eBay thinks a robot can do your job - introducing the Robo Seller. eBay filed a patent for an "Auto posting system" that would perform much of the tedious selling chores required to list on its platform, as the patent abstract describes:
"The disclosed technologies include a robotic selling assistant that receives an item from a seller, automatically generates a posting describing the item for sale, stores the item until it is sold, and delivers or sends the item out for delivery."
The item would be placed in a compartment that uses one or more sensors to identify the item, retrieve supplemental information about the item, and take pictures of the item for inclusion in the posting.
eBay imagines that such a system would result in people listing more items on its site rather than keeping them in storage or throwing them away due to the tedious nature of listing them.
eBay also imagines the technology could solve another problem it described: "low quality postings can often depress prices, leaving the seller and the online sales platform worse off."
In an excerpt from the patent, eBay stated: "creating a posting that lists an item for sale requires describing the item, taking pictures of the item, identifying the manufacturer, model, and production year, evaluating the condition of the item, and estimating shipping costs. These tasks are particularly burdensome to individual sellers and sellers of used items, as the time and expense cannot be recouped with high volume sales. Other challenges to online sales include storing items until they are sold, determining how to package items, and transporting the packaged items to a delivery service."
So how would a non-human be able to take on the these tasks?
The robotic selling assistant might have cameras, sensors, a robotic arm, a microphone, and a scale. The "robot-seller" could use such features to capture information to help create an accurate listing and to safely package the item. For example:
- A microphone may be used to determine if an item rattles unexpectedly when moved (to determine whether an item has been damaged prior to receipt).
- A sensor that measures the intensity of light, in combination with a camera, may be used to determine if an item is scuffed or dirty.
The Robo Seller might even snitch on their human overlords! "If the robotic selling assistant determines the seller has intentionally mis-described the item, the robotic selling assistant may alert the online sales platform of potentially fraudulent activity."