Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Steps to Start Selling on eBay

Currently, you can find millions of things to buy on eBay. From clothing to cologne, it seems anyone can sell almost anything. But listing an item for sale is just the first step in starting a successful business as a seller. 

Recently, one of our buyers asked for some tips on how he could start his own store, and we thought the information might be interesting to others:
Nik and I started selling stamps about 12+ years ago as a hobby.  Nik had collected since he was a kid.  We started out selling some of his duplicates to pay for the stamps he wanted to purchase.  Then we started buying small accumulations to break down and sell.

Nik and Lisa Oquist, Owners - OquistStamps
It was a part time thing – One group of listings a week closing on Sundays.  We slowly added a few more listings here and there, but it was always just a part time hobby.

We moved to Maryland and it was put on the shelf for a few years until an old friend from Nashville asked us to sell his collection for him. Then one of our customers asked about consignment and we took on his collection – It took about 18 months to sell.  

At this point we were listing about 4-5 days a week.  And it just grew.  With the consignment monies, we were able to purchase more collections to break down and sell.  So for the past 4 years we have been selling stamps full time.  It is a lot of work, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Creating a business / career out of selling stamps was not our intent, but with the growth we experienced, it seemed like the right thing to do.   We now list about 100 auctions a day and maintain about 400-500 fixed price listings. 

I am happy to share what works for us:
It's Only Worth What Someone Will Pay for It

One thing we have done is trained our thought process regarding value. 
You can have a stamp worth $1000, but if no one is going to pay that for it, is it really worth $1000?   A good way to look at things is to take what you pay for a collection and then determine what a stamp cost you.  If you paid $10 for a stamp worth $100 and you sell it for $25, you have more than doubled your money.  I admit sometimes this isn’t easy, but keeping cost v.s value in mind helps.

Determine Your Minimum

Find a starting point for your auctions – we start all of our auctions at a penny.  This is difficult for many sellers to do, but we have found it works for us.  The important thing is that you have to be comfortable with whatever starting price you pick, as there is a chance your item will sell for that.   If you are uncomfortable with letting the market set the price, try out some fixed price items first.

Provide Amazing Customer Service 

  • Describe your items accurately.   If there are any faults – describe them.
  • Provide good images – we scan at 600dpi for single stamps, 300 dpi for sets, 1200 dpi for special items.
  • Label your items.  This helps both you and the buyer identify the item.
  • Take time to package your items with care. 
  • Communicate promptly.
  • Keep fees reasonable. I find most people do not complain about the shipping charge ($2) when they see that the label cost me $1.93. 

Know Your Costs

Do a cost analysis to see if achieving top rated status is financially beneficial.  With part time sellers it may not be as the fees may be more than the discount received. 

If you are using postage for shipping instead of labels, look for discounted postage lots.  We get ours at a discount off face value, which helps keep shipping cost down a bit.

Always Be Improving
Be willing to adjust your business model.  We are continually looking at the way we do things and making adjustments as needed so things run more smoothly.


Get 5 more great tips from Christina DesMarais with HERE! Good luck getting your business started!  

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