We've noticed a lot of talk about Artificial Intelligence (AI) among online marketplaces, including eBay
(eBay CEO Devin Wenig said AI technology will render the search box redundant), Alibaba (invested in Twiggle), and Amazon (CEO Jeff Bezos said we're at the beginning of a golden age of AI).
For many years we've heard about "big data" - every online purchase generates data that if analyzed, could help marketplaces better market to customers. But human beings can't sort through and make sense of all that information and figure out how to better serve shoppers - for instance, when figuring out what listings to show a returning customer.
So it makes sense that AI is the new buzzword - technology that can process data and help companies make better decisions and better merchandise to shoppers.
But spending resources on new technology often seems to come at the expense of fixing what's under the hood.
Reading this letter
from a reader made me think about this issue: the eBay seller said she received defects for failing to ship out on Memorial Day - eBay's systems failed to recognize the day as a Federal holiday when post offices were closed. That does not require Artificial Intelligence - just common sense.
Another reader wrote about another eBay practice - it sends notices to sellers about listings that fail to renew. However, eBay omits to tell the seller which listings failed to renew. The reader cited a "Good 'Til Cancelled listing(s) not renewed" email.
"This is another good example of eBay wasting seller's time for no good reason," she wrote. "Nowhere on this email does it reference the listing number they closed. They could put it on here, but they just don't. They apparently feel it is better for me to spend a minute or two going to unsold items to find the affected listing."
The reader went on to say, "You don't need a big education to figure this out. But time and time again they do stuff like this that shows no common sense at all. The only thing this does is further frustrate their sellers."