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Nicholl McGuire

My Experience Returning to Online Selling Using eBay and Amazon back in 2012

September 18 2013, 12:00pm

Posted by Nicholl

I wanted to start back to making some additional money using auction sites like eBay and an online market place like Amazon selling various consumer electronics. Since I had years of prior experience utilizing these avenues in the past, I thought that it would be good for me to return to roots that were familiar. But the game had changed a great deal over the years, and it was actually becoming harder to make some serious cash to pay off bills (notice I didn’t say make a payment on a bill!) So I decided to share some of my experiences selling electronics online.

I opened accounts with both Amazon and eBay. What I didn’t do that I had done in the past was use my personal name to build a business. I wanted to keep personal me from business me and that is why I went with this plan. However, what I didn’t do was create a separate email that wasn’t in my name for PayPal purposes and I encourage anyone who wants to sell online to do this. Also, you will want to do business from a business address and not your home address. Although you may think no one will ever come to visit since many buyers are out of town, that doesn’t mean that they won’t. I read a story where a buyer sent the police to a seller’s home when his merchandise hadn’t been received! A bit extreme, but he got his merchandise without another delay! So your seller, email, and PayPal account should not have your personal name, but a business name and your mailing address should be for business purposes.

The next thing I noticed, was that the fees had also changed significantly to sell items. I took note of the fee changes at both sites and read up on policies to ensure that I wouldn’t be short any cash or have to deal with any violations in the future when I started selling. I also took the time to read what other sellers’ experiences had been in the forums. I quickly learned that many were disgruntled about the fees and that if I planned on selling an item under $10 and hoped to make a decent profit – it wouldn’t happen!

I also checked with the post office on getting boxes, I searched for sales on bubble envelopes, tape, labels, and other office supplies since I knew what types of things I would be selling, and I also checked around the house for anything I could start selling to get me reacquainted with the whole process again and to build up my positive feedback. Since I didn’t have much I would be selling from home, I didn’t bother with accepting those offers that came into the mail for a free postal scale and the convenience of shipping from home. I reasoned that I could use the exercise and a nice walk pushing my granny cart or a stroller with my boxes down the street--that would be good enough!
One of the problems I experienced with selling on eBay was buyer responses. Although they were often positive, there was one or two who may have had higher expectations of what the product should have looked like.

Now a couple of my Amazon issues were damage during the shipping process. So what I did to fix those issues was buy a better digital camera, took more photos of the products in various angles and learned more about using video to help with my sales. I think video is exceptional since a buyer can’t argue with you about whether or not an electronic worked prior to shipping, how it works, the way the item was packaged, or anything else that they can clearly see in the video. When it came to this issue about a product being damaged during shipping, I found that unless you encourage the buyer to pay for insurance, you will be refunding the money out of your pocket. Since Amazon doesn’t have this option, you have no choice but to refund them the money. I also found that if buyers had any remorse about the item, if it didn’t work, they wanted an exchange, or some other problem occurs, if you don’t accommodate them no matter if you suspect they are lying, they can file a claim against you and Amazon will keep you out of business and hold up your money until it is resolved.

It is overall better to have your own website; therefore, you can create your own policies and have access to your money so that you can help other customers. But for newbies, get your feet wet, working with an existing company.

I noticed that you can’t market your own website using these sites unless you place something about your business in the packages that you sent out. This is a key opportunity for you to grow your business and gain repeat business--use Amazon and eBay like they use you! Create professional flyers and business cards in advance and include them in anything going out of your products, services, causes, etc.

Using promotions like "buy one get one" or giveaways doesn’t work well especially on Amazon, because if you have a dissatisfied customer he or she may say something to cause others to not want to participate in your promotion so keeping those special deals separate from your Amazon or eBay business is much better. This way your disgruntled customer will not sabotage your efforts to obtain more business.

Also, feedback can make or break your business especially if you don’t defend your actions. I never allowed anyone to say something on my site without an explanation. I also was careful to have my policies clearly outlined prior to posting my products. So if you don’t accept returns on used electronics say so. If you have a 10-14 business day window when it comes to handling complaints then make that known. I didn’t hide what my policies were and I didn’t change them in the midst of a controversy for my own selfish gain either.

I would definitely recommend an assistant when your business seems to be picking up. Someone should handle the customer service emails while someone else handles the trips to the post office. What you don’t want is one person trying to do it all, because your frustration can easily be communicated in your emails to your customers. You also don’t want to start this business with no emergency money in your account. For instance, let’s say that you have to refund a customer, exchange a product, and purchase additional items which all of these things happened to me all at the same time, mind you! If you don’t have any money put away from these kinds of unexpected issues, it can set your business back, so be prepared for those sudden surprises!

Lastly, be sure you know how to determine your profit for tax purposes. You may realize that after you do the math on the fees, the supplies, and the product itself that there is no profit left over, if so then you'll want to cut your losses early and try another product to sell. It is very easy to get so many orders in for something that you lose sight of your credits and debits. I remember one product I sold I was able to make a decent profit the first day I posted it, but by the next day I was losing money! That happens so often on the Internet, because just when you think that you have a great product to sell someone else is posting it for dollars cheaper than you!

To your success!

Nicholl McGuire

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