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Run a successful eBay Business

For many professional sellers on eBay,
the e-marketplace platform behaves in many ways like a traditional
brick-and-mortar business. Although
there might not be any storefront per se, the rest of the model is familiar:
sourcing products carefully, managing inventories, maintaining turnover, and
charting numbers.

One of the most common small
business models on eBay is by sourcing from closeout liquidators or craigslist
and then sell them on eBay at a profit. There are sellers like this working in
collectibles, books, technology, cameras and photography, and even in fashion
and clothing. If you have the right personality type, you might succeed at this
game, too.

The video below illustrates how to set up shop and sell on


Basically, the two sets of skills
that most eBay sellers must have before they begin to see a livable profit on
eBay are business skills and eBay skills.

Read on to find out more about the
unique set of skills and practices that must be employed if an eBay seller is
to become successful.

Additionally, there are a few other
basic skills and practices that you will need to master in order to become
successful at what you do.

Keep Inventory Organized

You're likely to be dealing in
hundreds or even thousands of unique items for which you always have a quantity
of only one. If you don't have a great system for keeping track of which item
is listed for how much, which has sold, and which gets shipped where, you'll
soon want to pull your hair out. Here are some inventory tips that can help you
to keep track of your business.

Log your purchases. Log every purchase
you make along with the amount paid and a brief description that differentiates
it from the rest of your stock.

Attach item numbers to items. The moment
you list an item, affix a sticker or post-it note to it with the listing number
in question.

Keep your inventory tidy and organized.
Have a good system for arranging already-listed items in your inventory space
so that you can easily find them when needed.

Be your own detailed bookkeeper.
Maintain a ledger or spreadsheet that lists at the very least an item number,
brief description, what you paid, what it sells for, whether or not you've
shipped it yet, whether you received feedback yet, and whether you've left
feedback yet.

Run the numbers. Tally this ledger or
spreadsheet often and use it to track net profits and the success (or failure)
of different types of goods.

As you can see, in a business like
this one, bookkeeping is everything. Without good bookkeeping, sellers commit
cardinal sins like listing the same item twice, shipping the wrong item to a
winning bidder, losing the item in question and being unable to ship it, or
other problems that are often symptomatic of very disorganized sellers.

Make It Simple for Your Buyers

If you want to generate sales with used goods, you'll need
three things:

1. Good

2. A concise,
reliable system for rating item condition.

3. A good photo
for each item.

Although sellers often focus on
maintaining good feedback, you shouldn't ignore the latter two. A clear,
detailed photo is absolutely essential for selling used items on eBay, and a
clear, simple system for rating the condition of the items that you sell is
also essential.

Be sure to post the details about your ratings system in the
description of your item. If it won't easily fit in an item description, or you
feel that it will unnecessarily detract from the listing, that's a good sign
that your ratings system is too complex or ungainly.

Make It Simple for Yourself

Because each transaction in the
used goods market is unique (a different item with a unique condition,
appearance, and history in each case), you can quickly drive yourself mad with
busywork if you don't work smartly.

Use a bulk lister.
First, use one of eBay's bulk listing systems, one of the most popular of which
is Turbo Lister. When you have 200 unique items with unique photos and unique
descriptions to list, the last thing you want to do is click-click-click
through a web form designed for listing single items at a time.

Create a great
. Remember, the used item seller is buying and selling goods with
a history about which he or she isn't aware. Issues related to liability and
refund/exchange are not to be taken lightly—imagine, if you will, a used shoe
seller who sells another eBayer a pair of shoes that causes its wearer to
develop a contagious foot ailment, or an expensive vintage mechanical item that
sells for a high price only to break down the day after it is received. In
general, for used goods, sell "AS-IS" or with a very draconian return
policy, and don't forget to disclaim any responsibility for any failing the
item may have.

Use a listing
. Whether using a bulk lister or just the eBay web form, use an
item description template whenever possible for items of similar kinds. Don't
re-type your entire description each time you want to post a single new

Request (or
demand) PayPal payments.
Though some people don't like online for various
reasons, often related to privacy, the fact is that PayPal remains the easiest
way to automate your payment processing and record keeping on eBay. In
contrast, dealing with checks and money orders is beyond cumbersome.

Streamline your
. Choose a shipper, get a scale and a label system, and buy boxes,
tape, and whatever packaging material you need in quantity. Many try to save a
little money here by looking for free boxes one box at a time, using newspaper
or shredded documents as packing material, or making a separate trip to the
shipper each time a package needs to go out. In the end, the time and energy
you save by streamlining your shipping will easily pay for any costs associated
to actually having to buy shipping materials out of pocket.

Can It Be Successful?

The answer to this question, of
course, is "yes."

I've known eBay discounted sellers
that made partial or full livings in several areas of eBay trading, from
computers and technology to fashion and shoes to used books and videos. The
keys are to have great sources for used goods, a great eye for cheap deals that
are nonetheless highly desirable, and a dogged determination to maintain best
records and selling practices as you trade online. Start an eBay business now!

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