Tips For Starting an eBay Business

If you have dreamt of starting your own eBay business but put it off for fear of difficulties, it might be easier than you think. Just follow these five simple steps and you’ll be on your way to easy profits.

Step 1: Register Your Business – Getting setup on eBay is a simple process that only takes a few minutes. They will ask for your name, address, e-mail, and phone number when you register and your credit card number when you are ready to start selling. This information is used to prove your identity and to collect auction fees. You are also encouraged to open an account with PayPal, eBay’s online payment service that allows you to accept payment via credit card or electronic check.

Once you are registered on eBay, you will want to register as a retail business with local authorities. You might also want to consider incorporating in order to protect you from legal liability.

Step 2: Find Stuff to Sell – Picking the right merchandise can be one of the biggest decisions you make when setting up your eBay business, so choose carefully. Select something you’ll enjoy selling and avoid merchandise that you know nothing about. Avoid products that are difficult to ship and/or difficult to accurately describe within a couple paragraphs.

Do some research to insure that your chosen products sell well on eBay, and that they sell for prices you can make a profit on. You don’t want to waste your time and money listing things that have very little chance to turn a profit.

Step 3: Manage the Auction Process – On eBay there are several types of auction formats to pick from. In a basic auction, you post your item with a starting price and hopefully bidders keep driving the price up until closing time, three to ten days later. You are then obligated to sell to the highest bidder.

If you want to protect yourself from selling too low, you can set a reserve price. A reserve is a secret price that must be reached in order for the item to sell. Generally, reserve price auctions discourage bidding so you are better off just starting the item at the minimum price you are willing to sell for then setting a reserve.

If you have two or more identical items and have met certain qualifications, you may list them together in a multiple item auction (aka a Dutch auction). Listing items in this fashion saves on fees while still allowing buyers to purchase as many or as few of your item as they want.

eBay also has a “Buy It Now” feature that gives bidders the option to buy your item immediately for a set price. This feature can be used in conjunction with an auction, or in place of one. That is, you can give the customer the option to “Buy It Now” for one price or bid for another, or you can set the “auction” so that the only option is to buy it at a fixed price.

When you sell off eBay, you will be charged a fixed listing fee to post your merchandise, based on the starting bid, and a final value fee, which will be a percentage of the total sale price. These fees change from time to time, so be sure to keep yourself up-to-date and factor these costs into your profit calculations.

Step 4: Learn How to Pack and Ship Goods – Delivering an item in a timely and safe manner is very important. Nobody wants to wait ages for their purchase to arrive, nor do they want to receive broken merchandise. Use boxes, packaging peanuts, and bubble wrap to properly protect items and always ship promptly.

Calculating shipping costs accurately is also important. Most buyers really hate it if they think they’ve been gouged on shipping and handling fees. Fortunately, FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service all offer free shipping calculators on their websites, so creating accurate estimates is not difficult.

Step 5: Provide Great Customer Service – As an eBay merchant, you have tons of competition. One of the best and easiest way to differentiate yourself from the competition is to provide excellent customer service.

Always answer all buyer questions quickly and thoroughly or the buyer will move on to another auction from another seller. Always be polite and try to ship items within two business days of receiving payment.

When a transaction is complete, eBay gives the buyer and seller a chance to rate each other. Positive buyer feedback will attract many new customers, but negative feedback will hurt your reputation and discourage future bidders. Therefore, you want to do everything possible to insure that your customers are happy before it comes time to leave feedback.

If you come across a particularly demanding customer, you should probably do your best to meet their demands, as negative feedback should be avoided if at all possible. However, if a buyer specifically threatens you with negative feedback, you can try reporting it to eBay, as such behavior is against their rules.