Like Mary Poppins' bag, eBay is full of unique and interesting items - items that can take a minute to find, and you may run into a rogue lamp along the way. Here's where eBay ShopBot comes in. We wanted to create a new pathway to get you directly to all the best parts of eBay, helping your shopping experience become a little more tailored.
Because the application of chat AI in the world of online shopping is still fairly new, it was important to facilitate multiple ways of shopping to cater to norms that users are already familiar with in traditional methods of online shopping. The two streams of shopping that ShopBot supports are riffs on a curated browsing experience and targeted searching.
When my internship position started the project was only a few months away from the beta launch. In the months I was a part of the team my focus was mainly on prototyping iterations of the in-chat experience in CoffeeScript using Framer. Working on the project during this phase meant that the product was quick moving, and heavily iterative. These prototypes were useful tools in weekly presentations, and in communicating ideas and interactions across different teams throughout the company. They also were used in user testing sessions of the product in its beta phase.
During the final portion of my internship, I worked on the beta version of the in-chat payment/transition flow. Some of the problems we were trying to solve there were around how to mesh the experience within Messenger with the eBay payment flow in mobile web. The aim was to avoid making the user feel tossed from one app to another. We solved for this through visual design as well as through tailoring the existing eBay Mobile web flow to mesh with Messenger better.
One of the constraints we were working with was with was how to link the in-chat experience in Messenger to the Payment and View Item flows that needed to happen in Mobile Web (rather than within Messenger itself). One of the ways we solved for this was through visual design and modifying the existing eBay mobile payment flow to fit more seamlessly with the rest of the ShopBot experience. In the next phase of the flow this was solved through the use of a card within Messenger, rather than opening the mobile browser. (See Current Flow)
During my internship, our team worked on the release of the beta version of ShopBot. Since then, more aspects of the app have been updated and the app as a whole is more realized in the current version below. Notice specifically that the experience that used to happen in a mobile web browser is now occuring within Messenger in a card.
Designing an experience around AI for a huge catalogue like eBay proved to be a complex problem to solve. Even just from the time of the beta launch to ShopBot in it's current form, a lot has changed within both the eBay experience as well as within the Messenger chatbot experience as a whole. I think this speaks to the rapid iteration that comes from user feedback and innovation that happens in relatively untouched spaces; such as conversational shopping AI.