Many PowerSellers share tales of coming to a point in their businesses where 24 hours in a day just wasn't enough. They realized a person, company, process or piece of software could allow them time to become more productive. Here are some of the PowerSellers' time-tested secrets for being successful on eBay:
Tools for Automation
The eBay Solutions Directory is a good starting place for finding quality solutions providers that can help increase your productivity in selling, listing, product sourcing and much more.
Brad Lerch, owner of ListAssist in Blandon, Pennsylvania (eBay User ID: listassist), tested various auction management programs to help streamline his business and chose Kyozou to do the job. This efficient software helped speed the sales process and freed up Lerch, 29, to grow his business. Two weeks after implementing the software, and only four months after the business's inception, Lerch became a PowerSeller. His company now helps businesses liquidate their overstock.
Worrying about how much a tool costs is one of the biggest mistakes new--and even experienced--entrepreneurs make. When evaluating solutions to help scale your business, ask yourself if the cost of the product or service justifies the return on your investment.
Creating an eBay Store
Upon setting up their eBay Stores correctly, many eBay sellers have typically seen an increase of 25 percent in sales within three months. This increase in exposure was exactly what PowerSeller Rob Smith (eBay Store) was seeking for his Freeport, New York-based business on eBay. "Opening my eBay Store and using auctions as a tool to drive business not only increased my profits, but lowered my overall fees as well," says Smith, 48.
eBay Stores offers a fully customizable e-commerce solution for your business. For as little as $15.95 a month, eBay Stores helps build your business brand, provide you with seller reporting tools to analyze your sales and, most important, provide a vehicle to get your store and your listings indexed in the major search engines. An eBay Store is integral to easily scaling your business without having to invest time and money in the creation of a website with a shopping cart.
Plus, where else can you get an e-commerce site that ends up on the big search engines such as Google for less than $20 per month?
Learn more about opening an eBay Store.
Marketing Made Easy
Successful PowerSellers realize that marketing is a required part of their business, and many use inexpensive guerrilla marketing techniques to promote their businesses. Techniques include knowing where to get unlimited free business cards (www.vistaprint.com), tapping into the power of the eBay e-mail marketing program within their eBay Stores, and taking advantage of eBay's popularity to help boost the visibility of their own businesses.
"I had a very definite turning point in my eBay selling career," says Lewiston, Maine, PowerSeller Bill Cartmel, 52 (eBay Store). "An article about our eBay business in our local newspaper was picked up by newspapers throughout New England and the Eastern Seaboard. The focus was on vinyl records, which were only a small part of our business at the time. I received so many responses from people from New York to Maine who wanted to sell their rare, high-end record collections that we have now become the fifth largest seller of LPs on eBay, and our goal is to become No. 1."
Many sellers are looking outside the boundaries of the United States as a way to increase their customer base. eBay offers these five solutions for selling internationally:
1. Accept paypal as a payment option. PayPal is now available in 56 countries and territories and accepts multiple forms of currency, including euros, Canadian dollars and yen.
2. Offer international shipping. Maximize your global exposure by choosing which countries you're willing to ship to.
3. Include shipping costs. eBay's Shipping Calculator makes it easy for you to offer international shipping options and instant pricing to your buyers.
4. Use item specifics. A little-known eBay fact: When you fill out the item specifics for your item, such as the size of those shoes you are selling, that number will be translated on the eBay international site it is viewed on.
5. Download the International Selling Toolkit PDF. This in-depth report is the best place to start when targeting your international buyers.
Find additional information about selling internationally.
Sourcing More Products
A joint study by eBay and ACNielsen recently concluded that the number-one barrier to increasing sales on eBay was finding products to sell on the site.
Although selling items found at garage sales and secondhand stores can be profitable, many PowerSellers would rather sell products they can purchase from consistent suppliers. Instead of taking one picture, creating one listing, shipping the item in a single box, then starting over again, a PowerSeller would rather purchase 500 of the same item, take one picture, create one listing, use the same size box over and over again, and hit "relist" for the additional inventory.
It's difficult to find legitimate and thorough sourcing information. Many PowerSellers have come to trust two companies, What Do I Sell and Worldwide Brands Inc.
What Do I Sell is an eBay Certified Provider that teaches eBay sellers creative, professional strategies and techniques for selecting products to sell on eBay, locating legitimate suppliers and effectively selling in the eBay Marketplace.
WorldwideBrands , a Certified Solution Provider, is the only directory publisher of drop-ship and wholesale product sourcing information on the internet.
Find a unique wholesale buying opportunity through eBay's wholesale listing portal.
Though shipping is one of the more time-consuming processes of selling online, it can be automated easily in two ways. First, make sure your shipping area is organized and accessible. Next, reduce or eliminate the time you spend waiting in line at the post office by printing your postage online and having the U.S. Postal Service pick up your packages at your house. "One of my best business decisions was to start using Endicia for my postage needs," explains Charlene Anderson, director of online sales for Main Event in Jackson, Wyoming (eBay Store). "It's fast and easy to use--a great timesaver."
eBay's integrated shipping solutions allow you to print labels, pay for postage through PayPal, and set up a time when USPS picks up your packages. Learn more at www.ebay.com/shipping.
Customer Service That Sells
Successful sellers on eBay realize the importance of gold-level customer service. This service starts with your listing and continues all the way through the post-sales process. We have all seen the eBay listings that assume guilt--"MUST hear from you in three days. Payment MUST be received in seven days. NEGATIVE feedback WILL BE LEFT!" Customers can't click off those listings fast enough. Instead, offer what your competition does not: a pleasant buying experience.
Don't make your buyers assume anything; tell them what you are willing to do for them. This could include gift wrapping, shipping the gift to Aunt Martha in Oregon, gift notification and faster delivery options. Your customer service should continue through the communications after the purchase. Your buyers had their choice of millions of others sellers, and they chose you. Thank them for buying from you.
"First and foremost, I am a success because my wife and I work hard and long hours, and our customers are our most important business asset," says PowerSeller Bob Lippman, 61, who owns Lippman Enterprises in Palenville, New York (eBay Store). "If you take care of your customers, they will take care of you."
Staying on Top
"What really helped me take my business to the next level are the continuing education classes. I originally went to eBay University and learned a ton," explains Tom Hergert, a 25-year-old PowerSeller and owner of Bellevue, Washington-based Tallzag Auctions. "eBay is an ever-changing environment, and if you lock yourself up and keep your same habits every time, you will fall behind your competition."
eBay University tours the United States with experts who teach eBay sellers how to sell more effectively with classes on photography, selling tools, eBay Stores and more. Sellers can also take classes online in the comfort of their own home.
PowerSeller Carol Hearn (eBay Store) believes applying common sense to Hearn Estate Jewelry and Collectibles, her Bothell, Washington-based business, is the most important factor in keeping it on track and growing. "If you believe everything you hear and try every product you find in the marketplace, you'll never get your merchandise sold. A certain amount of focus is an absolute requirement in operating any single-person enterprise, but especially one requiring the amount of time that selling on eBay does," says Hearn, 59.
"The truth is that just about anyone can sell on eBay, but a much smaller percentage have the self-discipline to do so successfully," Hearn explains. "Even though it feels like a game at times, it's a serious business."
Janelle Elms is a PowerSeller, bestselling author and eBay University instructor.