My Journey to Becoming an eBay Top Rated Seller

By: Hal Lawton, SVP, eBay North America

Our Head of North America has just passed a big eBay milestone. Here are his reflections.

I just passed a big eBay milestone. There won’t be a company-wide announcement about it, or even a certificate for my wall, but I already know this is a moment I’ll never forget.

On Saturday, alongside thousands of other proud eBay sellers, I became an eBay Top Rated Seller.

It’s been an incredible journey. I’ve had over 115 transactions in the last six months and am proud to have 100 percent positive feedback. As many of our sellers know, getting there wasn’t easy, and meant immersing myself completely in the experience of being an eBay seller.

From pricing an item, to trying to attract buyers, to navigating various policies, to understanding the ecosystem, a whole host of things must come together to land a sale. I’ve made mistakes, as even the most experienced sellers do. But when you get that coveted sale, the buzz is unlike anything else.

There’s no better way to get up-to-speed on the business than to actually do the business.  While this is not an all-encompassing list -- and I am still a small consumer seller -- here are a few reflections from my 10-month journey to becoming a Top Rated Seller:

1. Our marketplace is deeply embedded in people’s lives, and that’s a real privilege

This is a marketplace that people turn to help them celebrate all of their big life moments – and the little ones too.

When I joined eBay as Head of North America, I was excited by the company’s heritage and the opportunity to be part of this vibrant marketplace. But it also meant moving my wife and children to California from our home in Atlanta. I knew this would be an important life moment for my children, and I wanted them to share my excitement, so I turned to eBay.

I purchased three Golden States Warriors jerseys and gave them to my kids. The jerseys almost immediately minimized any level of concern they had about the move and they were just super-energized. eBay has a special place in our customers’ lives and that’s a privilege we need to protect.

2. There’s no better way to understand the customer’s needs than to walk in the shoes of the customer

 While I was always on the platform, my career as an eBay seller really kicked off in my new role. The fresh insights I had helped me shape and test one of our biggest seller-focused initiatives, our new Seller Hub — a site designed to improve experiences for all sellers. It gave me the opportunity to really dig in and experience it, and understand if it was really adding value for our sellers.  

3. Action speaks louder than words, and all leaders should live their brands

My 10-month journey of accelerated selling and buying on eBay helped me interact with my eBay team more effectively, because of my deep knowledge of the platform – all its intricacies and uniqueness. I can ask relevant questions.  I can dig into details more.  I can pressure test things.  Through my experiences as a seller, I gained a clearer picture of ways to improve the experience for all our sellers. I questioned policies that did not seem to make sense, and I challenged the team to remove the friction. I also make it a point to meet sellers at every opportunity I can.

4. As our founder Pierre Omidyar says, people are basically good

I’ve made mistakes, as even the most experienced sellers do – I’ve shipped items before I received payment notification, or shipped items without setting up proper records and tracking. I recently gathered up some unused Atlanta restaurant gift cards, sold them on eBay, and shipped them without any tracking. That could have backfired, but thankfully it didn’t. Communication can go a long way to solving even the trickiest problems.

5. Jump in and have fun

The best part of selling on eBay? It’s fun and addictive. Now, like all addicts, I am on a mission to get everyone else hooked too. When I started at eBay, we began a small competition among the North America leadership team.

 We challenged ourselves to buy and sell actively, and we’ve set up a competitive leaderboard that reflects in real time how much eBay buying and selling leaders are actually doing. By using our platform and living the brand, we were able to better connect with our customers and to each other. The leaderboard lets me know exactly where my activity stands compared to, say, Jordan Sweetnam.

As an active buyer and seller, I know the importance of standards in not only supporting and powering my eBay business, but in providing excellent customer experiences to my buyers. Standing with the best of our seller community as a Top Rated Seller is an honor that I do not take lightly – and I know that getting recognized once does not mark the end of my journey. Just like so many of our customers, I’ll have to work at it. But I’m up for the challenge.

Drop by my eBay store, hal_lawton, and see what I’ve got for sale.