14 min read EXPAND Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. April 1, 2007 Marketplace ResearchOne thing differentiating eBay businesses that grow from those that don’t is the owners’ levels of eBay market knowledge. Marketplace data and software tools from eBay and third parties can help businesses on eBay research their markets to improve results. eBay’s own Marketplace Research is a recent introduction that provides consolidated metrics on up to 90 days of completed items and allows for sophisticated analysis. It is offered in three tiers: Fast Pass for the casual user; Basic for those who want to handle variables such as starting price ranges and number of successful sales; and Pro, which allows for research by related keywords, among other advanced features.Third-party provider Terapeak, which uses data licensed from eBay, lets sellers and buyers look back through extended time periods to find price trends on specific products through completed listings, along with other sophisticated research tools.DeepAnalysis market research software from HammerTap can do a number of powerful analyses, such as studying how starting prices compare to bids. You can also use it to figure out the best categories for your items by looking at the number of bids or selling prices for similar items.Andale’s Research tools help eBay sellers find the success rate and average selling price of any item and identify the price most likely to increase sales volume. Services can be purchased a la carte.Seller CentralIf you want to build your business, you should become familiar with Seller Central. It’s the mother lode for tips, tools, information and other resources for eBay sellers.Seller Central is organized into convenient sections. Best Practices presents time-tested approaches for selling on eBay. Its recommendations are based on the techniques used by eBay’s most successful sellers. Advanced Selling is for those who are ready to go beyond the basics. Category Tips directs you to specific resources arranged by category to help you fine-tune your approach to fit your category.The “In Demand” section in Category Tips is especially helpful. It lists the top 10 items in your category and the top 10 buyer search words.What’s Hot gives you a look at the items and categories that are popular and also provides you with a preview of eBay’s merchandising calendar so you’ll know about upcoming promotions in time to prepare for them. News & Updates gives you a link to sign up for the PowerUp newsletter, a monthly e-mail with the insider’s view of new selling features, promotions and tools.Part of the What’s Hot section of Seller Central is the “Hot Categories Report,” a monthly listing of categories that meet specific criteria for month-to-month growth in bids and conversion rates. Find out which categories are Super Hot, boasting a 35-percentage-point or more spread between bid growth rate and listing growth, to identify your most promising categories. Get more on the “Hot Categories Report.”The latest addition to this genre of buying analysis is eBay Pop!. Find the latest “Movers & Shakers” as well as the most popular items in several eBay categories. For more details, check out www.ebay.com/ebaypop.What does that leave? The catchall “Resources” link takes you to a page listing scores of tools and links on topics such as deciding what to sell and eBay’s Giving Works charity program.What Buyers WantYou can find out what buyers are looking for by using several eBay resources for sellers who want to build their businesses on eBay. Reviews & Guides is a tool buyers can use to decide what to buy and a way for sellers to look inside buyers’ minds. The “Reviews” section contains eBay user-written comments and ratings for specific products, such as books and CDs. The “Guides” section consists of handbooks written by experts, collectors and other members to give you insight into topics ranging from collectible dolls to caring for antiques. Learn more about Reviews & Guides at http://reviews.ebay.com.You can browse the Want It Now listings to see exactly what buyers are looking for, in their own words. Buyers can create Want It Now posts to share what they want to purchase with millions of sellers, including you. Learn more about this free service at http://pages.ebay.com/wantitnow.Picture ManagereBay’s Picture Manager is a fully integrated service to help you post pictures for your listings. With Picture Manager, you save time by tapping into all your pictures from the “Sell Your Item” form or My eBay. You won’t have to leave eBay to change, add or remove pictures. You won’t have to upload pictures for each individual listing, and you can add multiple pictures to any listing for one flat fee.You can transfer all the pictures you already have on eBay to Picture Manager with a single click. Once you do so, Picture Manager gives you a single place to host all your pictures for About Me and eBay Stores as well as listings. Security tools allow you to add your User ID to your pictures as a watermark. Picture Manager is priced at several levels, from $9.99 a month for 50MB to $24.99 a month for 1GB. Featured Store sellers get discounted rates, and Anchor Store sellers can subscribe to Picture Manager at any level for no fee. Get more information about Picture Manager and its features at http://pages.ebay.com/picture_manager. Register Now » BUILD Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Shopping Comparison SitesDid you know that more than half of online shoppers use a shopping comparison site to make their buying decisions? And the comparison site they use most is Shopping.com, a part of eBay since August 2005. Shopping.com is a place shoppers can go to compare prices, availability and shipping costs from thousands of vendors in a single location. When shoppers make their selections, they’re directed to the chosen vendor to complete their purchase. Using shopping comparison sites effectively is an excellent way to expand an offline business on eBay. You can join the merchants listed on Shopping.com, including some of the world’s largest stores as well as many smaller vendors, by providing the site with a listing of your products in a format specified by the service. Shopping.com will create your list for a fee, but there is no fee if you create the list yourself. Enroll, and Shopping.com gives you directions for uploading your list to the website. After that, you pay only when shoppers click on your product listing to go to your buying page from Shopping.com’s search results. For more detailed information, including pricing, visit www.shopping.com.PayPal Merchant ToolsUsing PayPal Merchant tools is the preferred way to pay and be paid for online transactions. This eBay-owned service gives you the ability to cost-effectively handle credit and debit cards as well as bank transfers and PayPal account balances. Your customers don’t need to have a PayPal account to pay you, and there are four service levels to meet the specific needs of your business. PayPal Website Payments Standard lets you start accepting payments immediately without delays for approval. You don’t need to have a shopping cart or make an annual commitment, and there are no monthly fees or charges for startup or cancellation of the standard service. However, there are transaction fees.PayPal Website Payments Pro gives U.S.-based merchants the features of merchant accounts without the same high costs. PayPal Website Payments Pro costs $20 a month in addition to transaction fees. PayPal Email Payments lets you get paid quickly by e-mail. It’s fast and easy to set up–just 10 minutes, and you don’t even need to have a website. You can send out e-mail invoices and receive payments through PayPal. Customers don’t need their own PayPal account to send funds to your account–they can do so when they receive your e-mailed invoice.Each of these three PayPal service levels has the option (either with a paid upgrade, by application and approval, or through the “Virtual Terminal” feature, respectively) of accepting credit or debit card payments directly on the site as well as by phone, fax, mail or in person.PayPal as an Additional Payment Option is a way for merchants who already have a merchant account to add PayPal and give customers another way to pay. Get more details about PayPal Merchant tools at www.paypal.com.Merchant eCommerce Solutions CenterEstablished offline businesses looking to expand to eBay can get an all-points introduction to the world of eBay Stores at the Merchant eCommerce Solutions Center. With a single click, you can pull up a matrix comparing eBay’s e-commerce solutions, including selling on eBay with an eBay Store, selling online with a ProStores web store and selling on eBay without an eBay Store.Additional links take you to articles on e-commerce and other eBay merchant resources, including PayPal. If you have slow-moving inventory you want to get rid of or a local presence you’d like to expand worldwide, or you simply want to explore the potential of eBay to drive online shoppers to your business, the Merchant eCommerce Solutions Center should be your first stop.The site also gives you a link to a list of Certified Business consultants that can help you get started. Learn more about the Merchant eCommerce Solutions Center by visiting www.ebay.com/merchantsolutions. eBay Certified ProviderseBay Certified Providers are eBay-qualified experts with proven tools and techniques to help sellers. Certified Providers have highly sophisticated offerings for expert sellers–and easy-to-use services and solutions for people just starting their businesses on eBay.Service providers give nontechnical help with listing strategies, template design and similar matters. Solution providers can help with software and technical services, such as custom software development, listing management software and integrating your business with the eBay platform. These experts provide assistance with marketplace strategy, merchandising design, customer support, managing inventory or transactions, and more.As Was is an example of a Certified Provider. This service, provided by an experienced eBay seller, can help you launch your business on eBay with custom templates, logo design, strategies for sales and marketing, vendor recommendations, operations management and more. For details, visit www.aswas.com.Receller is also a Certified Provider, and it makes listing an item on eBay as simple as snapping a picture with your camera phone. You photograph an item, send it to Receller, and a listing coach calls you back to take the information for your listing. This service is a boon to new eBay sellers because their coaches apply eBay selling best practices to help you get the best results from your listing. Learn more at www.receller.com.For more on Certified Providers and to find the right one for you, visit http://solutions.ebay.com and look for the Certified Provider logo.Education Specialists are another type of eBay-qualified expert specializing in teaching others to use eBay. The more than 1,000 Education Specialists across the country are all trained by eBay and use the official eBay University curriculum to teach you how to sell. Learn more about the Education Specialist Program or find a class in your area at www.ebay.com/esp.Digital Photo TipsPictures are vital to creating effective listings–the better your pictures, the better your listings will work. Start with the right camera. The large files created by many high-resolution digital cameras are too bulky to upload easily and use in listings; small 72 dpi images are fine.One solution is to use one of two Casio cameras (priced at $300 and $400) with the “eBay Best Shot Mode.” This feature automatically reduces the size of the picture and overall file size. If your camera doesn’t do this, you will often need to resize your photo and perhaps change the quality to medium or so to make it easier to load in your listing. If you’re listing small items, you’ll need the ability to use a macro lens for close-ups; consider placing a small object or ruler next to the item to indicate size. Focus carefully–soft-focus pictures look fuzzy and unappealing. If you don’t have natural lighting, choose a camera that has an external flash for better lighting. Control over white balance also helps you photograph in light other than daylight. The best background is white seamless paper, available from professional camera shops. Finally, you’ll want a camera that’s easy to connect to your computer for uploading images.Sell Your ItemThe “Sell Your Item” form is the eBay seller’s gateway to the 222 million registered eBay members. The newest version of the form features a simplified listing process with fewer pages and fields, cutting down on the time it takes to create a listing. You enter all your details on one page, and you can review it before completing the listing. You can also customize the form to hide options you don’t use, showing only the ones you do use.You can create colorful, attractive item descriptions with twice as many fonts as the form’s previous version and more than 120 different colors. The new form also supports the Firefox browser. There is a “category suggestions” feature that gives you advice on listing your item in the best category for maximum exposure. Other additions are dynamic help and personalized tips, which automatically provide guidance and best practices as you make your way through the form. The new form also offers a listing preview section that lets you see in advance what your listing will look like when potential buyers see it. Finally, there are reusable listing templates to make it easier to list additional items. Learn more about the new “Sell Your Item” form at http://pages.ebay.com/syi/newform.What Would You Sell?Before you can sell on eBay, you need to have something to sell. The good news is, you probably already do. What Would You Sell? is an eBay feature that helps you identify items you own that you could sell on eBay. It also helps you see how similar items have fared, decide whether to sell yours and get help listing them.Here’s how it works: What Would You Sell? displays mock-ups of rooms in a typical house, such as bedrooms, a living room, etc. Clicking on one of these rooms takes you to the appropriate mock-up. When you click on one of the items in the picture–a painting on the living room wall, for example–a window will pop up with information about similar items on eBay; for instance, art sells on eBay every 14 seconds. Clicking a link in the window takes you to recently completed listings in that category.A link on the “What Would You Sell?” page takes you directly to a “Sell Your Item” form so you can instantly begin the process of turning your unwanted items into cash. If you need selling tips, another link takes you to Seller Central. Learn more about What Would You Sell? at http://pages.ebay.com/sellercentral/whatwouldyousell/what_to_sell_house.html.Shipping CenterFulfillment is a vital part of eBay selling, and the Shipping Center is your eBay tool for handling logistics cost- and time-effectively. The shipping tools available here let you do things such as include a flat shipping rate in your listings or use the eBay Shipping Calculator so buyers can use their own ZIP codes to figure out their shipping cost.When it comes time to ship a customer’s purchase, the Shipping Center helps you buy and print labels for both domestic and international UPS and U.S. Postal Service shipments. You can also use the Shipping Center to request a pickup from UPS or USPS, saving you time and gas money on a trip to either drop-off location. Finally, you can track shipments using My eBay or PayPal’s “Account Overview” feature.Links from the Shipping Center take you to sources for shipping supplies on eBay, a helpful video to save you time on shipping and eBay’s Freight Resource Center, where you will find tools to calculate shipping rates and arrange shipment for items over 150 pounds.eBay charges no fees for Shipping Center services, and you can pay carriers for the cost of shipping and insurance through PayPal. Learn more about the Shipping Center at www.ebay.com/shipping. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In the Know
Last Updated on: August 30th, 2019 at 7:45 am, by