‘Zero effort commerce’ could open the way to automated personal shopping assistants.
eBay spotted the importance of mobile devices very early on, but now they have turned their attention towards wearables. The company’s Innovation and New Ventures group wants to try and develop a personal shopping assistant that makes the barrier between spotting an item you like, and buying it, almost invisible.
The company started building apps for a potential smartwatch last year, which finally debuted a few weeks ago, as both an app for the Samsung Galaxy Gear, and an app for the Pebble smartwatch. Steve Yankovich, head of the innovation group, says its about more than just apps.
His vision is for a concept called Zero Effort Commerce (ZEC), which would rely on personalization, historical behavior and the various sensors found in wearable technology to anticipate someone’s shopping needs, and if the data is accurate enough, maybe even act on their behalf. Yankovich compared the idea with a personal assistant when he spoke to TechCrunch about what eBay has in store for the future.
”I have a friend who has a personal assistant who keeps track of his needs. His personal assistant replaces ceiling fan light bulbs, replaces shirts that she noted show wear, constantly fills the fridge, changes the wiper blades in cars, and on and on. In this person’s world everything he needs and wants automatically happens. We can work towards building a virtual personal assistant that uses personalization, historical behavior and the coming sensors of the connected home and life around us to do much the same thing but for all of us.”
Some are skeptical that eBay has what it takes to make these kind of innovations work, but the company also has plenty of other ideas up its sleeve. Connected glass is another that could be used in cars to tell you where the nearest gas station is, or order a new part as soon as the onboard computer detects a problem.
It’s still unclear whether wearables will even be able to stand the test of time, so the fact that eBay is hedging their bets proves that at least the company is planning for every eventuality, instead of just jumping on the bandwagon.
Images: eBay, Sarah Gilbert via Flickr