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An Emerging Market in eBay Consignments:
The eBay Trading Post (Part II In A Series)


In 2002, the eBay consignments business was born, referred to by eBay as the Trading Assistant Program.

It's possible that eBay didn't foresee just how much they would benefit form their eBay consignments program. Designed to unite experienced eBay sellers with people who want heir merchandise sold on eBay without having to do it themselves, the Trading Assistant program has enjoyed enormous success.

As big as eBay had become -- larger than all other online auction venues combined -- they were still missing out on a large segment of the population; the technophobes. These people would sell goods on eBay if they had access to a computer and a digital camera, and had the time and inclination to learn how to run an auction. But they either don't have the technology or they lack the desire to become auctioneers, or both. Since they're not on line, they're not likely to learn about Trading Assistants who advertise primarily through eBay. And even if they saw the ads, they probably wouldn't trust them.

You see, people active in the online community are already comfortable with the environment, which has an element of anonymity. But a non-computer person is more likely to want to deal with a real, brick-and-mortar retail business. They may not trust someone who runs auctions out of their home.

How to reach these people? Introducing the concept of the "Trading Post"...

A Trading post is to eBay consignments what the typical consignment shop is to the average community. It's a drop off location that allows consumers to drop their stuff off and have it sold for them as a service. It's a retail location that markets itself to consumers as a local, experienced eBay consignments seller -- a Trading Assistant with a brick-and-mortar store.

While any eBay trading assistant can establish an eBay consignments service out of a retail location, only a Trading Post can put the eBay brand on their physical storefront. (A trading assistant can only advertise inside their store). With this privilege comes a higher standard, ie, eBay has "raised the bar" on their requirements.

A Trading Post must meet the following additional requirements:

-Offers a staffed drop-off location or storefront with regular drop-in hours, so that clients can visit the location without calling ahead.

-Has a feedback score of 500 or higher

-Has at least 98% positive feedback

-Has sales of at least $25,000 on eBay each month

Online, clients can search for Trading Posts specifically, and Trading Posts may receive priority placement in search results. (Yes, even some online clients prefer the retail setting). Also, Trading Posts are displayed with a special icon next to their User ID. If you're a Trading Assistant who also meets the requirements, you automatically qualify as a Trading Post and do not need to take additional steps.

Walt Duflock, Director of the eBay Trading Assistant Program and a real life trading assistant, has announced eBay's intention of having "secret shoppers" and "customer satisfaction surveys" to see if there are certain Trading Post locations eBay would like to support more than others.

Regardless of your status on eBay, there are tools that everyone can use to build their success as TAs, available on the eBay site. I've found many of them quite valuable. For example, among their efficiency tools, they recommend using contact management software. eBay regards this as a great tool for getting "a better understanding of how many prospects it takes to actually create one new client and how long it takes for a client to go from initial contact to hiring you as a TA."

And as far as support, some of the Trading Posts have become so large that they no longer rely on eBay for help. Some have developed their own proprietary systems for tracking customers and inventory, and managing their auctions. The largest and most successful eBay consignment business will even get you started with your own franchise which includes the use of their proprietary systems. All you need to come up with is $55 K plus operating expenses.

But, never fear. You can start your eBay consignment business on a shoestring, and this is how the majority begin. Since 1998, eBay and similar auction sites have been growing by leaps and bounds. eBay consignments are still in their infancy, but I predict a very bright future!

© 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

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