EBay’s new APIs enable developers to create modern buying and selling experience


The online marketplace, celebrating 20 years, just launched APIs for developers, managed payments, sellers initiated offers, deals, and charity, among others.

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Sample of the just-released eBay APIs.

Image: eBay

Developers will be able to manage their sellers’ finances and bookkeeping with eBay’s new payments API (Application Programming Interface) capabilities. This is just one API of several that eBay has either updated or created for its developer program.

The company also released new selling API capabilities designed to enhance partners’ businesses, including promoted listings in France, Italy, Spain, as well as Canada, and by the increased maximum number of items per campaign, bringing it up to 50,000, in marketing API, customer service metrics in analytics API, and offers to buyers in negotiation API. On July 18, eBay will globally expand its managed payments.

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EBay has also launched an additional developer tool, deal API, new to the company’s portfolio on the buy-side for affiliates and other partners invested in eBay deals and sales events, and allows the discovery of sale events and retrieval of items associated with events or deals available on eBay. Other essential APIs include account API, fulfillment API, and finances API. Support for active cross-border seller listings (for sellers enrolled in managed payments) will launch in August.

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APIs “enable our business to expand into new contexts, allowing third-party platforms to extend their value proposition while also bringing their customers to us,” said Tanya Vlahovic, lead public API architect of eBay, regarding the announcement. “We give our developers data and capabilities at scale, and in turn, they invent and create” buying and selling experiences for their users.

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Image: eBay

Vlahovic has also described APIs in a developer tools/eBay engineering blog as “intermediaries that enable applications to interact,” “contracts that specify how software talks to another software,” and “allow organizations to give their partners access to digital assets at scale.” She also said, “Building such an ecosystem is a progressive journey.”

Vlahovic has simplified APIs into “three simple things”:

EBay’s portfolio expansion also includes the ability to give buyers and sellers the opportunity to enable charitable organizations with charity API

The Translation API supports new language pairs. And eBay’s website says: “Global Shipping Program import charges, coupons, auto-spelled keyword corrections, eBay guaranteed delivery and eBay Plus eligibility are enabled in Browse API.”

The company wanted to acknowledge its eBay developer program’s 20th “birthday” by launching new APIs to enable developers to create modern buying and selling experiences, and assist those developers with APIs to help businesses thrive.

Evaluating the success of a 20-year-old developer ecosystem entailed citing both successes and failures (or if not failures, then elements that were less successful). As the front door to eBay’s global marketplace platform, APIs allow the company to grow into “new contexts, allowing third-party platforms to extend their value proposition,” while bringing it new customers, Vlahovic said of the announcement. Vlahovic said it gives developers data and capabilities at scale, which gives developers the license to “invent and create” unique buying and selling experiences for users.

The newest selling API capabilities

The new APIs, which will enhance a developer’s ability to promote clients’ listings and businesses include:

  • Marketing API promoted listings, ad campaigns in sponsored placements are supported in France, Italy, Spain, and Canada.

  • Analytics API is for customer service metrics, seller ratings, benchmark data and an understanding if the customer meets eBay’s buyers’ customer-service expectations.

  • Negotiations API for offers to buyers. Released in September 2019, sellers can send offers with customized discounts to buyers interested in products. The goal is to give buyers deals, transparency on savings and sales for sellers. Optimal promotion offers to buyers can be used for high-priced unique items.

  • Taxonomy API and compliance API provide enhanced aspect guidance, the latter points out listings at risk for being noncompliant to eBay listing policies, and the taxonomy AP (which adds expected required dates for specifics) gives developers insight into eBay’s initiative to improve shopping by enrichment aspects across listings, as it also provides an easy way to retrieve aspect metadata via a new bulk method. The aspect relevance indicator is expected in Q3 of this year.

  • The new API feed API, which enables sellers to upload input files and download reports and output files. Merchant integration platform (and large merchant services) will be supported in the future.

  • Inventory API is for auctions, scheduled listings and more, for sellers to specify charitable donation percentages when offers are created. In the future: support for auctions, secondary category, schedule listings and noting availability in warehouse locations.

  • Partner marketplaces for drafts with consumer-selling API was launched in October 2019, listings can be completed and published with guidance and recommendations on prices, aspects and more to help optimize seller listings in searches. 

The company has embraced its worldwide audience and partnered with the UK’s National Health Service by creating an online portal to help health care providers get personal protective equipment (PPE), a solution 100% based on eBay Buy APIs.

EBay is a member of the OpenAPI Initiative, and publishes OpenAPI documents. In Q1 2020, external developers used eBay’s public Sell APIs to create more than 500,000 new listings and manage two-times that number.

Twenty years ago, eBay developers program was initially designed to help sellers manage eBay businesses at scale with SOAP-based APIs, with initial API access granted to a limited number of licensed partners and developers. This was followed by an expansion to include buyer experience capabilities. Many of the original APIs are still in use, but eBay acknowledges the tech was ripe for redevelopment. The initial developer’s program was revamped in 2016. 

Developer ecosystem numbers

  • eBay’s Buy APIs generated $3 billion (as of Q1 2020) in global gross merchandise bought (GMB).

  • eBay serves 150-250 million API hourly calls.

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