eBay posted a video showing off how to use a new augmented reality tool for shipping.
In the video, Thai Hai Pham, the product manager who created the AR feature shows viewers how easy it is to find the right box and shipping service to ship a sold item.
Built on Google’s ARCore platform, which enables high-quality AR experiences on Android, eBay is taking advantage of motion tracking and environmental understanding to place a real-world item inside virtual shipping boxes of various sizes.
In the new Android feature, users select a box size, place the virtual box over their sold item, and move the box around the item to see a complete view of the product inside the box.
This allows sellers to virtually see if an item fits inside any USPS Flat Rate shipping box before they choose the physical box or try to package the item.
It also provides information on shipping costs based on the box selected.
The new AR shipping tool is a result of eBay’s company-wide Hack Week from last July.
Hack Week also brought image search to the platform and is a key component of how eBay promotes new innovative ideas inside the company that eventually make it on the platform.
Technology Showcase or Real Productivity Gain?
The new augmented reality shipping box selector is a neat tool and shows off what is possible with AR. But as a feature for professional sellers, it does little to help to improve productivity.
Most sellers that ship items on a regular basis are going to have a pretty clear understanding of what box to use for an item.
With free shipping so prevalent today, most professional sellers will have considered packaging and shipping services before an item is listed on eBay.
Also, the tool does not take into consideration the amount of packing material that may be necessary. That can easily vary based on the fragility of the item being shipped.
The tool compares USPS flat-rate shipping costs to standard package shipping costs.
But typically on lightweight items, shippers are always better off using a standard box versus a flat rate box.
Occasional sellers may not know this, but professional sellers have a lot of real-world experience that guides them into choosing the right box and shipping service.
Watching the video, it is pretty clear that in a volume shipping environment this feature does not provide real-world productivity gains.
For occasional sellers, the AR shipping tool is still only a guide as other factors may dictate the box size required for a safe journey.
As a proof of concept of what is possible, eBay shows off some technology prowess that eventually should find its way into the browsing and selection process. That may be the most important takeaway from this new feature.
Here is the full video explaining the new AR shipping tool.
What do you think about this feature and the potential how AR may change shopping on eBay? Head over to our Facebook Discussion Group or use the comments section below.