Once again it has been awhile. But I wanted to get some new content out. This year I was elected as a member of the board for WAA. Part of my time on the board will include writing articles for our membership. From the second I heard this I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to combine a career in tech with the auction business. For those who don’t know about the side hustles I have going on that will be a post for another day. So with here you go, this is a repost of my first new letter article, Revolutionizing Auctions with Automation and AI. I hope you find it interesting.
Revolutionizing Auctions with Automation and AI
My career up to this point has been in technology. With that has come the need to automate large-scale and tedious tasks. In the past, that would have meant buying expensive tools or learning how to program in a language like Python. But things have changed drastically in the past few years. Now we have cost-effective, highly intuitive, and intelligent tools like Zapier and ChatGPT.
As a quick primer, tools like Zapier integrate with other platforms like Google Docs, Office 365, Mailchimp, CRM, and many others. This allows you to automate tasks that in the past would have been manual and tedious. For example, if you track all of your new consignment users in a CRM, you can automate adding any new consignors to a custom MailChimp mailing list. This would cut down at least three steps of exporting the list and uploading it to Mailchimp, enabling you to have an always up-to-date mailing group to notify consignors of upcoming auctions they may wish to add items to. You can go much further and add multiple steps, but this example is phase 1 of automating the data for your business.
Moving forward, we have AI tools like ChatGPT. This opens up a totally different set of opportunities. We should think of AI tools like this as our specialized assistant. In my case, there are few things I am really good at, a lot of things I can do, and billions of things I will never be able to do well enough to do myself. It is the second two areas where we can leverage this virtual expert. So as an example, I can write marketing copy, but I am not great at it. So I go to ChatGPT and ask the following:
“Please write me ad copy for an online auction starting on April 18, 2023, and closing on May 2, 2023. The auction has something for everyone. The lead items for the ad are a 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee and a 1975 Starfire 1801 Pleasure with an outdrive engine. Other items in the auction include many kitchen and household items, a video poker machine, vintage video games, vintage board games, many Christmas decorations, and many vintage items. Lots of books. A garage of tools and ice fishing equipment. Please ask me questions to produce the best outcome.”
This simple request, in under 15 seconds, provided me with an over-the-top ad copy and a description for our auction that is running right now. So over-the-top, in fact, I had to follow up by asking the tool:
“This looks pretty good, but can we tone it down just a bit and get rid of emojis?”
To which it responded with a much more reasonable copy that we ended up using. But it’s not just that. I have also used ChatGPT to come up with a variable auction % split for a large customer that we are working with. It was not perfect, but through the conversation, it took care of lots of math and planning that, had I done by hand, I may have messed up. Something like this may seem overwhelming, but truly, if you can text message or email someone, you can use this!
Once you have a handle on these tools, the sky’s the limit. For example, we have combined Google Sheets, Zapier, ChatGPT, and Google Docs with a Zap in Zapier. That integration allows us to put all of our core information about an auction into a spreadsheet. Zapier sees we have added a new line, and it parses out specific data and feeds it to ChatGPT, asking it to create ad copy and descriptions for the auction and output them to
To wrap this up, I promised it would be cheap and easy. So far, I have outlined the easy part. As for cheap, there are free versions of both of the tools we have discussed, and many other applications have free versions to get started, which may even be free forever based on your size. However, to get the level of integration I discussed in the last section, you need to invest some money. The monthly fee for Zapier for the level of integration I have talked about here is $19.99 per month, and the cost for ChatGPT Plus, which is required to integrate ChatGPT with external applications, is $20 per month. Nevertheless, these costs are reasonable and are outweighed by the significant benefits that automation and AI can bring to your auction business.
One final thing. I am really bad at spelling and punctuation. So I had ChatGPT review this article for me and clean it up.