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eBay launches AI feature that writes product listings for you

The global online marketplace giant, eBay has introduced a generative AI tool for its app-based marketplace sellers.

The global online marketplace giant, eBay has introduced a generative AI tool for its app-based marketplace sellers. It will assist in generating product descriptions based on listing metadata.

Approximately 30% of eBay sellers who gained access to the generative AI tool have already tested it. Interestingly, eBay does not explicitly label product descriptions created with artificial intelligence, a decision that has sparked some debates in the retail industry.

eBay’s inspiration

Xiaodi Zhang, vice president of seller experience at eBay, pointed out that the adoption of generative AI was prompted by eBay’s desire to tackle two core challenges: enhancing item discovery for shoppers and making the listing process smoother for sellers. 

This led eBay to develop a tool based on OpenAI’s ChatGPT, tailored to generate product descriptions using various product attributes such as category, condition, color, and brand. The tool, referred to as the “magical listing tool,” was conceived and developed within just a month.

The generative AI experience

Feedback from eBay marketplace sellers has been notably positive, with sellers giving the AI-powered tool an impressive 80% customer satisfaction score as of late July. This was during a testing phase.

This places it among the top-rated feature launches in eBay’s recent history. Roughly 30% of sellers presented with the generative AI tool have actively utilized it, and an astonishing 95% have accepted at least a portion of the description generated by the AI.

Zhang did acknowledge that the AI-generated descriptions might lean towards being overly descriptive with excessive adjectives. It’s up to individual sellers to fine-tune and ensure the descriptions align with the specific attributes of their products.

Transparency concerns

One notable aspect of eBay’s approach is its reluctance to explicitly label AI-generated descriptions, leaving it up to sellers to edit and approve listings. 

This approach, however, has sparked concerns among experts like Kassi Socha, Director Analyst at Gartner. Socha suggests transparency is essential when using generative AI in retail, as many consumers express distrust and concern about the technology’s impact on society.

In a July 2023 Gartner surveyed 303 consumers, 34% reported discomfort with generative AI in retail, 53% believed it would have a negative societal impact, and 66% expressed concerns about discrimination and bias in generative AI.

While eBay continues to refine its generative AI tool, it remains to be seen whether it will address concerns related to transparency.

A rapid rollout

eBay initially piloted the generative AI tool internally before gradually expanding access to a random group of 5% of sellers in May 2023. 

eBay’s ongoing focus on generative AI tools includes developing additional features to expedite the listing process. For instance, one upcoming tool will enable sellers to upload an image through the iOS app, with generative AI generating key details like category, subcategory, product title, and a description. Additionally, eBay is exploring an AI tool that removes image backgrounds, replacing them with a clean white backdrop to make products stand out.

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