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Thursday, October 6, 2016

0 to 300 K in 3 years (our online store)

EBay, I suppose most of you have heard the name,  most of you have purchased and or sold something through eBay with great, average  or perhaps dissapointing results. If you feel ebay is not for you because you feel or have heard that it has a reputation for cheap poor quality products I urge you to think again and take another carefull look.
So why do we use eBay ? There are three hundred thousand reasons why we use eBay, the most important reason is "global reach"  and more importatly for us Australia wide reach. I am not writting to tell you what to sell, I am writting to tell you HOW we at Mobile HoseFixers & Hydraulics Gold Coast sell specifically through our eBay store and by using the rules below you most probably could do it as well.

Just in case you are still wondering  "What is ebay?"
Wikipedia the online encyclopedia says
"eBay Inc. is an American multinational corporation and e-commerce company, providing consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer sales services via the Internet".

First a little history.
My wife and I were using eBay even before we purchased our own businesses some 10 years ago. We used to get up early on Saturday and Sunday mornings and drive to all the "promising" garage sales advertised in the local newspaper.  I still remember my two most profitable garage sale purchases.
1. A large Kleenmaid clothes dryer that I purchased for $80, I spent 4 hours cleaning it up inside and out and replacing a small ball bearing supporting the drum and then listed it on ebay...it sold for $320 one week later.
2. A mint condition hard cover book on Thomas the Tank Engine (the complete collection of stories) which I still kind of regret selling , I did triple my money but I could of made a lot more now if I had held on to it.

  My wife even had a small part time eBay business mainly buying small antiques from ebay in the United States then reselling them here in Australia,  she made enough to pay for the family groceries every week.
Anyway with the purchase of our own businesses eBay was forgotten up until about 5 years ago when I thought "I wonder if I can sell some of the products that I sell over the counter and out of the service trucks on ebay?" but that's all I did, .... think about it, and then I didn't do anything about it for another 2 years.

In 2013 I listed my first small  $8 item related to my current business on ebay and within about a week it sold , motivated by the sale I listed some similar items and within 2 weeks most of those had also sold.
Initially the items I listed and sold were not items I sold a lot of through the business but  products I thought might be useful to people who would be interested in doing the job themselves,  people who were possibly skilled, interested and motivated enough to want to do the work themselves but who may have had difficulty sourcing or selecting the correct parts.  And that's how it started, the ebay DIY (Do It Yourself) hydraulics theme.

I did my homework and in most cases followed eBay's online tutorials and or advice they sent me via email as we grew,  Over the past couple of years we have generated and list of rules and proceedures for listing, displaying, describing and photographing the products we sell. Below are some of the rules that in my opinion are the basics but also the most important ones.

1. Photographs
Multiple, clear, well illuminated, high resolution (1 megabite) digital photographs with plain uncluttered backgrounds.
High resolution because eBay has a zoom function on pictures which lets prospective buyers really see the detail of the product they are interested in purchasing. Pictures of your product from different angles also allows the buyer to better visualise how your item is put together and how it will look or fit into or onto their machine.
Some of our product photos have been viewed so may times through eBay and its promotion of our product that they even show up on google images.

2. Lots of Written Detail
A very detailed, well written and layed out description of the product, its uses and fuction.
Describe what your product does,
how and where it is used and by whom.
Where it is made, if it is made in Turkey,  China, Germany, Italy or the USA, say so, you should have confidence in your products,
all our products new and or remanufactured are tried and tested and come with a 30 day money back guarantee and so should the products you list.
What materials is the product made from?
It's size and weight?
Its design limitations such as pressure, flow and temperature.
The details you write to describe and explain your product and or show through photos will not only indicate that you know your product well (which you should) but the buyer will also percieve that you are an expert on this item.
Remember the more details you put the less questions you will have and more informed and confident your buyer will be.

3. Answer all Questions
Included a contact phone number and or an email address in all your listings and be prepared to answer all enquiries promptly with enthusiasm, respect and politeness at any time of the day.  We have made many great repeat customers this way who now contact us direct with all their hydraulic requirements.

4. Packing and Postage
Ensure that you pack and address all your products neatly and professionally and most importatly post the item or items as quickly as possible.
Ensure that you don't profit from the postage. However do allow a reasonable amount for your time and expenses to wrap and prepare a postage label and for the run to the local post office or freight company.
Try and negotiate with freight and courier companies for bulk deals.
If you offer Australia wide postage like we do, shop around for the best freight deal. With time you will come to know which carriers are good for what areas.  Always keep looking for better freight deals.
If you experience any kind of dispatch delay or out of stock error or you have realised you just made a mistake let the customer know straight away in writing and always offer a 100% refund as a first option followed by your prefered option which is to ask the buyer to wait until you have rectified the mistake or problem. It is our experience that if you offer a 100% refund first and keep the buyer informed with regular updates generally more than 99% of buyers are happy to wait till you sort the problem out.

5. Pricing and Feedback
Pricing will vary with the type of overheads you may have.
For us pricing is a based on a standard % mark up and on tiered scale based on our purchase price. The higher the purchase price the less the margin %.
However our online business has and does generate enough funds to pay wages to two full time employees as well as cover overheads and fixed expenses and so should yours.

The Selling price of your item is not always the deciding factor on whether a buyer will purchase from you, your "feedback" score is generally far more important. 

Feedback is a score that your buyers give you based on how they felt the transaction went.
They are asked by eBay to judge the service you provided as well as your product and then give you Positive, Neutral or Negative feedback.

A 5 star grading system is also used by eBay and it asks the buyer to rate the following .
How accurate was the description of the product in the listing compared to what they actually received.
How good was the communication by the seller during the transaction.
How quickly was the item posted.
And how reasonable were the postage charges.

Ebay analyses these scores and makes them visible for everyone to see.

If you follow the rules eBay will also reward you and promote you and will also display little icons that lets all prospective buyers know what kind of seller you are.
Two years ago eBay's awarded us "Top Rated Seller"  status, which recognises sellers who have a proven track record of excellent customer service and sales.
Last year we were awarded "Power Seller" status.  Power Sellers are among the most successful sellers on eBay in product sales and customer satisfaction.
What are the requirements? To qualify for the PowerSeller program, sellers need to consistently sell a significant volume of items, keep their account in good standing and provide a high level of service to their buyers. Membership is free and can only be awarded if you qualify and maintain those standards.

6 Conclusion
So what are you waiting for? Everyone has at least one keen interest and or in depth knowledge on a product or process and how to use it and even who to purchase it from. Do some homework or research on eBay and find out who is currently selling where are they located and for how much are they selling it.
Or You may have a garage, basement, barn, attic, house, bedroom, display cabinet or wardrobe, full of items you purchased but never used, or replaced before its useful life was over.
My favorite saying is from Nike Sports wear "Just do it" ....... eBay it!