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Catching Up on eBay’s Consignment Services

There’s an awkward moment in the popular 2005 movie 40 Year Old Virgin when an eBay drop off store owner tries to explain to a young man that the items she has in her shop are not actually for sale to walk-in customers. A lot has changed for eBay consignment sellers in the 9 years since the movie aired.

Most significantly, eBay has closed its Trading Assistant program, which it had launched in 2002, and created other, little publicized programs instead.

eBay notified members of the Trading Assistant program last August that it was closing the program, explaining, “We’ve been listening to feedback from many of you and have heard that the program is not meeting expectations or delivering a significant number of sales leads.” It had already begun testing other programs described in this article.

eBay Valet
Last year, it began testing its own “pick up” service that worked in conjunction with consignment sellers called eBay Selling Assistant. The “pages.eBay.com/dropoff” URL now redirects visitors to sellforme.ebay.com/dropOff.

In December, eBay posted this video on Youtube called, “Introducing a new way to sell: eBay Valet,” which links to http://ebay.com/sellforme – which is the main page for the Sell for Me “valet” program.

The FAQs page explains, “It’s a new and simple way to sell your stuff on eBay. Valets sell your items on your behalf, and you receive 70% of the proceeds of the sales for items that sell. There are two ways to sell: In select locations, you can easily bring your items to an eBay Drop Off Center. Click here (URL to EDOC page) to find a location near you. If you have a number of smaller items, you can make a request online to have a free pre-paid label emailed to you or a free box with a pre-paid shipping label sent to your house, so you can send your items at no cost to you. Mail-in is available nationwide.” The words “Click here (URL to EDOC page)” are not hyperlinked, however.

The website also states, “If you’d like to be considered for inclusion in the program as a valet, contact us at sellforme@ebay.com with a proposal.”

eBay Consignment Center
eBay has also launched the eBay Consignment Center, spotted by a reader this week. The page features only 7 sellers specializing in collectibles – one is Linda’s Stuff, an eBay “Managed Account” that happened to have been profiled in Sunday’s EcommerceBytes Update newsletter.

eBay described the program as follows: “eBay Consignment Center connects you with top collectibles Consignment Sellers on eBay. These Consignment Sellers are not eBay employees, but rather highly trusted independent specialist sellers on the site. They sell your items; you make more money. Consignment Sellers may decide to consign or buy your items outright. Whether you’re a collector, dealer or have just inherited or purchased collectibles, put the expertise of eBay’s Consignment Sellers to work for you today. Make more – and make it easy with eBay Consignment Center.”

The EcommerceBytes reader shared some thoughts about the program, writing, “This seems to be a limited reincarnation of the TA program, but perhaps by invitation only? And how, if at all, does it relate to eBay’s valet program, sellforme.eBay.com? eBay seems to be experimenting with consignment since ending the TA/REDOL program, but the longer-term strategy is pretty muddy. Hmm – then again, maybe it’s just more typical eBay?”

On the eBay Consignment Center page is a disclaimer that states in part, “eBay Consignment Sellers are not employees or independent contractors of eBay. Each Consignment Seller runs his or her own independent business, free from any involvement by eBay. You should apply the same standards in selecting a Consignment Seller as you would in hiring anyone to perform a service for you. Use good judgment and common sense in making your choice.”

We’ve reached out to eBay to learn when it launched the Consignment Center, how eBay selects sellers to participate in the program, and the differences between the Consignment Center and the eBay Valet program.

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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/.