CEO of Me is excited to introduce this 4 part series on the Secrets to Successful Selling on eBay by our guest blogger Christy Silkaitis from The Shoppers Apprentice! Click Here to view the previous posts from this series
This article will discuss how to find merchandise to sell on ebay. One of the easiest ways of finding merchandise is to go through your own home. You might be surprised at what you can find. Clothing, electronics, tools, furniture, domestics, housewares, antiques, books, shoes, jewelry, toys, gifts, sporting goods, hardware, and much more! The best way to figure out if an item is sellable is to log onto ebay and search on the item, then check on “Completed Auctions.” This will show you if a specific item is selling, and also how much it is selling for.
Another source of merchandise is ebay itself. You can pick a product to specialize in (but you don’t have to), and I’ve always been told that you should sell what you love. If you don’t have a passion for a particular product, you can see the hot selling items on eBay by going to pulse.ebay.com. This site will show you the items that are most often searched for on eBay (the number 2 item people search for on ebay is coupons!). The ten most popular terms will come up on the first page, but if you want to narrow your search, select a sub-category in the pull-down menu above. For example, if you select Health and Beauty, you will see that the top three search items are: 1. Mac, 2. Philosophy, and 3. Chanel. These are the items in Health and Beauty that people are most after. So if you want to develop a business, you can contact those companies and see if they are looking for sellers, or you can try to find wholesale lots of those products to resell. For example, I just searched on Philosophy, and found an auction for 224 3-in-1 Shower Gels Shampoo and Bubble Bath selling for $229.99. Now do some research and figure out if you could make a profit purchasing that lot, breaking it up, and selling these individually. You will have to decide if the profit margin is high enough to make all your efforts worthwhile.
One way to increase your profit margin is to buy items at rock-bottom prices at garage sales, flea markets and auctions. It helps to know what to look for, and you can become well-versed in value by spending some time looking over completed auctions on eBay. If you plan on going to garage sales, it pays to go early. Look for items you think would sell on eBay, then check the price to see if you can make a profit. I have learned there are two types of people who hold garage sales: those who want to make a lot of money from their sale, and those who just want to get rid of their clutter. You will want to buy from the latter group! And if you see something you think might sell well but it is priced too high, you can always ask the person holding the sale if that is their best price. Usually, garage sale priced are pretty firm at the beginning of a sale, but it never hurts to ask. You can also offer to leave your name and number and have the garage sale host call you at the end of the day if the item you are interested in still hasn’t sold. The seller might be willing (at that time) to sell it for less. Make sure you have enough cash to cover a high-priced item, just in case. I once found a very large lot of Lego pieces that were priced at $125 and I was very thankful I had enough cash with me, as the lot was worth far more than $125! Before you head out, check your local newspaper for local sales and plan your route. Some areas (like mine in IL) hold garage sales on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, while still others (like my hometown in CA) hold them Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
The same basic principles hold for flea markets. Go early and bring a bag to hold your purchases. The best time to be at a flea market is when the vendors are setting up. You will know when there are good finds when you see a bunch of people standing around a stall watching as each box is unpacked. You will also find vendors selling items we get for free all the time after coupons…toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, razors, body wash, and more. Just pass these stalls and focus on stalls selling antiques, collectibles, and household goods.
Another source of merchandise is the auction. Sometimes these are held at the Auction House, and sometimes they are held on-site (at a residential home or place of business). If you are going to auctions, take advantage of the preview time to decide which lots you are interested in. Some of the lots are single-item, but many are a box filled with assorted items. If you are going after a box lot, try to estimate what the lot would be worth on eBay and bid accordingly. Most Auction houses take a percentage of the sale price as their fee, so be sure to include this in your estimates. It’s easy to get swept away in the moment at an auction and bid higher than you intended, so be careful and stick to your budget!
There are still more ways to get merchandise to sell on eBay, including wholesalers, drop shippers, closeouts, discontinued merchandise, overstocks, salvage items, surplus merchandise, below wholesale products, customer returns, wholesale trade shows, suppliers, liquidators, close out firms, and foreign and domestic manufacturers. If you intend on pursuing any one of these, it is best to find a good book on the subject. Setting up your own company, with all the legal and tax ramifications, is beyond the scope of this article.
Next week: how to write up your auctions on eBay.
The Shoppers Apprentice