How to Sell on eBay and Amazon
By Joshua Neil
Selling online is an ever-increasing industry, and one which can make absolutely anyone a tidy profit. Whether it’s selling unwanted clutter to clear some space, or trying to work from home and start your very own trading business, sites like eBay.co.uk and Amazon UK and learn selling skills too. While creating a multi-million pound business from online selling might be out of the reach of some, there are still a lot of fantastic tips that can help out anybody that wants to make a profit online, and get ahead of their competitors.
#1 Starting to Sell
Starting out selling online can be a scary prospect, with a lot to take into account- products, prices, competition, marketing, and much more. The absolute first thing to do is properly learn the rules– these can be vitally important when selling anything, and prevent you from putting something up that you shouldn’t, knowing your rights and when you can complain, and most importantly helping you never to do something that might get that successful account banned.
what to sell
The first thing for sellers to decide is what to sell: for those who just want a hobby which will give them some extra pocket money, anything lying about the house is a great start, as long as you don’t use it any more. If it’s gone unused for 6-12 months, however much you like it, it might be a good idea to put it on eBay, and convert those unused shoes into some extra cash. It should be noted on Amazon that only Pro Sellers can list certain items– including popular ones, like clothes and shoes- so if you’re planning on selling 40 items a month or more– or even if you’re currently only thinking about your first couple of listings- it might be good to register as pro, as you’ll save money as well as have a lot more freedom.
everything can be bought and sold
A great tip is never to think something won’t sell– you might be surprised. Broken phones and electronics will sell to people who can repair them, and things like bits of string, spare tyres or even a Dorito in the shape of the Pope’s hat have all been sold for a few pennies at some point. eBay allows 20 free listings a month, so it never hurts to start off with a few random items just to see what sells and what doesn’t. If you’ve already used up your 20, keep an eye out for eBay’s free listing weekends– free listings on as much as you want!
Way to start
One more for new sellers out there: almost everyone recommends selling books on Amazon to start with; it’s how the site got started, after all, and it’s what many go there to buy- plus, second-hand books can be cheap to buy, and sell for a much higher price.
#2 Think Like a Buyer- Amazon and eBay Selling Tips
One of the best tips you can learn starting out is to think like a buyer– that means looking at what you’re selling and asking yourself: would I buy this? I have never bought anything from a seller without a profile, with no good ratings or with items uploaded that had no photos or description, and I wouldn’t expect anyone else to either. It doesn’t take a lot to upload a clear, useful image of the product, along with a description of what it is, and this will really help you shift what you’re trying to sell. Another great tip is to buy some things before you sell– not only so that you get vital ideas about what sells well and what listings you’re most attracted to, but also so that you can start gaining some good feedback– most people won’t buy at all from a seller with zero feedback, even if the item is amazing, so this is a must.
Find your niche market
Specialising can also help rack up sales- rather than having a clutter of different items on your account, trying to find one niche that you can be known for is a great way to get return customers– if people see you as one of the best places to go for an item, they’ll come back to you time and time again, and it also helps you look credible and professional to anybody browsing your profile.
Another good tip is to get to know where to cut costs when selling- margins are everything when looking to make a profit. Don’t just think of the obvious things either- for example, PayPal costs sellers 3.4% of the amount paid, as well as a flat 20p per transaction– selling larger items, this can be costly. While all sellers have to include this option, it might be a good idea to politely suggest cheque or direct debit– or, for those items that need to be collected, asking for cash up front.
Think like a scammer
Thinking like a buyer can also stop you from losing money- like it or not, scammers are a reality in online selling, and will do anything to con you out of your products without paying a penny. But a good way to prevent this is to think like they do– if you were a scammer, what would you try? Working out ways of conning sellers can be a great way to prepare for being conned yourself, and preventing it. Always use a trackable postage service, so you’ll know for sure if your item arrived or not (eBay and Amazon won’t side with you in a dispute unless you’ve paid for tracking), and with eBay make sure that your buyer has a good track record, and not a terrible feedback score. Try and ensure that you track every step of the process- eBay’s Selling Manager Pro is fantastic for this, since it automates emails to the customer, letting them know when you’ve received their payment, when the item is on its way, and more. This not only means scammers can’t claim you’re scamming them, but also that you’re not as responsible if anything goes wrong- Selling Manager Pro is doing the lot for you.
#3 Marketing Plans for eBay and Amazon
If you’re wanting more than to just sell a few odds and ends occasionally, and actually begin to grow your site and make a tidy sum, marketing- as in anything- is key to getting ahead. If you’ve ever worked in marketing, used SEO or tried to get your portfolio out to the world, you’ll already have a lot of the skills you’ll need to make your items stand out from the crowd. Keywords are key– finding out what people search for most can really help you pull in searches, so play around with Google Adwords to find out what the most popular searches are for your kind of items. Don’t label your item ‘magenta dress by Vivenne Westwood’ when ‘Vivienne Westwood red dress’ pulls in ten times the searches. In the same way, if you’re looking for things to sell, try to look for things that are currently high on the best-selling list or in deals, or product ranges that have good reviews– these are what people will search for most, and mean you sell a lot more than your competitors.
Learn how to sell yourself
Marketing is also about selling yourself, and this can be hugely important too- as stated before, it’s vital that you garner some positive feedback before you start selling, so people know that you’re trustworthy, and always take pride in your online business– make sure that the things you send out won’t be easily broken en route, and that they’re going to the right destination. A tip many recommend is to personalise each delivery– include a little note, or a small free gift based on the price of the item that’s being shipped. This can make people remember you, and come back to shop again. Remember to reply to all customer communications within 24 hours– if you don’t, it’ll count as a demerit against your account.
#4 Selling Professionally
If you’re looking to expand your business still further, and want to build a real business out of eBay or Amazon, there are some fantastic tips and tricks which can make you seem like a professional, and really give you an edge over others who don’t employ them. The free eBay Turbo Lister allows you to list dozens of items offline, then upload them in bulk to the site- meaning you save a huge amount of time and effort in managing your items, and can make your business look more professional and well-organised.
Learn when to end a bid
Another tip to get ahead of the competition in eBay is to learn when to end a bid– sure, you can set a general time limit, but if this ends on a weekday morning or halfway through the night, not that many people will be fighting over it in those last few seconds. The very best time to end it is Sunday afternoon– when eBay has the most customers online- but it might help to learn your target audience, figure when they’re online, and try to end it then for maximum impact.
Don’t just look at the highest prices of an item and go for that- if your item sells well, sell it at the best price that qualifies for free shipping. If the item doesn’t seem to be selling that well, it’s good to undercut the best price out there by a tiny amount, so people will always go towards yours- as long as you’re not making a big loss doing it!
Fulfillment by Amazon
FBA- these are vital letters if you’re wanting to sell professionally on Amazon. They stand for ‘Fulfillment by Amazon’, a service which allows you to send your items in bulk to Amazon, who will package, post and control all aspects of your business, as soon as products are sold. They even handle customer complaints and refunds for you. While this costs more than just a pro account, it’s definitely worth it if you’re starting out in business- there aren’t many out there who don’t recommend it.
#5 Final Tips
Always remember that the deal doesn’t end when someone has bought or placed a final on a product: there’s still lots left to do which can build up your profile and get you some repeat customers. Always dispatch an item within two days of the purchase, and remember to package well, leaving something for the customer to remember you by; always use a tracking service, and make sure that payment is in before you send (a final tip for PayPal: if eBay is still showing ‘not paid’, it’s best to check your PayPal account– sometimes the money is just sitting there). On Amazon, remember to update your inventory daily after you’ve sold- you don’t want people trying to buy items that have already gone!
Selling on eBay and Amazon can be one of the most rewarding experiences ever- watching as your money piles up, you gain repeat customers and grow your profile can be fantastic. One of the best things about it, however, is that there are few risks in starting out, and you can grow as much as you like- and with the right tips and decisions, edge ahead of your competitors and do very well indeed.
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For more on making money online, check out our guide to selling your old stuff for cash.