Online marketplace eBay is focusing increasingly on emerging markets, with a special emphasis on the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China.) Localization is essential for any global business, but eBay has begun experimenting with a more technical approach, Techcruebaynch reports: machine translation.

eBay’s transactions are global in the sense that the seller of any particular item decides where he or she agrees to ship to. Out of these user settings, eBay curates the local results the platform returns for any given search. The problem: if a Russian user searches in Russian, only listings created in Russian will show up. Shoppers have to search in English in order to return English listings for a matching product, even if it ships to Russia.

Enter Hassan Sawaf, an expert in machine translation, is attempting to solve eBay’s language troubles with his patented hybrid and context machine translation systems. Together with is team, Sawaf has built an engine that is able to learn from the context of a given word (such as the item description) to understand and translate its meaning. Russian users can now enter search queries in Russian and see matching English results.

eBay is now looking to expand this technology into Spanish and Portuguese, focusing on Brazil and Latin American markets. Whether or not the new technology leads to an increase in actual sales remains to be seen.

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