Making Money on eBay For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian Edition) - dummies
Cheat Sheet

Making Money on eBay For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian Edition)

Setting up a store is only the first step to making money on — but what are you going to sell? And where will you buy all your eBay inventory? Here are some tips for deciding on what’s trendy (and what’s not), and some interesting places to buy your stock. You’ll also find some ideas for making your eBay business stand out from the crowd.

Knowing What to Sell in Your Store

The key to successfully selling items at eBay is to find things people actually want to buy at the right price. That might seem obvious, but having stuff to sell isn’t always the same as having things people want to buy.

Finding the item that may be ‘the next big thing’ takes lots of work, timing and sometimes a dose of good luck. Here are some tips for researching what your customers want and need — because that’s what they come looking to buy.

Researching the market

Just as successful stockbrokers know about individual companies, they also need to know about the marketplace as a whole. So, to get a leg up on your competition, you need to know the big picture as well. Here are some questions you should ask yourself as you contemplate making serious buckets of money by selling items at eBay:

  • What items are currently hot?

  • Do I see a growing interest in a specific item that might make it a big seller?

  • Should I hold on to this item and wait for its value to increase or should I sell now?

  • Is a company discontinuing an item I should stockpile now and sell later?

  • Was there a recall, an error or a legal proceeding associated with my item?

  • Do I have access to an item which is hard for others to come by?

  • Does the item satisfy Australia safety standards?

Catching trends in the media

Catching trends is all about listening and looking. You can find all kinds of inside information from newspapers, magazines, television and, of course, the Internet. Believe it or not, you can even find out what people are interested in these days by bribing a kid. Keep your eyes and ears open. Here are some places to look:

  • In magazines: Magazines geared to the 18-to-34 age group (and sometimes to younger teens) can help you stay on top of what’s hot. See what the big companies are pitching to this target audience. If a celebrity’s suddenly visible in every other headline or magazine, be on the lookout for merchandise relating to that person.

  • In newspapers: Newspapers are bombarded by press releases and inside information from companies the world over. Pay close attention to the various sections of the newspaper, looking for stories on celebrities and upcoming movies and see if any old fads are making a resurgence (you can sell items as ‘retro chic’).

    Read the stories about trade conventions; new products are introduced and given the thumbs up or down by journalists. This way you can start to think about the direction your area of expertise is going in.

  • On television: No matter what you think of television, it has an enormous impact on which trends come and go and which ones stick. More and more celebrities are talking about eBay, and that buzz brings people to the site.

  • The web: Of course! Keeping an eye on your favourite sites, blogs and other auction sites can yield some great ideas. Spend time online looking for product ideas, researching and gathering information.

  • Tune in to morning news shows and afternoon talk shows. See what’s being featured in the programs. The producers of these shows are on top of pop culture and move fast to be the first to bring you the next big thing. Take what they feature and think of a marketing angle. If you don’t, you can be sure somebody else will.

Keeping up with youth culture

At the least, keep tabs on youth culture. Children, especially preteens and teens, may be the best trend-spotters on the planet. See what kind of marketing tips you get when you ask a kid questions like these:

  • What’s cool at the moment?

  • What’s totally uncool that was cool two months ago?

  • What music are you buying?

  • What could I buy you that would make you really happy?

Checking out eBay

Researching popular searches is a great way to find out what’s hot at eBay. The eBay website even provides a special section for those of you that want to view the day’s most popular search words, as well as the largest stores and most viewed items: How more up-to-date can you get?

To be ahead of the pack, check out eBay Pulse. Simply type (if you leave out the au you can view the US site) into your browser; the drop-down box allows you to drill into specific categories and check out the same results in different categories. This tool provides a great insight into what others are looking for today.

Stocking Your Store

If you’re not sure what you want to sell for profit at eBay — but you’re a shop-till-you-drop person by nature — then you’ve got an edge. Incorporate your advanced shopping techniques into your daily routine. If you find a bargain that interests you, chances are you have a knack for spotting stuff that other shoppers would love to get their hands on. Half the fun of selling is actually buying!

Knowing where to look for the goods

Check your favourite eBay category and see what the hot-selling item is. Get onto the Web Google and research, research, research. Browse websites and online stores, and visit markets. Look for items that are popular, that you can get access to. After you’re armed with the information you need, search out that item for the lowest price you can, and then you can give it a shot on eBay.

Keep these shopping locales in mind when you go on the eBay hunt:

  • Upscale department stores, trendy boutiques, outlet stores or flagship designer stores. Check out the newest items and then head to the clearance area or outlet store and scrutinise the bargain racks for brand-name items.

  • Discount and bargain-basement stores. Many of the items these places carry are overruns (too many of something that didn’t sell), small runs (too little of something that the big guys weren’t interested in stocking) or out-of-date fad items that need a good home at eBay. Often, international clearance product websites have great bargains (but keep an eye out for fakes!).

  • Garage sales, renovation sales and moving sales. Check for vintage kitchen pieces and old toys, and make ’em an offer they can’t refuse.

  • Op shops and charity stores. These shops are packed with used but usually good-quality items. (And you can feel good knowing that the money you spend in a non-profit shop is going to a good cause.)

  • Going-out-of-business sales. You can pick up bargains if a shopkeeper just wants to empty the shelves so the store can close.

  • Flea markets or local markets.

  • Gift shops. Souvenir stalls at museums, monuments, national parks and theme parks can provide eBay inventory (but think about where to sell the items; part of your selling success on eBay is access. People who can’t get to Broken Hill may pay handsomely for a Pro Hart print with Pro’s signature on it).

Making money without spending (too much) money

If you’re interested in making money in your eBay ventures but you’re starting with limited cash, follow this list of eBay inventory dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t spend more than you can afford to lose. If you shop at boutiques and expensive department stores, buy things that you like to wear yourself (or give as gifts) in case they don’t sell.

  • Do try to find something local that’s unavailable in a wider area. For example, if you live in an out-of-the-way place that has a local specialty, try selling that at eBay.

  • Don’t go overboard and buy something really cheap just because it’s cheap. Figure out who would want the item first.

  • Do consider buying in bulk, especially if you know the item sells well at eBay or if the item is inexpensive. Chances are good that if you buy one and it sells well at eBay, by the time you try to buy more, the item’s sold out. If an item is inexpensive (say 99 cents), buy at least five of it. If no-one bids on the item when you hold your auction, you’re only out $5. (Anyone out there need any Bicentennial Commemorative coffee mugs?)

Purchasing from wholesalers

You can find hundreds of thousands of wholesale sellers on the internet. Many true wholesalers and manufacturers require you to buy in large quantities to get the best price, and with a little hard work and perseverance, you can find the right deals. Click through to the following websites — you’ll soon realise the vast opportunities that await you:

  • Alibaba: This website lists hundreds of thousands of Asian suppliers, mainly from China, offering millions of products.

  • Global Sources Direct: This site provides access to smaller quantities of goods manufactured in Asia, and organises shipping to your door. Beware of the cost of shipping. Global Sources Direct uses DHL and Fedex for delivery, which could send your costs skywards if you’re buying bulky or heavy items.

Ramping Up Your Business

You started out slowly selling on eBay; now you’re thinking about devoting more time to your eBay business, because you think have the beginnings of a real-live e-business. You’re going to need a few things before you can take over the Internet retail world and challenge those Shooting Star PowerSellers.

Here are some pointers to steer you in the right direction to get your eBay business started:

  • Set up your eBay office: It’s time to move the stuff out of the corner of your cupboard or dining room table and put it up on shelves. Here are a few organisational tips:

    • Bag and categorise all your items. Use plastic sandwich bags and boxes — the boxes they sell at office supply stores to store old file folders are ideal. These boxes have lots of white space, so you have plenty of room for labelling the contents of each box. And the cut-out holes in the boxes act as handles for easy carrying. Alternatively, you can use translucent plastic bins that you can find in office supply stores. They have secure-closing tops and easy-to-lift handles.

    • Set aside a separate work area. You’ll need this for packing and wrapping your items. It will also help when you need to assemble your items to ship.

    • Designate a place for storing your packing materials. Buy some cheap shelving from Bunnings and you are done!

  • Streamline your shipping: You can buy a set of scales and all the necessary equipment on eBay. Once you’re posting over 20 items per week, you might like to consider Australia Post’s eParcels. eParcels is a volume shipping deal that will save you a significant amount of cash and time with your shipping. You can find more details about this service on the Australia Post website.

  • Buy a thermal label printer. It will cut an eternity off the packing time of each item. Think about what kind of gizmos the big guys have. With the advent of the Internet, handy gadgets like label printers are available to the little guys, too.

  • Get legal: With success comes responsibility — responsibility to your local community (translation: You need a registered business name) and your country (the government and the Australian Taxation Office).

    If you want to buy your merchandise wholesale — that is, buy low, sell high — you generally need an Australian Business Number (ABN). Genuine Australian wholesalers will require you to produce your ABN as proof of your business status and to ensure that they handle Goods and Services Tax (GST) correctly. If they don’t ask for it, they’re probably not legitimate wholesalers. For more information about ABNs and your obligations to pay GST, talk to your accountant or the Australian Taxation Office.

  • Keep records: If you’re in a business, whether full time or part time, you have to keep serious records. Get a good accounting program. This isn’t playtime; it’s time to put out a professional image. If you want to do things right, talk to the person who prepares your taxes or go to an accountant you can help you set up your books.

  • Considering a wireless home network: A home network really helps you keep your sanity because you don’t have to be tethered to your desk every day. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to do some of your eBay business while sitting on the porch or in a hammock in the garden? Believe it or not, it can be done — without going to great expense.

Watching Out for Announcements

Keeping up with eBay’s announcements and news is really important. On the eBay All General Announcements page you will find information that gets released each month to the buying and selling community in the form of articles.

Often eBay staff release news on changes to the site (such as category structure changes, fee changes, promotions and more) that may affect you, so keeping up with the news can ensure that you stay one step ahead of the competition!