In my last article, I outlined some of the techniques I use to be more efficient in my eBay selling. There are so many great ways to improve efficiency that I decided to continue writing!
In Selling More Efficiently, Part 1, I discussed speeding up your picture-taking process by shooting several products in one session. In addition to that, I recommend setting up a permanent area in which to take photos. This will save you time setting up the shot, and will ensures more consistency in the quality of your images.
Invest in a large photo studio (mine is more than 3 feet tall) to make photographing large items easy. Once it's up, don't take it down. This will allow you to take photos quickly and efficiently. You won't have to spend time figuring out why your photos don't look eBay ready.
You might also want to invest in two computer monitors. I hate spending money, and I put off purchasing a second monitor for a long time. I can't believe I waited so long—I will never go back to using one screen! Working with dual monitors makes researching products and keeping track of sales easy. You can look at your eBay sales on one screen and your bookkeeping software on the other. It's multitasking at its finest.
Consider what you're selling
In addition, don't waste time on high maintenance, low-profit items. I sell primarily one-of-a-kind items from yard sales and thrift shops. Over the years, I've learned an important lesson: Don't buy low-profit items to resell if they need to be cleaned or repaired. This is a huge waste of time. If an item is only worth $9.99, be sure it's in perfect shape and ready to go before you purchase it. It should take no more than five minutes to list.
You might also consider adding a few drop-ship items to your inventory. But instead of focusing on sites that offer the same products to multiple sellers, try finding drop-ship sources within your own community or circle of friends. This will allow you to offer unique items that others are not selling.
I have a friend from college who has a business importing goods. She's not on eBay, and she doesn't have a retail site. In a few weeks I will be visiting her warehouse in Washington to see the products she has available. One of the items I plan to sell is a small piece of furniture she once gave me as a gift. I use it almost every day, so I know it's a great product. I plan to make a video for this listing to demonstrate its usefulness. This situation will benefit both of us.
Multitasking tip: While I'm out product sourcing, I also purchase gifts for family, friends and co-workers
Be frugal with your time
Another technique that will help you get more done is to limit the time you spend on social networking sites. For example, if you're using Facebook to market your business, set aside a certain amount of time each day to do this and stick to the plan. Social networking is a great way to grow your business, but it can also be an easy way to waste time.
Finally, if you source products at yard sales and thrift shops, don't miss out on the opportunity to multitask. I spend a fair amount of time at yard sales and thrift shops. For the most part, I do not shop at traditional retail establishments. I almost never go to the mall or club stores. I don't need to. Thrift shops and yard sales in my area offer a plethora of name brand clothing, shoes and household items.
And if I don't like something I bought, I'm not out 60 bucks. In fact, most of the clothing I buy costs me no more than a few dollars, and the selection is great. The clothing brands I most often come across are Banana Republic, The Gap, Ann Taylor and American Eagle.
But the multitasking doesn't end there. While I'm out product sourcing, I also purchase gifts for family, friends and co-workers. The secretary in my office has a jewelry box full of beautiful pieces I purchased for her—high quality merchandise that I wouldn't have purchased otherwise. My nephews wear Vans and Baby Gap clothing, courtesy of "Tante Miriam." And I do my Christmas shopping year-round. I can actually give more because the prices are so low.
Even if you don't have access to these types of products, a carefully planned road trip to a larger city will do the trick. Get your errands done while you work—a great opportunity to save time.
So there you have it: a plan for improving efficiency and increasing profits. Give some of these techniques a try to keep your business lean and mean!
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Miriam Otto is an eBay educator, based in Northern California. Miriam sells more than 500 items per month on eBay, and finds most of what she sells at yard sales and thrift shops. When not teaching eBay classes or running her business, she enjoys writing about her latest "scores" on The eBay Life blog. In addition to living "The eBay Life," Miriam works as an independent study teacher helping adults earn high school diplomas.
Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.