Does an eBay seller exist who says, "You know what? My business is large enough. I'm not interested in growing it any further"?
Now, we're not saying they're not out there, just that by far the norm is for eBay sellers to want to grow (and grow) their businesses. So we spoke with some successful sellers and vendors for advice about taking an eBay business to the next level.
In Part 1 of this series we covered bundling, optimizing listings for mobile and using words to make listings come alive. Now we turn to showcasing your other inventory within your listings, using special forum software to spread your listings further, and services such as WeGoLook, which can do some important legwork.
The norm is for eBay sellers to want to grow (and grow) their businesses
Showcase your entire inventory
Dan Caplan of love2pedal, views his eBay listings (as they appear on desktops) as more than just a place to sell one item, but rather a chance for buyers to easily see all of his related items, and, hopefully, buy them.
"It is very common for my eBay buyers to buy multiple items, which I partially attribute to having my other items easily accessible through links in my ad template. But on Amazon, it is very rare for a buyer to make multiple purchases from me at the same time," Caplan says.
So Caplan had a custom template made that has picture links of other items buyers may find interesting—these appear on the right and left of his item descriptions. He also usually includes text links within item descriptions.
To look into creating your own custom templates, Caplan suggests you try searching eBay for "eBay template," which will yield "a ton of results—from plain to sophisticated." He, himself, used a company called Frooition. Another suggestion he had was to post on eBay's Seller Central forum asking for recommendations from other sellers.
Leverage forums, classifieds and their mobile counterparts
While eBay's reach is huge, you can expand your base of potential customers even further through companies such as Panjo. It offers marketplace tools "that enable your listings to appear in your favorite forum's marketplace and classifieds sub-forum," the company says. You can also choose to promote your listing on Panjo.com, itself, and through Panjo's "network of enthusiast communities and social media outlets like targeted Facebook fan pages."
It's no secret that if you specialize at all, there may be whole Web communities passionately dedicated to what you sell, whether it's related to cars, fashion or any type of hobby. Chad Billmyer suggests that you try a Google search for "[your type of product] and vBulletin." (vBulletin, he says, is among the world's most popular forum software platforms.) From there you could look into working with Panjo or its sister company, Tapatalk, which partner with hundreds of forums to make their content mobile accessible.
He offers the following examples: Suppose you sell a product that snowboarders would enjoy. Consider joining forums such as TetonGravity, and AlpineZone. Then establish yourself as a knowledge leader in those communities, Billmyer advises. Join the conversation. Finally, seek opportunities to post your item for sale or sponsor the community to raise awareness of your product.
Entrepreneur Joseph DeSimone sells a fog light modification kit for 2006-08 Porsche Caymans. Billmyer said DeSimone lists his product for sale on eBay, and also in a Porsche enthusiast forum, Planet-9.
Use Third parties to verify expensive items
Establish yourself as a knowledge leader… join the conversation. Seek opportunities to post your item for sale or sponsor the community to raise awareness of your product
Robin Smith says she created her entire company based on the eBay selling model. WeGoLook is an online platform with more than 10,000 nationwide agents (which she calls "lookers") who are sent to the site of the eBay item to "verify its existence, take photos of the current condition, video a working demonstration, validate serial numbers, markings, and so on."
She says her company helps out not only buyers (by avoiding fraud or fake listings, saving money, letting them purchasing with confidence, etc.) but also sellers.
Sellers may use her services when they list items (they can add a link to a report showing potential bidders that the item's been verified by a third party.) "We give sellers credibility and we can also help sellers who are always buying items themselves to resell," Smith says.
Another service the company provides is WeGoShip. In this case, WeGoShip employees pick up an item from a seller, verify its condition, pack it and take it to FedEx to ship. This process helps the seller avoid any disputes on damaged products, and helps buyers avoid any bait-and-switch fraud, according to Smith.
Smith's aim was to make sure anyone could afford a WeGoLook report. The basic report is $59 with additional services available. "We liken it to an insurance policy; $59 is not much to spend to ensure a qualified online purchase."
Of course, it only pays to go this route with larger ticket items. Smith agrees that it doesn't make sense to buy a $59 report when bidding on a $100 iPhone. So most of the company's items tend to be $500 and up. Do you think that excludes you, given what you typically sell? It may. But Smith points out there are "literally thousands of items listed on eBay which fall into the $500-plus category." Smith provided the following examples of how sellers work with her:
- They suggest customers use the company to simply verify the item is where the seller says it is before sending any money.
- In cases where an item may have more value than the reserve or Buy It Now price, and the buyer wants to verify signature, serial number and so on. (Examples include antiques, fiestaware and paintings.)
- The company performs "looks" for those considering buying motorcycles, RVs, autos, heavy duty trucks, accessories, or engine parts to name a few.
Not all of the growth strategies we've discussed will make sense for your business. But the thing is to keep growing, before you start to shrink
- The company also performs property reports. "There are many international buyers who purchase property on eBay. We take photos of current condition, street views, neighborhood, and look for deferred maintenance so they have a good idea of how much they will need to put into property if they are flipping it," she said.
- They help customers negotiate better prices. A military serviceman stationed in Spain had the company take photos of a truck on eBay. He was then able to negotiate an additional $600 off based on the photos and report.
Of course, not all of the growth strategies we've discussed in these two articles will make sense for your business. But it's a bet at least one of them will. The thing is to keep growing, before you start to shrink.