eBay Friend of The Small Business – Posts Impressive Results

eBay posts impressive numbers - YBKBS Small Business Magazine
Friend of the Small Business owner, eBay has posted some impressive figures after Christmas 2020

eBay has reported a jump in sales over the Christmas period, as Coronavirus lockdowns continued to encourage more shoppers to buy gifts online.

The (almost forgotten), online marketplace, that was favourite with small businesses, saw revenues rise to $2.9bn (£2.1bn) for the three months ending 31 December 2020, beating most analysts’ expectations.

Marc Ford

Marc Ford

Editor-in-Chief, Business Media Owner, Business Coach, Author and Keynote Speaker. Works with over 100's of small businesses every year. Trusted by BBC TV and Radio, Channel 4, Mercedes Benz, Hitachi Capital on business matters.

The number of annual active buyers grew by 7% to 185 million.

eBay’s chief executive Jamie Iannone said the firm “will be stronger coming out of the pandemic than going in”.

The firm saw its gross merchandise volume – a measure of the total value of goods and services transacted on the platform – jump 21% to $26.6bn, compared to the same period in 2019.

The online marketplace said that a top trend for holiday shoppers in 2020 was purchasing refurbished gifts on the platform, while sales of luxury watches and trainers climbed after eBay launched an authenticity guarantee for these two product categories.

Mr Iannone told shareholders that “what inspires me most is the support we’ve been able to extend to small businesses – providing them with tools, resources and access to millions of buyers globally”.

eBay has always been a 'friend' of small businesses looking to reach bigger markets but Amazon has begun to overshadow the once great platform

How to Start an eBay Business: 15 Tips

Now that lockdown’s don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, let’s talk about some tips that will help you navigate the marketplace and take your eBay store from ordinary to extraordinary.

1. Start Small

Don’t invest a large sum of money into inventory when first learning how to start an eBay business. Instead, start small. Find a few items to sell, and get some experience taking photos, writing listings, testing pricing options, and interacting with buyers. Make sure you can handle the core functions of maintaining an e-commerce business (filling orders, handling returns, etc.) before you start to scale up with more products.  Even if your eBay business is a side business, you need to dedicate some time to it every day if you want to see some real results. 

2. eBay’s Free But Only Up To a Point

You can list 50 items per month for free. You’ll pay a small fee for each listing beyond that allotment. This is known as an insertion fee. These fees are charged per listing, per category. For most categories, there is a small per listing.

You also pay a final value fee (a small percentage of the sale price) once an item sells. This is called the final value fee, and is a percentage of the total amount paid by the buyer, including shipping and handling. For most categories, the final value fee is 10% of the total sale amount. Also, don’t forget about payment processing fees. If you use Managed Payments, the fees will come directly from eBay.

You can also ramp up to a more robust eBay store by paying for a subscription (known as eBay Stores). This option gives you hundreds or thousands of free listings per month. 

Visit eBay Fees for details about fees, including a fee calculator and a tool to help you pick the right eBay store option.

3. It Helps to Have a Niche

One of the keys when figuring out how to start an eBay business is to identify a niche. Your eBay business is simply more likely to succeed if you develop a specialty. For example, if you sell only collectibles, buyers are more likely to come back to you again and again than if you sell collectibles along with used smartphones, video games, handbags, and cookware. Better yet, specialise in niche collectibles, such as 1960s Disney collectibles or Bakelite bracelets.

4. You Can’t Get Away With Rubbish Photos

As with any e-commerce or retail site, you need good product shots. Use well-lit, high-resolution photos on a plain background that show products from multiple angles. Include close-ups, and indicate scale. 

Use eBay’s picture service tool to ensure that photos render properly on mobile devices.

5. The More Detail, The Better

A picture may be worth 1,000 words, but detailed product descriptions help items sell too.

Start by choosing a category for your item. Then write a listing title using keywords such as brand, size, colour, or model number – any term people might use when searching for this product. In the description, include plenty of product details and more keywords if you can.

You should also try to ‘optimise’ your product listings for SEO, and take advantage of eBay’s Best Match algorithm.

In the same way that Google sorts search results, the eBay Best Match considers factors like listing title, item popularity, price, listing quality, and more to determine what customer’s see first when they search the eBay site.

6. You’ve Got to Play The ‘Price Is Right’

While eBay is best known for auction-style listings, you can also set a fixed price for an item to help it sell faster. eBay’s quick listing tool suggests the best pricing options to attract buyers based on how similar products sold in the past.

7. It’s Not Over When the Item Sells

Once you make a sale, it’s important to complete that sale quickly and accurately. To do so, make sure you send out the correct product through the shipping method you’ve indicated as quickly as possible, as this creates a good customer experience. eBay has tools you can use to calculate postage, print shipping labels, and pay for shipping right from home. 

To check the status of a payment on a sale you’ve made, go to “My eBay” on your account home page, navigate to “Sold” items and select “Awaiting payment.” If you find that there seems to be an issue with receiving payment, contact eBay customer service or reach out to the buyer directly.

8. Be Ready for Some Returns

To compete with other e-commerce sites, your eBay business should offer returns. It’s best to deal with returns as quickly as possible so as not to upset the customer. You can customise return options and choose whether you or the buyer pay for return shipping via your account settings.

You can also reduce the likelihood of a return by using clear photos and detailed descriptions in your listings, and clearly stating your return policy.

9. Face Issues Head On

Aside from returns, you’re likely to face a situation where the product you shipped out got lost in the mail, or a customer had an issue with a problem they received. The best way to handle these situations is promptly and professionally. 

You should refer to eBay’s policies on dealing with these kinds of customer concerns so that you approach them in the best way possible.

10. Improve Your Seller Profile

Consider your Seller profile as your eBay reputation. When you receive positive reviews and ratings, you’ll add clout to your seller account – which is why it is extremely important to prioritise good service. Positive reviews make your business more appealing to customers and can also help your products rank in eBay. 

Furthermore, having a good Seller profile will give you more leverage with eBay. For instance, you may be able to get an increase in listing limits if you’re known as a highly reputable merchant.

12. Embrace Feedback

Because positive reviews are so important for the success of your business, you need to be proactive about seeking them out. If you delivered excellent service to a customer and they were pleased with their experience, ask them to leave a review. 

If you receive a negative review, you can either reply to the feedback, request a revision from the seller, or contact eBay and ask for it to be removed.

13. Connect eBay to Your Own Store

If you already operated your own e-commerce store before launching a store within the eBay marketplace, be sure to connect your store to your eBay account. This is a great way to filter traffic from eBay onto your own website, and allow customers to learn more about your brand.

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Business Coach, Author and Consultant. Has worked with BBC TV and Radio and Channel 4 on business matters. Trusted by Mercedes Benz, Hitachi Capital. Keynote speaker.