eBay, PayPal Open Up to Developers

EBay opens its platform to developers while PayPal offers new tools.

EBay and PayPal are rolling out new developer initiatives.

At the eBay Developers conference in Chicago June 16, eBay announced Project Echo, which is designed to allow third-party developers to integrate applications directly onto eBay, the world's largest e-commerce site.

Max Mancini, senior director of platform and disruptive innovation at eBay, said the company's move gives developers unprecedented access to eBay's community of professional sellers, creating more opportunities for developers to market their tools and giving sellers a wider variety of sales options.

EBay has a community of more than 70,000 developers, and more than 12,000 applications currently use the eBay APIs, Mancini said.

He said eBay's decision to open the site marks the first time the company has invited developers to submit seller tools for inclusion directly onto eBay Selling Manager, an online tool for managing and tracking listings on eBay. More than 700,000 professional eBay sellers subscribe to Selling Manager, which until now has consisted entirely of applications developed in-house at eBay.

"It's a pretty significant impact on the business and we at eBay take our platform seriously," Mancini said.

By giving developers the opportunity to showcase their tools to eBay's most active sellers, eBay aims to help developers and sellers alike create new revenue streams and maximize their ability to make money through eBay, company officials said.

"Third-party developers want our help with marketing and distribution, and sellers consistently seek better tools to help them scale," Mancini said. "Opening eBay.com directly to third-party applications through the Selling Manager gives developers an immediate channel to growth-minded eBay sellers."

External applications built using eBay Web Services already account for more than 28 percent of all eBay.com listings, Mancini said.

"Our approach is to say we have this great ecosystem of developers, so why not let them integrate their stuff into eBay through Selling Manager," he said.

"This move presents a great opportunity for us to tap into the distribution and marketing scale of eBay in a way we've never been able to utilize before," said Jerad Schempp, chief operating officer of Hosted Support. "We also get access to previously unavailable eBay data that will allow us to add functionality requested by our ezSupport customers."

Mancini said Project Echo will be introduced via a private alpha release in the fourth quarter and then in an open beta in the first quarter of 2009.

Also at the eBay Developer Conference, PayPal, which is owned by eBay, is announcing its new Developer Central portal, which is aimed at helping developers support growing merchant demand for online payments.

The new portal is part of PayPal's ongoing commitment to give developers the tools and services they need to build businesses with the PayPal platform, said Glenn Lim, general manager of PayPal's alliances and developer services.

The new Developer Central portal is scheduled to launch in July. It will provide a set of free business and technical kits to help developers market their services, identify customer leads, complete integration projects more easily and share knowledge with community peers, Lim said.

New additions across the redesigned site include a marketing library with pre-packaged sales presentations, customizable datasheets and case study collateral to help developers sell integration projects. It also includes best practice advice about responding to requests for proposals and tips on effective marketing; a technical library with sample code; training and education materials about online payments; and additional forums to exchange ideas with the PayPal team and with fellow developers, Lim said.

Developer Central also provides more than 25 free APIs to enable merchants to send and receive money online, refund transactions, manage subscriptions and track transaction histories. In addition, the site will provide a directory to connect merchants with PayPal Certified Developers, he said.

Lim said that after 20 years at Oracle, he joined PayPal "because I saw a big opportunity to create a developer community. Our active developer community is one of the drivers of PayPal's growth, and supporting their success is a top priority for us. We've created a wealth of new resources to help developers respond to the skyrocketing demand for safer, easier online payments."

He said PayPal's non-eBay related business has seen "tremendous growth" in that it has grown by 60 percent. Meanwhile, merchants that accept PayPal said they experience an average of 14 percent uplift in sales, Lim said.

"Time is always a challenge for developers like me, who work double duty on integration projects while simultaneously chasing new business leads," said William Blanchard, a PayPal Certified Developer and the owner of three-year-old LAMbCast. "The new marketing resources and technical content on Developer Central will help me focus on my development projects instead of creating marketing material from scratch."

In addition to the new Developer Central portal, PayPal also introduced new APIs to give merchants more flexibility to manage their customer transactions, Lim said. PayPal's new Recurring Payments API offers merchants more options for subscription billing. The new Reference Transaction API also will enable merchants to more easily transact with their repeat customers.