51 Secrets to eBay Success

Tips 32 to 51

Customers First

32. Provide prompt, punctual and courteous responses to any questions your customers might have. People will probably want to do business with you again if they receive a pleasant response from you. -C.S.

33. Never forget that the customer is king. When in doubt, always think like a buyer. If you do, you will be able to better anticipate what buyers want and plan your business accordingly. -J.G.

34. Treat your customers like you would treat guests in your home. Be kind and understanding. Be willing to help them when there are problems. -S.L.

35. Eliminate the roadblocks to selling your products. If a buyer wants to use PayPal to buy your product and you can't accept a PayPal payment, that's a problem. It's a roadblock to selling your item, making a profit and moving on to the next sale. Take down the roadblocks! This is my golden rule of retail: Make sure customers who come in the door have a way to pay, and customers who leave have a smile and a full shopping cart. The point is simple--sell your item, collect the money, and ship the product. -D.E.

36. Communicate as soon as possible with all buyers who e-mail you. If you make a mistake and something's not sent when it should have been, let the customer know the truth. Don't ignore questions or complaints. -S.L.

37. Schedule time once a week for posting feedback--no more than 15 minutes. You have to do it to be successful. Create a couple of generic feedback statements, such as "Great buyer, quick payment, great trans," check the spelling, then cut and paste these generic statements into your feedback submissions. People don't care what you say, as long as it's positive. -D.E.

38. Leave emotion out of feedback. Keep it strictly business. -S.L.

Money Matters

39. Use QuickBooks or other accounting software to help you keep your books in order for yourself and for your tax specialist. QuickBooks allows you to input your inventory and gives you reports telling you your average profit per item, as well as how many items you sell each week. The program also gives you statistics, your markup and a lot of other helpful data. -M.C.

40. Open a premier or business PayPal account. Many buyers limit their eBay shopping to those sellers who offer PayPal. Using PayPal makes tracking sales, invoicing and bookkeeping much easier. -J.G.

41. Pennies count. Keep track of expenses. The difference in listing fees between starting an item at $9.99 and at $10.00 is 25 cents. That adds up to $25 if you're listing 100 items per week. Also pay attention to hidden costs like shipping supplies and postage. -S.L.

Competitive Edge

42. Once you've settled on regular inventory, use eBay keywords, a pay-per-click banner advertising service, to draw people into your store. See https://ebay.admarketplace.net/ebay/servlet/ebay. -M.C.

43. Watch your competition. Search them out on eBay. Follow their sales. Determine their best business practices, and adopt them. For example, if your competition is offering goods similar to yours at about the same price, consider driving customers to your items by offering free shipping on some or all of them. -J.G.

44. Don't be afraid to put some items away and wait for your competition to sell out. Profits definitely rise when you're the only source of a popular item. -S.L.

45. Cultivate your customer database--it's a gold mine. You can use it to market any of your new items directly to qualified customers. For example, you could send a monthly newsletter to your database to describe your new products or to give these customers discounts. But before you proceed with any marketing campaign using your buyers' e-mail addresses, be sure you understand and comply with the national spam laws. -D.E.

46. Cross-promote with your e-mail signature. It should read something like "If you need additional products or services, please visit my Storefront at storefront.com." -D.E.

Growing Your Business

47. Don't open an eBay store until you've had a number of transactions on the site and you're comfortable with the way eBay works. -M.C.

48. When you do open an ebay store, be sure you take advantage of eBay's cross-promotion tools. These tools allow you to choose which merchandise is featured in your store, so you can choose items that might be of interest to somebody already buying one of your listed items. -M.C.

49. Once you become a powerseller, consider using a service like Endicia.com, which allows you to print your own postage and delivery confirmations on one label and gives you a separate expense line for your postage. -M.C.

50. Don't limit yourself to buyers in the United States. Many brands that are popular and easy to come by in the United States are practically impossible to get elsewhere. For example, a friend of mine bought some OshKosh B'Gosh baby clothes at a local garage sale and sold them on eBay to an eager mother in Australia for a nice profit. And I bought model airplane engines that are made in Germany at a local swap meet and was surprised to find my biggest demand for these engines came from buyers in Germany. -D.E.

51. Remember this simple rule for non-U.S. buyers: Don't accept foreign currency; specify that you'll accept U.S. dollars only. If a buyer sends you $20 Canadian and you were expecting $20 American, you just lost about $8, depending on the current rate of exchange. Always specify "U.S. funds only." And consider the additional shipping charges that may apply before you agree to ship the product outside of the country. -D.E.

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