Not only is it difficult to get a small business off the ground, it's just as difficult to keep it off!
Operating a succesful ebay store - business is no exception to that rule.
Here are a few things that I have learnt in my 15 years of small business - I have applied these principles to my eBay store - business in the hope that they will translate - and that I will achieve long term success with eBay. I welcome your feedback - I am passionate about eBay and I love to hear about other seller's experiences - here are a few of mine.
'The 10 Comandments of eBay Store Selling' - or - 'Mel's Pearls of Wisdom' - Part One.
1. *Thou Shall love thy neighbour: Create raving fans!
The customer is not always right - however they don't need to know that!
Customer service is key - do the best you can with the customers you have - and your business will grow. I discovered a couple of years into my 15 years of running a recruitment business, the power of referral - it's golden.
Repeat business is also the key to success and the growth of your eBay business.
(Thanks Ken Blanchard for the term 'raving fans' - Ken's books are an amusing read, if your interested in improving your customer service skills)
2. *Thou cannot please everybody all the time - however, you can try!
There is always going to be that one person who for what ever reason, is just plain impossible to please - don't let it get you down & don't let it upset you - all you can do is your best. My ebay feedback score is a testement to this theory - it's constantly hovering at 99%.
Sure, I would love nothing more than it to be 100% all the time, and in a perfect world it would be however, there's always just that one person - who I just cannot please! (see sea Mail)
3. *Thou Shalt not ship sea mail as a preferred shipping option
Things sometimes go wrong - and often these things are beyound your contol - for me as an eBay seller, my bugbear has been sea mail for overseas parcels. In my early days trading as an eBay store, I offered this method of shipping; in order to create not only a economical shipping option for my customers, but also to increase sales. In theory, it's a great concept - in practise, not so great!
The sea mail/shipping time frame as quoted by Aussie Post is 4 - 12 weeks. Was Captain Cook circumnavigating the globe with my parcels I asked?
No, apparantly not - it just takes that long, and as a seller you have no control over how long it takes; as a buyer, you have no control over how long you have to wait - another big issue is that Pay Pal's refund policy is not compatible with sea mail shipping time frames. Sea mail sux!
4. * Thou shalt not rely 100% on the eBay messages facility
Sorry eBay, I love you but.....It has been my experience, that your messages system is not always 100% reliable - has anyone else experienced this?
I have as both a seller and a buyer. I find it's useful to email a seller - or respond to a seller's question/s twice. Once through eBay messages and second via their private email address. For example, this weekend, I have sent my banking details to an anxious buyer who wishes to pay me, 3 times through eBay messages - it was only when I emailed a fourth time, via the buyer's private email address - that they received my banking details; which is a relief as I like to get paid!
5. *Thou shall calculate postage & shipping costs accuratly.
Don't get me wrong - I love Australia Post, I think that they do an amazing job and to date, I have never had a parcel go MIA - touch wood!
However, I have in my early days of my eBay store, been a slave to the post office, and have seen many a parcel go over the counter - along with my profit margin. Put simply, if you don't get it right, you may as well give your stuff away - I am evangelical about this, measure and weigh your boxes - build the eBay post calculator into your listings if in doubt. Don't get stung on multiple purchases - yes it's great for a buyer to receive a flat rate post on multiple items from your store, however if you sell an item with free post; if a buyer purchases additional items, (a buyer may wish to purchase 10 items from the same auction) just be cautious as to what this may actually cost you at the post office - bye - bye profit!
6. * Thou shall offer where possible - Free Post
Her's one for free people!
Ebay buyers love free post - it has taken me a while to work this out - I told you that I was a slow learner! If possible, either build it into your pricing or be willing to take less of a profit margin on your item/s - test and measure this method for a week - to see if it makes a difference to your bottom line - it does for me. If your sending small parcels via aussie post street boxes - I find that you can be sometimes a little bit mean with your stamps - Australia post are pretty forgiving! (you did not hear that from me!)
7. * Thou shall offer, 'Best Offer'.
Put simply, many eBay buyers love 'best offer' why?
Beacuse to them, eBay is a game - and they want to 'play the game'!
This is the rule when it comes to auctions, however, it has been my experience that this is just as true with 'buy it now' listings. Test and measure for yourself, and you may be surprised at the results. You as the seller are in total control, so don't be worried that you will be expected to accept all offers - set your 'best offer' automation up within your listings and half the work is done for you.
8. *Thou shall give customers 'something for nothing'.
My buyers receive a little something with their purchase for free- it may be as simple as including a lollypop, or a few stickers inserted into parcels - or perhaps a voucher for their next purchase with you?
Give them a reason to remember you & your store - you may not be the only game in town, in that several sellers offer have the same, or similar item/s that you do; take the sale that one step further, everyone likes to receive something for nothing - I know I do!
9. *Thou shall offer a 100% money back Guarantee.
Add this into your listings - give buyers a reason to trust you - why should they purchase from you, when they could purchase the same item from a retail store? Sometimes pricing and convenience is not enough - many people are still hesitant to shop online - make it fun, easy and risk free for your buyers. I offer this to my customers and so far, I have not had to refund anyone - I have had to replace items that have been damaged in transit - that's life - it happens, but thankfully very rarely - particularly if you pack your items up really well.
10.* Thou shall utilise eBay's Seller Marketing Facility - within 'seller manager pro'.
Seller manager pro is great - I am a raving fan!
If you are serious about eBay, you will have an ebay store and will be using 'seller manager pro', utilise the marketing tools within seller manager pro and watch your sales rise.
Remember: 'It may not happen overnight, but it will happen' - sound familiar!
Stay tuned for more of Mel's pearls of wisdom - coming soon!
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