Selling on eBay is part business and part art form. Knowing how much you should be selling is crucial and is just as important as knowing what you should be selling on eBay. In this guide I am going to walk you through some of the most common stereotypical seller types and make concrete recommendations for each and every one of you. Feel free to skip down to the section which is specifically relevant to your particular situation and selling style. The main archetypes include:
- The Organizer – My house is cluttered and I want to get rid of some stuff and make some extra cash in the process.
- The Supplementer – I have a day job but want to create an additional revenue stream for myself.
- The Striver – I am currently employed, am not happy with my current 9-5 job and am trying to develop my eBay business as a means of breaking free from my job.
- The Entrepreneur – I know there is a lot of money to be made on eBay and this is what I plan on doing with my day to day in the long term. I take eBay extremely seriously, this is my main source of income and I view my eBay store as I would any other business venture.
Once you have determined which category you fall into, it will be much easier for you to understand what your eBay strategy so to speak should be. So without further ado, let’s jump right in.
The organizer is the type of person that eBay was originally based off of, the eBay community thrived on these type of people. The need to constantly consume items we do not need and then periodically get rid of them has become part and parcel of our modern culture. Whether or not this is a ‘good’ thing, I will leave for you to decide but what I can tell you is that second-hand household items otherwise known as the ‘virtual garage sale’ has mushroomed into a multi-billion dollar business with no signs of slowing down in the near future.
As a consumer, you probably paid top dollar for the items you are getting rid of and instead of just junking them you want to cash in on the principle which says ‘ one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’. And to be honest – that is exactly what you should be doing! But just because you are a ‘hobbyist’ so to speak, does not mean that you don’t need to be savvy, be able to market your merchandise and know what to sell and when to sell it.
Here are my top tips for ‘Organizers’ on how to get top dollar for the items you no longer need and want:
Categorize – The first thing you should be doing is categorizing your items. For example, if you have lots of old children’s toys, collectibles or even Christmas ornaments. The power of categorizing is that if you have enough of a certain item you can even open an entire store around one specific theme. You can also start bundling items together and selling them as a set.
Branding – This leads us to my next recommendation which is branding. You would think that as an ‘Organizer’ you wouldn’t need to deal with branding. Here is where you are wrong. Say you decided that most of your items fall into the ‘baby’ category you can start a baby-themed store complete with a logo and a background story. The narrative you tell is worth money, if people like the story you are telling about the items you are selling, they may be willing to pay 20% above market value. A great narrative example is that you could not find toys which really helped your children build a solid cognitive base when they are growing up which is why you were inspired to sell their toys to other concerned parents.
Pro tip – Consider using a free logo design tool to boost your brand identity. It takes five minutes and will set you apart from the others. Please note that I am not affiliated with ‘FreeLogo Design’ in any way.
Value – Many people tend to think of the things they have lying around the house as junk. They devalue these items before even going on eBay and more often than not end up getting under market value. I recommend using objective market research in order to determine how much your item is actually worth. It is actually pretty straight forward. Just get on eBay and start searching for your item.
If your item:
- Is in good condition.
- Has high-quality pictures.
- A good narrative.
You should be able to price it 10-20% above market value. Remember that people are willing to pay for perceived quality and that is what you should be selling them. Don’t compromise!
Supplementers are also a very common breed. Most people work a 9-5 job and bring home a few thousand dollars a month. But what if you have a family to support or if you want some of the finer things in life? Those are usually the main reasons people decide their income – either they have to or simply want to. Whatever the reason is, they are clearly motivated to have an additional revenue stream. They are either relying on this income to put food on the table or pay rent at the end of the month or take that vacation they have been dreaming about of late. In any case, these people are not ‘hobbyist sellers’ in the way that ‘Organizers’ are. eBay is a business as far as they are concerned and they need to treat it as such.
Here are my top tips for ‘Supplementers’ on how to run their eBay store:
Sourcing – You first and foremostly need to know where the lion’s share of your items are coming from. Here are your options:
- Contacting local suppliers and wholesalers and negotiation prices with them.
- Constantly browsing local shops for well-priced items. The main issue with this is that it is both time consuming and unstable at the same time.
- Find a drop shipper who can supply you with your merchandise. This is probably your best bet as you don’t need to put up money upfront nor do you need to deal with storage and shipping.
Virtual Assistant – Once you have sourcing down pat you will want to focus on other aspects of your business such as hiring a virtual assistant who can do a lot of the workload while you are at your day job. I know this sounds pricey but you can really get a part-time VA for pennies.
Pro tip – Consider looking into a company that specializes in sourcing VAs. One company which I found online is VATask who again I have no affiliation to.
Marketing – Since you are a business, consider investing money in promoting your listings on eBay. You can consider using eBay’s Promoted Listings which can help you appear higher in search results. There is no fees that you need to pay upfront rather you pay eBay a certain percentage one a sale is successfully executed. In order to be eligible, you need to be rated as an Above Standard or Top Rated Seller.
The ‘Striver’ is a step above the ‘Supplementer’ in terms of how determined they are to turn eBay into a successful revenue stream. They are sick and tired of the daily grind and aspire to break free of their 9-5 chains of bondage. If this sounds like you, then you need an aggressive strategy to build and grow your eBay business. If you want to see quick results and be effective, you are going to need to go that extra mile.
Here are some tips on how to bring about the growth you need in order to attain the freedom you want:
Multi-niche approach – You need to try out different product segments simultaneously. You don’t have the time or patience to wait for the classic trial and error approach. That is why I recommend you try 5 or even 10 product categories simultaneously. There is no right or wrong answer. You just need to try as many as you can handle simultaneously in order to determine which is most profitable.
Stand out of the crowd – There is a lot of competition on eBay and you need something that will help you stand out to future customers. I cannot tell you exactly what that something is as it is very individual to your business but I can give you a few ideas. Excellent customer service is always an effective tool as is giving away a free sample of another item you sell. If everyone is selling a certain item in green then you sell it in pink. Anything you can do to stand out in the competitive landscape.
Iterate – This means you always have to be in movement. You need to try certain products out. Keep those that are profitable and get rid of those which aren’t selling fast enough. Especially if you are not drop shipping, keeping merchandise which is sitting on the shelf is extremely counterproductive. You are paying for storage and paying listing fees for products which aren’t fulfilling their potential. Iterations mean trying the same things again and again with minor changes so you can stick with a similar product but maybe you need to change the color and model.
The entrepreneur has comes to eBay ready to take on the whole world. As an entrepreneur, you know that eBay is a cash cow and you have come to make some serious coin! You are not working a day job and eCommerce is your longtime dream. You don’t want to be an office rat and know there is money to be made online. You are in it for the long haul and big bucks.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
Multi-channel – eBay is great but as an eCommerce entrepreneur, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. Consider expanding your business to other marketplaces. Just like with the stock market you don’t want to invest all your money in the same company rather prefer to diversify your risks together with your potential for gain. Choosing to become multi-channel after being single-channel for a long time is a tough decision but it is definitely a worthwhile thing to consider.
Expansion – As an entrepreneur, you need to constantly think about expanding your business. If you have 5 stores you want to hit 10 and if you have 10 you want to hit 20. It is a simple equation, the more stores you have the wider your ‘net’ is for catching potential customers. The same is true of the amount of products you have in stock or even available from your drop shippers. I personally know a seller who is currently selling 750,000 items across 24 stores and he is aiming to hit 1,000,000 by January. You can never have enough items in stock especially if you are not paying for them upfront.
Automation – There is only so much business you can handle as an individual or even as a team. Automation is a powerful tool and a necessary one, especially if you are looking for serious growth and expansion in your business. Consider using an eCommerce CRM which will help you automate your entire customer support cycle as well as increase sales with tools like cross-sell and product-specific feedback.
Summing it up
Helping you understand exactly what quantity of items you should be selling on eBay is like trying to tell someone how much they should weigh or how much money they should have in the bank. It is a very individual and subjective matter, yet there is a correct ballpark figure. Even if you are still unsure of exactly how many items you should be selling at least you know how your listings and stores should be structured and you have some ideas in terms of how you can grow your business as well as what expectations are realistic when correlated with your eBay archetype. Best of luck to you all, may your sales exceed your expectations!