By David Utter
While eBay has enabled thousands of sellers to convert old items into new money, a subset of those sellers have become PowerSellers, driving lots of revenue to eBay and in many cases creating new careers for themselves.
What is a PowerSeller? eBay defines them as “top sellers who sustain a consistent high volume of monthly sales and a high level of total Feedback with 98% or better positive rating by other eBay users.” When a seller meets eBay’s criteria for entering the program, eBay invites them to become PowerSellers, an acknowledgement of their success.
Many people like John Olson and Jan Chilton responded to my last story about eBay with tales of eBay and its impact on their businesses.
Chilton found her dabbling with the Internet a suddenly in-demand resource when her previous employer, facing tough economic times in 2000, decided that Chilton needed to lead the business online. She noted how well small items like CDs and DVDs sold on eBay, and gave me a theory on why that was the case:
In my experience, things like this are amazing on Ebay, and I think it’s due to areas in farming states where they are far from town and love to find movies for a third of what a new one would cost. From the very beginning, a huge number of our sales were with small items like that.
For Olson, presently a Silver-level PowerSeller, eBay represented an exit from the long hours as an assistant manager with a major supermarket in favor of being the boss. His business cycles seasonally, and that PowerSeller status will rise from Gold to Platinum as sales increase.
Ina Steiner, editor of AuctionBytes.com and author of “Turn eBay Data Into Dollars,” discussed more of the PowerSeller ecology with me via email. She cited some traits of successful PowerSellers:
Sellers who do best on eBay are those who are flexible and can keep things lean and mean. eBay sales are cyclical and in most categories, it is an extremely competitive selling environment. When profit margins are tight, sellers need to be extremely organized and efficient. Getting inventory at low prices that sell well is one of the biggest challenges.
Those who want to join the PowerSeller ranks should take note of those points. Steiner said she has seen two top PowerSellers fail in recent months, and recounted the danger of growing overhead costs in a business if sales margins drop.
So what’s the value of a PowerSeller to eBay? Steiner noted the diversity of products they provide to the online marketplace, and that is a strength that competing auction sites have yet to match.
One issue that a few WebProNews readers raised involves the customer service at eBay. It’s an area that the company has acknowledged needs some work. Steiner said improvements in customer service would benefit eBay greatly.
eBay has heard these concerns, and since its Live! Conference in June 2005 has pledged to improve it. For PowerSellers, it’s more motivation to continue being successful with eBay.
We plan to discuss eBay and its affiliate network in April, and I would like to hear from the WebProNews audience that has experience with eBay’s Affiliate program. Email me with your thoughts on that topic.
About the Author:
David is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.