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Are You Still Making Money on eBay?

July 29th, 2006 by Skip McGrath

Coping with fee increases and the summer slowdown

eBay’s store fee increase couldn’t have come at a worse time.  We are right in the middle of the seasonal summer slowdown.  I don’t know how much bidding activity declines in June, July and August, but it is significant.  I see it every year.  There are still a few days left in July, but my sales are off 11% over June and 14% over May.

In addition to seasonal slowdown, there are two factors squeezing eBay sellers today:  Fees and increased competition.  Short of leaving the platform (which some marginal sellers are doing) there are a few other things you can do to increase your sales and profits:

  • Get rid  of non-performing or underperforming inventory.  Inventory sitting in an eBay store or on a shelf in your garage is costing you money.  This is why stores have sales.  Most sellers know what their best-selling and most profitable products are.  When you get rid of non-performing inventory, you free up cash to invest in the better selling items.  We all make mistakes.  I have been doing this for almost seven years, and I still ocasionally buy something that I can’t make a profit on.  When this happens to you, stop agonizing and beating your self up.  Cut the price and get rid of it!
  • Learn to upsell your customers.  Every time someone wins an auction or buys something from your store, you have to opportunity to communicate to them one-on-one.  Your end of auction emails should all contain an offer to upsell to a greater quantity, or to buy another product you have.  For example you can offer free shipping if someone adds another product now before you ship it.  You can also invite people to visit your web site.  Give them a discount or some small freebie for doing so.  Yes, you might make a slightly less margin on the additional sale, but it is essentially free money and it helps you turn your inventory over faster.

    If you use an auction management service such as Vendio or Channel Advisor, they offer stores where the buyer is automatically directed to during the checkout process.

  • Use research to find the best-selling items.  One way to prevent ending up with non-performing inventory is to thoroughly research products before buying them for resale.  eBay is offering their research tool to store sellers for free, but I prefer a much more robust tool.  My favorite eBay research and selling tool is Deep Analysis by Hammertap. The new release is awesome.  A few hours spent learning how to use this tool will put money in your pocket.
  • Add audio to your auctions.  I use Seller’s Voice.  Since adding audio to my auctions I have seem both my STR (sell through rate) and final bids increase.  On just one product I went from selling 2 units a week to 6.  That product sells for around $227, so that is a great return on my investment.
  • Turn your descriptions into sales letters.  Every day I see product descriptions that are just that –a description.  People buy benefits and everyone likes a little romance.  Take the time to write an item description that “sells.”  Give the reader a reason to bid or buy and then compliment the description with good photographs.  If you have trouble taking good photos look at the line of EZ Cube Light tents in my eBay Store.

Try –and apply these tips.  You never know what will work until you try something.

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