Know Your eBay Business to Grow Your Business
By: John Walsh
Getting started buying and selling on eBay is simple and straightforward. Just
about anyone can easily sign up, and put a few loose items up for sale. However,
taking the next step to move from "cyber-garage sale" into a genuine eBay
business on eBay can be a little daunting and even a little scary at first.
Successful eBay sellers know their business inside and out. They know what items
they have in stock, what vendors they have bought from with the costs
associated, and they keep in good contact with their customers to establish
repeat business. In the next few minutes, I hope to give you a little insight as
to what you need to build your eBay business, without breaking your budget.
Most importantly, eBay is a business of numbers. Buying items at the right
price, and selling them with the proper markup are absolutely essential to
consistent profits. I have noticed that many new sellers resell items they have
bought on eBay themselves, and I would encourage you to do so, especially in
bulk. A very common mistake, and one that kills many eBay businesses, is a lack
of inventory management. You need to keep track of each individual item you
have, how much you paid for it, and who purchased it. This is something every
brick-and-mortar store does, and your business should be no different. If you
don't know your inventory and liabilities, you won't be able to gauge your
You can keep a simple inventory with pencil and paper, or in a spreadsheet.
However, as your business grows, this becomes more and more of a pain. If you
can start with a software package or service while you are still small and
agile, your business can grow to be flexible and structured. Nothing is more
painful than trying to clean up and reconcile old inventory that wasn't
Repeat business is key. The best eBay PowerSellers know which products sell
well, but also who bought them. If they have related items to get rid of, they
can call or write their customers and offer it to them.
I highly recommend you keep a computer file of your orders and customers contact
information for easy reference. This will also help you stay organized with your
payment and shipping processes. You can simply mark orders as pending, paid,
shipped, canceled, etc...
There are a number of Point-of-Sale (POS) software programs available for
managing inventory, orders, customers, promotions etc... Many great products
exist. You should be forewarned that many of these products cost hundreds or
thousands of dollars. They also tend to be overkill for a simple small business.
Since they are forced to sell new versions of their product year after year to
stay in business, they are constantly adding new features. In my opinion, this
is a bad thing. It's creates bloated and confusing software. Software full of
features you'll never need or use.
I hope this article has given you some ideas for organizing and increasing your
eBay sales. Running an eBay business is no different than running a retail
business: Knowledge is power, the more you know about your eBay business, the
smarter you can be in building it.
Josh Walsh is a usability consultant and application developer for Designing
Interactive in Cleveland, OH