eBay Watch: Bidding Meg Good-Bye, Trading Changes

Whitman's exit, Trading Assistant Program changes, a new eBay sales management tool and an iPhone antiques pricing guide grab headlines this week.
This week the big news, of course, is that eBay CEO Meg Whitman is expected to announce her retirement, though there's no telling when it will become official as eBay has declined to comment on the issue.

Some speculate Whitman will go public with the news at the end of the day when the company announces quarterly earnings, while others are predicting the move will come within the next few weeks. Either way, we'll obviously be watching this development.

Whitman, who has been CEO for 10 years, is known for her folksy management style and is lauded for shepherding the company through a decade of blockbuster growth. However, as the online auction market matured, she came under fire for some missteps, such as the acquisition of Skype, and for failing to focus on eBay's core business — auctions.

Meanwhile, in other eBay news, the Trading Assistant Program is undergoing some changes and a new eBay sales management tool debuts. Plus, an antiques pricing guide for the iPhone launches for those who need information on-the-go.

Trader Joes
eBay's Trading Assistant program is for experienced eBay sellers who make money by selling items for other people. Sharon Guldner, manager of eBay's Trading Assistant program, announced the following improvements to the Trading Assistant Directory:
  • New search functions to help potential customers find assistants more quickly.
  • An opt-in lead management system to distribute leads directly to assistants.
  • A new evaluation system to help showcase assistants' satisfied customers.
  • New marketing materials, including updated logos and customizable collateral, mailers and business cards, which will all be free.

Guldner also made the following administrative announcements:

  • Qualification: Trading Assistants will need to have a minimum Feedback score of 100 with at least 98 percent positive, sales of at least 10 items in the last three months and an account in good standing to qualify for the program.
  • Titles: The previously used name "Trading Post" has been changed to "Registered eBay Drop Off Location." Use of the term "Auction" or "Auctioneer" in a Trading Assistant business name, signage and marketing materials is no longer permitted unless you are a licensed auctioneer.
  • User Agreements: There are now two separate User Agreements. One for Trading Assistants and one for Registered eBay Drop Off Locations (including new insurance requirements). <
  • Profiles: Each Trading Assistant may have only one profile in the directory, but you can now refer potential clients to your own Trading Assistant Web site. If you're an Education Specialist you can also link to your profile and classes.

Re-Registration Required by Feb. 11
As part of these new changes, all Trading Assistants must register and accept the user agreement for the new program. On Feb. 11, eBay will be retiring the current Trading Assistant directory, and only Trading Assistants who have registered for the new program will be found in the new version. Sign up for the new and improved Trading Assistant program at www.ebaytradingassistant.com.

Selling Made Easy
CCX Solutions, founded by a former eBay Power Seller, just released SalesMaster Pro 1.04. Developed to address the unique needs of busy eBay sellers, SalesMaster Pro is a sales management suite designed to streamline order processing and customer service for sellers of all sizes, according to the company.

Built with relational database technology, SalesMaster Pro is designed to allow eBay sellers to manage order processing, shipping, customer relations and returns in an easy-to-use, desktop interface for both Windows and Mac OS X. For a limited time, SalesMaster Pro 1.04 will be offered for a reduced price of $49.99.

Key features include: PayPal integration; custom e-mail notifications; an eBay and PayPal fee calculator that computes final value fees for auctions, store inventory and "But It Now" sales among other options; a centralized interface for viewing all your order information as well as feedback and auction details.

Pricing on the iPhone
Apple iPhone users can now tap into a database of more than 20 million historical antiques pricing records and 15 million photos made available through GoAntiques.com's PriceMiner.

PriceMiner, a pricing guide for the antique industry, is designed to allow iPhone users instant access to current and historical prices formatted specifically for their screens. The new application lets buyers determine the price of antiques and collectibles based on millions of historical pricing records, helping to assess true value, rate of appreciation and availability, according to the company.

Standard PriceMiner pricing of $9.95 a month or $99 a year is available to iPhone users. Visit www.PriceMiner.com/iphone to register for the service on your iPhone.

Michelle Megna is managing editor of ECommerce-Guide.com.

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