As a constantly innovating company, online commerce giant eBay always wants to provide customers with the most intuitive and convenient ways to browse, decide and buy. The company’s latest shopping tool, social hashtags, helps users not only curate their own shopping experience, but also discover new personalized products.
Smart Hashtags come into play when an eBay visitor spies a product, guide or webpage they like and clicks on the share widget to share the item to Twitter or Pinterest. A text box will immediately pop up with the page’s shareable link, a test phrase or product title, and one to three of the titular “smart hashtags.” The phrases — set aside with a hash mark (#) — are optimized to highlight relevant and searchable information for easier discovery. From a business perspective, the addition is also a subtle way of dropping commerce into the social conversation in a non-obtrusive and user-friendly way.
eBay’s newest sharing tool is the brainchild of Social Insights Strategist Corinne Sherman, who studies both internal and external social data and behavior. Sherman — @CorSher on Twitter — says she wanted to leverage “social data in an innovative way to enhance what people were sharing, while simultaneously enabling customers to more easily discover products of their interest.”
“Smart Hashtags also aligns to eBay’s goals and the company’s desire to create a more relevant and personalized experience for our customers,” says Sherman. “It capitalizes on consumer behavior — and leads us toward a new path I like to call Social Network Optimization.”
Sherman pitched her idea at the eBay Inc. Data Conference in the summer of 2013 to a crowd of over 400 people and ultimately saw her idea realized by eBay software engineer Jing Chen and sponsored by Zoher Karu, eBay Vice President of Customer Optimization & Data. She was also supported by Suhail Ansari, Vice President of Engineering, Buyer Experience at eBay.
Smart Hashtags, which is a patent-pending technology, is now live across the site and already helping customers connect to — and share — the things they need and love. Users should also be on the lookout for several iterations of the product throughout the year, as the Product group teams up with the eBay Research Labs and eBay Data Research Labs to maximize Smart Hashtag’s utility.
“At eBay, we are constantly trying to do really cool, innovative things with social,” says Sherman. “It’s been a fantastic experience working with teams across the company to execute, automate, and scale Smart Hashtags to enhance the shopping experience.”