eBay asked sellers for help in building a product catalog on Wednesday as it transitions to a Product Based Shopping Experience.
But with its launch of the "Product Experts Program" (PEP), eBay isn't looking for sellers to provide casual input - it's looking for sellers with "deep expertise" in 12 product areas and invited sellers to "pour your far-reaching product knowledge into eBay's catalog & in return have the opportunity to help shape the future of the category's structured data experience."
It's hard to imagine Amazon making such a request on its seller forums - presumably it has some system in place for collecting product data for its catalog and employs retail experts.
So it's unclear why eBay is relying on volunteers to help fix a major part of its Structured Data initiative, which has been Devin Wenig's clarion call since he took over as CEO of eBay 3 years ago this week. A couple of sellers wondered if the new program was related to eBay's recent layoffs.
When a seller asked how eBay would compensate sellers for their time, an eBay moderator responded, "I think our expert sellers time is far too valuable to be compensated by some token financial gifts" and said eBay was considering lots of incentives for sellers to participate in the program.
But sellers responding to eBay's invitation made it clear they were not looking for a "token financial gift" - they wanted to be compensated for they work eBay was inviting them to do on its behalf.
One seller noted: "What I've learned over the years is that none of these ideas translate into financial rewards for individuals willing to give their time for free. You have a job and you're getting paid. How do you see fairness or equality in me not having the same? I don't want a company's recognition, I want a check deposited into my bank account," and he said, "You and others get to keep your jobs and investors get more dividends and higher payouts."
The seller who originally asked how eBay would compensate sellers for their time in helping eBay build its catalog said they sold fulltime on multiple channels - "giving my knowledge and skills to eBay so others become better at selling the type of items I sell, for free, seems, well, counter productive."
One seller was more receptive to the idea, pointing out that some sellers would participate "simply to have the correct information on their listings and to make sure "fakes" are easier to spot and avoid by the buyers and to be pulled by eBay."
Another seller said there was value in a seller adding their experience to the platform on which they sold.
Another seller responded, "No doubt all knowledge accrued will be funneled directly to China, right?"
That's not as far-fetched as it might sound. eBay has openly said it tells Chinese manufacturers what people are searching for on eBay.com and helps Chinese companies develop tools using Artificial Intelligence and Big Data.
eBay's invitation to sellers follows:
Calling All Product Experts!
Do you have deep expertise in any of these product areas?
Cell Phones & Smartphones
Computers/Tablets, Networking Tablets & eBook Readers
Internet & Media Streamers
Small Kitchen Appliances
Voice-Enabled Smart Assistants
Are you a frequent buyer & seller in one of the above categories?
Do people consult your opinion before buying those products?
Are you passionate about a community powered selling platform?
The Product Experts Program (PEP) invites you to pour your far-reaching product knowledge into ebay's catalog & in return have the opportunity to help shape the future of the category's structured data experience.
We invite you to apply to PEP & share a bit about your expertise.
A team member will get back to you with follow up questions & next steps if you're accepted into the program.
Product Experts accepted into the program will be asked to submit feedback on catalog products which will be immediately actioned by our team of agents. They will also gain access to a private discussion board where other experts & ebay employees will take & action the Expert's higher level category feedback.
We are eagerly awaiting your application!
The PEP Team
Let us know what you think!