eBay Terminates Trading Assistants, Education Specialists OK for Now
By Ina Steiner
In another sign of how much eBay is moving away from its auction roots to become a more mainstream retail site, the company is ending its Trading Assistant consignment-selling program.
eBay spokesperson Ryan Moore confirmed that eBay sent a letter to TAs on Tuesday informing them of the demise of the program. The letter explains, "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."
However, eBay is not giving up the idea that consumers want help selling their items. It's been pilot testing a program called eBay Selling Assistant in which company employees pick up items from people's homes and sell the items on eBay. In fact, eBay Director of Consumer Business Vikram Singh told EcommerceBytes there was "overwhelming demand" for such services.
Moore confirmed that eBay is still running the pilot Selling Assistant program in Atlanta.
eBay is retiring the Trading Assistant program as of September 20, 2013. The closure will have no impact on their eBay accounts or their ability to buy and sell on eBay. However, it means sellers can no longer use "eBay Trading Assistant Program" logos or other marketing materials referring to the Trading Assistant program.
As - or perhaps more - importantly, eBay will no longer host the Trading Assistant directory or provide sellers with Trading Assistant program leads, leaving some sellers panicked. On the eBay boards, one seller who was new to the Trading Assistant program wrote, "I just signed the licensing agreement the other day & I paid for additional liability insurance & a $25,000 bond that covers all of the terms and conditions under the Trading Assistant Program. I also paid to have a new website made for this business. I am starting to get sick to my stomach. I have been on the phone for more than 30 minutes and feel like throwing up with what I am hearing."
A reader wrote to EcommerceBytes, "This is terrible news for myself and many other small consignment sellers. I receive a majority of my clients from the eBay Selling Assistant Directory. Just TODAY I went to a new client that found me through the program. I think that the program does NOT need to be ended. If anything, it needs to be easier for potential clients to find the program and search through it. I feel like I am going to lose a many potential customers over this."
eBay launched the Trading Assistant (TA) program in 2002 and the Trading Post program in 2004. In 2008, it revamped the program and imposed strict new requirements.
eBay said the closure of the TA program would have no impact on the eBay Education Specialist program.
eBay ended its letter to TAs on Tuesday with the following words: "We appreciate all of our eBay sellers and the work you do in your local communities. Our strategy at eBay is simple: provide our customers the best possible selling and buying experience. We are committed to your success. As new programs and initiatives continue to be developed, eBay will make every effort to find more compelling ways to engage with our sellers."
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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