Ten New Year's Resolutions for eBay Sellers
By Ron Mansfield
For centuries folks have been using the arrival of replacement calendars as an excuse to straighten up their acts. It's that time again. Even eBay sellers make New Year's resolutions. In the mood to resolve? Here are some suggestions:
Be sure you are getting the best PayPal rate
PayPal will give you a discounted fee rate if you receive $3,000 or more per-month in payments, but you need to ask for the discount. It doesn't happen automatically. The "Standard Rate" is 2.9% + $0.30 per-transaction. The discounted "Merchant Rate" is 2.5% + $0.30 per-transaction. (http://digbig.com/4gatf)
The first month you reach $3,000 in PayPal payments apply for Merchant Rate status:
- Log in to your PayPal account
- Click the Fees link at the bottom of the page
- In the "Receive Funds" row of the resulting table, click the link in the Premier/Business Account column
- Click "Merchant Rate Criteria" link near the bottom of the resulting page
- Click "apply now" at the bottom of the Rate Criteria page
- Fill out the Merchant Rate application
- Check the box to indicate you have read and agree to the User Agreement
- Click Submit
You should get email notification of acceptance almost immediately. In theory you need to maintain $3,000/month in receipts, but I know folks who dip lower and still kept the rate.
Change your shipping prices to recover postal increases
If you offer fixed-rate shipping, be sure they reflect the current USPS rate hikes, and any fuel surcharges being tacked on by other carriers. The goal should be to either breakeven, or perhaps make a reasonable profit on shipping. Here's a link to the new USPS rate sheet (http://www.usps.com/ratecase).
Understand your numbers
The new year is a good time to look over your financial and production results, and set some future goals. I've created a free Excel spreadsheets to help you "what-if" selling scenarios from a solo PowerSeller garage to a full-fledged Retail Trading Post ventures. The workbook was designed to be used with my latest book eBay to the Max, but you don't need the book to use the spreadsheets. Download this and other free workbooks at (http://www.ronmansfield.com/downloads.htm).
Weed out the unprofitable work
Once you get a handle on what's profitable and not, stop doing the unprofitable. It sounds obvious enough, but we all get into ruts. Use the new year as an excuse. Tell your Trading Assistant customers that, this year, because of a new policy, you will no longer sell their mismatched pairs of sneakers.
Set-up (or improve) an eBay store
If you are a PowerSeller, or want to become one, you need an eBay Store. Besides offering a better way to showcase your auctions, eBay stores let you "park" fixed-priced items over extended periods for pennies a month (http://pages.ebay.com/storefronts/seller-landing.html). If you sell many different products, you can set up specific store pages to organize your inventory, helping people shop. Here's an example: (http://stores.ebay.com/ChildhoodRadio).
A store greatly improves your ability to cross-promote everything you sell. You can set up promotional links within eBay, and, because store items have a longer shelf life than auction items, they get indexed in Froogle, Google and other search engines. Therefore, people will stumble upon them from outside of eBay.
Finally, when purchasers are driven to your store from off of eBay, (via Froogle, a Blog, a hobbyist website link, etc.), you get a fee discount if the visitor buys store items (http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y204/m11/abu0130/s03).
Improve your eBay "About Me" page
Some people will look at your "About Me" page if you have one. These pages do drive some sellers back to your auctions, especially if your About Me page gets them interested in you and your items. It's also the one place on eBay where, within reason, you can send people from eBay to off-eBay websites, a great way to build a community of like-minded enthusiasts.
Improve your eBay "TA Directory" page
If you are a Trading Assistant, make sure you have an accurate, compelling description of your selling services in the eBay Trading Assistant Directory. eBay is finally promoting this directory, and it is beginning to bring new business to those of us in the directory. Start here: (http://pages.ebay.com/tahub/already.html)
If you work alone, consider at least a part-time assistant, freeing you to grow your business. You need to carve out some time to work "on" the business as well as "in" the business. Consider getting help with shipping, listing, etc. Farm stuff out. Get a bookkeeper or a photographer.
Start with a college student, family member or neighborhood mom wanting to extra cash and a flexible schedule. The Jobs section of http://www.craigslist.com is a great place to find computer-savvy help.
Re-think it all. Take a day off. Ship nothing. List nothing. Don't photograph a flea. Spend the day looking at your entire operation. Make a list of things you hate to do, or that take too long, and find solutions. Are you tripping over stuff or losing it? Why? Make order. Add lighting. Buy a second postage scale, an extra tape measure or two. Organize your shipping supplies. Explore tools like eBay's Selling Assistant Pro.
Pretend the whole place burned to the ground last night and you need to start all over. What would you do differently? How much of that can you accomplish this year without involving the Fire Department?
Find new, reliable repeat merchandise sources
Eventually the biggest limit to any eBay's seller's growth is a shortage of things to sell profitably. We need to find reliable, long-term sources of merchandise to sell. Set aside some time each month, (or better yet each week), to locate new, reliable sources of product. Put it on your calendar. Set a goal. Track your progress.
About the author:
Ron Mansfield is an eBay seller consultant, instructor, and freelance writer (http://www.ronmansfield.com). His books have been published in eighteen countries, in more than a dozen languages, with over two-million copies in print. He has recently finished writing eBay to the Max to the Max (http://www.ronmansfield.com/ebay_to_the_max.htm) for Que Publishing, which discusses these topics and many others in detail. It is on store shelves worldwide. You can order it today from Amazon as well (http://digbig.com/4gatd). He is currently writing a book about eBay stores, due out later this year. In his spare time he enjoys restoring, buying, and selling collectible electronics (http://www.childhoodradios.com/page/page/334445.htm) from the fifties and sixties.
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