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2018 Winter Sale

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 businesses growth.

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 organized well.

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

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