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Julia Wilkinson AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

Julia Wilkinson is Editor of the AuctionBytes Blog and is author of the "eBay Price Guide," "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips and Tricks," "My Life at AOL" and numerous ebooks about selling online. You can also find her writing on Yard Salers.
Sun July 14 2013 15:21:26

eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System

By: Brian Cohen
Sponsored Link
The United States Patent and Trademark Office recently published eBay patent application 20130144763, "Assisted Shipping System." This is a patent for eBay sellers that are, frankly, just too lazy to be sellers. If Homer Simpson was in need of a shipping logistics system to press the "any key," the "Assisted Shipping System" would be the way to do it.

In the background of the patent, eBay describes the problem sellers have in shipping their product including determining what type of shipping box to use:

"...the seller is faced with a variety of tasks when preparing to ship the item. The seller must first determine the appropriate box size. Once the item has been packaged, the seller must choose among the different shipping choices available to the seller. The seller then needs to obtain the appropriate shipping label and fill it out with shipping information from the buyer. When the seller finally ships the package, the seller further needs to provide a tracking number to the buyer by copying the tracking number and emailing it to the buyer. This shipping process therefore impedes on the seller's efficiency to ship items and can cause much frustration and wasted time..."


In the Patent Abstract, eBay describes how the patent application would solve this problem:

"(The) Physical specifications of the item to be listed in an online marketplace are determined. Specifications of a shipping material for the item are determined based on the physical specifications of the item. A recommended shipping means is generated based on the specifications of the shipping material and the physical specifications of the item. Historical shipping information for shipped items previously listed on the online marketplace are stored. The physical specifications of the item, the specifications of the shipping material for the item, or the recommended shipping means may be determined based on the historical shipping information..."

"Physical specifications may include, for example, physical dimensions (e.g., height, width, length, and weight). The shipping material provisioning engine determines specifications of a shipping material for the item based on the physical specifications of the item. In other words, a size of a shipping box may be selected such that it will fit the item and not be too large so as to waste shipping space..."

eBay is not alone in its quest to "stupid proof" - err, streamline the shipping process. Wired Magazine recently described Sold's "one click selling" business in, "Why 3 MIT Grads Want to Send You an Empty Box." Sold chooses on behalf of the seller which marketplace (including but not limited to eBay and Amazon) to sell on. Sold actually sends the seller a pre-labeled box to ship their product in.

Controlling shipping logistics is also way for companies like eBay to control their image. By streamlining the process they will avoid being scoffed at in Internet memes such as, "Amazon Packs Your Snacks Extra Safely In A Box Ten Times Too Big" (Consumerist) and the ironic, "Bought some bubble wrap on Amazon. This is how they shipped it" (Reddit). It's also fair to say that being efficient has a positive environmental impact.

BTW, eBay is serious about ramping up shipping innovation. eBay recently posted a job for "Director of Shipping Program eBay" which in part announced a newly formed Shipping Team:

"...The Shipping team is a newly formed team at eBay, looking to scale and improve our sellers and buyers experiences through better shipping experiences. Shipping is one of the biggest levers in changing the Commerce and eCommerce landscape with many businesses trying to solve this tough problem..."

Further it stated:

"...Shipping is a key enabler to our big and small sellers to fulfill inventories, remove friction as well as create a great experience to delight our buyers worldwide, for both domestic and international transactions...."

This comes on the heals of previous patent innovation discussed right here at EcommerceBytes such as Flexible Shipping and Anonymous Shipping.

What do you think about one-click selling (or shipping)? Let us know below!  

About the Author
Brian Cohen has been an active member of the eBay community since May 1998, and he currently trades under the member name Bidofthis.com. His first AuctionBytes article was published in May 2002. Brian's reporting on Bitcoin in 2013 has been referenced in numerous publications including The Register, Tech Week Europe, TechCrunch and PC World. Brian can be contacted through his website at BidofThis.com where he always has a "little Bid of This and little Bid of That."
Reading AuctionBytes Blog: eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
Comments (21) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Basset
       
Sun Jul 14 17:16:24 2013
Holy Ship! For my category it is just not that hard to wrap a clothing item in tissue paper, add any paperwork / fliers, then gently stuff it in a bag & label it. I believe I have done it in my sleep a few times.

Most items I receive are packaged well. Is packaging really THAT much of a challenge?

Yes, I DID receive a nice large glass bottle stuffed in a bubble mailer - but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Are they talking freight - large objects?


Where are they going with this - and how much is it going to cost.
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Al G
       
Sun Jul 14 19:08:52 2013
Ass-u-me that there is going to be a charge for this "service",

how is it going to fly with "free shipping"????
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Sun Jul 14 19:18:42 2013
When eBay creates a program and the name starts with "managed" you know there will be 'gotchas" and downsides for sellers.

eBay has proven time and again that what they describe as "managed" really means "nanny state control".

If they "manage" shipping as effectively as they "manage" returns - they could not pay me to participate.
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
       Web Site
Sun Jul 14 19:59:53 2013
We should not laugh at this patent application, even though it is comical in the extreme (what is the US Patent Office smoking these days?). Sadly, it has all the indications of a wheezing, floundering, foundering, moribund and near-death, once proud ship of commerce; the only question remaining, does she go the ship breakers (Bain & Co) or does she deserve an honorable scuttling out at sea? … http://bit.ly/11DZDiB
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
by: WhoKnewIt This user has validated their user name.
       
Sun Jul 14 23:34:54 2013
The words eBay and ''fool proof'' should never, ever, be used in the same sentence...NEVER !!
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless
       
Mon Jul 15 00:44:31 2013
Ebay has NO BUYERS,. Therefore those who buy on the ebay platform are NOT "OUR BUYERS."

They are our buyers.

Ebay needs less dedicated "teams" and more knowledgeable customer service representatives.

Ebay's structure now resembles that of carnivore mutant weed.
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Jul 15 01:34:30 2013
Where can I get a high paying job being a moron? eBay seems to be full up.
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: The End
       
Mon Jul 15 04:06:40 2013
That's just silly.
Let the "Laws of Nature" weed out the crappy sellers.
That's enough with the micro managing / software cattle prods.
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Mon Jul 15 07:36:32 2013
eBay continue to involve themselves in areas of the sellers' business where they have no business.

eBay just a venue?  LOL
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Jul 15 08:34:44 2013
@whoknewit.   Love your comment....

ebay is getting more desperate every day..ridiculous..
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
by: Steevo This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Jul 15 13:43:52 2013
Homer Simpson would use a ''drinking bird'' to repeatedly press the ''any key'' to prevent reactor core meltdown.  Heh.
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Mon Jul 15 14:15:44 2013
Unbelievable! If I was reading it right Sellers pack the item in the box and then determine the type of shipping which is rather odd since the shipping/postage amount depends on what kind of shipping you are using and so do you need determine if you need to package in a priority box of some sort or regular packaging before the box is packed. They must think all sellers are as stupid as the board of directors on ebay.  I don't sell there and glad I am of it.
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Jul 15 14:34:01 2013
I heard a terrific analogy the other day- it was specifically referring to ebays ''GSP program''.
It said signing up for the gsp ''program'' is like getting HERPES, you cannot get rid of it but you need to manage the disease.

This is a very good analogy for all of ebays 'programs''.

Do NOT sign up for the HERPES folks

Massachusetts howler
(getting ready for Wednesdays SMOKE).
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Jul 15 14:43:30 2013
I will tell you.
Frankly folks- I am now scared to hit ANY links ANYWHERE- any ebay info page seems tilted to not just give you info but to SIGN YOU UP. I am scared to hit any link now on ANY SITE- I fear hitting links here which take you to ebay because they track us, I am frightened to look at any ebay info page- to re-set ANYTHING and it is RIDICULOUS!!!!
This new shipping RUSE is being directed to all these new crappy sellers, mostly part timer newbie sellers and they will be LOCKED IN and they WILL PAY DEARLY with NO OPT OUT BUTTONS and they will be SCREWED.
I would be more trustful of giving my wallet to a stranger on the NY city subway than to trust ebay with ANYTHING.
Yaaa- sell in Russia ebay says!

Ebay is like a ROACH MOTEL and we are the ROACHES- we can get in but we cannot get out!

MH  
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly
       
Mon Jul 15 18:36:55 2013
eBay Fool Proof - would that be the monthly invoice?
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
by: comet This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Jul 15 21:41:05 2013
Am I the onoy one who can see ebay deciding---based on their alleged "Historic" research---that a seller would now be
required to package an item in a specific fashion ie bubble wrap and an oversized box for a paper back that could---and SHOULD----ship in a poly mailer---
or else risk getting some "Packaging expectations" DSR hit????

Altho I don't buy much on Amazon I have had several items  come packed in ridiculous fashion---excess use of bubble or air-packs;  odd "tissue" that could be used as wall board;  boxes so large as to have been appliance boxes in a previous life!  Most of the private sellers I have run across have packed properly according to the items composition.  One person way back at the dawn of ebay time DID send me a cut glass elephant sculpture in a white legal size  envelope--no bubblewrap no tissue no padding whatsoever---and astonishingly it arrived intact. BUT!  

I can see tho ebay saying to itself:::  "Self!  How can I be missing out on SO many chances to make life even HARDER for sellers!  How can I DEMAND that they use certain "Ebay approved packaging"--OR ELSE--Hmmmm---Well those DSR Stars helped to beat them into submission the LAST time---and mebbe we can even find some way to FORCE them to BUY packaging from ebay----Just a venue??  I'll show 'em a VENUE!!!!"  

Just you wait==Packaging GUARANTEED by ebay or your money BACK!  Shipping protection!  Did your seller use inferior bubble wrap?  Did they use a box you didn't like the shape or color of?  Was the tape too thick?  Too thin?  Press here for HOW TO OPEN A SHIPPING PROTECTION CASE.....
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
by: Mr. Me This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Jul 16 14:00:20 2013
Once again eBarf assumes that its users are slobbering idiots, incapable of thinking for themselves,........ can you say "self-fulfilling-prophecy"?
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Tula
       
Tue Jul 16 17:52:31 2013
Wow. I didn't think you could patent common sense, but eBay seems determined to try. I have little respect for the patent office these days, as it is. Patenting common-sense "processes" seems to be all the rage these days. It's disgusting to see companies trying to scam money off of obvious ideas that are nothing new. I mean, really, who would'a thunk you could determine how big a box you need by measuring the item size? Golly gee whiz, what an idea!

Granted, there are some clueless wonders out there, like the guy who shipped a scanner in a wooden crate with no padding and drove the screws into the scanner itself, or the one who shipped a plate in a Captain Cruch cereal box with one layer of newspaper as padding (arrived in many pieces). But honestly, the patent office must be smoking something funky, like Philip Cohen suggests if they're actually going to approve such nonsense.
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless
       
Tue Jul 16 20:57:21 2013
This fleecing scheme is not so much fool proof as it is proof of fools.
eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System   eBay Fool Proofs Shipping with Assisted Shipping System
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Wed Jul 17 07:20:25 2013
Any seller who does not know what size box to use should just stop selling.

If I worked in the Patent office I'd actually be laughing so hard I'd never be able to process the paperwork.

What next?  Will JD try to patent a "thinking" day?    
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