Selling on eBay
Set up on the auction site and get in on the action!
Everybody has heard of the eBay phenomenon. Whether it's Baywatch sand going up for sale, or someone making a mint from selling bottled Loch Ness water, eBay has captured the imagination of the online public - more than 3.5 million items are listed on eBay every day. Even the Toronto police are auctioning off seized property on the auction site. So how can you get in on the action?
It's not just parents dispatching goods they've sold in between feeding the kids. Your business can now set up its own dedicated shop on eBay. Essentially, eBay shop sellers get their own slice of eBay. Each shop receives a unique internet address (URL) that includes the shop's name (e.g. www.stores.ebay.co.uk/Shopname). You can customise your shop's appearance, upload your logo, and add custom categories for your items. Your shop also gets inclusion in eBay's shop directory.
The most successful shop sellers create a balanced inventory of auction and shop items and cross-reference to help drive traffic to their shop. You can either set a minimum bid price and a reserve, or give your items 'buy it now' status, where goods are sold like an ordinary shop instead of auctioned, allowing you to sell a line continuously.
Decide what to sell. "If you are buying things to sell on eBay for profit then the most important thing is how much you buy for and not what you sell at," explains Brian Blair of The High Bidder, who once bought three Lilliput Lane collectable cottages from an auctioneers for £6.00 and sold them for a total of £1645.00 on his eBay shop.
eBay's comprehensive instructions will take you through the process of setting up your own shop. Find out what it will cost to post your items in the UK and Worldwide. "Include these postage costs in your listings. This gets more bids and you avoid the subsequent questions. Get some decent scales to weigh packaging," advises Brian.
The it's time to get selling. You receive payment and send the items on receipt. Once delivery is complete you invite the buyer to give you feedback to build your reputation as a good seller. Good feedback is crucial to your success.
Once you have a shop and are ready to start selling, remember these wise words from experienced eBay sellers:
Be Honest and Direct. "Tell people right up front what you sell in detail, why buying from you will benefit them, and who you are," advises Brian. "It sounds so basic but more often than not you arrive at an eBay shop and it has no identity, no reason to buy and no immediate benefits. People have so much choice on eBay that you have to strike immediately or the chance is lost," adds Brian, who regularly sells 10 items a day from his eBay Shop.
Understand Your Margins. "Make sure that you know how much it costs you to list items, eBay fees, PayPal fees, postage costs, time etc. Buying something for £5.00 and selling it for £20 does not give you a profit of £15.00. Selling items for under £10 you need to know your margins very well."
Use PayPal. It's a credit intermediary system which handles all aspects of payment, from credit cards to identity checking. It's particularly useful if selling abroad as "it speeds up the total transaction time by as much as two weeks."
Tell stories. That doesn’t mean lying - it means painting a good picture about your product. "Sell the sizzle as well as the sausage," says Brian.
With thanks to Robert McLaughlin at the TIC, Birmingham for this article.