Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Tue June 8 2021 10:33:08

eBay Patents a Robo Seller

By: Ina Steiner

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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."

You can find the patent on the USPTO government website. We can't wait to hear what sellers (the human ones) think.



Comments (32) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Tue Jun 8 10:58:03 2021

Beam me up Scotty.
That doesn't belong here.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: r2678 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 8 11:54:47 2021

Just think of the storage fees.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 8 12:24:12 2021

At some point, eBay is going to have to take title to the inventory if they patent the ap. See how ‘their’ customers feel about obtaining CS from a mail order vending machine that relies on eBay search algorithms to select the appropriate button to push.

The best most sellers can hope for these days anyway is to net a wholesale gross from the sale. And that’s whenever eBay finishes milking …er… managing the payment. Better to sell it to eBay outright. When enough sellers figure that out - well, talk about paradigm shifts.

Or you can (eventually - it is still an eBay pipe dream) lease the ap, pay for ‘exposure’ and service, sustain the overhead on your dime, eat unsold product, and still run eBay’s gauntlet of periodic operations seizures and regurgitated innovations.

Meanwhile, the next step will be to remove the buyer from the transaction. AI code that learns individual staple good consumption patterns and desires processes periodic purchases. Film sooner than you think.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jun 8 13:23:13 2021

Back in the late 1990s I had a side business importing crystal chandeliers from the Czech Republic.   I had a web site, took orders on that web site and had them drop shipped from my suppliers in the Czech Republic.  Things were going well in the beginning, but summer came, I would submit orders, and then six weeks later my customers were contacting me telling me that their orders had not arrived.  I contacted my supplier and some of the orders had not been shipped yet.

Ultimately I closed my web site down for that very reason.  I decided that if I ever sold online again my inventory would be in my possession and I would be in complete control of shipping the items that I sell.

If you own a business and have high standards, you want anything and everything under your control to protect your brand and your name.  Word up.

And it is one thing to find a human that you can trust with your business, but I will never hitch my wagon to a Robo seller.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 8 13:59:26 2021

Big deal - they already have “Do nothing cardboard cut out employees “

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Tue Jun 8 14:13:46 2021

My first reaction was, they can't even keep their site running the way it should, and they want to take on something as complicated as what is described in the patent? My second reaction was, this sounds like the first hint that they are thinking about starting up a FBE (Fulfillment by eBay), which many sellers have been predicting for a few years.

I don't know who came up with this idea, but I honestly don't know how they can accomplish all the tasks that are components of this scheme. And I'm sure there are a plethora of sellers who wouldn't trust eBay to list a used piece of chewing gum, let alone a item that was rare or expensive. As "r2678" states, the storage fees would be astronomical, which is probably the basis for this idea.

@Rexford - I'm 100% in agreement with you. I don't trust anyone but myself to handle any aspect of my business, and I certainly wouldn't trust eBay, whose track record is less than stellar (to put it mildly).

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: P.Dorf This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 8 16:02:25 2021

Bike-shedding and/or patent trolling

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: COVID-19 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 8 18:29:25 2021

Sounds like another scheme to let crooked buyers get full refund and keep items too via INAD claims. D@mn bots can't possibly know everything about every product in existence.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: I Must be Crazy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 8 22:06:12 2021

They would do better with a Robo-CEO.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: ShortSeller This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 8 22:58:15 2021

Morons.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

This user has validated their user name. by: Covid-20

Wed Jun 9 10:32:34 2021

FAIL.
The same people who are looking to spend their money and shop on "eBaY" are also still creating MySpace profiles.

FAIL FAIL FAIL.  

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 9 13:05:17 2021

It never ceases to amaze me that Ebay can keep spending all this time and resources on unnecessary changes and what they consider upgrades to their system, all while completely ignoring all the glitches that their system has.  Of course all of these glitches just happen to steal money from their Sellers to further line their pockets so of course as far as upper management is concerned there is no real need to fix them.  If the sellers happen to find that they were overcharged and can finally manage to prove it to the pathetic English as a Second Language CSR's that their contracted Customer Service companies happen  to hire for pennies a day, they will eventually refund the money to them.  Of course they have once again had to spend more time than the refund is worth to find and prove it to Ebay and then to actually make sure they get it, usually 60-90 days later if they continue to contact Ebay about it as Ebay is determined to keep every penny they can regardless of whether it was earned or stolen.

If Ebay could only realize that if they had a site that worked as well as it did before Donohoe and Wenig got ahold of things, they would not need to beg, borrow and steal every penny they can to show growth, because Sellers would start listing better quality merchandise on their site once again which would organically increase their revenues like they used to.  But as long as Ebay continues to steal from their Sellers as well as help their Buyers to also steal from their Sellers nothing is going to change other than Ebay continuing to find ways to creatively withhold money from their Sellers.  It also would not hurt Ebay to actually recognize that the Sellers who PAY their salaries and monies to keep the lights on are actually also customers but once again that would require Ebay to have to clean house and have a brand new BOD and replace all management that have ever  worked for Donohoe, Wenig and now Iannone as they have only worked in a culture where theft is not only tolerated but expected.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Jun 9 15:12:47 2021

''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.

Tedious or not, I would rather throw stuff away than do business with eBay.

Hey Walmart Clowns/Patent Trolls/Wall Street Slaves.  The more intelligent thing to do would be to address all the issues you created that makes listing a 'tedious' chore, but I guess the intelligent solution simply does not cross your minds as it would involve admitting you F'd up by making the process so tedious in the first place.

Morons.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

This user has validated their user name. by: Covid-20

Wed Jun 9 17:23:15 2021

''𝑰𝒇 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒔𝒆𝒍𝒍𝒆𝒓𝒔 𝒉𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒏 𝒕𝒐 𝒇𝒊𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒚 𝒘𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒄𝒉𝒂𝒓𝒈𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒄𝒂𝒏 𝒇𝒊𝒏𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒚 𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒂𝒈𝒆 𝒕𝒐 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝒊𝒕 𝒕𝒐 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒂𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒕𝒊𝒄 𝑬𝒏𝒈𝒍𝒊𝒔𝒉 𝒂𝒔 𝒂 𝑺𝒆𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒅 𝑳𝒂𝒏𝒈𝒖𝒂𝒈𝒆 𝑪𝑺𝑹'𝒔 𝒕𝒉𝒂𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒊𝒓 𝒄𝒐𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒂𝒄𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝑪𝒖𝒔𝒕𝒐𝒎𝒆𝒓 𝑺𝒆𝒓𝒗𝒊𝒄𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒑𝒂𝒏𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒉𝒂𝒑𝒑𝒆𝒏  𝒕𝒐 𝒉𝒊𝒓𝒆 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒑𝒆𝒏𝒏𝒊𝒆𝒔 𝒂 𝒅𝒂𝒚.  .  .  .''

--   https://youtu.be/DYI3-_C39UQ

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 9 17:51:01 2021

''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."

No - since sellers dont want humans, eBay cockroach employees, OR robots to steal from them.

Sellers, will just list it on some other site, donate it, or run a garage sale - anything besides helping to enrich either the head Mafioso of Seattle Washington, or the head Mafioso of San Jose.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Wed Jun 9 19:47:41 2021

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYI3-_C39UQ
Now it ALL Makes sense.
When the Real sellers are all run off of Ebay, the only way Ebay will remain on the stock market is with the robo sellers. Helps the Far East suppliers more than anything else.
What Ebay didn't count on is the loyalty we have to Real People.
We don't use the self checkouts at the store either......
Bye Bye Ebay.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: Eagle This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 10 00:14:58 2021

Wonder if selling baby rattles would cause the bot to blow a fuse?

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: NoCanDo This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 10 03:01:44 2021

I have read ecommerce bytes for years. I have never commented at the stupid stuff I see the ebay's and Amazon's of the world think they can do to people. "Robo Seller" will work about as well as self driving cars fared when they hit the streets. At least it might be less dangerous. (Depending on exactly what goods Robo Seller decides it is okay to package and ship. Hopefully not explosives.)

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: wrslss1222 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 10 04:57:52 2021

eBay can't keep their own site working properly.  eBay should have patented the word "Glitch".  eBay staff do not seem to have enough knowledge of the market and all of the different products for sale.  This is going to be another failure in eBay's attempt to compete with Amazon.

Perminate Link for eBay Patents a Robo Seller   eBay Patents a Robo Seller

by: Jono77 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 10 05:26:21 2021

Another ridiculous concept. I buy from sellers who list badly or don't know what the items is worth and I resell for a decent profit. eBay effectively wants to put an end to items being sold twice. Dick Darstardly could come up with a better idea than this.

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