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eBay Tests Pickup, Drop-Off Selling

Pilot programs meant to attract new sellers, more inventory.

What if you could have someone pick up the items you no longer want—and want to sell—right at your doorstep, have someone list those products, handle the communication with buyers and hand you your profits?

If you live in the San Jose, CA, or Topeka, KS, areas, that dream is at your fingertips with a new selling program that eBay is testing. Called eBay Selling Assistant, the program allows people to call eBay so employees can drop by, pick up the items participants want to sell, and drop them off with processing partners—eBay trading assistants who will list the products for participants, says Vikram Singh, director of eBay’s consumer business.

This is the second selling pilot eBay has tested in recent months to attract new sellers who may find the selling process intimating—and to get more high-quality inventory onto the marketplace.

“Our aspiration, is for eBay to become the platform for all this high-quality inventory to come to, because we believe that a lot of what attracts buyers to eBay is knowing we have this phenomenal inventory”

From Nov. 26 to Dec. 26, eBay tested a drop-off program through which shoppers in a mall could hand off items they wanted to sell at a kiosk. The ideas for the programs came about from feedback eBay received, reports Amanda Thomas, eBay’s director of new business pilots.

She says lots of people have valuable items they want to sell but are intimidated by the idea of taking photos, uploading images and shipping orders.

“There is a lot of valuable inventory out there that is not making it online,” Thomas continues. “What we would like to do, our aspiration, is for eBay to become the platform for all this high-quality inventory to come to, because we believe that a lot of what attracts buyers to eBay is knowing we have this phenomenal inventory.”

Assistants take care of everything

In the eBay Selling Assistant program, which runs through the end of January, trading assistants do all the selling work. They take photos, write descriptions, communicate with buyers and ship items when they sell. Then participants get 75 percent of the profits. Trading assistants get a 25-percent commission.

These assistants know eBay well and have been selling on the site for a long time. For that reason, they decide in what format to sell items and for what price—though people can specify a minimum price for their goods, Singh explains, adding that very few people have done that.

If items don’t sell at the minimum price, trading assistants will contact participants and ask if they want to lower or eliminate their minimum prices. After two weeks, if items don’t sell, participants can donate them to the Salvation Army and receive a receipt, or they can have goods returned to them.

Singh adds that there is no limit to how many items eBay personnel will pick up, but they typically won’t take items weighing more than 25 pounds, and items must be worth selling online.

So far, so good

The reaction to both programs has been good so far.

“We are doing things that eBay hasn’t traditionally done”

“Hundreds of people on a daily basis were proactively coming up to us to see how to sell their items,” Thomas says of the drop-off program.

Singh adds that the pickup program is keeping trading assistants very busy. On Thursday, alone, eBay picked up more than 100 action figures from a man looking to resell them.

“We are pretty excited about these pilots,” he continues. “We are doing things that eBay hasn’t traditionally done. We are attracting new customers to eBay who have never bought or sold on eBay, or who have bought on eBay but never sold.”

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of TheOnlineSeller.com. In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

  • Sounds great but wow that math doesn’t add up in the real world. The seller keeps 25% and the owner gets 75%. Hmmm…so where does eBay/PayPal get their 15-20%? Most consignment deals have to account for the huge fees that selling on eBay racks up. I guess it’s possible that in this pilot eBay waved all the fees but then why would that be a good experiment when in reality that is NOT going to happen. I’d be happy to give a trading assistant all of my good stuff if they’d do all the work and I got back 75% plus no fee on items that didn’t sell!

  • Ada Wildgoose

    as soon as Ebay turns into a ‘real’ auction site…….with the end of auction being extended if there is bidding in the last minute…….then sellers like myself won’t return. You can’t keep killing the seller with fees and snipe bidders and expect us to spend the time it takes to list goods.



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