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eBay to Use Artificial Intelligence to Improve Shipping

eBay CEO Devin Wenig hopes to be able to anticipate what shoppers want to buy by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI). In a post on the eBay corporate blog, Wenig discussed how technology is influencing ecommerce, and he also discussed his own company’s interest in this area.

The CEO expects the pace of development of AI to accelerate over the next two to three years “beyond anything previously imagined,” and he believes commerce will be the focus of some of the most immediate and exciting applications of AI. Technology will even render the search box redundant, he said.

“As consumers, you will find it is almost like having a personal shopper on hand – except it will get smarter, more attuned to your needs, every time you use it. Imagine you want to buy a scarf. Using AI, commerce platforms and tools will be able to predict whether you want a $7 scarf or a $700 scarf. They will know what color you want and whether you prefer natural fibers to manmade. And they will be able to anticipate the next thing you’ll want to buy.”

eBay recently acquired Expertmaker, Wenig noted, and here’s what he said about how the marketplace will use its AI technology:

“We currently expect to apply their technology across our platform, to help improve shipping and delivery times, trust, pricing, and more.”

But he did not elaborate further nor did he explain how the technology would improve those areas that are so important to buyers and sellers.

Expertmaker still has a page on its website where it describes its solutions for retailers. Capabilities include “Advanced customer profiling for deep insights,” and it lists the following benefits for merchants:

  • Up selling and cross selling
  • Improved metrics (conversion and other key business drivers)
  • Improved customer experiences
  • Multiple AI technologies to generate optimal solutions
  • Backed by one of the most experienced teams in the world

When eBay acquired Expertmaker earlier this month, EcommerceBytes readers weighed in on whether they believed artificial intelligence could save eBay.

Some were skeptical about companies who try to steer shoppers towards what they think the shoppers will buy – “AI searches remove all serendipity from the equation,” wrote one seller. “This steering of tastes and choices by large corp entities like Amazon, Google, etc is not only unfair to small businesses, I feel it is socially dangerous.”

You can read Wenig’s full post on the eBay blog.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.