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Hearing that there are more than 1.2 million registered eBay users, that more than 25,000 members make five figure income as full time eBay entrepreneurs, and that more than 250,000 part timers make several thousand dollars a year of supplementary income from eBay enterprises would make anyone comment in disbelief with, "No Way". But the correct response to this is, "Yes, way." In fact, it has also been reported that the number one eBay entrepreneur makes over a million dollars a year. As Austin Powers would say, "Yeah, Baby." Or should we say, "E-Baby."
So what's the deal with eBay, anyway? There is a lot more to it than one would think. It can be simple for an occasional buyer, but it gets increasing complex as users/sellers become more entrenched at deeper levels of use. Here are 10 key ideas or themes for sellers to consider about this phenomenon called "eBay".
1. What 's for sale? While some sellers are out scavengering the garage sales and their own garages, others are purchasing quantities of items wholesale to put up for auction. One would think that the right product is of paramount consideration, and most sellers agree that the unusual or the hard to find is the best bet. However, this is not always true either. Timing, meaning the right person at the right time seeing your item, is where it is at. You have to be visible and be out there with a clear message or product that seems like a steal, or at least reasonably priced. With the thousands and thousands of items for sale, there is no shortage of competition. However, the good thing is that there are a lot of buyers out there that should enable the sale of just about anything.
2. Communication and descriptive details about your product is a key in getting noticed. The description of your item and the pictures to display it will get the buyer's attention. If a person is a serious seller, having an adequate digital camera is a must. Again, photos are extremely important.
3. The well written detailed description to accompany the item is of great benefit. Being open and honest about the item will demonstrate integrity as a seller and will keep people coming back. Being available to answer questions for prospective buyers and remembering to be courteous and helpful follows along with the never-to-be forgotten premise of "the customer is always right."
4. With customer feedback being a key element in the ratings statistics that will promote you or haunt you during your eBay career, it is important for a seller to be professional and kindly in all business dealings. People like and appreciate personal attention. Take the time to give it. Being positive, accommodating and helpful is a winning combination for good customer relations.
5. Shipping information and how you present it can win over a customer because they notice when a buyer is tying to take advantage and ask an unreasonable amount for shipping. Of course, a seller must take into account time spent, the handling charge, when pricing the shipping. Time is money, and a seller should be compensated for all aspects of the service that is provided.
6. Some advice about setting up your auction items would be to consider having your item run seven days with an end of bidding time somewhere between 7 PM and 9 PM on a Sunday night. That seems to be the consensus amongst the top sellers. There has been much dialog on just how to increase the amount and number of bids, but there are too many variables to consider. Suffice to say, it really does depend on the product itself (and what the condition and competition is our there).
7. Some of the most unique aspects of selling have to do with the seasonal items that permeate the auction block at certain times of the year. If a seller wants to work year-round, he or she will have to broaden the horizon by finding seasonal items for all seasons. Yes, you can sell Christmas items and move right into Valentines Day and Easter and so on. Why not? These are what people are looking for.
8. One controversial topic is drop shipping. If a seller is getting a product from a third party, drop shipping is a convenient way for the seller to deliver the product. It keeps them out of it. However, that means that a back ordered item could result in a poor rating for the seller because the item was delayed. Most buyers picture the item in the hands of the seller and expect to receive it within a few days. The pros and cons of this arrangement need to be carefully considered.
9. Now to the fun part. How do you get the money? More and more people are using PayPal. It is quick, efficient and simple. A seller can make other arrangements and accept a check or money order, but the wave of the future is setting up an account with PayPal. In addition, setting up an online account with the United States Postal Service will also save countless hours in the lines at the post office. Work smarter, not harder, etc., etc.
10. A seller can look at other things to sell besides a physical product or item. Many are getting into self publishing or offering a service. Some expanding entrepreneurs are opening up a consignment shop situation, which helps those who want to sell but "don't do computers." The possibilities are unlimited.
Selling products and services from a home-based business can be an exciting, and hopefully profitable, situation. Go into it with a solid plan based on accurate information and with the knowledge that it is going to be hard work, just like any other job.
For more on eBay selling and using online auctions visit the How To Sell On eBay Resource Page located at http://www.sbmag.org.
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About the Author
Barbara Snyder is a retired California Distinguished School Principal and Coordinator For Human Resources. She has a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. She holds elementary education, secondary, community college, and administrative credentials. She is currently the publisher of http://EducationResourcesNetwork.com, co-publisher of Strictly Business Magazine, http://www.sbmag.org.