With eBay's extensive group of online tools, you can let eBay work for you. Just consider the various tools and eBay companies an extension of your business. Michael Prete of Gotham Cycles Gotham Cycles in Bradenton, Florida, understands how powerful eBay and other companies can be as "employees." "I work alone, so I'm always looking for ways to improve the efficiency of my business in any way I can," he says. This Plati-num PowerSeller (eBay User ID: gotham.cycles) sells mostly Ducati motorcycle parts and has achieved a $30,000-a-month income in just a little over a year of selling on eBay. But Prete knows he couldn't have done it by himself. He has multiple companies working to automate his business so he can concentrate on increasing his profits.
Here are some ways eBay's many resources can help automate your business and increase efficiency.
Shipping: Avoid long lines at the post office with eBay's Shipping Center. You can print postage online, learn about your shipping options and schedule mail pickups at your home or business.
Many PowerSellers use Endicia. In addition to printing your postage at home, for a starting price of $9.95 a month you can print international customs forms, add marketing information to your labels, automatically verify shipping addresses, look up the status of shipments, take advantage of wholesale insurance and much more. "Endicia Premium has allowed my business to grow both domestically and internationally," says Prete, 30. "Up to one-third of my business is overseas, and Endicia Premium makes printing customs forms a breeze. Just a few signatures, and my international packages are good to go--no waiting in line at the post office."
Communication: Adding another "employee" will cost you less than $1 an hour. Using the Selling Manager products lets you fully automate your e-mails and feedback for your buyers. These tools start at $4.99 and can easily save you up to 15 hours a month in time spent communicating with buyers.
Listing: Doing your listings on eBay can be the most time-consuming task of your business. There are numerous listing management tools in the marketplace. Prete uses eBay Blackthorne Pro because it integrates with his other tools, including Selling Manager Pro and Endicia. "This gives me the flexibility I need for my business," Prete says.
Need help deciding which tools are right for your business? eBay has a great resource at http://pages.ebay.com/sell/toolrecommendations.html. You can also check out eBay's Certified Providers at http://developer.ebay.com/programs/certifiedprovider/catalog.
Don't assume that a task is free if you do it yourself. Doing it yourself actually costs you money if the time consumed by these tasks keeps your business from growing. As Prete says, "These tools have enabled me to continue to work alone while allowing my business to expand."
Janelle Elms, eBay University instructor and dean of eBay Business for LA College International, is the creator of the eBay Stores Video Series.