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The permanent future of conversational commerce: eBay’s RJ Pittman on AI and chatbots

RJ Pittman, chief product officer at eBay, shares insights about the progress eBay Shopbot has made since launch, and his views on the future of AI and conversational commerce.

eBay ShopBot on Facebook Messenger
eBay ShopBot on Facebook Messenger

Fashion and electronics are the two top categories users are browsing on eBay’s Shopbot, according to the e-commerce company’s latest insights.

The Facebook Messenger-based chatbot, which launched in October 2016, aims to satisfy consumer demands for richer and more contextually relevant search enquiries. At the time, RJ Pittman, chief product officer at eBay, said: “Combining AI with eBay’s breadth of inventory and unique selection will enable us to create a radically better and more personal shopping experience for virtually anyone that owns a mobile phone.”

Now, more than nine months on, the team is finding those who use the chatbot are nearly three times more likely to do so to ask questions on specific products versus browsing eBay’s inventory for inspiration and discovery – suggesting both engagement and retention are high.

I caught up with Pittman to hear more about the progress Shopbot has made, as well as to understand his views on the future of AI and conversational commerce. Head over to Forbes to read the full interview.

By Rachel Arthur

Rachel Arthur is Editor-in-Chief of Current Daily, the leading news source for fashion, retail and innovation, and the co-host of its weekly Innovators podcast. She otherwise serves as Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Current Global, a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion luxury and retail. By background she is an award-winning business journalist and consultant, contributing to titles including Wired, Forbes and Business of Fashion.

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