Becoming an eBay Trading Assistant

The Definitive Guide To Becoming An eBay Power Seller

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I Becoming a Trading Assistant

I Promoting your business

I Handling the business professionally

What is an eBay Trading Assistant? Simply, an eBay Trading Assistant sells merchandise for people on eBay. A more complex definition is that a Trading Assistant sells items on consignment for those who are not familiar with the eBay site or are simply too lazy to learn the ropes. Several chains have opened up across the country with retail locations accepting merchandise from the general public to do just this. By becoming an official Trading Assistant, you can compete with the big boys in your own area.

The best part is that if you are running your eBay business out of your home, from a garage, or from a low-rent industrial office, you're a step ahead of the big guys who have to pay high rents in fancy neighborhoods to get their "drop in" business. They also have to hire people who are familiar with setting up auctions on eBay — aren't you already set up for that?

eBay will help the individual Trading Assistants with many things. Most importantly, you're listed in a searchable directory with other eBay selling professionals for all the world to find at tradingassistants.

Becoming a Trading Assistant

The first thing to take into consideration before becoming a Trading Assistant is to be sure you're familiar with the eBay site, the rules and regulations, and most of all — experienced in selling items at a profit. To be a successful Trading Assistant, you need to be savvy about how to research items on eBay (see Part I) and also know how to parlay keywords into winning auction titles (Part II).

The Trading Assistant directory appears on the eBay site at tradingassistants, as shown in Figure 43-1. From the directory page, potential customers can search for a Trading Assistant to sell their items by ZIP code, telephone area code, or by country. I just ran a search and at this moment there seem to be no Trading Assistants in Jamaica or the Bahamas (they might be a nice place to do business from)!

• Figure 43-1: The Trading Assistants directory page.

This page is promoted on the eBay site to new users and in eBay Promotions. Being listed on this page will help your customers find you.

eBay makes it very clear that whether you fulfill the requirements for Trading Assistant or not, being a Trading Assistant is a privilege. If eBay receives complaints about your services, they have the right to remove you from the Trading Assistant directory. eBay's requirements are:

1 Listings: You must have sold at least 4 items in the last 30 days.

1 Feedback Rating: You must have a minimum rating of 50 or higher, while maintaining a minimum of 97 percent positive comments.

As a Trading Assistant, you will acquire merchandise and sell it on eBay on consignment. You will also be responsible for

1 Consulting with consignors about their items.

1 Researching the value of the item. Many noneBay users may have unreasonable expectations of the price their items will sell for. It's your duty to check this out beforehand and explain the realities to them.

1 Coordinating the listing. Take digital photos and write a complete and accurate description of the item.

1 Keeping a close accounting of fees and money collection.

That's not much in the way of requirements, but you need to get some things together before you sign up.

Becoming a Trading Assistant does not make you an employee, agent, or independent contractor of eBay. You should be careful to refer to yourself as an independent business.

When you sign up as a Trading Assistant, you have to fill out a form describing your business to prospective customers. Think through the things you have to say before posting them. Your information here works like an ad for you. Here are the things you have to put on your Trading Assistant listing page.

1 Personal information: This includes your eBay User ID, your real name, address, and languages spoken.

1 Category Specialty: If you specialize in a particular category, be sure to mention it. You may indicate up to three eBay home page categories.

1 Service Description: In this area, you can say as little or as much as you like about your eBay experience and the services you provide. Remember that the more you communicate in advance, the more successful you'll be.

Here is a sample Service Description:

I've been active on the site since 1996 and am an eBay PowerSeller. I specialize in selling all types of eBay items and am particularly familiar with the fashion category. I can handle large numbers of listings. Please contact me so that we can discuss your particular needs and time availability.

I can visit your home within 15 miles from my place of business to inventory the items. I will list, ship, and provide you with an itemized list of all items sold with the sale price and my fees.

Policy Description: Ensure that the consignees understand your policies. A sample description looks like this:

I will list your items for two listing cycles, spread up to 30 days. If items do not sell, they will be returned to you. Items must be in my possession to be submitted to eBay unless prior contractual arrangements are made in advance. I handle all correspondence and shipping. A consignment contract is required. I also do independent consulting specializing in Internet auctions and their application to your business.

Fee Description: This is where you need to do some research. Search your own telephone area code on the Trading Assistant directory page and see what other fees are being charged in your area. After you have an idea of what you want to charge, you can put that information here.

You can provide incentives for higher-value items by charging lower commissions (such as 40 percent if an item sells for less than $50, 30 percent if the item sells for more). Also, charging a higher percentage and including fees allows an easier fee discussion with the client (for example, "40 percent, all fees included" is generally simpler than "30 percent and you pay all the fees, which include. . . .")

Many Trading Assistants also use transaction fees for listing with a reserve (knowing it probably won't sell because the consignor doesn't have a fair guess at market valuation).

When you've decided everything you need to list, click the link on the Trading Assistant homepage that says Become a Trading Assistant. Fill out

the forms and, just like magic, you've become a Trading Assistant!

Promoting Your Business

When I was working in the newspaper advertising business, we had a saying about someone who opened a new store: If all the advertising they do is their Grand Opening ad and nothing after; it won't be long before you'll be seeing the Going Out-of-Business Sale ad.

The same is true with your Trading Assistant business. Although you may not go out of business if you don't promote it, you'll probably have no business at all.

eBay gives you many tools to help you grow your consignment business, even a co-op advertising program. For more information on co-op advertising, visit Technique 58.

Adding the Trading Assistant logo to your eBay listings

Your best customers may come from people who see your existing items when browsing eBay. Why not show all viewers that you're a Trading Assistant? Put the Trading Assistant logo into your listings, as shown in Figure 43-2. When a prospective customer clicks on the link, they will be sent to your Trading Assistant Information page (just as if they searched you out in the directory).

1 I am a Trad in ci Assistant - I'll sell vour items for vou!


Figure 43-2: The eBay Trading Assistant link.

Figure 43-2: The eBay Trading Assistant link.

Insert the Trading Assistants logo when your regular eBay business is slow, and take it out when you're overly busy. That way you can control the amount of work you have.

Insert the Trading Assistants logo when your regular eBay business is slow, and take it out when you're overly busy. That way you can control the amount of work you have.

To add the link to your listings, you have to use a little HTML. Don't panic though, because I supply the code for you below. To get the code for your personal Trading Assistant link, follow these steps:

1 Find out your Trading Assistant number.

Go to your listing in the directory. Take a look at the top of your Internet browser, and you will see your Trading Assistant number (this is also your eBay account number) at the end of that Web page's URL. The Web address looks like this: dll?ShowMemberToMemberDetails&member= 000000

In this example, your number would be 000000.

2. Add code to your listing description.

Add the following HTML code at the end of your listing description (be sure to replace 000000 with your own eBay number):


<a href="



<b>I am a Trading Assistant - I can sell items for you!</b>

<img src="


vspace="5" border="0" height="33"

After you insert this code in your listings, a link and button appear in your eBay sales (refer to Figure 43-2).

Posting flyers eBay has designed a nifty flyer that you can customize and print out on your own printer. Put it up at the supermarket, the car wash, the cleaner — anywhere and everywhere flyers are allowed.

Even if you don't see flyers in a retail location, ask the owner of the business if you can put one up — maybe even offer a discount to the business owner for selling their items on eBay in exchange!

To get to the eBay collateral materials (flyers and posters) go to TradingAssistants/collateral/index.html. On this page, you can find the current graphical offerings from eBay.

The posters and window signs are in Microsoft Word format so that you can customize them with your own business information. The flyer/poster, shown in Figure 43-3, includes small tear-off strips where you can place your contact information. When people see your promotion, they can just snip off your phone number (or e-mail address) and contact you when they get home.

' Figure 43-3: The Trading Assistants Flyer.

Handling Your Business Professionally

Handling Your Business Professionally

Handling merchandise that's not yours takes responsibility, and how you conduct your business can demonstrate to your customers that you're a responsible person. You need to present a professional appearance when you meet your client, and you should have a professional attitude in your dealings.

Being professional also means anticipating possible problems. In addition to being very clear about financial issues with your clients (especially fees and the realistic selling value of your clients' merchandise), you may want to consider getting additional insurance to cover the merchandise you are holding in your home.

You may also want to consider designing a few forms to reinforce with your clients that this is your business and that you know it well, for example:

Inventory form: This form lists the entire inventory you receive from the client and should include as detailed a description of the item as your client can supply. Also, include the minimum amount (if any) the client will accept for the item — this will be your reserve price if necessary.

Sales Agreement: Professional Trading Assistants have their clients sign a Sales Contract. Read the sidebar following for some good suggestions on what to put in your contract. Since I'm not an attorney, you should have a lawyer take a look at your contract before you use it.

Important items for your Trading Assistant contract

The information below was graciously supplied by one of eBay's successful Trading Assistants, LikePhate (Kate & Phil Bowyer). It includes quotes from their own Trading Assistant contract that cover many things that you might overlook when you put together your own contract. This, of course, is not a full agreement, but it provides some of the salient points not to forget.

Be sure to include an explanation of the consignment process:

I The Consignor will bring item(s) to the Seller, who, upon both parties signing this contract, will take possession of the items for the duration of the auction.

I Acceptance of any item consigned will be at the Seller's sole discretion.

I The Seller will inspect the item(s) for quality and clean if necessary (a fee may apply).

I The Seller will take quality photographs and write an accurate description of item(s).

I The Seller will research eBay® for similar items to assure proper pricing.

I The Seller will start the auction(s) and handle all aspects of the sale including correspondence with bidders.

I The Seller will collect payment from the winning bidder ("Buyer") at the end of the auction and will ship the item(s) in a timely manner, once funds have cleared.

I The Seller will follow-up the sale by contacting the Buyer to make sure they are satisfied with the transaction.

I Once the Seller and Buyer are satisfied with the transaction, payment will be made to the Consignor.

I The Seller will keep the Consignor aware of the auction progress either by telephone, or e-mail and by supplying the Consignor the auction number(s) to track the item(s) themselves.

I The Seller will return unsold item(s) to the Consignor upon payment of outstanding fees.

It's also a good idea to provide the consignor with a statement of items sold, summarizing the total purchase price, all fees, and the amount the consignor receives.

Outline your fees. "The Consignor will be billed the actual rates and fees as incurred for all services, to include the Seller's 00% Commission. Any services or upgrades requested by the Consignor will carry the exact fee and will be deducted from payment, or after three (3) failed auction listings, will be due to the Seller payable in cash. If the auction sells, these fees will be subtracted from the winning bid before the Consignor receives payment."

Be sure to include a copy of current eBay fees: Listing, Options, Reserves, PayPal, and Final Value Fees.

Outline the terms of your commission. 'The Seller's commission for this service is a percentage based on the auction's winning bid. If the auction does not sell, the Consignor is only responsible to pay the applicable insertion and reserve price auction fees. An Unsold Reserve fee of $0.00 will be due to the Seller for a reserve price auction that does not sell."

Be sure you don't guarantee the item will sell. "If an item does not sell, the Seller will re-list it two additional times. The Seller may contact the Consignor to discuss combining individual items into lots to attract buyers. The Consignor's verbal consent, or e-mail consent, will be documented in the Consignor's file and will serve as a revision to this contract. After a third unsuccessful listing, the Consignor will be billed for the fees associated with all three auctions, plus a $5.00 surcharge. Items will be returned to consignor upon payment of those fees. Items not claimed within 14 days from the end of the final listing will become the property of the Seller."

Protect yourself and your eBay reputation. 'The Consignor of said item(s) consents to the sale of said item(s) based on the terms described in this agreement. The Consignor also attests that said item(s) are fully owned by the Consignor and are not stolen, borrowed, misrepresented, bogus, etc."

You might also mention that you will only sell it if eBay policies allow the item to be sold.

"The Seller will do everything possible to secure the safety of the Consignor's item(s), however, the Seller is not responsible for any damage to the item, including fire, theft, flood, accidental damage or breakage, and acts of God. The Consignor releases the Seller of any such responsibility for any unforeseen or accidental damage."

I choose to protect myself additionally, because reputation on eBay is paramount. I have a small business rider on my homeowner's insurance with Allstate that covers merchandise in my home up to $5,000. It's an inexpensive addition to your policy — definitely worth looking into.

Ending a sale prematurely. "If such an instance arises that the Consignor demands the item(s) to be pulled, the Consignor will pay a cancellation fee of $75. Items will not be surrendered to Consignor until this fee is paid in cash."

Protect yourself from possible shill bidding. An important line you should add protects you from possible shill bidding. How about: The Consignor also agrees not to place a bid on an auction that the Seller has listed for the Consignor (hereafter "Shill Bid") on eBay, nor to arrange for a Shill Bid to be made on the behalf of the Consignor by a third party. If the Consignor or an agent of the Consignor submits a Shill Bid on an auction listed by the Seller, then the Consignor agrees to pay all fees, commissions, and penalties associated with that auction, PLUS a $75.00 fine, and the Seller may refuse to grant auction services to the Consignor in the future.

Again, I strongly suggest that you get professional advice before putting together your own contract or agreement.

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