Profile: Copper Dealer Strikes Gold Online

eBay store opens local shop to global market.

by staff writer
- May 05, 2008

Five and a half years ago, while considering business opportunities, Beau and Sandra Ralphs were introduced to the world of pottery goods. "We immediately fell in love with the product line," Beau Ralphs remembers. Within months, the couple had formed a partnership with another party and opened a brick-and-mortar store in Phoenix.

Eventually though, they grew tired of staring at the door, waiting for the next customer. The Ralphs had expanded their offerings to include beautiful high-end copper sinks, and they knew there were more dollars to be made beyond those they were courting within their local economy.

"We knew we had a good, popular product in our copper sinks," recalls Ralphs, who operates as The Copper Depot on eBay. "And it's a good one for eBay because it ships well and doesn't require hundreds of listings [and sales] to be profitable.

The perfect product is easily shipped, doesn't require a lot of space to inventory, and offers a reliable supply and nice profit potential

"A lot of people have a good product that they know they want to sell online, but they forget to consider if it's a good fit for selling online," he says. "The perfect product is easily shipped, doesn't require a lot of space to inventory, and offers a reliable supply and nice profit potential."

Ralphs also encourages new eBay sellers to look for a product line about which they are passionate. "That's important because a successful eBay business takes a lot of work to manage the listings," he explains. "And that's where Auctiva comes in. It's great for building, scheduling and managing all the listings."

The Ralphs usually have more than 70 active eBay auctions at any given time—and they post them exclusively with Auctiva. Chief among their favorite features of the free software are scheduling and image hosting. "The scheduling is great because we can sit down and work on a bunch of auctions at once and space them out to maximize visibility on the site," Ralphs explains. "And best of all, scheduling with Auctiva is free, where eBay charges for it. You can really save by taking advantage of eBay's occasional listing specials by using the scheduling feature, too.

"The image hosting is a big deal too," he adds. "We have more than 1,000 images hosted through Auctiva's free, unlimited service, which makes it very convenient when we're creating listings to have them easily available within the too."

What's great about selling on eBay is they provide the customers

The Ralphs have been selling on eBay for less than a year and have already grown the online portion of their business to a quarter of their total sales. As this article is being written, they have a feedback score of nearly 600, of which 99.7 percent are positive entries. Their online store was also recently nominated for eBay's Best in Stores contest.

For the Ralphs, the decision to add online commerce to their business plan has improved their bottom line by allowing them to offer products to the worldwide market. "People who have a great product and want to hurry up and get it online often forget to consider how they're going to market their Web site," Ralphs muses. "If you have a great site that no one knows about, what's the point?

"But that's what's so great about selling on eBay: They provide the customers," he continues. "In a traditional business, you pay for advertising upfront, hoping to attract customers. With eBay, the bulk of what you pay happens only after the sale is final."

To visit The Copper Depot's eBay store, click here.

About the 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.

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