eBay Outsourcing 101

Many smaller eBay sellers run their business as a one man (or woman!) show. This means fulfilling a number of different roles and tasks to maintain their eBay business. These tasks range from sourcing items and inventory management to customer service and accounting and more. Some eBay sellers prefer to outsource certain selling tasks to other people. Read on for the 101 on outsourcing your eBay business.

What is outsourcing?

Outsourcing, in the eBay context, is the practice of hiring an outside person or company to complete tasks related to the business. It can also be referred to as ‘contracting out.’ Outsourcing is used successfully in many (eBay and non-eBay) businesses and government services around the world to increase efficiency and profitability. For eBay, think of outsourcing as having something of a virtual assistant to help with your business.

It is important to note here that outsourcing is different to hiring an employee since the contracted person or company does not become part of your business. They remain an ‘independent contractor’ and therefore are responsible for paying their own taxes (and associated benefits) as well as providing their own work equipment.

Outsourcing as an eBay seller

As hard as anyone can try, there are only so many tasks one person can complete in a day. At a certain point, a business can become too big for just one person to deal with. It’s also a reality that people are generally more efficient or skilled at completing certain tasks more than others. For example, while some eBay sellers may proudly consider themselves ‘numbers people’ and will excel with the accounting side of selling, others find their bookkeeping skills lacking. In the latter case, sellers may find it easier to outsource this side of the business. These are just two reasons that an eBay seller may decide to outsource specific eBay selling tasks.

Other reasons sellers may decide to outsource include (but are not limited to):

  • More free time – more flexibility to do other non-eBay activities (hobbies, spending time with friends and family etc)
  • To improve overall efficiency and profitability of the business – by focusing on just a few tasks, overall productivity may improve
  • Reducing stress – some eBay tasks may not just be tedious for some sellers, but actually a cause of anxiety and strain.

Outsourcing eBay tasks

There are many eBay selling tasks that can be outsourced, some of which may be more obvious than others. Below are some ideas:

  • Customer service – replying to customer’s questions, returns, INAD cases
  • Data entry – listing items
  • Writing content – creating listing descriptions, writing SEO friendly titles
  • Photography – Choosing photos, editing (resizing, watermarking), renaming files
  • Bookkeeping/accounting – creating invoices, keeping record of sales/profits, filing taxes
  • Research – sourcing products, analysing competition
  • Graphic design – store logo, advertising
  • Shipping – using Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment is a form of outsourcing

The tasks listed above range many skillsets. For this reason, successful eBay sellers often outsource different tasks to different contractors. While one ‘virtual assistant’ may be good at writing content and data entry, they may not be the best person to choose for bookkeeping.

How to outsource eBay tasks

Finding an independent contractor to hire usually isn’t the difficult part of outsourcing. With the rise of fast internet speeds around the world, there are hundreds (thousands!) of people looking for online work. Many of these people are located in countries where the cost of living and corresponding wage may be lower than in your own country. This means that outsourcing does not necessarily have to be expensive.

The hardest part of outsourcing is finding a person (or persons) that works efficiently and effectively with your business. In a similar manner to the offline world, it could be that the first person hired for the task is not the best fit. We’ll be exploring the disadvantages and advantages of outsourcing in a future Auction Nudge article.

Some of the most popular places to find people to outsource eBay tasks to include:

Independent contractors on these sites create a profile to advertise their skills. Their education and work experience will also be listed alongside a portfolio of previous work on the site. References may be available to read and analyse. A fee guide or rate sheet is also typically displayed. Posting an advert for work is free on all three of the mentioned sites.

Do you outsource on eBay? If so, which specific selling tasks? Share your knowledge and experience in the comments below

Gemma
Gemma
Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.