The Wargaming Trader sell Warhammer miniatures online, primarily through eBay. I spoke with Ian Wood, a partner in the business about how it started and his experiences of selling on eBay.
About The Wargaming Trader
Could you give a brief overview of your business?
We sell secondhand wargaming models, specialising in old and out of production models from Games Workshop and Citadel Miniatures.
What kind of items do you primarily sell on eBay?
Toys and Games > Wargaming > Warhammer is our sole category.
What portion of your business does eBay sales account for?
What brought you to sell on eBay?
The global recession killed a previous business and I had a bunch of old model soldiers in the attic which kick-started a new business direction.
Could you take us through the steps you go through to sell an item on eBay?
We mostly buy direct from players that are reducing the size of their wargaming collection or who are selling armies to fund new armies.
Everything then gets sorted into lots that make sense for the game systems they are designed for, photographed and then imported into Apple’s Aperture photo-management program.
Captions, category information and other metadata are then copied from similar items that we’ve sold before and adjusted to fit the new item.
A custom-written helper program then pulls all this information and feeds it to a scriptable eBay uploading program called GarageSale, followed by the eBay item number getting pushed back to Aperture.
eBay mails are then read by the helper program to update the status of the items in Aperture.
Due to the extremely varied sizes and shapes of the models, postage and packing takes up a large proportion of the business hours.
Are there any common issues you have to deal with, or things you are wary of?
Through experience we started blocking any buyer where sales got complicated.
What advice would you give to new sellers?
Check your costs, especially for low-price items. Each individual transaction on eBay has fixed minimum costs between the listing fee and the fixed part of the PayPal fee so for low-ticket items you may well end up losing money by selling them in smaller lots.
How do you promote your listings outside of eBay?
Most of our customers find our items directly within eBay but we’ve built up a solid core of repeat customers over the years.
Have you noticed any changes in the eBay ecosystem over time? Was this for the better?
In general, every change in eBay’s policies have been worse for us, from changing the requirements to get fee discounts (we haven’t been eligible in three years) to charging eBay fees on what we charge for postage and packing while insisting that sellers shouldn’t charge more than the actual postage fee shown on the parcel.
Thanks go out to Ian for taking the time to answer my questions. You can find the The Wargaming Trader website at wargamingtrader.com