You could sell like the big boys–but you need the right approach.
by: Jackson Bleu
The online auction giant – eBay – has exploded on the Internet scene. Currently boasting over 29 Million members, eBay is one of the most visible and far-reaching Internet companies in existence, with a large segment of the population either using the service, or at the very least, aware of it. Among the eBay sellers, there is a designation given to approximately 4% of the people. These are eBay’s "Powersellers", a group of sellers that is distinguished by the amount of volume they produce. The entry-level Powerseller, the Bronze level, does at least $2,000 a month in eBay sales, maintains a 99% positive feedback level and maintains their eBay account current. Higher award levels are granted at the $10,000 level, (Silver level) and at the $25,000 level. (Gold level)
What are some of the strategies and techniques that these Powersellers use?
As someone who achieved Powerseller status a little over a year ago and continues to study other Powersellers, I’ve compiled a listing of the 21 Success Strategies of eBay Powersellers.
Powersellers are serious – Powersellers treat their eBay business just like they would any other business. They are dead-serious about it. Look at any Powerseller operation and you’ll find organized systems and "assembly-line" techniques being used. While a Powerseller may not have invested thousands of dollars into her operation, she treats it as if she has.
Powersellers are focused – A Powerseller is focused on listing, packing and shipping, often on different days of the week. Their focus is as intense as that of a Corporate Executive or an Olympic athlete, because they are juggling various activities at the same time.
Powersellers are organized – The Powerseller is organized, otherwise they wouldn’t make it to the level of Powerseller. Since Powersellers do a huge volume of listing, packing and shipping each month, they must develop processes to ensure that the items sold are delivered within a reasonable period of time and that customer satisfaction is always at the forefront.
Powersellers delegate – Powersellers delegate because they have to! Their volume dictates that they hire an assistant to do some of the more repetitive tasks that don’t require the Powerseller’s attention. This way the Powerseller can focus on the important money-making tasks of product acquisition and marketing.
Powersellers use assembly line techniques – The Powerseller has developed smooth running systems to make sure that product fulfillment is accomplished as quickly and efficiently as possible. This may involve setting up a large 4′ by 8′ table with bubblewrap and packing materials at one end, products in the middle, and boxes, labels and packing tape at the far end.
Powersellers use Dutch auctions – Many Powersellers have graduated from selling one-of-a-kind knick-knacks found at yard sales and are now selling a volume of the same item through Dutch auctions. In a Dutch auction, a seller can place a large number of the same item up for sale. The bidders can bid on one or more of the item, but the highest bidders will be first in line to actually get or "win" the products they bid on. So there is a possibility that if someone bid too low, they might not get a product. A Powerseller uses Dutch auctions often because it is a huge time-saver. This is a true "assembly line" auction from start to finish. The packing and shipping goes a lot faster when the same item is being packed and shipped over and over again.
Powersellers do efficient work – Another trait of the Powerseller is that they are extremely efficient, knowing that time is money. A Dutch auction is a great example of this efficiency. In the same period of time that it takes to list one item, you are listing dozens, or even hundreds of items! This time-efficiency is a powerful way to leverage your time and profits.
Powersellers "Bulk List" their auctions – Bulk listing your auctions using a bulk listing software or auction management service will dramatically organize your time and allow your eBay operation to run a lot more smoothly. There are various options in this area, from eBay’s own "Mister Lister" to Blackthorne software to Andale, and Auction Watch auction management services, there are a lot of options for you to look into. These services allow you to list your auctions at your leisure and then schedule them to go live on a certain day and time. This saves you the hassle of having to list your auctions on the particular day that you want them to go up.
Powersellers use clearly focused photos – Powersellers have acquired their status by using clear photos or scans of the items they are selling and making sure that the photos show all flaws. In effect, along with all of the other skills they have acquired, they have also become semi-pro photographers! Many have built a "mini-studio" with optimum lighting and background, that is available at their beck and call for those quick shots when they need to e-mail an additional photo to a bidder. The Powerseller usually has both a Digital Camera for photographing 3-dimensional items and large items and also has a scanner for the paper items and flat items.
Powersellers use headlines with key words and no fluff – A Powerseller resists the temptation to use "fluff" words like "[email protected]@K", "WOW" and "MUST SEE". Instead, the Powerseller uses descriptive words in the headline, realizing that the headline is the "ad for the ad". A Powerseller is also "search engine savvy", realizing that keywords in the headline are picked up by the eBay search engine. They are sure to load the headline with descriptive, key words that help the bidder determine if the item is what they are looking for and keeps out the "fluff".
Powersellers write thorough and detailed item descriptions – A Powerseller has achieved their level by maintaining a high ratio of positive feedback. This is primarily accomplished by having clear and accurate descriptions of the items so that the bidder can clearly "imagine" the item as if it were sitting in front of her. The art of writing a great item description involves an interesting mix of using "selling words" (such as "beautiful", "fantastic", "intricately designed", "gorgeous", "spectacular", "powerful", "colorful", etc.) along with describing the flaws in the item. A great description should entice the bidder to bid while at the same time providing full and complete disclosure of the item’s condition. Your test of whether you have a great description or not is if it answers the following two questions well:
A. If I were to compare the description to the item, while holding the item in my hand, would it be an extremely accurate description? or would I have good reason to return the item?
B. Does this description entice me to place a bid on the item?
Powersellers give "Benefit of the doubt" customer service – Customer service is such a cliched catchphrase in American Business today. In the eBay auction world, it is mandatory that you implement a very meticulous level of customer service. Powersellers have a clear reflection of their level of customer service in their feedback profile. One glance at any eBay seller’s feedback profile and you have an instant snapshot of that individual’s customer service rating. (Imagine if regular "brick and mortar" stores had a feedback rating posted at the front door!) This public feedback rating is both your best advertisement (if you provide great customer service) and can also be your downfall. (if you don’t) A Powerseller is constantly aware of this "sign at the front door" and places a high priority on giving stellar customer service. I call it "Benefit of the doubt" customer service because even in those instances where the customer is clearly wrong, the Powerseller doesn’t argue or get into an emotional "war of words", she simply refunds the money or reduces the shipping cost or sends an unexpected gift with the package. The Powerseller realizes that business and ego don’t mix, they leave their ego on the table – they go on to build lifetime customer relationships.
Powersellers have their own websites – A Powerseller realizes that business conditions change. On the Internet, business conditions can change literally from quarter to quarter! Because of the transient and high-speed nature of change in the Internet business, the Powerseller realizes the value of having their own storefront on the Web. They have either built a website themselves or have had someone build a site for them. They have developed a following and a customer base through their eBay auctions that can help sustain them even if dramatic changes come about on their main selling venue. As eBay continues to evolve and change – applying restrictive and invasive policies – this will become more of a priority for all eBay sellers, not just Powersellers.
Powersellers make it easy for bidders to pay – By offering a variety of payment options, Powersellers make it easy for winning bidders to pay for their items. They offer to accept Checks, Money Orders, all types of credit and debit cards through PayPal, Billpoint, or their own Merchant Accounts. By offering a wide variety of payment options, they open up their market of available bidders and end up with higher ending bids as a result.
Powersellers offer discounts on multiple items – Whether it is a discount on shipping multiple items or a discount on the actual price of multiple items, Powersellers realize the value of a good customer and treat that customer special. Unexpected discounts tell the customer "You’re special" and build a reciprocity that keeps customers coming back or searching the Powersellers’ auctions.
Powersellers are always on the lookout for great deals – The Powerseller is the consummate "deal-maker". Whether it’s at an antique store or at a swap meet, the Powerseller is always thinking about things they can re-sell. They find that pop-culture collectible and buy it. List it the same day and see the bid amount grow and grow. Part of the thrill of selling on eBay is "taking a shot" and listing items that you are not familiar with. Seeing the items shoot up in price is a fun and enjoyable hobby!
Powersellers do not mind making money! – A Powerseller has no "issues" with making money. Many Americans have been brought up with the notion that the only "respectable way" of making money is by working at a job for thirty years. Sales and selling is looked down upon. The Powerseller is way beyond that. They have a healthy attitude towards making money and it becomes like a "hobby" to them! As new and strange as it may appear to the more traditional types, selling on eBay is one of the easiest and most lucrative ways to make a part-time income. The alternatives to selling on eBay are either too time consuming or too unrealistic. This "new" way of earning an income is powerful and realistic.
Powersellers enjoy their work-at-home lifestyle – Powersellers love the fact that they get to work from home while the rest of America sits on the freeway, waiting for their fellow "worker-bees" to move. The freedom of having a Home Based Business is something the Powerseller relishes and appreciates. This enjoyment of the lifestyle has many tangible benefits – better health, freedom of time, being able to spend more quality time with kids, attending their school functions and field trips, better scheduling of time (around the rush hours) and an overall feeling of well-being. There is no doubt, working from home is the wave of the future.
Powersellers are willing to invest in their business – Whether it means investing in a high-speed cable modem or DSL connection, high-quality computer components, including digital cameras, monitors, keyboards, etc. or whether it means buying a "Featured Auction" listing which will drive further traffic to their other auctions, the Powerseller knows how to use their money wisely. There is a difference between wasting money and investing money in your business. An eBay Powerseller knows when to "invest" money into their business. Basically, anything that saves you time or saves you money is an investment in your business. As an example: A digital camera is a huge time-saver over taking traditional 35 mm photos and then scanning them.
If you go the scanner route, here are the steps you must take:
Buy film. (this takes driving time and money)
Shoot the photos.
Get the film developed. (this takes driving time, waiting time and money)
Inspect the photos for clarity and re-shoot, if necessary. (this takes additional time and additional money)
Scan the photos (additional time)
Crop and edit the images
Upload the images to your webhost
The same actions using a digital camera are much more efficient:
Shoot the photos. (film purchase not necessary)
Inspect the photos for clarity and immediately re-shoot. (no additional cost)
Crop and edit the images.
Upload the images to webhost.
The investment in a digital camera is one of the best ways to become a more efficient eBay seller! I paid a little over $700 for my digital camera about two years ago, it was the best time and money-savings investment I’ve made!
Powersellers stay up-to-date on auction trends and changes – Because Powersellers take their business seriously, they constantly keep themselves up to date on the latest industry trends and changes. They do this by buying books about online auctions, participating in eBay Message Boards / Forums, and staying tuned to the eBay Announcements Board. They don’t want to be caught off guard with a new change or new policy that might affect their business.
Powersellers are always looking for better ways to do things – Whether it’s listing auctions, packing and shipping, getting organized, or expanding their business, Powersellers are always looking to improve their online business. This is the nature of all successful business people, they want to improve their business constantly.
As the 4% of eBay sellers known as Powersellers continue to improve their processes, here’s hoping that the above strategies will be helpful reminders in improving yours!
About the Author:
Jackson Bleu has a site full of articles and tips to help you earn from home.
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