Regardless of if you are a new or experienced seller, you are likely familiar with eBay. eBay is the world’s largest auction site for selling physical goods online, and one of the first online marketplaces to gain mass attraction in the United States. Although the marketplace may be overshadowed by Amazon and many may think of eBay as a website “they used to go to”, there is still a loyal and very large existing user base today (nearly 600 million active in 2014 [statista.com]). But we are here to learn about how to sell on eBay, not a history lesson so let’s jump right into it…
The Pros of Selling on eBay
- It’s simple to start as a seller.
- They have tons of traffic and users already looking to purchase products.
- Less marketing time and expense is needed than compared to a stand alone website.
The Cons of Selling on eBay
- There are a lot of buyers, but there are also a lot of sellers.
- There are listing fees to add items, even if they do not sell.
- Feedback and history is important…you don’t always have to be the lowest price to sell an item, but you need to keep your data current, so you don’t have out of stock issues, and you need trusted supplier sources to make sure your items are delivered on time.
3 key steps for getting started:
1. Create a seller account on eBay.
You may have purchased on eBay before, but you will need to contact eBay to make sure it is set to start selling and accepting payments from customers. You can convert your existing account to a seller account, or you may want to just create a new account for your business. Activating a seller account might seem like an obvious step, but the most obvious steps are often the most important yet overlooked. When setting up a seller account they will also want to confirm the bank account for deposits and the method of payment for any listing fees. We recommend that you activate a new checking account and payment method just for your online business. It will be much easier for you to review your revenue and expenses each month when it is not mixed in with your personal account.
2. Find a trusted supplier for products types with which you are familiar.
Another obvious step is you will need products to sell. Companies like Worldwide Brands and obviously Inventory Source have already completed much of the hard work needed when researching trusted supplier options. You can easily use these directories to browse suppliers by product types and apply to the wholesaler directly when ready.
If you are new to eBay, don’t try to focus on finding a supplier for the so called “hottest” items. Start with a product type that you are familiar with and grow from there. On eBay in particular, it is vital to select products that you can talk about, because the information you add to your listings will be the key to your eBay drop ship success.
You will also want to review their shipping policies and any additional per item or per order fees, so you can make sure your product listings and pricing are configured correctly. A wholesale dropship supplier is not just the product source, but also your partner in your drop ship eBay business, so find one that fits your needs. Make sure you apply to a few suppliers so you can see what price points you qualify for based on your application. Applying to (and working with) multiple suppliers allows you to get familiar with how supplier support, response times, and overall reseller service can vary. Also, it never hurts to have a backup source ready if you ever have a fulfillment
“If you are new to eBay, don’t try to focus on finding a supplier for the so called “hottest” items. Start with a product type that you are familiar with and grow from there.”
3. Add value to your listings.
After a the supplier approves you to sell their products, the most common mistake is to simply update the price and “push” the items to eBay. As noted before, there a many sellers on eBay and you likely are not the only one selling the item you have listed. You need to make sure you add value to your listing by customizing it. This is how you can set yourself apart from other sellers. The 3 most important fields for a successful eBay drop ship listing are your category selections, titles, and descriptions…not necessarily price.
- Category: While eBay has its own category options, there is no one perfect category choice for each item. Experiment with different category selections. The idea is to find the most relevant yet also “highest converting”. So experimenting with which category leads to a higher conversion of sales is the only way to determine the “right” category.
- Title: eBay has a title character limit of 80 characters. It is important that you get as close to the full 80 characters as you can. You may need to reduce some default titles, but make sure you work to increase and enhance short titles as well. Add keywords people will use in their search, and put the most important terms first. Update any short-form or abbreviated text from the default title. The title is generally the first thing people notice, so it is your first chance to really sell the product. Get their attention. The default title may be great for a website, but perhaps not so great for a more competitive multi-seller marketplace like eBay. Even if you are not the lowest seller, you can win by making it easier for the customer to find your product and by making it clear that it is the item for which they are searching.
- Description: So many dropship resellers just leave the default description on their listings, but this is a chance to really add value to the listing. Often the supplier might just have a few bullet points or the most basic of details, but the buyer wants to know as much as they can about the item. Expand on the features and tell the buyer more about what the product is for, how it is used, why they need this product, or how it would solve a problem or help with a task, etc. Make sure you use a well-organized format and have a feature list. Include any size, style, color, etc., even if it’s clearly shown in the picture. Even if you don’t have a lot of details to add, just talk about the product from the image to give great new details to hook your customer. Think about the last time you went to the store to buy a new item. Let’s say it’s a new tablet. If you had the same tablet sitting in 2 boxes on the shelf in front of you and one box had the battery life details, camera specs, and added commentary like “sleek yet durable” while the other box simply said “new tablet”… which one would you buy? Finally, make sure you detail the condition. You can add that your items are new, never been opened, in the original packaging and more. There are many new and refurbished items on eBay, so when you have a new product, don’t assume that it is clear to your buyers…specifically tell them it’s new and factory sealed, etc and that is an easy way to improve your listing.
Here is an example of a good, organized and detailed description for a Samsung Tablet…
Now here is another seller’s description of the same tablet…
“The 3 most important fields for a successful eBay drop ship listing are your category selections, titles, and descriptions…not necessarily price.”
Once you start selling, there are still a few more things you can do to get the most out of your eBay experience. eBay is not a get-rich-quick marketplace, but if you take a long term view, eBay can be your get-successful-quick marketplace. Naturally, when listing items on eBay, wholesale dropship resellers are focused on getting sales….and rightly so…but you could be losing focus on something which is more valuable than a sale, and that’s a customer.
eBay Customers are Contacts for Future Sales
Every sale you make on eBay is an extra person on your mailing list. If you are selling from your web site domain along with eBay, then you can recommend featured items on your site or other promotions for your larger catalog of products for their next purchase to keep them coming back for more. Online retailers spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month to advertise to their target customer market online. Who’s more of a target market customer than someone who has shown they are willing to purchase from you already! eBay can be used as much as lead generation for your website as it can a marketplace to sell your products.
Sometimes Less Profit Has More Value
You want to focus on profit, but you want to focus on long-term profit, not just the margin on your first sale. When you are getting started you will want to quickly build up your sales volume and user feedback. The quickest way to do this is to worry less about profit margin when you start, and instead focus on order volume.
Once you get volume and feedback you will have more trust on eBay, making it easier to have higher prices later than other sellers and still win the sale. Also, as you get more orders, you can go back to your supplier to see if they can offer you better pricing terms which means you can have more room for margin for future sales.
Some sellers start pricing near their cost and a few even price some items below their cost by a few cents. This is clearly not their long term approach, but it can allow them to quickly get some initial sales while they build their brand on eBay. They look at any loss in initially desired profit margins as a “marketing expense” which will allow them to get better pricing from their supplier and have a stronger and more established brand on eBay, ultimately leading to being able to easily adjust their prices on future listings and increase margins.
If you list your items this way, make sure you communicate with your customers and get them to leave feedback and ratings for you because this is going to be a great help with future sales. If you are new to eBay, don’t look at your first few months as a revenue source, but rather focus on getting orders and quickly building up your seller rating and user feedback. Your focus on customer service as your brand at the start will lead to much bigger sales and profits for your future.
You don’t have to be the lowest price on eBay for a product when you can show a good sales history and feedback. More importantly, the customers you win in the first month are more likely to buy from you again. When you look at it that way, reducing your prices by even a few cents in the first month can lead to a lot of long term value for your business.
What does all of this mean?…Just get started!
Some sellers only sell on eBay and some sellers sell from eBay as well as a website or other marketplaces. If you are looking at getting started in eCommerce, eBay is a great place to get started regardless of your long term plans.
Order volume from eBay can help you to get better pricing, which means you can have more profits for your website or other sales channels. By needing to consider listing fees, it will give you reason to get familiar with the details of the products in your catalog. Their traffic and sales potential will also help you quickly gain experience with ordering from your supplier and helping customers with their product questions and purchasing issues. All of this adds up to a great education in getting started with eCommerce sales. This is just part of the reason why Inventory Source offers the Push to eBay Tool to our customers to help lessen the learning curve and manual upload and increase their chance of success.