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How to Streamline Your Operations Not sure how you're going to keep up with your growing business on eBay? Don't worry--there are tools to help.

By Nichole L. Torres

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You've been successfully selling your wares on eBay for awhile, and you're seeing a greater demand for your products.Now that you've gotten a taste of success, you'rehooked--and you want more. So how do you take your business on eBayto the next level? We asked Susan Phillips, vice president ofmarketing at eBay, for some tips.

First, examine how you're running your business, and lookfor places you might be more efficient, suggests Phillips."Are there tools you're not using that could help you bemore productive?" she asks. "Or [perhaps] you'vegotten to a point where you started with a very basic tool and youneed to upgrade." The listing tools offered by eBay, forinstance, can help you create multiple listings at once, which willsave you a lot of time. Turbo Lister, in particular, is designed tohelp medium- to high-volume sellers.

Next, look at your fulfillment side--packing and shipping itemscan be a huge time drain on your growing enterprise. "eBay hasrelationships with organizations like UPS and the U.S. PostalService that allow sellers to calculate the shipping cost upfrontand print shipping labels at home--there are even eBay/USPSco-branded boxes sellers can get for free," says Phillips."These little timesavers make a big difference when you'reshipping a lot of items."

Once you get your back-office operations at optimum efficiency,you need to start thinking about inventory management--tracking theitems you're selling and how much profit you're making.Inventory management also helps you decipher when you need newsources of merchandise for your growing business. Say you'vesold out of your original inventory or you've exhausted youroriginal supply line. There are many different ways to findproducts, says Phillips, from grass-roots-type tactics--such ascanvassing local estate sales, garage sales and outlet malls forlow-cost inventory--to asking friends, relatives and neighbors ifthey have anything they'd like you to sell.

Or you can take a more formal step and become part of eBay'sTrading Assistant Program. When you do, you can list your serviceson eBay's Trading Assistant Directory, where people withproducts they want help selling can find you, says Phillips. If youwant to buy larger lots of items, you can check out eBay'swholesale section, or try the Reseller Marketplace. This is a venuefor sellers to liquidate returned, refurbished or otherwise excessinventory in bulk lots to eBay Power-Sellers for resale on eBay andthrough other channels.

Your overall growth strategy will depend largely on yourpersonal goals for your business, says Phillips. Do you want it tobe a part-time gig or a full-time sole proprietorship? Or do youenvision opening a complete online store, selling hundreds ofproducts and requiring staff? When you're constantly askingfriends and family to help you fulfill orders, it's a good signyou're ready to hire help, Phillips says.

Finally, there's an enormous number of resources for sellerson eBay to help you grow. From the listing programs to onlineforums to real-life eBay educational seminars in your community,you can find a way to build a larger eBay enterprise. "Be asdisciplined as possible--there are ways to make [operations] alittle more efficient," says Phillips. "And by doing so,you'll save yourself enough time to grow your business thatmuch further."

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