Selling Strategies

Choosing what products to sell may be the most challenging aspect of operating on eBay. Here, we briefly discuss some selling strategies.

Sell what you like. It certainly is more enjoyable to sell something you like — for example, if you love antique dolls, why not put your expertise to use selling them to others who also appreciate them? Your enthusiasm and knowledge carry into your sales listings; you have a better chance of longevity as a seller because you enjoy dealing with the merchandise and you already know the common sources for acquiring goods.

Sell what you know. If you've already spent retail time selling pet supplies, orthopedic shoes, or phone accessories, then you're familiar with these product lines and with the items that are most popular and profitable. Plus, you probably already have invaluable wholesale contacts.

Sell what you make. Selling what you make — for example, wood carvings or quilts — means you have one-of-a-kind items, favored by some buyers. The trick is to find a niche and acquire repeat customers. If you're a photographer, for example, you may find a demand for pet photography, or if you create jewelry, you may find that astrological items are consistent sellers. Customers who buy handmade goods appreciate presentation, so, for example, consider putting those earrings in pretty gift boxes. Customers also enjoy contact with an artist — it adds to the work's history and allows the customer to say to others, "Oh, and the artist told me why he prefers using blue."  So be generous with your emails.

Think collectively. A strategy used by many eBay sellers is to buy several items and resell them as a group — for example, a gift basket of imported cookies or a unique collection of Frank Sinatra DVDs. The key to success here is in the choice of goods and in the presentation, particularly because these items are often purchased as gifts for others.

Follow trends and seasons. Some sellers attempt to predict and ride out trends, looking for the timely items — for example, selling Halloween costumes, Coach purses, or Playstation games. This is a tough strategy to implement, because you will be competing with large eBay enterprises with the muscle to out-buy, under-price, and out-market you. It's a little bit like playing the stock market. The trick here is to try and guess at trends that others may not spot — for example, if you follow movies at the Internet Movie Database website, you may determine a year ahead of time when a Disney movie will be completed and buy lower-priced merchandise related to that film before others realize the potential of the release.

Move your retail outlet online. Some sellers move portions of their bricks-and-mortar retail business online, picking and choosing among existing inventory. Some sell items online that they cannot sell locally — for example, a comic book retailer may offer the most collectible comics at auction. Other retailers use online auctions to sell overstock, taking advantage of the national marketplace to liquidate items that are difficult to unload locally. Other retailers move only one aspect of their trade online — for example, a sports memorabilia shop may move all its team baseball caps online because they are easy to inventory, ship, and list.

Import creatively. Some businesses focus on what they can buy cheaply from international wholesalers and manufacturers and then resell on eBay. The challenge here is getting to the sources before other eBay sellers find them. If you already have contacts in foreign markets through family, friends, or business, or if you travel to countries where consumer goods are manufactured — for example, India, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, or Hong Kong — then you have a head start. The key to successful importing is finding a local specialty — for example, jasmine incense, madras shirts, or rattan furniture — and creating a relationship with an exporter who will guarantee you a consistent source of goods.

Sell other people's stuff. One way to increase sales is to sell items on behalf of others on consignment. eBay calls these types of sellers trading assistants and provides a trading assistants directory. Check out how to get started as a trading assistant. You can also find information at the Trading Assistant Hub.

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