eBay testing pick-up program in South Bay


January 9, 2013 5:46:48 PM PST
There's no shortage of things to buy on eBay, but the San Jose-based auction website has always wondered if it could streamline the process of selling. Now, eBay has six vans making rounds in the South Bay, all part of a new initiative to help people sell goods on the popular website.

Yes, eBay does pick-ups. It's in the second month of a pilot project that sends out "selling assistants" who provide advice on what items are likely to sell. The first step is doing an inventory of the goods. "What I do is I take a photo, a group photo of all the items as a record," selling assistant Marvin recently told a customer.

Margaret Ma has purchased items on eBay, but she has never sold anything until recently. "It's that whole 'time is money,' right? There's a commission, but that commission's well worth me not having to spend the time to do it. Plus, there's a learning curve that I just can't be bothered because I'm so busy," she said.

The commission is 25 percent. Ma's putting up for auction toys her children have outgrown and some skis. Altogether, she hopes to make about $200 or 300. When the items arrive at eBay, they'll be photographed and posted online within three days. They will be listed for 14 days.

eBay has done only limited marketing. The vans themselves making pick-ups, along with word-of-mouth, have sparked many sellers to use the service. eBay Consumer Business Director Vikram Singh and his team are amazed by the interest. "People love it. People are just amazed that we would come to their house. We pick up all the things they want to sell. We do everything for them and the money shows up in their account. It's literally that simple," he said.

Pick-ups are limited to portions of San Jose, Los Gatos, Cupertino, Saratoga, and Campbell. eBay is also testing the service in Topeka, Kansas. Goods over 25 pounds are not allowed, although there's no limit to the number of items. If an item doesn't sell, there's an option to donate it to charity or have it returned.

The pilot program will continue until the end of the month and then eBay will decide if or when to roll out the program nationally.