5 ways to grow your eBay profits in 2016

PLUS: How to avoid lost and stolen packages slashing your eBay profits

PLUS: How one short email can earn hundreds of pounds you don’t have to share with eBay

2015 is coming to an end: it’s time to make plans for increasing your profits on eBay. There are hundreds of different ways to do this: by seeking ways to reduce your eBay selling fees, for example; or cutting your product acquisition costs; choosing and testing a lower-cost delivery company; creating more responsive eBay listing titles and descriptions; and more besides.

My own most successful New Year resolutions are based on locating products likely to attract higher profits or more regular sales than products I’m currently selling on eBay.

Here are five ways to copy my objective:

  • Sell goods people want to receive the following day and don’t wish to spend time on comparison shopping. But lots of eBay sellers target this type of buyer, so you must get potential buyers to favour your listings. This can be done by giving bonuses and offering better service and faster delivery than what others offer: virtually any product fits the bill here.
  • Spot a need and fill it, especially one not already being met on eBay. The stronger the need, the more likely people will pay for a solution. Examples are numerous health and beauty products, such as pimple-removing creams and acne treatments; unusual and one-of-a-kind gifts and novelty items; fad and gimmicky items; flood defences like sandbags; dog coats when winter weather arrives without warning; and so on.
  • Provide luxury goods at low prices. When people are made redundant or can’t find jobs, it’s luxury goods they will cut out first, such as brand-new current season designer clothing and accessories. But people who balk at second-hand or last-season designer labels during good times might be less finicky about buying second-hand when money is in short supply.

That’s when you might consider selling last year’s designer clothing and accessories, alongside second-hand car parts, money-making books and courses, used toys and baby hardware (prams, cots, garden swings, etc), refurbished household goods and ornaments.

  • Stock goods other people don’t like selling or are too embarrassed to sell. I’m thinking here of things like hair-nose clippers, shoe stuffers to make you look taller, adult sex toys, marital aids, and so on. You may not enjoy the selling but you will like the profits.
  • Choose repeat-sale items over one-time sales, especially items needing constant replenishment. The hardest work for any seller, the biggest expense and the highest risk goes to obtaining first-time buyers. That’s why it makes no sense at all to constantly seek new buyers when so many products have inherent repeat-sale and replenishment value.

Suitable product include: soap, make up, children’s clothing, packaging, annual price guides for antiques and collectibles and numerous other goods and services, craftwork materials, collectibles issued in sets, and so on.

How to avoid lost and stolen packages slashing your eBay profits

Every year-end a massive number of regular customers on eBay choose to buy on the high street instead, usually because they fear their orders may be lost or stolen in transit, or they’ll arrive too late for giving as gifts for the Christmas festivities.

Misplaced orders, goods lost or stolen in transit – I’ve had them all over the years, not just as a seller but as a buyer too. Personally, I would never consider buying time-sensitive products online.

I’ll explain why with an entirely personal tale that’s shared by many other buyers and sellers. A computer I bought from Amazon a few weeks ago has not turned up, but the firm delivering the computer says it has.

At their site the transporting company says a delivery was attempted at 9.15 a.m. Saturday just gone, at the same time I was sitting in the front room, close to the front door, running my eBay business. Hand on heart: no delivery was attempted.

So I contacted the delivery firm via their web chat link and that’s where things took on a whole new perspective: during 15 minutes of scribbled messages passing to and fro, the representative continued repeating the same message in various different formats – something to the effect that queries about goods in transit have nothing to do with the delivery company and all questions must be made to the retailer.

During that short conversation the representative even told me the package had been delivered within the last few minutes – another big lie.

In short, the package never arrived. When I phoned Amazon they sent a replacement computer without asking me questions or researching the matter themselves.

That’s either because Amazon is a caring company with a great reputation for customer service – which is true – or maybe it’s because the delivery company concerned has a massive spate of nasty reviews from customers relating the exact same misery I have just endured. Those reviews are at TrustPilot.com.

I won’t give the name of the delivery company, other than to say it isn’t Royal Mail or Parcelforce – but I would ask you to check whatever delivery company you are using to process your eBay orders.

Go to TrustPilot.com and key your delivery company’s name into the search box: you will find some really professional delivery companies and one very big-name firm with a horrendous history of lost items, incorrect and downright untrue messages given to clients – buyers and sellers alike!

If that company is delivering your orders, I recommend you stop using them right away.

I also advise you to constantly check any other delivery company’s reputation to locate problems that could be forcing you to refund buyers whose goods don’t arrive and which lead to you receiving negative feedback and low-detailed seller ratings.

How one short email can earn hundreds of pounds you don’t have to share with eBay

Many sellers issue newsletters to buyers on eBay, sometimes through eBay’s system, sometimes independently.

It’s communications sent outside of eBay we’ll talk about today, the purpose of which is usually to turn first-time customers into regular buyers without sellers having to pay listing and final selling fees to eBay.

Don’t worry: it’s completely within the rules, as long as those messages are not sent through eBay.

The usual method is to have new buyers sign up to an outside-eBay web page to receive your newsletter or product updates, or you might compile your own buyers’ names and addresses manually, all of which is legally acceptable as long as there’s a quick and easy way for people to remove their details from your list.

Marketing to people who have bought from you already is called ‘back-end selling’ and it usually takes place outside of eBay, so selling costs are low or even non-existent, and profits can be much higher than selling similar products on sites taking a large share of your profits.

Here are more reasons why backend selling is such a good idea:

  • People who’ve bought from you once and enjoyed the experience are likely to buy from you again, perhaps over the lifetime of your mutual existence. For future sales made on eBay, you’ll forfeit a huge chunk of your profits. That’s why saving their contact details to promote back-end sales outside of eBay – and most other sites charging selling fees – is the first and most essential step after attracting a first-time buyer.
  • It costs little or nothing to email past-buyers with hundreds of current offers, unlike listing all those items individually on eBay. But the biggest benefit of back-end selling is that you have a target audience of people who trust you, and whose buying habits you understand and will help you source products just for them.

Last, but not least…

There are more eletters to come in 2015, but right now I’m planning my writing for 2016.

I’d like to know what you would like me to feature in next year’s newsletters and weekly eletters. So tell me about subjects you’d like to know more about and, assuming other people have similar requests, I’ll work on as many of my readers’ ideas as possible. Email your requests to me at: avril@canonburypublishing.com.

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here