10 Essential Tips for Selling on Amazon and eBay
Can you really make money selling on Amazon.com and eBay—and is it worth your time as a music retailer? According to Leslie Faltin of Instrumental Music Center, the answer is a resounding “yes.” During her session “The 10 Commandments of Selling on Amazon and eBay” at the 2015 NAMM Show, Faltin shared 20 ins and outs for turning a profit using the powerhouse online marketplaces.
“You don’t have to like them or agree with them to use their platforms,” Faltin said. “There will always be an Amazon and eBay, so why not work with it?”
Following these commandments will help you avoid pitfalls. Here are highlights. (Watch the video for the full session.)
1. Get a great camera. Faltin recommended a camera with the right sensor size versus megapixel ratings. (She bought the Canon Rebel T5i DSLR.) Get photo equipment and accessories, such as tripods, lighting, backdrops, props and photo editing software, to produce the best photos.
2. Know your market. Terapeak.com lets you what’s selling on eBay. It’s also a great tool for researching what’s hot and trade-ins.
3. Bundle. If it works for your business model, create packages that provide solutions to consumers. For example, you could offer a product with its complete accessories. According to Faltin, the bundle will often sell better than the single item.
4. Use eBay global shipping. You ship to a U.S. eBay shipping center, and it ships overseas. One negative is that out-of-country buyers get higher pricing due to duty and import fees, but it’s worth having eBay handle the global shipping logistics and headaches.
5. Try Selling Manager Pro. It’s an additional $15.99 per month, but you have access to more metrics and can better track your sales. Although it’s an add-on to the eBay subscription, Faltin recommended Selling Manager Pro if you’re selling more than two items per month. You can cancel it if you don’t like it.
6. Pick a selling strategy. Buy it Now is good for commodity items, new products and regular stock. Faltin recommended using Buy It Now with Best Offer when you’re not sure what an item is really worth. You can also convert your Buy It Now items to a straight auction. Consumers watching a Buy It Now item are automatically notified if you turn it into an auction. Listing auction items with a high reserve or high start price may generate more interest, and as others see that there are a lot of bids, they’ll want to know what the item is. This can be a great way to drum up interest. A riskier strategy is to start an item at $1 for a straight-up auction. Sometimes, it goes for more than you expect, or it can also go for much less. It’s rolling the dice.
7. Know that eBay is trying to help you. They don’t sell to your customers. They look at your account history and will help you take full advantage of your store. Faltin added that buying postage from eBay is convenient and helpful.
8. Create your identity. Create your own look for your listings. You can host your own logos and graphics for free on Imgur or Photobucket and paste that link into the eBay HTML, so you can create a more customized look and not settle for just the eBay logo template on all of your eBay listings.
9. Covet Top Rated Plus status. You want the Top Rated Plus seal displayed on your eBay listings, so customers feel good about doing business with you. It’s also a great way to save money by receiving discounts and other benefits. It’s hard to get this rating and maintain it, so be prepared to work at it.
10. Add videos. If you have an unusual product, you should add a video to the listing to give customers the confidence to buy the item. You can upload your video to YouTube and include the link on your eBay listing. (Watch the session video to find out how to add videos to your eBay store.)
1. Remember where you stand. Amazon is huge, and it can sell to your customers. “They are who they are, but the cool thing is that you can actually sell on their platform,” Faltin said.
2. Market yourself. When Instrumental Music Center fulfills its Amazon orders, Faltin includes marketing materials in the shipping box. These materials include a rack card that invites customers to consider Instrumental Music Center for their next purchase. Faltin said this has resulted in some residual business. If a customer calls about something he or she saw on Amazon, Faltin and her staff try to book that sale directly. One of her customers saw her Facebook post with an Amazon link and purchased the item, so there are always opportunities to market yourself.
3. Know your market. Camelcamelcamel.com offers free Amazon data. Terapeak.com also provides market research on what’s selling on Amazon (and on eBay). You can review your sales history and see who’s buying. The key is to establish your niche—what you can sell at a reasonable volume. Listing new products on Amazon can help you test how they perform. Keep in mind that Amazon’s Place Your Order button makes it easy for home shoppers who may not be comfortable shopping in-store.
4. There will be problems. In dealing with the public, you’re always going to come across problems, such as sending product to the wrong person, people claiming they never got your package or customers threatening lawsuits. That said, Faltin mentioned that she’s seen significantly less fraud on Amazon than on eBay—a positive.
5. Choose your plan wisely. There are two different plans with Amazon: individual sellers or professional sellers. Faltin recommended starting as an individual seller and moving to a professional seller. (Watch the video for more details.)
6. Prepare to be frustrated. Faltin suggested hanging up and calling back if you don’t get the answers you need the first time. She also noted that Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) returns can take up to 45 days to resolve.
7. Covet your margins. Faltin shared that she sometimes sells low-dollar items and makes more on shipping than on the item itself. Not all of your products will work on Amazon. Faltin said she believes a product isn’t worth listing if she’s making less on the transaction than Amazon does. Evaluate what makes sense for you.
8. Fulfillment By Amazon good news and bad news. FBA can be a blessing, as it offers Amazon Prime member shipping. Still, Faltin cautioned to be aware of extra fees. Also, serial numbers need to be attached to your account to prevent mix-ups with other sellers’ accounts, and FBA returns can be difficult to process, according to Faltin.
9. Don’t forsake your inventory. Faltin stressed being careful not to run out of inventory because it dings your reputation and your points. You must be able to fulfill an order if the product is listed.
10. Beware of crowd-sourced listings. Customers and other sellers can upload incorrect images. Sometimes, details in existing listings are incorrect. Keep an eye out for this, with the understanding that it’s almost impossible to change.
Amen to Amazon and eBay
eBay: Lets you move your products on an easily controlled platform. “It’s like a yard sale, but it’s your own yard sale, so you can control working with the customers and in general,” Faltin said.
Amazon: Provides tons of volume when you find your niche. “It’s like having a kiosk at someone else’s music store,” she said.
Whether you use one or the other, or both, there’s an opportunity to make money and turn your products.