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eBay to Let Professionals Pitch Services to eBay.com Shoppers

Remember eBay’s past attempts to bring buyers and sellers of services together? It hasn’t had a lot of success in that area, but as reported in July, eBay is at it again with a pilot program in the UK, and now it’s bringing it to the U.S.

eBay Hire launched in beta in the U.S. on Thursday. Like other such marketplaces, professionals can set up a profile page where they can describe themselves and provide rates for their services.

What makes this different from services like Angies List or Task Rabbit?

eBay plans to let providers advertise their services to local shoppers right on eBay.com. Integrating services into the existing eBay marketplace could help it reach critical mass – if it can get exposure to be contextually relevant to shoppers on the site.

eBay explained, “You may be discovered by eBay customers when your profile is shown on relevant product search result pages. We may show this to customers who live in your area and may be interested in your services based on their product search on eBay. Promotion of your services on eBay may begin with the full beta launch.”

It further explained, “In future phases, ads featuring the pros will show up in relevant product search result pages. For example, shoppers buying golf clubs might be shown results for accredited professional golf coaches in their zip code.”

eBay will process payments on behalf of service providers – through PayPal. And in a section on Safety Tips, eBay advises customers, “Never give out financial information to Service Pros (bank account number, social security number, eBay/PayPal info, etc.). Service Pros do not need this information as payments are processed through the site.”

While in beta testing, eBay Hire will not charge a sign-up fee or make commissions (it will charge fees for PayPal transactions), but it does plan to eventually charge fees for each booking, “similar to the fees charged when users list and/or sell items on eBay.com,” it wrote.

eBay Hire is currently working with associations from the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation (USGTF) and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), to reach prospective service pros.

In its terms and conditions, eBay makes it clear it is “just a venue” as it had in the early days of its eBay.com marketplace. In a section called, “Resolution of disputes with other users,” eBay starts off by stating, “If there are any disputes between buyers and suppliers via the marketplace, these must be resolved between the buyer and supplier as eBay Hire is not a party to your transaction (contractually or otherwise).”

The terms also state that eBay Hire does not verify the credentials of the Suppliers, though it may contract with third-party service providers to perform verifications.

Wall Street analyst Mark May of Citi said in a research note on Thursday:

“From a big picture perspective, the launch of eBay Hire suggests that the company is looking to expand into new markets that leverage its audience and expertise in running marketplace business models. More specifically, the news of the expansion into the U.S. market for eBay Hire on the surface suggests enough success in the U.K. that a U.S. service made sense.

“The service isn’t completely apple-to-apples to public competitor Angie’s List (ANGI, not rated). However to provide some context for the size of the business, Angie’s List Service Provider Revenue is expected (based on FactSet estimates) to grow 67% y/y to $180m.”

Steve Yankovich, Vice President of Innovation and New Ventures at eBay Inc., was quoted on the eBay blog, “This limited beta launch is another example of eBay Inc. using technology to connect buyers and sellers in new ways.”

eBay is pitching service providers, writing, “Market your services on eBay. With eBay Hire, you can introduce yourself and your services to eBay customers in your area. As one of the world’s largest marketplaces, we provide unmatched demand and relevant traffic, creating new opportunities for you to market your services everyday. Join now to participate in our beta pilot.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.