying things online, it’s not always possible to get a full flavor of what a product is like to use — how small is that “portable” hard-drive, anyway? Is that food blender really as quiet as the description claims? While sellers are, of course, naturally inclined to convey positive sentiments about products they want to sell, another issue is that they simply may not be able to answer a question as fully as they could. If they sell hundreds or even thousands of items, do they really have the time to use each product for extended periods of time to ensure they can answer every question in detail? Probably not.
Previous buyers are already able to leave product reviews on eBay, but opening Q&As to the broader community means potential buyers are now able to ask very specific questions, thus saving them the hassle of having to send an unsatisfactory item back and wait for a refund.
Amazon has offered this Q&A functionality for a while already, and eBay is following suit by allowing potential buyers to not only ask specific questions but also peruse similar questions posted by other shoppers.
eBay added that while any user is able to answer the question, it’s also tapping machine learning smarts to “find experts in our community who have had relevant experiences with the product you have questions about,” according to a blog post by eBay’s senior product manager, Brian Livingston.
“As we receive more questions, artificial intelligence will power this feature and get smarter, all while our data scientists continue to figure out not only who might be best to answer certain questions based on their expertise on given products, but also to understand what questions might be the most helpful for future buyers,” he added.
We’ve seen eBay shift closer toward Amazon’s model in recent years — back in 2015, the company debuted a new speedy delivery subscription service in Germany, called eBay Plus, which is similar to Amazon Prime. And a year later, the company introduced branded packaging for sellers, similar to what Amazon offers. Earlier this year, eBay also unveiled a new Guaranteed Delivery service for shoppers in the U.S., allowing some sellers to offer a “3 days or less” option buyers can use to filter their search results if they need speedy delivery.
This latest feature launch also comes a month after eBay announced that it would soon use computer vision search to help you find items using photos.