How To… Start a Small eBay “Shop”.

So, Jon and I run an eBay “shop”. We’re not going to say what our name is or what it is we sell, but we use eBay to make a small profit of around £50 a month. We’re currently working on expanding our product range a little, so that may go up, but in principle we run it just to make a small profit on money that would otherwise be idle or accumulating an even smaller interest in the bank. After all, 20-50% return a month beats any interest rate.

So here’s how to start up such a “shop”.

1: Work out what you want to sell. It needs to be a specific category with a lot of variety in it. For example, “pristine antiquarian books on railroads of Britain” would be too select, but “books”, “railroads” and “Britain” may be too broad. You need a category that’s specific enough to have a consumer base, broad enough to sell a variety of products to each customer and to guarantee return customers and “window shoppers” as well as well-known enough to have a large market or niche enough to have a high-paying market. Taking our examples above, a category such as “railroads of Britain”, “books on railroads” or “antiquarian books” would be more profitable than the extremely narrow or extremely broad categories.

2: Learn about what you’re selling. I don’t think, for a project like this, you need to sell what you already know (although it helps). But make sure to get to know what you’re going to sell. Research brands, authors, designers, critics, prices, etc.

3: Find a good, stable, cheap source of your item. If you’re selling antiquarian books, try antiques stores and thrift/charity shops. If you’re selling jewellery, try online stores or pawnbrokers.

4: Number crunch. Work out what profit you want to make. Do you want to double your investment every time? Make £3 for every £2 you spend? Or simply make a profit? Bear in mind postage and packaging costs both for receiving the item (if you buy it online) and for posting it to your customers. Always add 10% of the final sale onto your costs to account for eBay and PayPal fees. So if you want to sell something for £20, add £2 onto your expenses.

5: Set up an eBay account. Make the account a personal account. They can be far easier to manage at first.

6: Don’t sell abroad unless your country has excellent postal fees.

7: Don’t auction anything except maybe to clear any remainder stock.

8: Don’t accept best offers or returns, this will just end up as money out of pocket.

9: Take several photos of the item right before posting it, including inside the box, the address on the box etc. Always track or get proof of postage when you post it.

10: Don’t review a buyer for an item they haven’t reviewed you for. If after 14 days you have no review, feel free to leave one. This minimizes buyers trying their luck.

11: Don’t let your “shop” sit idle. Make sure there’s always something on sale.

12: When things don’t sell, either try selling them as a bundle and knocking off some of the postage costs or sell them so you break even. If the situation looks very dire, consider selling so that you make a small loss. An unsold item is always a loss.

 

And there’s the basics on starting and running your own small shop on eBay.

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