EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 3030 - March 27, 2013     3 of 6

Another Test for People Who Can't Be Bothered to Sell on eBay

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Does eBay think people are getting lazier, or do they believe its marketplace is a difficult place for consumers to sell their stuff? Business Insider discovered yet another eBay test of a service that sells items for consumers so they don't have to, this one in the theme of "make some cash and do good while getting rid of your junk." Or, as eBay puts it, "Sell It Forward! Clean up. Cash in. Do good. Powered by eBay."

eBay is working with Goodwill of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties and is limiting the Sell It Forward testing to those geographic areas. Consumers who use the service send in their items - restricted to clothing, shoes, and handbags - and Goodwill will list the items on eBay.

eBay sends the customer a free postage pre-paid mailing bag, which they fill and send to Goodwill via USPS or UPS. Goodwill will only list items they believe can be sold in 14 days or less for $10 or more. Customers receive 50% of the proceeds for any of their items that sell. The other 50% will go to Goodwill to help fund the program and their operations. Items not sold will be accepted as a donation. Consignors must have an eBay and a PayPal account to participate in the eBay Sell It Forward program.

eBay recently tested another program called "Selling Assistant" in which it picked up items from people's home (or through a mall kiosk) and delivered them to consignment sellers who sold the items on eBay. eBay tested the program during the holiday shopping season and has since ended the program.

After talking to the consignment sellers who participated in the Selling Assistant program, it became clear the program as it was structured was unsustainable - eBay had to subsidize it, which could explain why it is now turning to a charitable institution to test the latest iteration.

It isn't clear why eBay believes it has to insert itself into the process at all. eBay has a directory of Trading Assistants around the country - simply promoting the directory and letting people find a consignment seller themselves seems a lot simpler.

About the author:

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). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to

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