eBay has recently launched a new portal called eBay Collective that curates and presents exclusive high-end products such as antique furniture, art and other items. The service focuses on finding and showcasing rare and exclusive products to eBay customers.
What’s really appealing about the new service from eBay is that under the hood, the portal is powered by artificial intelligence. The company recently acquired Corrigen, a “visual” search engine company for significantly less than the $30 million that was reported by The Marker, as carried by TechCrunch earlier this month.
The company’s visual search technology has helped eBay create a space called Shop the Room within the eBay Collective portal. Users can mouse over a fully fitted “room” and browse prices of various items placed in that room.
As for the inventory for this exclusive service, eBay has hand-picked 21 dealers to provide the merchandise. These dealers carry expensive art-work and furniture from famous artists and designers, which Business Insider says may conflict with some of the items that competitors Amazon and Etsy also carry.
The monetization aspect will definitely be a challenge for eBay since all the products listed are fairly expensive, but the artificial intelligence functionality will hopefully drive sales. That’s the company’s outlook for the new service.
We won’t know for a while how well the service will do since it’s a brand new portal, but on the one side, because the items are expensive, users may be hesitant about buying things that they can’t touch or feel before paying for them. On the other, the online furniture business is booming in the United States. One source estimates it at $9.3 billion in 2014, and growing at a healthy rate. The source also shows that 8 out of 10 people have bought furniture online at one time or other.
Of course, we can’t extrapolate eBay Collective’s future sales based on these facts, but it’s undeniable that more people today are willing to buy expensive furniture online than ever before. With all the guarantees and easy return policies available, it’s far less of a risk.
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