On Amazon, eBay, and Shopify, AI is the new third-party seller

You may be among the millions of Americans who just purchased an item during the two-day Amazon Prime deals event. Did AI help in the process of convincing you to spend?

Amazon said Prime members bought more than 150 million items from third-party sellers. It didn’t release much more data on the big retail event, and among the things we can’t know for sure is how much generative AI programs may have helped sellers do an even better job of pitching their products than in previous years.

We do know for sure that getting a leg up on the competition is getting easier for e-commerce platform sellers through the latest AI.

Generative AI tools — offered by e-commerce platforms, marketplaces and private companies — can help with some of the more labor-intensive, time-consuming and mundane tasks that sellers tend to hate. The goal of using these tools is to drive more sales with less effort — and angst — on the part of sellers. 

AI can be used for many things, from writing impactful product listings to data analytics, but more of the focus of late has been on the product listing side. Amazon, for example, recently rolled out a generative AI tool to help sellers write more robust and effective product descriptions.

A New York Times’ tech reviewer who recently tried out the latest version of OpenAI’s ChatGPT which can “see, hear and speak,” said it did a very good job of writing product listings for items he wanted to sell on Meta’s Facebook Marketplace.

These tools can “spit out the perfect product listing for you that is optimized to your customer base,” says Chris Jones, chief executive and co-founder of AMNI, an AI-powered platform that streamlines procurement, manufacturing and distribution.

It’s obviously early days in the use of AI for e-commerce, and there will be some big hits and misses — as well as risks for any seller than blindly relies on AI. Here’s what sellers need to know about using AI to sell more effectively.

Business owners shouldn’t feel the need to be writers

Creating high-quality e-commerce content often doesn’t come naturally to sellers. There’s a need to create compelling product titles, bullet points and descriptions, which can be time-consuming and frustrating for sellers who don’t have a natural writing ability or the time to devote to these efforts. It can be daunting for sellers to sit in front of a blank screen and figure out what to write.

Beyond just describing they product, they need to create one that’s also well-optimized for Amazon search algorithms so it gets good exposure, said Greg Mercer, chief executive and founder of Jungle Scout, a platform that helps sellers start and scale their e-commerce business.

AI can reduce — to seconds or minutes — these mundane listing tasks that might have taken some sellers three-to-five hours to complete, Mercer said. 

Amazon says it will save sellers time and effort

Sellers on Amazon’s competitive third-party marketplace need to provide a brief description of their product in order to allow its new AI tool to generate high-quality content for them to review. For example, they can plug in the item name and whether the product has variations and a brand name. Amazon’s models learn to infer product information from various sources. For example, they can infer a table is round if specifications list a diameter. The models can also infer the collar style of a shirt from its image, the company noted in a blog post about the AI launch.

“In addition to saving sellers time, a more thorough product description also helps improve the shopping experience. Customers will find more complete product information, as the new technology will help sellers provide richer information with less effort,” the company stated.

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