eBay AI services will revolutionize online shopping

A new study published by researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has revealed an exciting new application for artificial intelligence. The group found deep learning tools can foster improved international trade.

Removing the Language Barrier

In the project, researchers examined 2014 eBay sales data. Specifically, the scientists looked at transactions that occurred between the United States and various Latin American countries.

That year, the e-commerce firm implemented a new artificial intelligence (AI) powered translation tool for its product listings and search results. The group wanted to know if the program facilitated trade between people who were separated by geographical and linguistic barriers.


After crunching the numbers, researchers found eBay’s new AI tool increased U.S. – Latin America sales by 10.9 percent. To verify their findings, the university team accounted for different factors like increased marketing spending and product listing times.

Ultimately, the data scientists attributed the sales bump to the corporation’s deep learning program.

eBay previously offered automatic translation services, but only the algorithmic language conversions software increased transaction rates. The group also found Microsoft Bing’s listing title translations were only comprehensible 41.01 to 45.24 percent of the time.

However, with eBay’s new deep learning solution, human comprehension rates rose to 82.4 to 90.2 percent. In effect, AI removed the language barrier that was keeping buyers and sellers from two different continents from making meaningful financial connections.

The Future of E-Commerce

The researchers’ findings regarding AI’s ability to optimize North and South American trade led them to make a bold forecast. The group estimates deep learning translation tools can increase sales between English-speaking nations and countries where French, Italian, and Russian is the dominant language by 26.1 percent.

Furthermore, the data science group believes their study highlights an under-discussed aspect of the global marketplace. Though logistics tools have made global supply chains more efficient than ever before; language barriers still greatly hinder international trade. The team believes the success of the eBay algorithm is a promising innovative solution.

For instance, the scientists noted that if translation software provided seamless eBay merchant/purchaser interactions throughout 2014, the platform’s sales would’ve increased by $1.52 billion to $3.64 billion.

The university group also concluded the program’s tangible impact on global commerce suggests a landmark advance in AI technology has occurred. By comparison, various deep learning self-driving applications are years if not decades away from providing fully autonomous transportation. Translation AI, however, is road ready.

The project team feels very optimistic about the future. Ultimately, they believe implementing AI translation tools worldwide will have a significant positive effect on global industry.

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