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eBay Mobile App Promotes Consignment Valets

Goodbye, Trading Assistants. Hello Valets. eBay launched a new mobile app this week called the eBay Valet. “This is going to be the fastest, most frictionless way in eBay history that someone is able to sell an item and collect money,” the company’s VP of Innovation and New Ventures Steve Yankovich said in a statement.

But the app is just another step eBay is taking to promote its own consignment selling service after having ended its Trading Assistants program last year.

eBay has been tinkering with consignment services in recent years, and is now promoting the Valet program in this Youtube video. On the Valet web page, it explains that people can mail in, drop off or have a valet pick up their items, depending on where they live.

eBay vets independent sellers to act as valets, who take only 30% of the selling price, a percentage that many believe is unprofitable. EcommerceBytes learned that, at least in some cases, eBay subsidizes Valets.

Yankovich said the difference between the eBay Valet app and other selling programs is on the business side – “we’re actually vetting the items. We have a person looking at the item, doing research on eBay for condition and price for valuation, and making sure the marketplace has good inventory.”

eBay had launched Trading Assistants in 2002, providing a directory to help bring consigners and sellers together. Many eBay sellers continue to make their living selling other peoples’ goods on a consignment basis. Some sellers feel eBay’s initiatives are unfair to smaller businesses who no longer get leads from eBay while their larger competitors do.

The eBay Valet mobile app is designed to draw in new or less frequent sellers, Yankovich said. “This is a chance to pull in people who have never sold on eBay, period, and who maybe are not even eBayers. It’s for people who think selling currently has too much friction. Why wouldn’t you do this?”

Here’s how eBay describes the process of using the new mobile Valet app:

  • Take a picture of an item you’d like to sell with your phone.
  • Use the app to send the photo to a valet.
  • In as little as 30 minutes, the valet will respond within the app with a valuation range for the item and you’ll be asked if you want to sell it.
  • If you have a box handy that you’d like to recycle, print a label and send it off to the valet. If not, we’ll send you a free prepaid box.
  • Once the item sells – typically in a seven-day listing – your payment will show up in your PayPal account.

Yankovich said eBay’s commitment to innovation in mobile technology is driving it closer and closer to “zero-effort commerce.” But eBay still finds itself competing with new models such as Poshmark, where fashionistas use their smartphones to build virtual closets and sell designer apparel to each other in a world where buying and selling is entertainment, not effort.

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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/.