How to turn your eBay earnings into a full time business
Entering into the world of retail is arguably now easier than ever. In the days before the internet, prospective retailers would need the huge outlay of buying a property, or would instead need think about setting up a market stall. Of course, this wasn't just a financial burden, but also required a huge time investment.
Now, with online channels opening retail up to a whole new generation of sellers, it's never been as cheap, easy or convenient to take those tentative first steps.
The high street shop has now become the .com or .co.uk domain, whereas market stalls now take the form of eBay, Amazon or play.com marketplaces. In offering a location on some of the most prominent retail sites online, these - quite understandably - attract huge swathes of would-be retailers.
eBay is among the most popular of these sites, having been responsible for a huge number of part-timers becoming fully-fledged retailers in just a matter of months. So what is needed to turn eBaying in your spare time into a full occupation?
Prepare for hard work
There is a great deal of money to be made on eBay - as many of those who've gone through the process can certainly attest. In fact, Brits are thought to spend around £7 billion every year on internet retailing sites. That being said, getting into this rich vein of spending will rarely come easy. eBaying isn't a job where you can clock off at 5pm and forget about it for the rest of the evening. Instead, it can become an all-encompassing venture that will only reward those who consistently put in time and effort.
Much of this can be attributed to the feedback-led approach of online marketplace retailing. An eBay venture will live or die on the basis of its feedback, with many people simply unwilling to buy from anyone with a less-than-perfect feedback score. As such, even achieving a 90 per cent satisfaction rate is not enough when many others are reaching 98 per cent or above.
Thus, to ensure people feel comfortable enough to make the purchase in the first place, a great deal of hard work needs to be put in to the operation from the outset. This should ensure questions are answered quickly, payments processed securely and items dispatched safely.
Think about the product
Whether a retailer has manufactured something after a "lightbulb moment" of inspiration, or discovered they can create items that people seem to love, consideration needs to be paid to whether or not it's suitable for selling on eBay.
Not only are there the obvious considerations - such as the size and weight determining delivery costs - but also others that may not rush to mind straight away.
One such example is the market saturation. If there are hundreds of identical (or even similar) items currently for sale, the well-known supply:demand ratio will be less than favourable. Then, it not only becomes difficult to break into the market in the first place, but it also means any financial returns will be low - or simply non-existent.
Likewise, it's worth giving thought to the longer term and looking beyond the immediate future. Businesses which thrive are those which can entice repeat purchases long into the future. Items that are good quality, or those which people find they would struggle to live without, stop being a commodity and instead become a veritable must-have. This doesn't just mean that the consumer in question will want to make repeat purchases for themselves, but will also buy more as gifts for friends and family. Then, a one-off purchase quickly escalates into something much more lucrative.
Similar to this is the option of up-selling products in addition to the core line. This way, bottom line figures can be regularly topped up by smaller additional purchases.
Do the maths
Few people will go into an eBay business blindly hoping for the best, as it's obvious just how much of a gamble this could turn out to be. What too many people do, however, is to enter with a basic plan of how much they'd like to sell and what would be a reasonable, achievable return - without going too much further.
Instead, a much more robust approach is needed, where retailers value everything effectively. First off, items should be priced accurately, so they generate enough of a profit whilst also being a reasonable value in the eyes of a buyer. This isn't all, as volume of sales also needs to be considered. Items for which retailers expect to sell by the hundreds can have lower profit margins, as it requires less cost outlay to shift each one. Lower-volume sales, however, need to have this accounted for in price and profit.
This eventual price should then be cross-referenced against other, similar items on eBay to ensure there's no glaring disparity.
Not only that, a value should be put on an individual's time to ensure it becomes a worthwhile venture. If profit margins on sales are slim but the process ends up taking a huge amount of time, it may transpire that, once outgoings are accounted for, eBaying generated less than minimum wage. Listing items will become a quicker process with experience, but this is all work, so should be recompensed accordingly.
When considering all of the above, it may appear somewhat overwhelming, with a great deal of hard work and effort needed just to make ends meet. This, somewhat unfortunately, is largely close to the truth. Only those who work hard, have the right product and who have done their research will find they can make a good living on eBay. For those who manage to make it work, however, there's a funding pot of £7 billion (and growing), ready to be targeted, so it's without doubt worthwhile.