I just finished teaching an eBay University class for eBay. We had a huge crowd; it was amazing. Teaching is one of my favorite parts of my work--meeting my readers and budding e-commerce entrepreneurs. Their enthusiasm for more knowledge fills my energy tank again--especially if I'm a little burned out from selling online (Yes, it does happen occasionally.)
But most of the time, we online merchants power straight ahead, continuing to list and sell. We can forget the basics of our everyday business like planning. It's times like these that our sales may experience severe ups--and eventually downs from inattentiveness.
That's why it's always important to think ahead. Halloween is just behind us. For those of you with the inclination, post-Halloween makeup and costume sales can fuel your future sales with great merchandise for next year. Halloween stores especially slash prices since costumes are tough to sell to liquidators; there's no big market for costumes during the rest of the year. So the bargains will be there for the picking. Shop for merchandise in early November and start selling next October. Halloween costumes don't take up much space.
Halloween means that the holiday shopping season is just around the corner. Do you have your store holiday merchandise lined up? Have you been looking all year for specialty items at great prices that sell well over the holidays? You should have been. (I'm stocked up with my organic catnip Christmas candy canes, but one item doesn't build a store.) Too many people who ask the question "What can I sell on eBay?" haven't been doing any long-term planning for their businesses. Planning ahead is what gives you the edge over other sellers. Don't ever let yourself forget that there are no shortcuts to success.
In my class, I was asked, "When is the best time to begin listing items for the holidays?" The time is coming up fast. Many eBay shoppers are beginning to buy now, but really get into the swing the week after throwing away the pumpkins. Shoppers take a bit more time on eBay than when shopping the internet in general, because they assume they're dealing with homebased businesses that may give a bit more customer service than the big boys on the web.
Black Friday--the day after Thanksgiving--is the traditional day that the brick-and-mortar world begins its huge holiday push. Sales on this day are a strong barometer of what the public's spending habits will be like over the coming season. Ever wonder why it's called "black" Friday? After selling for an entire year, the money made in these last few weeks is what puts companies "in the black" or reflects their profits for the coming year. Brick-and-mortar stores send out flyers in the mail and advertise with newspaper inserts on Thursday when the stores are closed to pump up the audience to spend like crazy on Friday.
In the internet world, we have our own version of Black Friday, called Cyber Monday. It's when everyone goes back to work and can access their offices' high-speed connections. Current myth states that Cyber Monday is the busiest day for the online holiday shopper. The media sways the masses into believing this is true. Anything that can expand the buying season is great for sellers, but veteran eBay sellers know that the hottest selling days are between December 5 and 15.
So why not capitalize on the Cyber Monday media blitz? Increase traffic to your sales by offering special promotions and discounts. Your eBay store has a feature called "Markdown Manager," which will allow you to run almost any type of discount you wish. Use it and be creative. Send out a newsletter to those who have signed up for your store newsletter when selecting you as a favorite seller and let your past customers know that you're having a holiday sale. eBay supplies templates and makes sending out the newsletter a simple task. You can find both of these features on your "My eBay" page under the "Manage My Store" link.
The potential for financial success is in your hands. If you haven't planned well for the season this year, it's not too late to pick up some special items. Get ready by using eBay's free Turbo Lister software to prepare your listings now so that you can launch them when the selling season hits. You can download eBay's listing software for free at ebay.com/turbolister.
Next year plan ahead and have a full stock of holiday widgets to sell. Best of luck with your holiday sales!
Marsha Collier, a successful eBay PowerSeller, is Entrepreneur.com's "eBay" columnist as well as the author of the bestselling eBay references, eBay for Dummies, 5th Edition and Starting an eBay Business for Dummies, 3rd Edition.