Ron Saxton, right, & The Dukes of Hazzard's Enos
Ron Saxton has been selling online for 18 years. In that time he's tested the waters on Amazon, but both he and his current employer agree that eBay is the best fit for their business model.
You can't take a couple hundred dollars to the thrift stores every week and build a big business online
"If I put my products on eBay, I have an instant market," says Saxton of Image Warehouse, which sells new and remanufactured ink cartridges.
Before Image Warehouse, Saxton ran his own business on eBay. But about 10 years ago he joined Image Warehouse, bringing with him a world of e-commerce experience. Today, he and a staff of 22 ship about 800 units out every day. About 90 percent of those items are ink and toner cartridges. The rest is a collection of miscellaneous items the PowerSeller comes across.
Growing the biz
Image Warehouse operates in a highly competitive market on eBay, but Saxton keeps it at the top of the search results. How does he do it? His explanation is both simple and complex.
"I'm a workaholic," he says. The tricks he's learned over the years of selling online have helped, too. Step 1: Know your stuff.
"You have to have resources, first and foremost," Saxton explains. "You can't take a couple hundred dollars to the thrift stores every week and build a big business online… You have to know what you're listing."
To market items, Saxton uses email marketing and eBay's Deals program.
When we spoke with Saxton, Image Warehouse had too much of one cartridge, so the team sent targeted emails to shoppers who use those cartridges and had expressed interest in knowing when the company had a high volume of them.
The staff also puts products on eBay Deals to move inventory. Saxton notes that eBay must preapprove you for the program, but you don't have to have a huge inventory to offer your products there.
We have no negative feedback, and that makes [our products] sell better
Staying on top of search
Since Saxton has sold successfully on eBay for so long, we thought it would be interesting to ask him what has changed on the site since those early days. Some things haven't changed a bit, including the importance of using strong keywords in your listings. Others things have been changed a lot, even in the past few years.
"The price competition stands out in my mind," he shares. "I used to get really caught up in it."
Today, you don't have to necessarily have the lowest prices, Saxton says. He asked us to search eBay for a particular ink cartridge. The search results included 1,659 listings.
"The top three are mine," he told us, noting that Image Warehouse doesn't always have the cheapest items.
"Over the months we've been selling this, we've provided eBay customers with a great product at a competitive price," he continued. "We have no negative feedback, and that makes it sell better. Customers have also gotten smarter."
If I have a problem, I can reach someone on the phone, or through live chat and have the answer in moments
Another way Saxton stands out is his separate "play" account. On it, he lists items that he finds and wants to test for marketability. Then he can see if they get a good response or not.
Regardless of the outcome, he gets to test the market for new inventory and it has no impact on his main business.
Loyal to a tee
As you can see, Saxton has a lot of experience to share. Others have noticed, too. In 2000, the listing software company Vendio, then known as Andale, featured him in an advertisement when eBay still published its magazine.
When we asked the merchant about using Vendio, he simply replied, "I know it like the back of my hand."
He appreciates its simplicity and effectiveness, and he's very happy with the customer support the company offers.
"If I have a problem, I can reach someone on the phone, or through live chat and have the answer in moments," he notes. He adds that Vendio is an affordable option for him and his company.
When we asked if he's ever researched competitors, he replied, "I believe in their product, and I'm a very loyal person."