Weekly Column: 2017-02-10

Maybe it is due to the increasing interest in online shopping, but people around me have been asking many questions regarding selling online. When people first create a website they want to know when they will start making sales and how to start on eBay or Amazon.  I always give the following answer - “First, create an eBay account and buy about ten products.”

I doubt there's anybody who doesn’t know about eBay. Many would define eBay in this way.
“If it's not on eBay, it doesn't exist!”

eBay was established in 1995 in the United States with the goal of selling used goods between individuals through an auction-type system. Twenty years later, it is the world’s second largest online marketplace and around this time last year, eBay had approximately 200 million items listed and 20 million new items posted each day. eBay is truly a world of surprises that contains anything and everything. With more than 300 million members in 39 countries, eBay is currently the world’s largest e-commerce market, selling over $2,000 of products every second.

On eBay, anyone can sell their items without restrictions, giving the company a leading edge over others.  As a buyer, you can find anything you are looking for.  For sellers, it's no wonder people use eBay as their first step for online sales.

I remember when I first started selling on eBay with no knowledge and learning about online sales only through intuition.  At that time, online marketing was not flourishing as it is now, and I thought that if I just listed a few items, at least one would sell.  I still remember how worried and disappointed I was over the first six months after listing my products and no sales.  I also remember my sheer delight when I sold my first item. Granted, this first sale did not make a profit but did show there was an interest in my products.  I was so happy and realized I was not going to give up half way through.

It takes a lot of patience to start online sales. It is a given that there will be no reactions to your products and they may not sell at first. It is almost impossible to differentiate your products in the midst of millions of other listings. However, this is where many people make a common mistake. They believe that if you list something, it will sell right away. There are many things you must do to sell products online. From product management, trend management, customer management, and managing unique photos and videos to appeal to customers.  Online sales are impossible without having consistent management.

In order to survive the intense eBay market competition, a combination of different products, reasonable prices, seller’s ratings, and a combination of the right keywords are essential. The importance of differentiating a product that is up for sale is a given, and if it is the same product, the product with the lower price has the advantage. If it is the same product being sold at the same price, the seller’s rating plays a large role. However, what is even more important is the combination of keywords. No matter how good a product is, how cheaply it is being sold for, or how good a seller’s rating is, if no one can find it in a search, you will not be able to sell it. Keywords that others use are important, but having a good combination of keywords that bring your products more exposure than that of your competitors is much more important. Sometimes, you can learn more from buying products on eBay than selling. I think I was gradually able to understand how the consumer thinks by searching for products. People search for the products they want, compare seller ratings, and for the most part, buy the cheapest product. If they are in a hurry, they will choose the product that will be delivered the quickest even though the price may be higher. Sometimes, they even buy a more expensive product if the seller has a good reputation. People who try to sell without buying first are like those who take the hard way around, abandoning the shortcut.

You will not be satisfied from the get-go. Online sales is clearly a very attractive way to sell your products in this day and age, but patience is key, even if there are no buyers at first. Once the prices, services, etc. are good you will build up a good seller’s rating.  Results should start taking place in as short as six months to one year at the most, you will be able to see rapid growth in your sales.

It is important to take things one step at a time rather than jumping to do them quickly. First things first, you should not create your website or create an eBay store until you experience buying something through eBay and understanding the consumer's mindset.  Their experience through purchasing and receiving the product will give you valuable information rather than immediately selling online.  It will not be difficult to achieve your goals selling online if you approach it with an understanding of the consumer’s mindset.