Monday, January 26, 2015

Follow Up to My eBay Experiment - Working Smarter

I wanted to do a follow up to my September post about increasing average sale price, because some of you have been asking. (Read that post here.)

2015 is my 12th year selling on eBay and I still continue to refine the business every day. I set a goal for myself to increase average selling price to $40 by the end of 2014. I didn't make it, but here is my progress.

October was exactly the same as September and August - $29 per item. I saw a huge jump to $57 per item in November, but I can't take credit for hard work there. I sold these Auburn vs. Alabama tickets for $1,588.99:

Where did I get them? My dad is an Alabama alum and at the age of 77 still gets season tickets every year. He no longer goes to the games so I sell the tickets locally and on eBay for him. By the way, event tickets are a great way to pick up some consignment commission using your eBay skills. Tickets are the only item I put on auction, they are a guaranteed sale, super easy to list and ship, and are never a returned. So this big sale skewed my numbers for November.

December was actually kind of slow and my average sale price was back down to $35 an item. I offer free shipping on items that can be shipped first class or fit in a padded flat rate mailer so that is included in some sales in the average sale price calculation.

So, I did not meet my goal of $40 per item average sale price, but my number of sold items is increasing alongside the average price per item. I sold 71 items in December which was 10 more items than in November, and 19 more than in October. Slow progress is still progress.

No, I am not a huge seller, in fact, I am a pretty small seller. eBay is one of many income streams I have built over the last 12 years. See my eBay store here.

But, I am a real seller, I sell items every day, and I am in the trenches right there with you and have been since 2003. I have built several other businesses over the years but eBay is still my favorite and something I am passionate about. I strive to be an efficient seller by doing the following:

1. Carefully choosing products to sell. I always consider profit margin and the amount of time involved in cleaning, photographing, listing, and shipping an item before buying it for resale. It is never a matter if something will sell on eBay, but how much time will be involved in dealing with the item and how much profit I will end up with. Pick your battles.

2. Listing what I have already purchased before buying more. Unlisted items cannot sell. Period. When I was interviewed for a reality show about eBay sellers a couple of years ago, the producers told me my workspace and storage area was "not exciting enough for TV." I told them that the reality is that not all sellers have thousands of items in their homes and that this business can be done with very little stock and in an efficient manner.I was not their gal because my inventory was not impressive enough - which is ok - eBay does exactly what I need it to do for my unique business.

3. Keeping things manageable. I have never had more than 500 items in my eBay store because I can generate the kind of income I want from eBay with fewer than 500 items and the time investment that works for me. There is nothing wrong with having hundreds or thousands of items, but I tend to feel overwhelmed with that many items to manage. At one point I had 12 people working for me (listing, shipping, shopping, running errands, teaching) and my life became about managing other people and paperwork. I prefer to do my eBay business in a very hands-on way so I can do what I am passionate about and what inspires me every day. The push on the internet these days is "grow your business - scale your business!" That wasn't for me. I would rather keep things manageable and have my sanity and a life. I would rather run my business than have it run me.

4. Constantly refining the business. Learn something new about eBay every day, whether is it what to sell, how to keep better records, how to save time, or new ways to use your eBay expertise to make money. Selling on eBay is a skill that is marketable in our culture in many different ways whether through consulting, consignment, teaching classes, or writing articles.Figure out how to use your eBay knowledge in different ways to create more streams of income. Want to know more? I am here for you!

Related Articles:

Join My Consignment Seller's Directory

eBay Sellers - If  You Have It, List It

Are You Wasting Time Micromanaging Your eBay Store?

Monday, January 19, 2015

How to Reduce Returns on eBay


Returns are a fact of life on eBay. Even if you do not offer returns, anything you sell is covered under the eBay Money Back Guarantee which states,

"Get the item you ordered or get your money back with the eBay Guarantee.If the item isn’t exactly what you ordered, eBay covers your purchase price plus original shipping on virtually all items."

An issue that I see with consulting clients is a large number of returns.Sellers sometimes get hung up on doing "damage control" for their large number of returns (like applying a restocking fee), rather than looking at the reason for the returns. So, let's be solution oriented here. If you are getting a lot of returns, it might be an issue related your product, your policies, or something you can improve on your listings. Here are some issues that sellers can correct or change to avoid returns.

1. Always include measurements on anything you sell. Clothing definitely is difficult to sell without measurements. Buyers may not take the time to ask for measurements and move on to another seller. And if they take a chance and buy clothing from a listing without measurements, they will return it if it doesn't fit. Also measure everything else! Buyers may be shopping for home decor pieces to put in a certain place, a collectible to display in a specific spot, or any item they need for a specific purpose.

2. Handbags and cell phone cases are high return items. People use these as fashion accessories and change them out like they change shoes. The younger crowd has figured out they can buy a handbag or cell phone case on eBay, use it for 2-3 weeks, and return it. Stay away from those items. (Plus, both can be fake and put your account at risk. Not worth it.)

3. Make sure the item works and all parts are included, especially if you are selling on consignment or find it second hand. I learned my lesson on this one selling photography equipment and musical instruments a few years ago. 2 different consignment clients assured me that their items worked find and all parts were included. I don't know anything about cameras or musical instruments so I didn't know how to verify - and sure enough - I had returns on both items because either they didn't work or pieces were missing. Know your product. The customer (and eBay) doesn't care if you are selling it for somebody else - ultimately it is your responsibility and your account at risk if something goes wrong. (Join my Seller Consignment Directory here.)

4. Take lots of pictures and write a thorough description. I often work with clients using eBay mobile whose objective is to list as many things as fast as possible. This is the kiss of death for an eBay business. You want to make sure the customer understands EXACTLY what he is buying from you. This is even more important if there is a defect or flaw on the item. Now with eBay's defect system, if a seller receives too many Item Not As Described (INAD) cases, the account can be shut down. Slow down, take your time, and write thorough descriptions and invest time in taking 8-12 photos per item. You will have fewer returns and your account will remain healthy.

5. Take time to authenticate. I stopped selling items that require authentication because I don't want to spend my time doing that chore, and frankly, there are 100 gazillion things you can sell on eBay that bring a good profit and don't require authentication. But, if you want to sell designer items, high end jewelry, autographed items, art, etc., it is wise to have these items authenticated. eBay is the final authority on this issue so it doesn't really matter if you know the item is authentic - you need to provide proof. Also, the customer can accuse a seller of selling a fake, or even worse, pull a "switch-eroo" and return a counterfeit item in place of the authentic one they purchased from you. Lots of reasons to stay away from items that must be authenticated.

6. Item arrived damaged. Take your time and package the item carefully. There are lots of good videos on YouTube that show how to correctly package an item for shipping.There are equally as many bad ones, showing how to shove way too much in to a flat rate mailer. Use common sense. If it shakes, it breaks. Again, you are ultimately responsible for how the customer receives the item. If shipping through eBay, you automatically get $100 of insurance on Priority packages. Purchase insurance if necessary beyond that. The customer will win a dispute if they receive a broken or damaged item. Take the proper steps to protect yourself.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons a customer might return an item that are beyond the seller's control. Do what you can to prevent returns and keep your account healthy. I can help evaluate your store and listings to see if there are ways you can reduce returns:

eBay Store Review - I will review your listings, return a written report, and provide 30 days of email support to help you get your store on track.

Related Articles:

3 Ways to Authenticate Designer Items Before Selling on eBay

Understanding eBay's Defect Rate

21 Ways to Boost eBay Sales

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What Women Want to Buy on eBay

What Women Want to Buy on eBay - it really isn't that complicated!

The 2014 holiday season officially has come to an end. Your store's sales don't have to, especially when you know what really sells - women's clothing and shoes!

The top selling items in my eBay store and my top selling training products have always been women's clothing and shoes. And there are 3 main reasons why:

1. Quality inventory is plentiful (when you know where to look and what to look for)

2. Women want variety in their wardrobe "just because" or for that special occasion (so yes, sales happen all year round)

3. Women are women. So this love of clothing isn't just an American phenomenon. Sales happen globally.

I want your 2015 to be your best year ever; I want to share with you What Women Want.  So I am combining the best of the best and giving it to you at a killer price. You can grab my:

- Women's Clothing Courses 1 and 2: showing you exactly what brands sell, what to look for, and how to maximize your investments

- My popular shoe course: letting you know what shoes sell and what shoes don't

- A mini store review of your eBay store: so we can optimize it for maximum sales (Your review will be emailed to you within 3 days of purchase)

- Plus 30 days of Suzanne's inbox where I answer your eBay questions directly

And because no woman can pass up a good sale (lesson #1) I am offering this amazing combo pack for only $99! Yep, that’s over 50% off the retail price.

This special is a do not miss offer if you are serious about creating profit 24/7/365. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

Waiting for the Right eBay Buyer Can Mean More Money in Your Pocket

Research your price and wait for the right buyer.

Although not a very expensive item, here is an example:

I bought this scrub top at a thrift store for $2. (Yes, scrub tops can be profitable sellers.) Completeds didn't show one exactly like it but owls are a hot theme right now and this top is really cute, so I priced high based on a gut feeling.

A buyer emailed me about a week later, saying that this brand of scrub top sells for about $8 retail and my price was ridiculous. I replied with, "Thank you for looking, however, our price is firm." She didn't need to understand my price, she was not my customer. What she thinks is none of my business.

The top sold a few days later for my asking price of $24.97.

Here is the Tafford brand website showing retail prices:

Moral of the story - go with your gut. Your instincts will improve the more you do this work. It may take a little while for the right buyer to show up, just be patient.

Related Articles:

5 New Things I Learned to Sell on eBay in 2014

How to Respond to Buyers Who Criticize Your Pricing

Grow Your eBay Business