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Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon Dec 7 2015 16:48:36

eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers

By: Ina Steiner
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eBay is working on a program to help new sellers get up to speed, and it's expecting its existing sellers to consider volunteering their services for free. The idea was not well received by current sellers for a number of reasons.

Last week, an eBay moderator posted the following thread on the discussion boards:

Hi Everyone,
We are piloting a free eBay Mentorship Program that matches new sellers to more experienced sellers that helps them through the selling process. This is a 1:1 relationship that will help new sellers ask questions, get tips and tricks for selling on the site. 
 
Are you interested in becoming a mentor in this program? Yes/No
 
If interested, are weekends or weekdays better for you?
What time would you be available to mentor? 9 AM - 12 PM / 12PM - 5 PM / 5 PM - 8 PM
Thank you!

Sellers immediately asked how eBay would compensate them, while others pointed out that they were already helping sellers right there on the discussion board where eBay posted its request.

It's not clear if eBay had expected members to ask about compensation, and in response it wrote, "These are great suggestions, and we are still in the process of exploring how the incentives will work for both parties. Which of the incentives you've recommended would most likely get you to participate in the program?" 

As posters pointed out, only the mentor would need an incentive since the program is designed for the benefit of the party being mentored. 

"It's a rare person that would help a competitor cut into their own profit margins," one poster wrote. 

But they noted that eBay had once had a vibrant community of users helping each other: "eBay hurt this type of program years ago by destroying the community spirit, these boards were one."

To get an idea of how connected online sellers can feel to marketplace forums where they seek advice, companionship, and comradery, take a look at a poem a seller posted over on eBay rival marketplace Etsy called "Ode to Etsy Forums." While the marketplace is different, some of the sentiments echo those felt by eBay sellers - if not today, certainly in the past. 

As far as the reaction to eBay's request for help on mentoring new sellers, one board participant summed it up as follows:

Even thinking about a mentorship program shows how out of touch eBay is with its users.
 
They are asking sellers to take designated time blocks out of their personal life to help out a new seller who will be in competition for the dwindling buyers out there.
 
They expect experienced sellers to offer to do this for free, or very little in compensation, but why should they? It only cuts into the experienced sellers already shrinking sales thanks to ebay not showing listings, and promoting Chinese & Big Box sellers over the smaller sellers, who BTW are usually also buyers.
 
They have ignored the best feedback they could possibly get, right here on the boards, as to the issues their users are facing. Instead the boardies who call the attention to problems are considered "noise".
 
And considering the boardies noise, has caused them to overlook a valuable resource both for eBay, and new sellers. The best of the best pop in and answer questions here, for FREE!
 
Many of the posters here know much more about how eBay policy works, and give more correct answers than eBay's paid CS does. Plus newbies can get answers from several informed people rather than 1 person.
 
As usual eBay is clueless when they have something good, instead they want to change it around until they ruin it. eBay's motto seems to be It ain't broke? Well we can fix that!

We wondered how eBay Education Specialists who make a living teaching people how to sell on eBay felt about the program.

What do you think of eBay's request? Would you be interested in helping new sellers, or is that something eBay should be doing?



Comments (51) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: eXtinctBay This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Dec 7 17:45:25 2015
Would I have to know / speak Chinese, Mandarin, or one of the dialects spoken in China?

Seriously, I would mentor anyone interested in selling on eBay not to do it. Unless, of course, you are a sucker for punishment.

When this site was new, it was fun to sell. Online auctions and eBay were the ''wild frontier''. All items were sold to an audience of buyers hungry to find things to fill their collections that they could not find anywhere else, without scouring flea markets, garage sales, and antique stores.

And lots of money changed hands. Both buyers and sellers were (in most cases) very happy with the results.

Then, the laws of supply and demand took over. Collectors of many items filled their collections with what they needed, and prices began to plummet. And ''Buy It Now'' and eBay Stores changed the sales landscape.

Now, auctions are basically ''past history'', unless one has a very rare item. Also, due to a few sellers who have bilked buyers, many rules have been enacted to punish all for the incorrect actions for a small percentage of dishonest folks.

Again, I would advise against starting a business on the Bay. It's not easy, and if you are not the type of person who likes to be taken advantage of (who is?), you will be nothing except disappointed with the results. There are just too many silly anti-seller rules and regulations that make no real sense.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: 1beck3 This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Dec 7 18:17:12 2015
Auctions are past history b/c when someone wants to purchase something, they don't want to wait 7 days to do it. They want it now. Or, you wait 7 days only to lose the auction? No thanks.

Auctions are good for two things: in-demand items in short supply (of which ebay doesn't have all that much of) and selling off crap people have abandon or don't want (of which ebay has plenty). I know when I research sold prices in apparel and shoes, auctions consistently sell for *maybe* 50% of what BIN sales do.

Online auctions may have been a novel idea 10-15 years but, if it was *the* way to maximize your profits, more businesses would employ the tactic.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: The End
       
Mon Dec 7 19:30:07 2015
Most of the New Sellers are Chinese. So, it's like Disney telling their employees to train their new foreign replacements.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: JQ This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Dec 7 19:35:34 2015
Sadly the most common piece of advice I have offered new sellers over the last year has been to reconsider their whole ideal of selling on eBay. I tell them that if they are just looking to de-clutter and do not mind how little money they make then eBay is a reasonable option. If they are actually looking for a source of steady reliable income then they would do better exploring other options that do not involve on-line selling. If they are wed to the ideal of on-line selling, to do their best to not make themselves dependent on any one site, eBay in particular. When sellers become dependent on eBay the story always ends the same way.

I do offer the above advice with all honesty. Just lessons I have learned the hard way over the years.

I doubt eBay would want me in their new mentoring program.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: sasikat9 This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Dec 7 19:35:51 2015
Ebay should recruit some of their great customer service reps to do the mentoring....They seem to think that they know it all and most important they speak the language.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: JQ This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Dec 7 19:43:17 2015
One other objectionable part of this whole subject, the whole premise here is that sellers have the ability to succeed or fail on eBay based on their own performance.

The harsh truth is eBay policies determine how much or how little you sell to a much greater degree than anything under your own control. And the most important policies that govern your sales volume are never even made public.

I've said it before, I firmly believe 90% of all eBay's problems would disappear overnight if they just returned the site to a level selling field. If eBay just returned to acting like a neutral sales platform which people paid to sell through then the site would immediately begin to revive.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: DingDong This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Dec 7 20:11:51 2015
I can't believe the eBay actually think that the sellers are willing to give away their time to help new sellers. They have all these employees. They need to hire those that speak English.

They destroyed the forums on Bonanza. The Bonz Boyz expect the sellers to help other on the community help section and yet they have hire more employees. They don't know how their site works with all the upgrades and not updating proper instructions to do things there. There is constantly questions, and the sellers spend their time while Bonz employees basically sit back. They need to hire more employees since their revenue tripled in one year.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Mon Dec 7 20:25:44 2015
Mentor to student:  

If you love working with a company that perpetually walks all over you, increases fees while reducing services, offers customer service that is unreachable in reasonable periods of time, and when you finally do get through offers you inconsistent responses and fails to have your back....

If you love a company that does not support it's sellers, encourages, allows, permits and condones fraudulent returns with zero seller protections, and then makes it impossible to receive fee credits for refunded items...

If you love wasting your time placing listings that will likely never be seen because you are a new seller and because eBay's search engine is stacked against you and every small seller like you....

If you love paying high fees to both eBay and PayPal while being told by an automated program that your prices are too high...

If you love working with a company that has policies created by million dollar executives that do not have the first clue about buying or selling....


Then eBay is the place for you.

If not, RUN AWAY FROM THIS SINKING SHIP... you would be better off paying a trash hauler to take your stuff than listing it on eBay.

PS... Do I qualify for mentor of the year?
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Mon Dec 7 21:16:22 2015
I think it is eBay's C-level management that needs the mentoring.

Lesson #1: Listen to your customers (i.e. your sellers). This is something that company management hasn't done since Meg Whitman came on board.  
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.
       
Mon Dec 7 22:45:29 2015
Maybe eBay can get their legion of Chinese Sellers to help.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Dec 8 00:03:40 2015


I think ebay seriously needs to start doing drug testing on their employees asap.  


Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: OnlyPollyPocket This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Dec 8 02:08:59 2015
As mentioned in Ina's article, ebay HAD a wonderful mentoring system.  The forums were full of knowledgeable, enthusiastic, willing mentors who freely gave good advice for free when another seller had a question.  

But the boards have been so throttled that few of the sellers post anymore that used to be there helping all the time.

This request for mentors also begs the question:  Is ebay looking for a new cost-cutting measure by dumping paid CS reps in lieu of unpaid mentors?    Wasn't there a survey a few months ago asking if sellers would be willing to pay for calling a customer service rep?

Having said all this, for sure an experienced seller would be way more effective in  helping a newbie that the poorly trained help-less desk at ebay.  Instead of asking for mentors, ebay, properly, consistently train your CS staff so they can answer seller questions.

I, too, tell people who ask me if they could sell on ebay to consider another venue for the same reasons other posters have stated.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit
       
Tue Dec 8 05:12:50 2015
Looks like eBay is trying to find ways to cut costs. These corporate vultures have already picked eBay to the bones. They really have b&lls asking experienced sellers to mentor new sellers for free. Mentoring is such a nice word and means something when it comes to a good cause of which eBay is not.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: Slow Learner This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Dec 8 05:31:52 2015
Was this a joke?
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: JQ This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Dec 8 06:39:03 2015
@Rexford,

Now THAT is a program I would sign up for. Experienced sellers mentoring eBay executives about in basic common sense ways for them to stop ruining the company that those same sellers built up over decades, and that management has been busy destroying for the last few years.

Maybe if they had some sense of how eBay was run when it was a well functioning selling site they might better understand how and why they are failing.

BTW, there would be a lot of yelling during those mentoring sessions. And some swearing. I hope they like swearing, cause that would be a big part of the session.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: Volvo351 This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Dec 8 09:44:00 2015
@JQ

These out-of-touch elite's from overpriced MBA factories need to understand that life for The Great Unwashed is a bit different! We're just trying to make an honest buck selling surplus and salvaged stuff to supplement household incomes.

When I buy, a "great buying experience" is getting a GOOD, serviceable item at 20c or 30c on the dollar compared to new. I don't need bells and whistles.
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: Mark4 This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Dec 8 10:14:57 2015
Would someone please start randomly drug testing the ebay management team??????????????
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.
       
Tue Dec 8 10:33:35 2015
eBay has 23,000 (THOUSAND) employees - pray tell what do THEY DO ALL DAY - that they cant help new sellers?

And as said above:

What do you say to a new seller when eBays attitude is that any loss "is part of business so suck it up"?

What do you say to a new seller when Paypal holds your money because the buyer says your sky b lue sweater is realy Blue-green and doesnt go with her outfit and is therefore SNAD?

What do you tell a new seller then he or she sells their iphone 5 to a buyer who then says he got it and the screen is cracked - and even though its got a different ESN - that was the phone he got and therefore the new seller is out $700?

As many others here have said (better then I could in fact) ... eBay is a great place to sell your unwanted junk, PERIOD.

Its virtually IMPOSSIBLE to live off eBay sales alone.

DONT believe anyone that tells you that the big sellers here ONLY have store on eBay - thats % BS.

Most big sellers use Seller Cloud or Stone Edge or one of the other big ecommerce sites, and eBay is just another marketplace they send a feed to. They DO NOT spend all day sitting in front of a computer tweaking their eBay listings.

eBay did a great job under JD chasing away people who DID do just that - people who dedicated themselves to their eBay stores, by treating them like something they stepped in while walking the dog.

Besides, if eBay is giving special tools and shipping rates via USPS to the Chinese - why even bother with wanting more American sellers?

If eBay cared about ecommerce on its site - they would go back to having dedicated reps and have those reps work with midsized accounts to help them grow, but they dont. Their "drop dead" attitude shines through.

No problem - come Jan 2016 - I too will be getting into the "feed business". I expect to pay $500 to be on as many marketplaces that will have me (Jet, Walmart ect) and then not bother with what happens on eBay.

Sink or swim - what ever DW does wont effect me so much anymore. Business on eBay is down %35 and its NOT headed up.

Too much work for too little return!
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: LDS Brother
       
Tue Dec 8 10:43:22 2015
Hey eBay and Wenig, how about helping us OLD SELLERS get up to speed ?

I have been on since the 1990's
15,000+ Feedbacks and TopRated

I basically left eBay in 2015 as it produced no income, some months my invoices were $12 to $30 a month

Now how did I go from paying you $1200 to $1500 a month to $12 to $30 a month ?

When I have upped my game, am Top Rated, did all as Master Donahoe commanded during his reign of destructive innovation !

And that one ex eBay employee Lorrie Norrington stated, that IF you do all that we ask to be Top Rater you wil do very good ! Yeah Right ! LOL   Good ????

What BS !

I am a pro seller, I know the ins and outs, but I cannot overcome the difficulties Master Donahoe has put into place

I mean we still have Best Match for the default, now I am 5 star, Top Rated Seller and it has done NOTHING for my business, that is why I was forced to go elsewhere

How can I mentor a new seller ?

Tell them:

"Hey New Seller, How are you ? I am here to mentor you, I am a 5 Star Toprated Seller, who use to make $35,000 a year, and now earn $2,000 a year on eBay, and more and more frequently am paying $12 to $30 a month invoices to ebay from complete collapse and lack of sales from my dead eBay business ! And New Seller hopeful, keep in mind I have done all I can, Free Shipping, 14 day return policys etc. But know this I can teach and mentor you how to make $2,000 a year Gross Net Profit on popular items that used to make me up to $35,000 a year before 2008 When Donahoe reared his ugly face announcing he is the new CEO ! Let me me teach you, it is fun, making $2,000 a year from SELECT MATCH where eBay selects whose item they want to be shown to give eBay a biger chunk of the pie ( Oops I meant Best Match )! It is fun new aspiring wannabee seller selling 4 items in 2 days, then not selling another single one for 25  more days ! Let's get started !"

Wow do the execs at eBay sit around smoking funny stuff all day ? They kill of the backbone of eBay me and you, and then ask us to mentor New Sellers ?

GO TO HELL EBAY !!!!!!!!
Perminate Link for eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers   eBay Asks for Help in Mentoring New Sellers
This user has validated their user name. by: LDS Brother
       
Tue Dec 8 10:50:51 2015
Part 2:

Hey Wenig, how about bring back time ending soonest as the default for ALL Top Rated Sellers ?

Then on page 3 or 4 make it Best Match for the above Average Sellers showing their listings according to better rating first ?

eBay sucks Wening ! Best Match blows ! The slap from Google crushed us !

Until you get rid of Best Match and be an ecommerce leader again going against the rest of the other sites, and making eBay attractive for good sellers, this company does not have a prayer at keeping is sustained much longer

Best Match is a FAILURE for sellers, maybe not for you eBay steering the traffic you do get to the items you want people to see, but I was a darn good dedicated seller and you have totally destroyed my sales with Best Match

It is Xmas, and popular items with best price, I have got no sales in 4 days, WOW !!!!!!

Why ? Because you do no show my damn item !

When you do it sells like hot cakes, when you don't I cant give it away for FREE !

Best Match is an evil manipulator of sellers, it has to go !!!!
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