If you enjoy selling on eBay but don't have time to scout around for inventory, or if you'd like to broaden your offerings to attract more buyers, consider providing your services as a consignment seller.
A consignment seller sells other people's items for them in exchange for a fee or a share of the profits. On eBay, consignment sellers are known as trading assistants, and you can apply to add your information to eBay's Trading Assistant directory, so prospective clients—or consignors—can contact you about selling for them.
Auctiva provides tools to help consignment merchants organize and manage consignors, inventory, commission plans, and payouts from one central location. These tools are available to Auctiva subscribers on the Elite and Pro plans.
Deciding what to sell
You can sell anything on consignment, but because of the amount of work involved in researching, listing, marketing and shipping items, consignment sellers often put a minimum value threshold on the items they will accept.
It takes the same amount of time to sell a $100 item as a $1 item, and time is money
That's why consignment sellers tend to focus on things like expensive jewelry, high-end fashion, antiques, rare collectibles, and unique or hard-to-find items.
"I don't mess with any item less than $100 in value," notes Stephanie Inge, an eBay educator, seller and founder of the Dallas eBaybes & eMales eBay sellers' group. "It takes the same amount of time to sell a $100 item as a $1 item, and time is money!"
You might want to experiment with your minimum threshold, based on your item research and the commission you'll take.
Setting up Consignment on Auctiva
You can find Auctiva's consignment tools on the eBay Sales tab in your Auctiva account. Here's how to get started.
Create a commission plan. A commission plan spells out who is responsible for paying eBay selling fees, and details the commission you'll charge when an item sells. You can configure your commission plans to use a fixed fee, a fixed percentage or a variable rate depending on the selling price. Create one basic commission plan for all your consignment sales, or create as many variations as you need for different consignors, products or what have you.
Add a consignor. When you have a new consignment client, you'll want to add the consignor details to your account by clicking on "New Consignors" on the eBay Sales drop-down menu. Here, you'll enter the consignor's information and the contract agreement, and assign a commission plan. You can create as many New Consignors as necessary, and keep track of these consignment accounts using the "Manage Consignors" link on the eBay Sales menu.
Enter consignment inventory. Add items to a consignment account using "Manage Consignors." First, create and save the listings. Then, on the Manage Consignors page, select the consigner and choose "Manage Items" from the drop-down on the right. Fill in some basic information about the item and save it.
Note: Adding inventory to consignment accounts will not post items to eBay. This tool is only for organization and reporting purposes.
Make sure to check the box below the Item Description field on the lister that says, 'Is this a consignment item?'
Update consignor communication settings. You can have Auctiva automatically notify your consignors when their items post to eBay. On the eBay Sales tab, create a new custom email using the Consignment template. Then update your Consignment settings under the My Account tab to enable this email to be automatically sent.
Tracking your consignment sales
Now, when you're ready to list a consigned item, make sure you check the box below the Item Description field on the lister that says, "Is this a consignment item?" Then use the drop-down menus that appear to associate the listing with a consignor and a consignment item. This ensures your consignment reports accurately track your sales per consignor.
When a consignment item sells, you can print a payout report by going to "Manage Consignors" on the eBay Sales tab, selecting the consignor and choosing "Create Payout" from the drop-down on the right. Choose the items to include in the payout, verify fees and other information, and print or email the report.
Note: Final transaction data is usually filled in within a day, but if any eBay fees are missing when you generate your payout report, you can add them manually before sending the report to your consignor.
Learn more about consignment selling
Our consignment FAQs and tutorials will take you step by step through the process of setting up and managing your consignment sales on Auctiva.com.
For a first-hand account of how one seller used Auctiva's Consignment tools to start a consignment business, read "Selling on eBay as an eBay Consignment Specialist."
And be sure to check back here at Auctiva EDU for more Auctiva Tool Tips, as well as advice and insights to help you sell online.
Other Entries by this Author
Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.