Get Your eBay Site Ready for the Holidays It's not too early to start thinking about the holidays. Here's what you should be doing now to get ready for the holiday sales crunch.

By Marsha Collier

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

As I write this column, I'm placing my final orders for holiday merchandise I'll be selling during the eBay 2005 holiday season. Of course, I'll still be selling my regularly stock items in my eBay store, but the holiday season gives me a reason (or is it excuse?) to search out and buy more merchandise. And shopping for my eBay business is almost as much fun for shopping for myself. Actually, it's more fun. Why? Because I'm buying at wholesale prices--way below retail cost. There's a special bit of magic that goes along with finding fun merchandise at very low prices--because you know you're going to make a healthy profit on all the fun stuff you buy!

Here's a quick tip to read before you buy any merchandise for resale: Be sure to search eBay and see how many people are selling the item, or a similar item--and check to see if anyone is buying. If the item is seasonal, use your "eBay instincts" and choose items accordingly.

If you haven't starting shopping, you'd better get on the ball because your holiday buying spree should be over by the end of October. In the meantime, there are a few other things you should be doing right now to get ready for crunch time:

  • Take pictures. Don't be lazy--using the manufacturer's stock images won't set your listings apart from those of other sellers. Take the time to set up your own pictures to make them unique.
  • Write descriptions. Take the time now to write descriptions for everything you'll be selling this season. This is something I always do whenever I have downtime, especially for collectible one-of-a-kind items. It takes as much time to put together a good description for those one-shot items as for your stock items--that's why writing whenever you have a few extra minutes is a timesaver. Another way I save time is I keep a folder on my computer that contains descriptions of odd-lot items. That way, when I'm in a rush to list, I just open the file, modify it to fit my item, cut and paste it, and voila, the item's listed.
  • Decide on your tools. If you're planning to use any special tools to help with the onslaught of new business you're expecting during the holidays, you'd better have more than a casual understanding of how the tools work before you start selling in earnest. Consider signing up to use a new eBay service such as Selling Manager--or signing up with a preferred service providor like ChannelAdvisor to smooth your holiday business frenzy. These services were designed with the busy seller in mind and will go a long way toward helping your business. The holiday crunch--late October, November and early December--is not the time to start fresh with a service because hopefully you'll be so busy selling, you won't have time to figure out the ins and outs of a good program.
  • Catch up on your bookkeeping! If your bank account reconciliation's aren't up to date, now's the time to get that chore done. If you haven't posted the details of your charge card payments (known as "splits" in QuickBooks), do that now, too. A busy holiday and post holiday season will keep you continually busy through March--which doesn't leave you much time to stay on top of your books. Also, if your memory's as bad as mine, you won't remember the small details from month to month.
  • Line up your part-time help. If you'll need some help packing items and shipping them out to buyers, be sure to plan for that now. Ask neighbors, or put a notice up at a local college--if you're lucky enough to be close to one--so you'll be able to interview and find the right people for your busy rush now.

The 2005 super-selling season on eBay is about to begin. Don't get caught up in the swirl of sales unaware. A successful eBay PowerSeller is a prepared seller.

I enjoy reading your e-mails, so don't forget to write and give me your comments and suggestions for future columns.

Wavy Line
Marsha Collier

Author, Radio Personality and Educator

Marsha Collier is a Los Angeles-based author, radio personality and educator specializing in technology and selling online. She is the author of eBay for DummiesSocial Media Commerce for Dummies and other books about selling online.

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