eBay quietly rolled out its AI-based description generator on its Android mobile this week, but users don’t seem impressed so far.
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Generative AI has gained significant popularity recently, with numerous apps and software integrating it into their workflows. Several marketplaces have already integrated this revolutionary technology, such as Mercari with its Merchat AI Shopping Assistant.
But eBay CEO Jamie Iannone hinted that the most recent company earnings report that it was “in the process of integrating the ChatGPT API into our core listing flow.” He explained that the AI will be able to allow sellers to “automatically generate text for their item description based on known product attributes.”
Furthermore, he explained, “Generative AI has a number of exciting use cases outside of descriptions, and we’re exploring numerous potential applications across our marketplace that can enable truly magical customer experiences.”
Most people have heard of ChatGPT by OpenAI, but that is just one company – with new funding from Microsoft and now integrated in Bing – advancing Generative AI technology.
Google has its own version in Beta called Bard, and Amazon is also working on developing applications that utilize Generative AI across its devices and marketplace.
As much as ChatGPT has become a buzzword today, in reality, it is a Generative AI, a branch of artificial intelligence that focuses on creating new and original content rather than just analyzing or interpreting existing data.
In eBay’s case, the company is apparently focusing on the listing workflow first. Android app users report that without any notice, an icon appeared above the keyboard in the eBay app. When clicking on the symbol (see below) the app will take a brief description provided by the user and expand it into a long-form description.
Lukewarm Reception of eBay Generative AI
On the surface, this sounds pretty cool. But the reception of this feature is at best lukewarm. Users in a Facebook group opined on this new feature.
“Buyers don’t read bullet point descriptions-they certainly aren’t going to read paragraphs of generic gibberish!,” said one user. Another commented, “I tested it out today on a couple of drafts and I find it to be way too wordy.”
“Buyers don’t read anyway so why bother? Hell, half the time they don’t even look at the pics. I’ll pass,” said another seller and one wondered, “If it gets something wrong and someone opens up an item not as described who’s going to take responsibility for that[?]”
But some sellers already said they were using ChatGPT for their eBay descriptions, “I already use chat GPT for a lot of my descriptions,” while another added, “Every time I’ve tried it my items sold super quick. I used Chat GPT.”
It’s important to point out that eBay’s Generative AI is still an early beta, even if not explicitly noted as such in the app. Also, when using the AI generator in the app, it will wipe out any previous descriptions the seller may have started in the description box. That is a critical annoyance to keep in mind.
Another critical point with this technology is that input is very important. The better the details, the better the output. In essence, the AI should generate a well-written description from bullet points (or item specifics).
So, a lot of work still needs to be done for eBay’s Generative AI to fundamentally change how sellers list items on the marketplace.
An intriguing possibility of eBay’s Generative AI should be that it may eventually be able to create nearly complete listings, including titles, descriptions, and item specifics, obviously without images.
Currently, eBay’s Generative AI seems to have only rolled out on Android mobile devices. Based on comments online and our own experiences, it is not available for iOS yet.
Note: The image for this post was created using DALL·E 2, a generative AI image creator by OpenAI with the eBay logo added afterward.
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