eBay isn’t dead in the water. Although Amazon gets all the buzz nowadays, sellers on eBay have the same profit margin. There’s still money to be had — and depending on your product, eBay may be the superior marketplace to tap into prospective buyers.
If you want to start an eBay business, you’ll need more than cheap products and low prices. There are hidden fees, shipping requests, and even search engine optimization considerations. Get your eBay business off the ground with minimal hassle. Here are eight tips to build a successful eBay business from the comfort of your own home.
1. Find a Niche for Your eBay Business
The most important function of a successful eBay business? Sell items in high demand that nobody else is offering. It sounds so simple on paper, but if discovering a hidden niche were easy, there wouldn’t be any left to choose from!
The reality is you’re going to have competition no matter what type of merchandise you have on offer. To come out on top, you need to offer the best customer service, versatile shipping options, and high-quality products.
Maybe you’re quite knowledgeable about foreign beauty products. You’re in a position to beat out your competition by using that knowledge to market your inventory. Even if you charge more than your competitors, buyers will opt to purchase from your business because you are the beauty product specialist. Your products and wealth of information create more value for potential buyers.
This is the benefit of specializing in a niche.
2. Start Cheap
eBay isn’t great for selling big-ticket items. Products with big price tags come with big risk and typically move much slower than small, trifling items. Turning a profit on a big inventory of low-priced items is the safest bet, especially for a new and budding eBay business.
It’s best to be flexible when you’re just starting out. Go to yard sales and thrift stores, purchase anything you can for a great deal, and sell every feasible item on the eBay marketplace. These sales analytics can help you discover a lucrative niche.
As your eBay knowledge grows, you may want to purchase your inventory from a supplier. By buying in bulk and reselling items individually at a higher price, you’ll maintain a respectable profit margin. Expensive items are too risky to justify a discounted bulk purchase — and that’s not where the money is anyway.
3. Stay Low
Since most buyers are looking for the best deal around, by offering it you’ll reap the rewards. Buyers set their search results to display the cheapest listing. This is your opportunity to end up at the top of their search results.
With cheap prices, your profit margin will suffer. By selling the cheapest items around, you may not even be making more than a token income. However, for every sale you generate this way, eBay will further prioritize your company’s listings. Think of it as SEO for your business.
After enough sales, you’ll start noticing your listings rank higher and higher. At a certain point, you can raise your prices, increase your profit margin, and cultivate the rewards of your hard work. You’ll gain way more traffic than you otherwise would have.
4. Time Your Auctions
Maximize the number of eyes on your listings by being aware of time zones. If your auction runs while most of the country is sleeping or at work, you’ll find fewer potential buyers. That said, if you find that international shoppers are your best clients, you might be best served by running your listings during their peak hours.
5. Take Great Pictures
Shoppers want to see what they’re buying. Dim lighting and poor quality can make it difficult to know the item’s condition. With high-quality pictures, you’ll improve the overall appearance of your storefront and give buyers more assurance that you’re a trustworthy seller.
Ensure that your item is as clean and presentable as possible. You want a clear, solid background for your picture. A cloth or blanket sprawled out across a table can provide this background if one isn’t otherwise available.
There’s no such thing as too much lighting. Shine ample light on the item. And always take more than one picture to show off all the sides of the item and other features of interest.
6. Offer Versatile Shipping Options
To further improve the eBay SEO of your new business, you need to offer a variety of shipping options. Most important is a return policy. Without a return policy, your digital storefront will suffer from reduced search engine results. You’ll also be losing out on customers who don’t want to take a risk if something goes awry with their purchase.
If you offer a 3-day shipping guarantee, you’ll also benefit from not being filtered out of search results from buyers seeking fast shipping options.
But no matter what or how you’re shipping, remember that you’re personally in charge of the process. Protect yourself and your customer with certified mail to ensure the package arrives safely. Stay up to date on all your shipping orders and learn more about tracking certified mail.
7. Provide Quality Customer Service
Talking to customers is part of running any successful eBay business. Check your messages at least once a day to ensure no buyer is left hanging for more than 24 hours. You should also provide extra care when you package and ship your items so they arrive in great condition.
By offering great quality service, you’ll garner better ratings. And with higher ratings, eBay will lower your fees and you’ll enjoy a larger base of prospective customers.
8. Don’t Forget the Fees
You might not make as much as you think. eBay takes a cut from your listing fee, and you’ll always be paying out of pocket for shipping fees. If you receive your money through PayPal, don’t forget that they’re also taking their own cut of your profits.
Be aware of these additional expenses and price your items accordingly. Without these considerations, you might not even break even when everything is said and done.
Boost Your Business
With a bit of trial and error, these tips will help you establish a successful and lucrative eBay storefront. Don’t make significant investments until you’re ready to dive deep. And remember to stay patient. Eventually, you’ll find the niche that works for you.
Looking for more entrepreneurial business opportunities? From running your own eBay business to developing a music career, our business blog has advice for all facets of the market.