Starting an eBay selling business is a great way to gain financial independence, especially for those wanting or needing to work at home. It is not an easy feat, however, requiring a lot of hard work, perseverance and time. A key aspect is dedication, something that should be present from the very beginning of the business. With that in mind, here are eight essential tips for new eBay sellers looking to start a successful business.
Don’t get ahead of yourself
Ever heard the phrase “learn to walk before you run”? Starting a new business is exciting but jumping in at the deep end doesn’t end in success for everyone.
- Stick to small, low cost items when first starting out. Learning how to use eBay and communicate with customers is a lot less stressful with less risk. After gaining some experience and confidence, move onto bigger and more expensive items.
- Learn about common eBay scams. There is no doubt that new eBay sellers are targeted by unscrupulous buyers. Being aware of some of the most used techniques can reduce the chance of being scammed.
- Build up your inventory slowly. As tempting as it may be to source hundreds of items in one go, it is a good idea to start slow. A giant pile of unlisted items can be overwhelming for anyone, especially for new sellers who are inexperienced with the listing process.
Know eBay’s rules and regulations
Many new sellers are overwhelmed by the rules and regulations of listing and completing sales on eBay. It can not be overstated enough, however, that taking the time to understand these rules is in every seller’s best interests. eBay’s prohibited items list, for example, is likely longer than you would expect. Familiarization with the issues surrounding trademarks and copyright is also vital for eBay sellers, as suspension is possible for repeat offenders. Velcro, for instance, is trademarked and the generic term ‘hoop and loop fastener’ (or tape) should be used when an item does not actually feature branded Velcro.
Create optimized listings
eBay’s marketplace is highly search orientated. This means that a good search placement (on page one or two of results) is key to gaining sales. According to eBay, sellers who follow good listing and selling practices will appear higher on search results. The easiest way for sellers to do this is:
- Create comprehensive item listings in the most appropriate category with an accurate description, concise title and high quality photographs
- Include sale terms and conditions in the listing with shipping and handling costs, return policy and accepted payment methods clearly stated
- Maintain a positive selling history, ensuring items are sent to buyers on time and with tracking
Always remain professional
Customer service as an important on eBay as it is for traditional and online retailers. Always communicate with buyers in a professional manner and try to solve problems whenever possible. As hard as it can sometimes be, keeping your emotions in check even when provoked is essential. Whatever happens, don’t take it personally. When appropriate, ask eBay for help to resolve a dispute. eBay has a reputation of siding with buyers, but there are exceptions. Keep calm and present your case rationally, with as much evidence as possible. If the case is closed in the buyer’s favour, try not to dwell on it and move on quickly.
Buy the proper supplies
Set yourself up for success by gathering the proper supplies needed for your new business. Dependent on the type of eBay business you have, some essential items include:
- Administration and general eBay tasks: A computer or laptop
- Storage: Containers, bubble wrap, labels, shelving
- Photographs: Camera, neutral backdrops, supplemental lighting, mannequin
- Item description: Measuring tape, weighing scales
- Shipping: Boxes, padded mailers, tape, bubble wrap (or other fillers), scissors, labels
Maintain a routine
Working for yourself can be liberating. Stress and burn out, however, are all too common side effects. While hard work is absolutely necessary to create a successful business, it is also vital not to overwork. The easiest way to prevent this is to create a work schedule and stick to it. Alongside this, attainable goals are a good idea to provide a target to work towards. Learning to pace yourself is integral to creating a sustainable business both on eBay and in traditional industries.
Control your inventory
Don’t underestimate the importance of an organized inventory. It can save time, money and a lot of frustration later. Start as you mean to go on and create a detailed spreadsheet of all items on hand, including original purchase price and eBay listing costs. Record all sales in the same spreadsheet, to track profits and remaining inventory.
Think carefully how to physically store your eBay inventory. Many eBay sellers use a dedicated space in their homes. Accurate labelling and organizing are vital to avoid items becoming lost or being sold twice. To avoid overcrowding, moderate your own sourcing and purchasing and be sure to clear out unsold items regularly.
Understand that success takes time
It is easy to look at other, more experienced, eBay sellers and be envious of their success. Comparison, however, is futile as each eBay business is different, with a unique business model. There is no ‘right’ way to run an eBay business and what selling methods work for one, may not work for another. New sellers need to be patient and realise that eBay success is not instant. It takes time. The important thing is for sellers to be open to learning new things, willing to adapt and put in hard work.
New sellers, what are some of the challenges you have faced growing your eBay business?