Corinna Stevenson has come a long way since she began selling on eBay nine years ago. The certified eBay Education Specialist and eBay Trading Assistant now has more than 2,400 transactions under her belt and offers about 700 items in her eBay Store.
But learning the ropes took time, Stevenson says. And when she began, profits were hard to come by. In fact, they were nonexistent.
"I bought a bunch of stuff without researching, and it took me a long time to sell it," admits the owner of annirocs house of treasures. "I kept relisting [inventory]. Finally it would sell, but I spent more on the relists than what I actually sold the items for."
After a year of diligent work, Stevenson learned how to thoroughly research products using closed listings and find products that would sell, and how to attract buyers. Then a neighbor down the street gave her a call that sparked what would become a vital part of Stevenson's business: selling on behalf of others.
"[My neighbor] saw me on the site as a seller," Stevenson recalls. "His house was in foreclosure at the time. He was desperate to get rid of the stuff. His parents had been Italian immigrants, who had owned an antique store in Santa Cruz [CA]. I felt so bad for him that I took as much of it as possible. I immediately became overwhelmed by the amount of stuff but eventually sold all of it. That is when I decided to go on the eBay Trading Assistant site. I have been getting calls ever since."
I am still a small seller but have big plans for growth over the next year
Good for people, good for the earth
Today, annirocs house of treasures—so named to honor a young family friend who passed away—houses hundreds of collectibles, including antiques, dolls and one-of-a-kind kitchen appliances. Shoppers can also find a variety of vintage jewelry, clothing, sports items and seasonal décor.
"I am hoping to be up to 2,000 [items] by the end of the year," Stevenson says, adding that she has hundreds of products in stock that she has yet to list. "I am still a small seller but have big plans for growth over the next year, and I am exploring other avenues of selling online."
The items she sells offer great opportunities to continue experimenting with listing formats, titles, etc., to see what works in on eBay—and to learn as much as she can about the market to continue growing her business. Stevenson says she helps individuals find new homes for unwanted or unused goods and helps manufacturers downsize their merchandise. In the process, everyone makes some money, and helps the environment at the same time.
"I am very concerned about the environment," Stevenson explains. In fact, the seller not only offers pre-owned items in her store, she also uses recycled paper for packing slips, and recycled packing peanuts for her shipments.
"I also reuse boxes, if they are in good shape," she continues. "I get peanuts from my local health food store. They get lots of them delivered with their new stock, so they save them for me. I don't remember the last time I had to buy them."
But her environmentally friendly nature doesn't mean Stevenson will list just anything on eBay. Having learned from her early selling experience, she is now selective about what she lists, knowing that what some people might consider treasures sometimes do nothing more than collect dust.
"Research is very important," she says.
Customers come first
Even if a customer brings in something she's unfamiliar with, Stevenson thoroughly researches the products. Customers always come first, she says, whether they're buyers or sellers. It's a business theory that has long worked.
"My motto is that the customer is always right," she notes. "If I have breakage with any items, I immediately give a full refund and then file an insurance claim. I find that if I do that, my customers are very understanding."
One experience that demonstrates how understanding customers can be, occurred when Stevenson accidently shipped the wrong items to two buyers. When she realized her mistake, the seller quickly contacted both buyers. Instead of getting annoyed, they simply offered to ship the items to the right person.
"Of course, I refunded what they paid for shipping and offered them a discount to buy from me again," she explains.
Stevenson notes that it can be time consuming to respond to questions and inquiries, and stay in good communication with buyers, but "it pays off when people come back to buy other items," she says. "These relationships are especially important to me as a trading assistant, because, in effect, I have two types of customers: the people whose items I sell, and the people who buy the items. I am looking to expand my business by leading workshops and providing individual instruction with my new certification as an eBay trainer. That will be yet another kind of customer!"
I like that I can have a description all set up to use every time and that I can set up different profiles
Making it all work
Along the way, Stevenson has found that having the right selling tools can make a big difference in how her listings come across to buyers, and how efficient she can be in her day-to-day operations. Auctiva's eBay listing tools—especially the image hosting—have been a big part of Stevenson's business.
"I love the photos part of Auctiva," Stevenson notes. "I can't really say enough about that. I also prefer Auctiva templates over eBay's. They are very professional looking."
Often, her eBay listings contain repeatable information and, for that, Auctiva's tools have been a real time saving advantage.
"I like that I can have a description all set up to use every time. I also like that I can set up different profiles," she explains. "I have not yet used the inventory section but plan to try it. Organization is very important."
Selling to the world
Having no face-to-face interactions with buyers can be challenging, but the benefits of selling online outweigh any negatives.
"There are many great things about selling online," Stevenson says. "I can work at home. I sell to people all over the world. Just this week, I shipped three items to someone in China. I love that."
Shipping can be a risk, Stevenson admits, because once a package leaves your hands, you're entrusting its safe and timely delivery to others.
Spreading the word about the items she sells seems to come naturally. Stevenson says she does little to draw buyers, but shoppers find her as they look for the collectibles they want like Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy dolls, David Winter cottages and other British collectibles, as well as The Simpsons characters.
"It's rewarding because I get to sell a variety of unique items," she says. "I love touching things that have history and, of course, I love that I am not only making money for myself but for other people as well. But the history of the items is the best part."
Visit annirocs house of treasures.