Strategy #3 – What Not to Sell On eBayDeciding what to sell on eBay will be among the most important decisions you will make with your eBay business. It will ultimately determine your success of failure. Many mistakes can be corrected along the learning curve of getting your eBay business up and running and then successful, but there is no solution for the problem of selling something that nobody wants to buy.
If You Build It .. Will They Come?I recently worked with a client who had thousands of men’s ties that he wanted to sell. He did some preliminary research and saw that comparable ties were selling very well on eBay and because he had obtained his inventory for pennies on the dollar he thought that he would set up an eBay business to sell off his ties. I was hired to help his staff get set-up on eBay with a seller’s accounts, a Paypal business account, accounts with Fedex, UPS and the US Postal System and an in-house system to manage their inventory. They even went out and hired a professional photographer to take pictures of their items.
I trained the staff in how to run a successful eBay business, how to best present their items, how to schedule auction start and end times for maximum exposure, how to maintain good customer contact and service, and how to package and ship their items. In a month they went live with their first auctions.They sold 3 ties the first month.The owner and his staff were devastated. They felt they had put in a large investment of time and money in setting up their eBay identity, hiring a consultant (me) and being trained and proficient with the eBay selling process; so they couldn’t figure out why they were not making any sales.
The Hard Truth They looked to me for the answer. I reminded them that all throughout the process of setting up their eBay business I had warned them that middle to low quality men’s ties were not the type of item that was going to just fly off of the shelves. The truth is that their ties were not selling because no one wanted to buy them. Well, that’s not exactly accurate as it turned out 3 people actually wanted their ties that first month.If they were committed to selling this item then they would have to be in it for the long haul, and not expect to generate the quick profits enjoyed by eBay sellers with more “sexy” or trendy, high-demand items.
They would need to commit to an eBay keywords campaign; build their feedback by purchasing 100 or so items on eBay and develop a marketing strategy that included off-eBay promotions.There are more variables at play in having auctions end successfully than are sometimes apparent to new eBay sellers, but they are the same types of variables that regular brick and mortar sellers have to content with.
The rules listed below may seem obvious to you but they are worth noting.What Not to Sell: Rule 1: Do not sell an item that already has more than 10 auctions running with no bids. If you do a search on eBay and see that there have been many auctions recently for the item and that most have ended with few or no bidsat all stayaway from selling that item. Also, if the item has received bids but the bids are lower than the price you would want to receive for the item, this is a good reason to stay away from the item.
What Not to Sell: Rule 2: Do not sell items that you know nothing about or that have a steep learning curve. For instance, cars. There are many people, individuals as well as auto dealers making a lot of money selling cars on eBay. But it is not a good choice for an item to sell if you don’t know anything about cars.I once was contracted by a client to sell a very large meteorite that had been in his possession for some time. I knew nothing about meteorites, the different types, their value or anything. I told the client that I wasn’t prepared to help him sell this item without first doing a lot of research.
He insisted that anyone who saw the auction and wanted to buy it would understand the value of it and that I should just list it and let the eBay marketplace determine the value. I did just that but not before doing some research so that I could write the auction listing. Unfortunately, the information that I listed in the auction about the type of meteorite we were selling was incorrect.I got a ton of email from potential bidders telling me how very wrong my description of the meteorite was. I ended up removing the listing from eBay early because of the response of the people who frequent eBay who know about meteorites.
What Not to Sell: Rule 3: Do not buy items at wholesale to resell on eBay. It is not possible to make money on eBay by buying items at wholesale prices and then looking to resell them on eBay. The eBay marketplace doesn’t support that type of business model.There are simply too many people selling items that you can source that way. If you can get the item wholesale, probably so can a hundred or more other people, all of whom are probably trying to sell them on eBay as well. The competition on a traditional wholesale to retail model is just too steep. Also, unless your item is the next iPod you won’t get anything close to the retail price for it on eBay. (There are some exceptions to this which I’ll get into later.)
What Not to Sell: Rule 4: Do not sell items that consistently close at less than $30. It is hard to make a profit, let alone a living, on eBay, relying on items that sell on eBay for very little money. There are people that will buy an item for $4.00 sell it on auction for $8.00 and believe that they made 100% profit. This borders on insanity. That $4.00 item had to be listed on eBay, more than likely with photos. The auction needed to be monitored with any bidder’s questions answered. Once completed the item had to be packaged and shipped. And out of the $4.00 “profit” there are those pesky eBay & Paypal fees to consider. So, the item you paid $4.00 for costs $0.60 to list with a gallery picture, $0.95 for eBay Listing & Final Value and $.053 for Standard Paypal fees.
Total cost for listing and selling the item on bay is $1.55 add to that the $4.00 the amount that item cost you and you are left with a whopping $2.45. If you subtract a minimal cost for your labor this item on which you thought you made $4.00 has actually cost you money to sell!If you spread this type of philosophy across your entire eBay business effort you will go out of business in a very short time.
What Not to Sell: Rule 5: Do not sell anything on eBay’s list of restricted items. This really is a no-brainer as long as you know that there is a list of items that are prohibited from being sold on eBay. Although people consistently try and skirt this rule, some of the items on the list include weapons including guns and knives, animal skins, American Indian artifacts, & human body parts.
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