eBay University Fails to Educate

Posted on May 30, 2008. Filed under: eBay | Tags: , , , , , , , |

There was a time when eBay made the rounds throughout the country and held “eBay University” classes so that they could teach you how to make your fortune on eBay.  eBay University was a good idea that was poorly implemented.  There were several reasons why it failed to achieve its objectives and I have written previous articles about why eBay University failed.  But even if eBay University were to take all of my previous suggestions and “fix” their university I am afraid that would still not be enough.   
How to succeed on eBay 2008 cannot be taught step-by-step.  You cannot teach someone to be flexible and you cannot educate someone on how to diagnose and solve problems in an ever-changing environment.  eBay, like the rest of the online marketplace, changes on a daily basis and will continue to do so in the future.   eBay sellers who can’t or won’t change as the marketplace changes are finding themselves out of business.  The successful eBay seller is the one who knows how to adapt.  Unfortunately for eBay, this breed of seller is adapting themselves right off of eBay.  Entrepreneurial eBay sellers are seeking out other online marketplaces that offer more stability and more financial rewards.
The very large online retailers already have their own successful websites.  The ever-adapting medium-size online sellers, whose primary sales come from their own ecommerce websites and from Amazon, have discovered that eBay is a great place to liquidate their items that do not sell as well as they had hoped in other venues.  And the small online sellers, the very ones that eBay claims are their competitive advantage, are finding it difficult if not impossible to survive on eBay.  Many small eBay sellers are determined and passionate and provide great customer service but the eBay marketplace has become so complex and there is absolutely no good eBay resources available to help educate the average eBay user. 
For example, how many eBay sellers would know that if you are listing 4 mugs in one auction that you want to sell as a group that the correct way to list would be “1 lot of 4 items” on the Sell-You-Item form.  I did a search on eBay and every listing on the first page that had multiple mugs was listed incorrectly.  And how many eBay sellers properly use the combined shipping profiles?  Sellers’ lack of knowledge about combined shipping availability is one of the main reasons eBay Express failed.  Potential buyers would add items to their basket but when they saw the outrageous shipping charge (because the seller had not correctly used the combined shipping option) they would fail to complete the checkout process on eBay Express. 
Not surprisingly, eBay University no longer tours the country.  Instead they have a program whereby eBay Education Specialists trained by eBay help to educate new sellers.  Education Specialists are just regular eBay sellers who pay a fee, take an online course and pass a test afterward.  So, why is this Education Specialist program not educating a whole group of new successful eBay sellers?  I believe there are many reasons but the top three reasons are:
* Most eBay Education Specialists are low volume eBay sellers who would rather be teaching and, therefore, are not as knowledgeable about how to use the eBay system.  Sellers who sell high volumes on eBay are busy selling and have little or no time to spend educating new sellers.  Sellers with low volume have much more time but much less experience.
* There is no incentive from eBay for Sellers to train other Sellers. 
* The eBay Education Specialist resource materials are poorly written and are always outdated.  The manuals that are available for eBay Education Specialists are obviously authored by someone who is not an eBay seller.
For many years, eBay welcomed new sellers with its system that was easy to understand.  Anyone could sell on eBay.  That was the beauty of the eBay marketplace.  When new features made the eBay system more difficult to use, eBay University toured the country as an eBay cheerleading squad when what was really needed was an educational unit to help new and existing users become informed.  And now eBay Education has all but been abandoned.  There is no real system in place to educate new users and the system to keep current users informed of new features and functions is completely broken.  Heck, the eBay system itself is broken with more frequent and more severe technical problems than I have seen in my 10+ years as an eBay seller.    
In terms of learning to sell online today, eBay has become a virtual training ground for those who are willing to learn on their own.  The self-taught online entrepreneur learns to sell on eBay by himself or herself, navigating through the convoluted eBay system and all the obstacles therein.  They learn lessons from the School of eBay Hard Knocks and when they have had enough education, they leave.  Armed with knowledge and having learned from the mistakes they made on eBay, these entrepreneurs are able to teach themselves how to use other online marketplace systems to successfully sell on Amazon or their own ecommerce websites with comparative ease. 
eBay no longer wants to spend the resources to inform or educate the average eBay user.  They never truly did.  What eBay fails to understand, however, is that if they devoted time and money to training good quality small sellers then those small sellers would have every incentive to stay, to perform, and to offer a wonderful selection of amazing products.  Amazon is not small-seller friendly and most small sellers do not have the resources or breadth of inventory to create and manage their own ecommerce websites.  But by failing to keep small sellers informed and educated about the eBay system, the competitive advantage eBay has had for years will continue to disappear.  And once other sites that are small-seller friendly, like Etsy, welcome new online sellers and help them to learn their proprietary systems, eBay will find it difficult to bring the good quality small online seller back.  
The eBay Education Program fails to educate and that seems to be okay with them.  eBay must have plenty more Buy.com companies waiting in the wings to sign up for the good deals that they are handing out.  That sure makes it easier for eBay than having to spend time and money keeping thousands of small sellers informed. 

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2 Responses to “eBay University Fails to Educate”

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Many eBay Education Specialists are in danger of losing their qualification, see my blog today.

There is a HUGE market, not getting the knowledge they need to inprove there lives.
Espcially this day. In this ecomamy.
Where are we going to turn?

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