165: 18 Tips To Start and Grow Your eBay Business - Mark Le Vine
Mark Le Vine is co-owner, with his wife Robin, of Bubblefast, a shipping supply eCommerce business that began by selling a single roll of bubble cushioning on eBay in 1999. As pioneers, Bubblefast has enjoyed it's involvement in the eCommerce community ever since.Interesting Notes Bubblefast will be celebrating their 20th anniversary on May 2019. Having been a while, they have seen a few things. Back in the old days, there were no many rules. The competition was not much and shipping was less complicated. Back then, it was not easy to take good pictures so pictures were not as important as it is today. PayPal was not a thing either. There was a lot of communication, back and forth, between the buyer and the seller. Once a seller sold the product, you had to sit on it and wait for the check to come in the mail before you even ship it. With the advanced technology, eBay has come a long, long way. Now, it has its own catalogs where you can use stock photos. It has a Feedback System where a Buyer can give a review. As a seller, you can manage payment under PayPal, so you can get paid electronically. eBay is doing all the things that help the sellers make selling easier and to be better in eCommerce. Today, eBay also has better customer service. They are more dedicated to helping you answer questions and even dig into some of the details. Listing is a lot easier and much more user-friendly now than it used to be. eBay is not a cut-throat environment. Everybody sells different, unique items and are not competing for the same market share. It is so diversified that although you may sell in the same category, you are not selling the exact same products. So, sellers can still help each other, feel good about it, and still make some money. eBay keeps in mind the buyer and the seller for every decision that they have to make. It looks at the big picture and makes the decision for the vast majority. Sometimes, looking at the big picture does not sit well with the individual seller. Sometimes, the decision may not go well with the individual seller. But, eBay thinks for the best overall for the marketplace. The more people tell eBay how they feel about the items, the more changes eBay can make to try to make it as best as possible for as many buyers and sellers. But if the buyers don't come to the platform, it does not matter what you sell or for how little you sell it. Nobody is there to buy the items. So eBay has to keep in mind and make sure that there is a lot of competition in the marketplace, not just within eBay. So eBay has to do its job to make sure that buyers come to eBay as oppose to other places. The online business or eCommerce operates 24/7. It is the only business where you can go to bed at night, then wake up in the morning and find out how much money you make. Mark went to a game several years ago. He got a gold Bobblehead as a free give away from the game. He put the Bobblehead down the seat and took a picture of it on the phone. He listed it during the game and within an hour it was sold. When you are running an eBay business, you are on your own. It is stressful to some degree. You spend a lot more time on it. But all those things are yours! It is the best feeling about owning your own eCommerce business. You are not working your ass so that somebody else can make money off your sweat. Mark's business has different processes than most of the eBay sellers. It is because they sell on different marketplaces. They have one database that somebody has customized an app for them. It downloads all the orders from different marketplaces into one central database. From there they work on each order - size and weight. Then they decide what service is to use for shipping each individual products to optimize their cost and shipping speed. They don't have a pick list because the items for shipping are printed right on the label. They grab the label, then they pick and pack it up. They have different couriers - FedEx and Speedy Delivery. The post office man picks up the rest of the items not meant for the couriers. Their processes did not come and developed overnight. They made a lot of adjustments as their services change. There are challenges all the time. Mark and Robin continue to grow and try to be on top of the things as best as they can. There are new products out there - even new shipping products. So they are re-evaluating what their prices are to maintain competitive edges. They continue to learn their customers' needs so that they can customize their products. Many times, they have customized products that people eventually caught up in. And they want to keep it going and work out on the next one. If the rule changes, Mark and Robin would like to the first one to be on top of the rule. They want to supply products that fit the rule and make everybody happy. They believe that they cannot do it without keeping in touch with the eCommerce community. Advice, Tips, and Tricks eCommerce is getting a bigger and bigger piece of the market share of the retail business every year. Now is just as good as a time to get in. If you are a new seller on eBay, it is not difficult to list an item and sell. But there are a lot of rules that you have to be aware of. The rules have to do with shipping, packaging, how much to sell your item for, etc. Mark recommendations for starters are:
1. Don't quit your job. Instead, start selling as a hobby and play with it.
2. Sell things that are inexpensive.
3. Follow the rules and you will succeed.
4. Start small and learn. Stick to one item a week or one item a month.
5. Be prepared to make mistakes and lose money. Learn from those mistakes and grow slowly.
6. Find an eBay Sellers' Facebook Group. You don't even have to ask any questions. Nobody has to know that you are there. Pay attention to the questions other people are asking and read the answers. By doing, you will find new sources for questions, goods, suggestions. You'll be surprised how quickly your business can grow just by joining networks online.
7. Find yourself a local Meetup group at Meetup.com This is a face to face networking.
8. Don't be bashful about asking questions. Eventually, you'll become an expert in your niche. A time will come when people will ask you questions and you can pay forward by helping them out.
9. If you have the UPC Code on your item, make sure that you put that UPC code in your listing. Having the UPC Code in your listing gives your listing much better chances of showing up in the buyers' search than if you did not use the UPC code at all.In regards to Shipping, Mark recommendations are:
10. Do a little research. The heavier and bigger the product, and the farther away you ship it is going to cost you more to ship. You also need to pick a different service.
11. Something lightweight and small is for a Priority Mail. Something heavy or large, you may want to go with the couriers like UPS. You have to learn the differences there.
12. Know how you are going to pack your products before you ship it. Once you can figure out how much it is going to weigh and what the dimensions are, then list it. Use the eBay shipping calculator to give you options on the least expensive and fastest way to ship your products. That way, your buyers can pick out whatever options they want to pay for and get the products faster.In regards to Processes, Mark recommendations are:
13. As your business grows, learn how to be efficient. There are too many options and services. You will go blind trying to look for all. So in your networking, ask people what they use.
14. Be prepared to use the processes in your business. But things change and so does the offers. Some get better. Some don't handle what you can do anymore. Keep on tight on knowing what your own business is and you can make the changes quickly.
15. Listening to what your customers are asking for, or what kind of USPS rules is changing. Doing so will give you an idea when and how to modify your own products.
16. When you create jobs, create jobs for the position and not for the people. So that if people changes, the job description and the position do not. That makes the transition much easier.
17. If you have staff, don't ask people to do something that they are not capable of doing. Try to put them on the best spot. Try to cross-train your staff so that when somebody is not there, someone else can take over.
18. Better to train somebody else to do your job so that you can move up into a higher job and bigger responsibility.Quotes "Everybody wants to help each other on eBay." "eCommerce model it to be the tortoise and not the hare." "Start small and learn. Where you want to be, starting small and learning, is the best way to get there." "You cannot move up in the ranks unless somebody else can move in your spot." "Staying in touch is the biggest asset you can have in keeping and growing your business." "Every eBay sellers has been helped by somebody else." - Ron LaBeau “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to.” - Richard Branson Contact Information eBay Store: Bubblefast Facebook Page: Bubblefast email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sponsors Norila Digital Marketing
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