eBay Consignments: The Giant Opportunity Hiding on eBay (Part I)

More and more, people are becoming aware that they have potential cash sitting in their closets, attics, and basements. But not everyone has the time or the know-how to tap into it, so these items remain where they are or are given away. Or worse, they're tossed out with the trash. eBay is about to change that.

eBay Consignments are a Growing Opportunity for experienced eBay sellers and a boon to consumers who want to unload their "stuff"

Heres a common scenario:

Renee has a basement full of record albums from the 1940's that she inherited from her Uncle's estate. She has no interest in them, and would love to see what she could get for them on eBay. The trouble is, Renee is not only unfamiliar with how eBay works, but she's also a "technophobe". She breaks out in a rash every time she sees a computer or a digital camera. But Renee has heard something about eBay consignments.

So, Renee asks her neighbor Anne, the eBay whiz, to help her out. Anne does a quick check of recently closed eBay auctions to see what similar items have been selling for. She adjusts Renee's expectations with this information, and the next day Renee drops off her cartons full of records.

Ann takes a couple of digital photos, writes a general description for the lot, and launches the eBay auction. She invites prospective bidders to email her with any questions.

Things go smoothly, and a week later the lot is sold. Renee is pleased with her earnings and extremely grateful to Anne. She asks Anne what she owes her for her hard work. Anne, good neighbor that she is, only accepts enough to cover her eBay expenses and tells Renee she can take her out to lunch some time.

An Opportunity Seized

This kind of informal arrangement has been going on between members and nonmembers of the eBay community for several years. Many auctions will state that "I'm selling this item for a friend", or "a woman in my neighborhood found these in her attic and asked me to sell them on eBay".

eBay, who has a knack for keeping an ear to the ground and spotting to trends, saw a golden opportunity in this kind of arrangement. In 2002, they launched the "eBay Trading Assistant" program.

The program is run on the same basic principal as eBay consignments, only more formalized. Sellers can now advertise themselves as Trading Assistants on eBay, and people with items to sell can use eBay's Directory of Trading Assistants to find someone in their area.

Because of eBay's minimum requirements for becoming a "TA", only those sellers with experience and a good reputation (or high positive feedback ratings, in "ebay language") have the privilege of selling items for others.

Benefits for Everyone

The system benefits the Trading Assistant by expanding their reach far beyond the next door neighbor. When a seller joins the Trading Assistants Directory, he or she is telling the world that they are willing to sell for others.

For those seeking out eBay consignments as a means to cash in their "stuff", the system offers an "official" source of experienced eBay sellers and information about how things work.

And of course all of this brings more business to eBay. As always, eBay is simply the portal for consignment selling, not an employer of the Trading Assistant. So each individual "TA" makes their own rules about how they wish to structure their eBay consignments business.

How it Works

Trading Assistants are experienced eBay sellers who have indicated their willingness to sell items for others for a fee. People who want to hire a Trading Assistant can search the Trading Assistant Directory to find someone to sell for them. All the terms of how the services will work are negotiated between Trading Assistants and their clients. You can become a Trading Assistant if you meet some basic requirements (1 past sale in the last 30 days and a feedback rating of at least 50 with fewer than 2% negative feedback points).

Cost and Requirements

Currently, it costs nothing to become a Trading Assistant and be listed in the eBay consignments Trading Assistant Directory. eBay has not expressed any intentions of charging for it, but they do reserve the right to change their policies.

To become a Trading Assistant, you need to meet the following requirements:

-You've sold at least 4 items in the last 30 days.

-You have a feedback score of 50 or higher.

-97% or more of your feedback is positive.

-Your eBay account is in good standing.

Note: The ability to join the directory is a privilege, not a right, and eBay can remove the ability of a TA to post to the directory if they receive complaints and/or find evidence of unprofessional behavior.

Interestng Facts

According to Walt Duflock, eBay's director of the trading assistant program, consignment selling has really taken off since the program's inception:

-The TA Program began in February 2002

-There are more than 50,000 registered trading assistants worldwide as of August 2004

-"Collectibles" is a very active category for TAs and TA clients

How to Find or Become a Trading Assistant

To find a "TA" At eBay, you'll be asked to enter your ZIP code code to find a Trading Assistant near you who can handle your ebay consignments. To find someone who specializes in particular items or services, you may select an item category or use their "Advanced Search" link.

Provided you meet the requirements listed above, you can fill out eBay's online application to become a TA and start your own eBay consignments business right away. Although you can run your business however you choose, and you're not employed by eBay, they do provide some assistance:

eBay provides extensive resources for the trading assistant program, among them Trading Assistant Worshops such as the recent one entitled, "Getting the Most Out of the New Trading Assistant Directory". The "Trading Assistant Toolkit" is an extensive directory of tools and education to help Trading Assistants market their services better and find more clients.

eBay also offers an Advertising Reimbursement program, which helps PowerSellers market their products and services offline by subsidizing a percentage of their

advertising efforts. And eBay has produced at least two training manuals outlining Best Practices for marketing, selling, fincance, efficiency, and working with clients.

With all of these resources at hand, anyone interested in eBay consignments, whether to tap into "the money in the attic" or to further their eBay auction success, is not likely to be disappointed.

Be sure to look for Part II, in which eBay takes the program to the next level with the Trading Post.

© Copyright 2004 Carolyn Schweitzer DDS. Dr. Schweitzer was a family dentist for 20 years and is now owner and editor of several websites. You can learn more about where to find specific links to the Trading Assistant and Trading Post programs by visiting her website at http://www.netbrainer.com/site/500041/page/449460.

More Resources

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