By David Jinks MILT, Head of Public Relations at ParcelHero
As eBay celebrates twenty years of auctioning the weird and the wonderful, we have twenty top tips to deliver success for online businesses. Over the US Labor Day weekend in 1995, eBay’s founder, Pierre Omidyar, wrote the code to create what was then called AuctionWeb and launched it from a spare bedroom. What happened next has become business legend.
The first item Pierre sold was a broken $30 laser pointer he had bought to make flashy presentations, but ended up using only to make his cat chase the red dot. In that historic listing Pierre admitted the item didn’t work. While no one bid on it for a week, a bidding war started the next week, and the product first listed for $1 ended up selling for $14.83.
Today Omidyar’s $14.83 profit has risen to a personal net worth of $8.4 billion and the site is one of the 50 most valuable brands in the world, with 157 million buyers, around 25 million sellers and 800 million listings. We don’t guarantee every spare room start-up will achieve the same; but here are twenty tips for success:
1) Price goods fairly: As long as you price your goods honestly and transparently, you’re sure to attract the right buyer in a short space of time.
2) Compare your delivery options: Not shopping around for the best courier service can really eat into your earnings, savings of 70% are currently possible. Consider where you want to pitch your tent between cost and service quality.
3) Know who you are selling to: With any product you need a specific customer base. Amazon, eBay and Etsy all offer tutorials on how to make the most of their platforms, which makes them very popular with new merchants.
4) Reading market research conducted by major retailers offers invaluable information into consumer habits.
5) Establish your brand: Using third party sites like eBay is a way around the initial cost of setting up an online business. Think about building your online presence with an engaging blog to support your eBay store.
6) Reputation, Reputation, Reputation: If you are new to eBay, you’ll need to build up a couple of reviews before users are convinced you are a safe and reliable seller. Your delivery proposition and costs is also an important factor in seller ratings.
7) Always ask for reviews from your customers. Customers flock to sellers who have positive reviews, it just makes sense.
8) Try to ensure that you sell on other platforms too, because this will make your eBay platform even more powerful. Your selling will get better if you are doing the same thing on Amazon, for example, and you can use testimonials from other sites.
9) Find your customers by monitoring social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, and then go and get involved in the conversation they are having about products that you sell.
10) Share videos about the products you sell and tips that you can offer to potential buyers. People like to know who they're buying from, especially with online stores.
11) Be aware of your competitors: Are you able to undercut your rivals and still make a worthwhile profit? Software is available to track other businesses’ prices on various items.
12) As your eBay sales grow, so will your need to manage and track your selling. Selling Manager is a free eBay sales management tool geared to medium-to high-volume sellers that lets you keep track of your listings and sales, and create and schedule listings.
13) Save yourself time: Turbo Lister is free, easy-to-use software that helps you create multiple item listings all at once on your computer and upload them to eBay.
14) Need quick turnaround? The quickest results are through one day listings, however this type of listing doesn’t always lend the best results in terms of traffic, because eBay search results typically take longer than 24 hours to appear in Google.
15) Bundles usually sell better than individual items. However, if you are selling highly collectable items, research thoroughly first to ensure the value of each item is maximised.
16) If you are selling clothing, Designer labels or well-known brands always sell best as buyers regularly search these. Collectable, retro or vintage items are always sought after, but command less in terms of transaction rates and price points
17) Remember to use words like ‘vintage’, ‘designer’ or ‘retro’ in your fashion listing’s title as these are the most popular descriptive search terms.
18) Even if the item you are selling is second-hand, if it has quite a high value, it’s worth considering setting a ‘Buy It Now’ price.
19) Just like Pierre Omidyar and his broken laser pointer, it pays to always be honest about the condition of your items. The more accurate you are in your description, the more trust you will build.
20) Finally, ensure your order picking is effective and you are shipping the correct product and size. Once an item has been returned twice no one makes any money on it.