Structure your eBay business to match your business
Executive summary: Whether you open an eBay store or handle your eBay business with auctions or auction management software, it may depend on whether you're doing high-volume, low-margin sales or a few distinct items with different prices.
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A lot of small businesses have turned to the Web as a great way to sell merchandise, and eBay is one of the most popular solutions. But while the site is thought of as an auction house, where the highest bidder gets the prize, many businesses are opening up an eBay store instead. An eBay Store, for a fee, gives your business a professional look and helps you avoid the hassles of managing auctions. True, auction management software can help you set up bulk listings, manage release schedules, and even track inventory. But it can also add needless complexity if you're primarily a low-volume, high-margin eBay seller. Which method is right for your business? Follow these tips in order to present your wares in the best possible light:
Set up an eBay Store for fixed-price listings
"It's both easier and relatively inexpensive compared to individual auctions," said Terry Kraemer, the director of auction sales at MovieGoods, Inc.
Its eBay Store
sells movie posters and collectibles. Kraemer started out with separate auctions, but now 80 percent of his eBay sales volume is directly from the eBay Store. "Regular auctions run for 7 to 10 days, and they usually cost 35 cents each. For just 2 cents, you can run the same item for 30 days in the eBay store," said Kraemer.
Use individual auctions for unique items
If you have a fixed number of goods to sell, especially if each one is different (such as collectibles or used items, all in different conditions and likely to fetch differing prices), separate auctions are the best route. Shawn Dinwiddie, the director of sales and customer service at Callaway Golf Pre-Owned
, Callaway Golf's certified, preowned golf club store, uses eBay auctions. "Most of the inventory we send to eBay is primarily what we get in on trade that has an issue with its condition, such as a damaged golf club shaft (that we later repair)," Dinwiddie said. "For unique items, the eBay Store doesn't really make sense unless you can categorize them somehow."
Employ both approaches for maximum profit
Callaway Golf Pre-Owned does use an eBay Store
for its About Me page. "The eBay Store differentiated our auctions from just consumer-to-consumer sales," Dinwiddie said. "It legitimized us as a business on eBay and allowed us to tell our story." Another benefit is being able to organize your listings with your own set of categories. "Our eBay Store mirrors our Web site, but there are category buttons within each listing and with our About Me page," said Dinwiddie.
Integrate auction management software
Do you have hundreds (or thousands) of low-margin products to sell? If so, an auction management package (such as HammerTap Manager
) could be right for you. "ChannelAdvisor allows us to schedule and maintain all of our auctions, from the hundreds of thousands of SKUs [different products] we have," said Kraemer of MovieGoods. That way, he doesn't have to manage each of the auctions by hand. "We built our own software that handles the transaction side and allows us to send each listing over to ChannelAdvisor, which does all of the scheduling and reporting."
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