As one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, eBay attracts a range of sellers from hobbyists to big time professionals. With the latter having the experience and funds to be able to dominate the platform, it can be hard for novice sellers to believe that they can compete.
This post is all about crossing that divide and helping novice sellers learn some of the techniques that turn a fledgling business from amateur to professional. Here are five ways to become a more professional eBay seller, starting with the art of taking better photos.
Take better photos
Photos offer the first impression of an item and photo quality is often a big indicator to the experience level of an eBay seller. The higher the standard, the more professional a seller appears.
The most important part of taking photos for eBay is to make sure that the item is represented accurately, but still in an appealing way. The easiest way to do this is to ensure that the item is photographed in a well-lit area with a plain background. A busy background can be confusing.
Be sure to always include multiple angles and close ups of the item, to show a complete overview and highlight details. If there are any flaws or damage on the item, include these in at least one photo.
- Purchasing the appropriate equipment (lighting, white background, light box etc) is a valid investment
- Always take more photos than you think you will need
- Take the time to prepare items before photographing them
- Never use stock photos or those from another seller – it is against eBay policy
- Check out eBay’s Photo Center Guide and this dedicated Auction Nudge post for more photo taking tips
Develop a system to pack items quicker
Packing items can be a hugely time consuming task for professional eBay sellers. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to save time in this stage of the selling process.
A common selling technique is to package items immediately after taking photos. Not only is this helpful for listing purposes, but it allows for the item to be sent out much quicker to the buyer.
While using second hand boxes and bubble mailers is a money saver, purchasing appropriately sized boxes can make packing quicker and minimize the packing material needed.
- Preassemble boxes during downtime in preparation for busier selling seasons
- Using a thermal printer can significantly speed up the labelling process
- Follow this guide to lessen risk of item damage in transit
- Purchase eBay branded shipping supplies to increase professionalism
Create a business website
Some full time eBay sellers choose to create and maintain a website for their business. Having a website not only offers another selling platform, but is a great way to promote authority and legitimacy as a professional business as well. With the use of advertising tools like Auction Nudge, it is also possible to integrate eBay listings into a website.
Investment of time and money are the main drawbacks of creating a website. Costs can be mitigated to a certain degree, depending on the level of sophistication desired. The annual fee for a domain name is $10-30, and basic hosting around $5-10. If short on time (but not money), consider hiring a developer on a global freelancing platform such as Fiverr or Upwork.
- A business website can increase authority and improve branding
- Diversification in business is important and a website can help with this
- Remember that it is not necessary to spend thousands of dollars on a business website
Establish an inventory management system
One of the easier ways to become a more professional eBay seller is to establish an inventory management system. Not only does this make the sales process a lot more efficient, but it also helps to avoid cancellation defects caused by missing items.
The first step to create an effective inventory management system is to find a dedicated space, create shelving and then buy appropriate storage containers.
Next, decide on an organization process for items (‘to be listed,’ ‘listed but not sold,’ ‘sold items’) and any further sub-partitions (age, style, size etc) that may be necessary.
Finally, decide on a labelling and recording system. This could involve using a spreadsheet with unique codes issued to each item or professional inventory software such as SixBit.
- Decide on an inventory system and actually stick to it! Follow this step by step guide
- Clear out inventory regularly to ensure efficient use of space (and time)
- Consider renting storage space or outsourcing storage with a third-party fulfilment service as the business grows
Handle customer service efficiently and calmly
A key part of providing professional customer service is efficiency. The customer can experience this in numerous ways, from fast email responses, prompt shipments and quick solutions to problems. Concerning the latter, remember that it is always better to deal with problems sooner rather than later.
Another crucial component of customer service is to always remain calm, or at least, give the impression of being level headed at all times. The easiest way to do this is to always think and speak positively when communicating with buyers. Be sincere and avoid using words with negative connotations like “can’t” or “won’t.”
- Remember that tone does not always translate well online
- Respond to emails promptly. Aim to reply within the same day
- While remaining positive at all times, try not to sound like a robot
- Never communicate with buyers when angry. Take a moment before responding to difficult buyers
Experienced sellers, how did you become a more professional eBay seller?