Becoming an online business owner is a dream many aspire to achieve. Particularly if your business idea is linked to a hobby or interest. Thanks to the Internet, many people do just that; leveraging online marketplaces to develop a home-based business.
Notably, eBay is a world leader when it comes to online marketplaces. “Every day shoppers are performing more than 250 million searches on eBay. That’s 11 million searches per hour, 190,000 searches per minute and 3,000 searches per second.”
With over 1 billion marketplace live listings, 164 million buyers worldwide and $19.8 billion successfully closed transactions – in Q2 2016 alone, it’s a large and vibrant marketplace where retailers can earn big bucks.
Here’s a look at 7 key tips to successfully launch your eBay business.
1. Do your homework
A lot of people used eBay strictly as consumers before they decide to start an eBay business. eBay provides a lot of information on how to use their marketplace to optimize sales. For example, eBay offers seller webinars to interact with eBay staff on eBay policies, selling tips, and site updates. They also offer a resource for educational materials on how to get started buying and selling, as well as how to increase your sales.
2. Build your feedback rating
“Your biggest obstacle to selling at the outset is going to be that you have no transaction history on eBay. Buyers have no reason to trust you. And the best indicator of whether or not they should trust you to deliver what you promise is your feedback rating.”
If you have used eBay as a buyer, make sure to pay immediately and leave feedback. Most sellers will give automated feedback if you leave positive comments or when you make payment. This is a good way to initially build your feedback rating.
3. Write eBay listings that sell
This is a crucial skill that will help you build a customer base and sell more products. Take a look at current successful eBay businesses in a similar industry. Model and benchmark your description format against theirs. Utilize an SEO approach to identify keywords and phrases that will help buyers easily search and find your listings. Test out listing by running two different variations of your offer and seeing which one has better results. But only change one factor at a time so you can accurately gauge results.
4. Create visual impact
When it comes to product photos, think impact! Don’t use stock photos. Invest in high quality images of the exact product using a portable lightbox like Foldio for smaller wares or hire a photographer to shoot your images.
Use the same background color, lighting, logo, etc., to build up your visual brand identity. The visuals should be consistent with your imagery on your website and social media accounts.
5. Deploy analytics and measure results
Establish the true market value for each item. The quickest way to do this is to use tools, like Terapeak, that review analytical data to help eBay and Amazon sellers make decisions on inventory, pricing, and listing tactics.
Analytics tools will also give you insight into important metrics like the sell through rate; a percentage that compares the amount of inventory on-hand against what is actually sold. This can help you better assess demand and adjust inventory purchasing as needed and understand your profit margin.
For example, “if your sell through rate was only 50% (5 items sold) that means that you paid listing fees on the other 5 items that didn’t sell. Therefore your listing fee on the ones that did sell is effectively doubled. If only 3 items sold, your listing fees just went up 70%.”
6. Consider listing times and duration
When you create a listing, your item is usually listed immediately. You can use the scheduled listing option to start the listing later. When you list your item, you can select a listing duration of 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 days.
If you’re using the fixed price format, you can also choose a 30-day or Good ‘Til Cancelled listing duration. Schedule listings to start at the day and time you choose—up to 3 weeks in advance. Make sure that your timing meets the needs of your target audience and account for variations in time zones.
7. Offer great customer support
Create a buyer friendly return and exchange policy. It’s really important to create a post-purchase experience that mitigates the risk of poor buyer feedback. Also create quality assurance measures to inspect the condition of goods, packing methods and track shipping delays.
If yo plan to build a reputable online reputation with the largest online marketplace in the world, get these tips right and you’ll be ahead of the game.
This article has been edited.
Alina T. is the Head of Customer Services with Dingo Trails, an online retailer that specialises in the design and manufacturing of top quality neoprene car seat covers. Part of her job includes understanding how platforms like eBay help their business to grow, and the importance of getting customer service right when it comes to online retail!