EBay looks to update its segmentation tools

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By opening up its seller management tools to outside developers, eBay envisions better service for its sellers, more money-making opportunities for developers, and a whole new way that sellers and buyers will interact on the site.

Ebay announced Project Echo on June 16. It will allow developers to integrate their applications in Selling Manager and Selling Manager Pro, eBay's most popular tools for managing selling activities, said the company.

“This is part of a broader business objective we have to improve user experience on eBay,” said Kumar Kandaswamy, senior manager of the eBay Developers Program.

He said sellers would benefit due to a streamlined site experience and developers can monetize their third-party applications on the popular site.

“There is a big value for developers, a fair amount of them have businesses around creating ebay solutions,” he said.

Project Echo began as a response to address specific needs of sellers, said Kandaswamy.

“They were finding it hard to manage their business all in one place,” he said.

He noted that tools for sellers such as those to conduct buyer research, and for account integration, were not available on the eBay site.

“This will streamline everything,” he said.

Project Echo is in its pilot stage, and Kandaswamy said eBay is working right now with five developers it chose to get feedback on innovative applications and ways access to additional data can be utilized by developers and sellers.

For example, one application programming interface (API) being discussed is a buyer segmentation API that will allow sellers to have more access to buyers' purchasing habits and be able to target buyers of specific products or genre of products.

In this way, Project Echo will also allow sellers to more effectively market directly to consumers on the site, Kandaswamy predicted.

“And a seller can also decide what level of support and service [he or she is] interested in providing (a particular buyer),” he said.

Project Echo will be open for wider developer participation and eBay seller adoption in the beta release, which is scheduled for release in the beginning of 2009. Kandaswamy expects the new APIs to be tested and ready for use among its broader membership by the middle of 2009.

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