When you were new to online selling, just getting by with business basics was good enough. But now that you've got the fundamentals down, you're ready to improve upon your business skills and find ways to cut corners while improving service.
Here's a look at some great tools that will make your work more productive and cost-effective.
Mobile devices and apps
Mobile devices are amazing tools for the online seller. They go anywhere with you and offer hundreds of apps to make your work fun, efficient and more profitable.
Snap and list pictures, use talk-to-text for quick note-taking, and find a product's value when you're not even in the office.
As you're out sourcing products at yard sales, thrift shops and other stores, put your mobile device to work to determine what kind of profit you might be able to turn
As you're out sourcing products at yard sales, thrift shops and other stores, put your mobile device to work to determine what kind of profit you might be able to turn.
Redlaser is a free app for your smartphone. Use it to scan barcodes and see what retailers are currently selling that item for. Quick Scan essentially does the same thing, but costs $1, and is limited for use on Apple devices.
Online product research
A popular way to get a feel for whether a product is selling well, and at what price point, is eBay's Completed Listings. Simply type in your keywords and click the "Completed Listings" link, usually found on the left sidebar.
You can sort the results by date to see recent activity, or sort by price to quickly see how your product is performing at different price levels. If you notice a lot of unsold listings in red, you can surmise the product is not in high demand right now.
In addition to using eBay's search function, Google Shopping lets you see what other retail websites are selling the same items for.
Terapeak tracks and analyzes e-commerce transactions and aggregated data to help you examine the selling history of billions of products.
As a paying member of Terapeak, all you have to do is type in a search term and date range, and choose stats from Amazon or eBay. The results provide several elements of information so you can make better decisions about pricing, keywords, competition and more.
Other sellers prefer Worthpoint for valuing antiques, arts and collectibles. Members can pay an added fee for access to more than 30 experts who will evaluate their antique or collectible item.
Besides knowing how to choose and price products, sellers need to be able prepare fantastic photos. The quickest way to do this is to get it right the first time so you won't have to edit later.
Let's face it: We're sellers, not professional photographers. So do the best you can and then use a photo editing program that works best for you
But let's face it: We're sellers, not professional photographers. So do the best you can and then use a photo editing program that works best for you.
I prefer Photoshop, but that's because I already put cash into the software and want to get my money's worth. There are a number of free and less-expensive editing programs that can be found by doing a simple Google search.
Some popular programs include Photoshop Elements, which is a scaled-down version of Photoshop's professional tool, and Google Picasa, a photo-sharing tool with some great editing features. Editing tools that come in handy for online sellers include: selection wand, eraser, sharpen, brightness/contrast adjustment and crop.
Listing and sales management
eBay offers a free bulk-listing program called Turbo Lister, but it's not for everyone. If you sell on eBay, Amazon or both, a third-party listing service might make your work a little easier.
Vendors like Auctiva let you save all your images and data for as long as you need them, so if you want to relist something from long ago, you don't have to go through the trouble of re-entering all that information. Plus, the Auctiva lister is contained on one easy-to-read page.
Auctiva's sister company, Vendio, provides similar applications, but extends its services to Amazon and Facebook merchants, as well.
For medium-to-big sellers on Amazon, Fulfillment By Amazon can be a huge timesaver. After setting yourself up with Amazon's service, just ship your inventory to Amazon and let its fulfillment operation do the rest of the work!
FBA handles the shipping, returns and customer service.
Regardless of which online service you choose to print from, shipping costs will be cheaper than if you buy postage at the post office counter
One of my most favorite tools is that which allows me to print shipping labels at home. Gone are the days of leaving the house and standing in a post office line. With my eBay listings, I do all my printing through PayPal, though you can do it straight from eBay and Etsy, as well.
As an Auctiva user, I can also print my postage right from my Auctiva.com account. Regardless of which service you choose to print from, shipping costs will be cheaper than if you buy it at the post office counter.
Another option, suitable for those who sell through their own domains, is Stamps.com. Starting at a $15.99 a month, you can purchase postage at home for your business shipments as well as your other, non-business needs.
And when your packages are ready to ship, simply schedule a pickup with the appropriate carrier. We get a lot of rain where I ship from, so I started using the USPS website to schedule pickups. This free service is incredibly useful!
If you're running more than one social media platform for your business, a management system comes in handy for keeping all that work organized.
Programs like Hootsuite help you set up and schedule all your social media activities. You can create all your content in one day and have it posted throughout the week.
When dealing with all those messy financial numbers, keep your books better organized in a program like such as Quickbooks. It works across all your devices, and makes tax season much less stressful.
I will take my own advice on this one because my business numbers are starting to increase this year. I'm currently using Excel to track profits by using some basic formulas.
If you have any favorite go-to tools as an online seller that are not listed here, please feel free to share with the rest of us.