With so many people trading on eBay these days it's hard to see how to get to the top of the eBay pile. Yet making a living is perfectly possible if some basic business methods are followed. This article considers three crucial issues.
Market choice: Most casual eBay sellers don't have a target market as such - they simply sell to anyone who might buy. To be fair, their marketplace is a vast one and the likelihood is great that someone, somewhere, will want what they are selling. This was the original eBay idea - a vast marketplace of potential buyers with something for everyone.
However, times change and, if you want to make a business out of eBay, a way has to be found of sustaining a viable sales level. This is essential if you want to a) make enough money to be worth the effort and b) climb the eBay pile to be recognised as a serious player. There are two main ways of doing this:
First, simply sell more. If you are an ‘emporium’ type seller - that is, a non-specialised merchant who sells a wide variety of goods - this is, up to a point, easy. You just take on more sales lines to increase your selling chances. The downside to this is that more and more time is spent sourcing, cataloguing and listing - not to mention money ties up in your widening range of inventory.
The other route is via niche marketing. Your sales window may be much smaller but, if you have identified your market properly, that market can be a good one. With less inventory to tie up cash your business can operate on a much leaner model, helping to maximise profit and taking less time in administrative tasks. My choice would always to go with a niche market.
Maximising exposure: It's an old business truism that you can have the best product in the world but, if no-one knows about it your business will fold. An eBay business is no different. Okay, your auction lots are in front of the eBay world and, if targeted correctly, will probably sell. However, selling purely via auction brings its own problems, not the least of which is the difficulty in projecting profit and loss with its attendant cash flow issues.
It might be wise, therefore, to consider how to best expose your business to the wider world! One way is to write articles like this one. Although they must not be adverts for your business, they can - and should - contain useful information for readers that can generate interest in what you do. That of course leads us on to the next way to get noticed:
A website. Web hosting and domain names are these days so inexpensive in comparison to ten years ago as to be almost laughable. If you're paying more than forty pounds/eighty dollars a year for web hosting you're paying too much! It's so easy too to set up a basic selling website compared to those distant days of the mid-nineties that anyone can do it (even me!). But here's the kicker: get yourself a basic eBay shop and, using the simple-to-use tools that eBay provide FREE you can embed your eBay shop into your website.
Why do this? Well, it's a triple whammy. Your eBay shop can drive business to your website and your website drive business to your eBay shop. Also, your auction items draw buyers to your shop, giving shop inventory items much greater exposure. Search engine optimisation is beyond the scope of this article but, by using well-tried techniques, your website should climb the rankings, especially if it is content-rich rather than just a mass of adsense advertising.
Using your eBay shop and website in tandem should, in time, put you way ahead of any competitors utilising only a single marketing stream. Try putting yourself in the buyer's position - is it a) easy and b) interesting to use you - or someone else?
Customer care: Many people think that the sale is over when you have the order and the payment is in the bank. Wrong! It's much easier to sell to an existing customer than to get a new one. Existing customers already trust you to a certain extent - if their initial purchase has gone well, been easy and the goods were fine then they are more likely to use you rather than an untried competitor - even if your products are a bit more costly.
It's true - the fact is that, for many buyers, price isn't the absolute deciding factor when buying online, especially from a ‘known’ seller. What they want is a) an easy transaction b) peace of mind as far as the quality of their goods goes and c) a reliable delivery that they don't have to worry about. Give your buyers these three things and they'll love you for it.
Customer care isn't difficult but it is essential. Your mindset should not be one that suffers your customers but enjoys them. On a purely practical level this is essential for your business - on a subjective level it helps you enjoy building your business on eBay or elsewhere. In my opinion, the more you can enjoy your business the better it will be - for both you and your customer - and that puts you firmly on the road to success!
Steve Dempster writes informative articles like this one and runs a growing eBay based business. Learn more about eBay shops or why not pay his website a visit for more ideas?