How eBay Built A Beta Program With 10,000 Participants
UX Corner

How eBay Built A Beta Program With 10,000 Participants

Daniel Fidler • February 15, 2017

“At the end of the day, a successful beta program is about gathering customer feedback. Customers know what they want. And a successful app delivers just that.” ~ Kenric Russell

eBay is one of the most recognizable names in ecommerce. Founded in 1995, eBay has a user base of about 167 million active buyers. Approximately one billion items are listed on the website at any time. What sets eBay apart from other marketplaces is the fact that it retains a diverse and varied community, many of whom are connected by a bewildering array of goods for sale.

The global ecommerce market has surpassed $1.9 trillion annually. The importance of a stellar shopping experience on the Web, mobile or wherever customers are located has never been more important. Creating unique digital experiences helps ecommerce providers connect with their customers and drive loyalty and repeat usage.

In order to deliver stellar mobile experiences, eBay thinks about digital quality from a holistic standpoint, not just fixing bugs or looking at usability feedback. eBay listens to its most powerful users early and often. eBay’s Kenric Russell, manager of mobile beta programs, helps integrate the voice of employees and customers into its mobile development work-flow.

Russell said:

“I joined the company to build this [beta] program, which was basically non-existent. We initially started with another company, but the primary concern was the NDA. There was no NDA acceptance process. That was the catalyst.”

Protecting the intellectual property of one of the world’s largest brands was a prime concern for Russell and eBay. Beta Management from Applause seamlessly gathered non-disclosure agreements and built the necessary trust with its beta participants.

Creating A Great Customer Experience

eBay Mobile App

As part of his duties, Russell is involved in the ongoing development of the popular eBay mobile app and relies on the community of beta users to provide feedback on how a device-specific app performs under real world conditions. eBay has access to a large group of users who are already well engaged with the brand and are excited to provide feedback. These users gave eBay the opportunity to collect and aggregate important user sentiment early and often in the development process.


“[Applause Beta Management] has definitely made it easier to recruit large volumes of users. It’s made it easier to distribute builds to those large volumes of users and it’s made it easier to collect large volumes of feedback.”

Through Beta Management, Russell was able to build a program with over 100,000 invitees. By reaching out to its large user base, eBay is able to regularly hear feedback and collect bug and crash reports on its mobile apps from up to 10,000 participants on a regular basis.

And the feedback that comes in helps eBay move its mobile experiences forward.

“Whether it’s something that we can put into our build or something that we note for the future,” said Russell. “That’s where the magic happens.”

By combining ongoing beta feedback with continuous testing efforts, eBay has been able to release mobile apps that are regular category toppers. The results has been increased mobile engagement and customer satisfaction. The ability to leverage data from a variety of in-the-wild testing sources extends the testing team beyond the company’s walls, and into the real world … a business solution that provides the same instant gratification as winning an auction or clicking “Buy It Now”.

Find out how eBay plans, manages, and scales its beta program by watching the webinar featuring eBay’s Kenric Russell below.


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