Report from the eBay UK Connect events last week

David-BrackinDavid Brackin is a regular contributor to Tamebay and is the co-founder of Stuff U Sell. He has sold over 250,000 different items on eBay. He attended one of the eBay UK Connect events last week for eBay sellers.

eBay used to provide more opportunities for sellers to get together – anyone remember eBay University? – but in recent years, I’ve met most people at events organised by ancillary providers – such as Catalyst or IRX, and it has sometimes felt like eBay was focused more on buyers.

However, with the separation from Paypal and change of leadership, I get a very real sense that the pendulum is swinging back towards supporting and helping sellers in the marketplace.

Last week, in a surprisingly trendy and cavernous Holborn basement, eBay hosted its first “Connect” event – designed to reach out to sellers and provide an opportunity for learning and networking. On three consecutive days, around 600 sellers from each of three verticals – Electronics, Home & Garden and Fashion – were invited to gather and participate in various workshops with each other and dozens of eBay staff.

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The event kicked off with an inspiring keynote from Wayne Hemmingway, founder of the Red or Dead brand, and then participants were split into smaller groups. Hour-long sessions covered everything from the Global Shipping Programme and CBT to discussions led by experienced sellers.

I hosted a couple of these, and in both cases there was a really involved discussion on the tips and tricks that sellers had, covering everything from postage, pricing, sourcing, how to boost sales as well as how to deal with tricky buyers. I certainly came away with a few notes.

Another fantastic session was the ability to sit down with some of the customer support team from Dublin and chat face-to-face. I was taken through the Stuff U Sell account and we looked at some recent feedback and defects and Leanne was able to show me the tools that they use to review transactions when on the phone. It’s fascinating to see all the information there on a screen and the justifications that they must put in to address account issues so that all actions can be properly audited.

I also learnt that there’s a new DSR reporting page live now which is much easier to use and more up-to-date than the last version. Good progress! All this is available on a phone call, but these things are somehow better in person – I’m sure as much a welcome break for the CS staff as for me.

The final keynote was given by Kit Glover. Kit has taken over from Marty Ellis as the person responsible for the 200,000 professional eBay sellers in the UK. I was impressed by Marty’s efforts over the past year to engage with sellers on the issues that we care most about, and Kit is a worthy successor.

He promised a greater focus on small and medium size businesses selling on eBay, and hinted at a number of imminent changes: more objective measures in feedback/seller standards; a more flexible and fairer approach to returns; as well as more to increase volume of sales.

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Overall this event is a really positive step for eBay in its efforts to re-engage with its sellers, and I would urge anyone who is invited to the next one to book in straight away. The number of eBay staff present who were joining in and chatting with sellers over a beer afterwards shows that this is not just an initiative affecting a small part of the organisation but represents more fundamental cultural change.

They have identified the key issues: I’m very keen to see what can be delivered in the upcoming seller release and beyond that in 2016.