Even though most of you have had some experiences with ebay, I still want to spend some time to go over the process of setting accounts with Ebay and Paypal very quickly here. I know newbies will definitely appreciate it, so please bear with me. If you have already gone through all the account setting of Ebay and Paypal, you can definitely skip this article and check my next few blog posts for other information.
No matter where you are located in the world, I will suggest you to try to register your account at ebay.com. Even though some of the functions are not working for you if you are not living in USA, as long as you can list your products onto ebay.com, always start from there, because ebay.com is the top ebay site with the most visitors. I don’t how many times I want to mention it here – For an online business entrepreneur, traffic and conversion rates are the only two things matter to you.
In this post, I will use pictures to demonstrate the process. As there are lots of details I want to emphasize, in my opinion, videos might not work as well as pictures. Of course if you miss my voice, you can always go to my YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/user/createvalueshare.
Register an ebay account is very straight forward, after you go to ebay.com, on the left hand side of your screen (see the picture below on the left hand side), you will see a link to bring you to the registration page. Click on the link and fill out the information on the registration page (see the picture below on the right hand side)
I will highly recommend to have a separate email address for your ebay business. Depending on the number of listing and your sales volume. You might expect well over 100 emails a day – I an not kidding, so in order to make your life easier, please do not use your regular daily personal email address that you communicate with family and friends for the business purpose. If you are having trouble to register any email address, please check my video on How to register a Gmail Email Account.
Once you submit you personal information, you will receive confirmation on your computer screen and also in your email box that you provided to Ebay and you will be logged into you new ebay account automatically.
Paypal as a financial institution handling online payment for buyers and sellers need more information for its account opening. Similar to ebay, the “Sign Up” link (as showing below)
will bring you to the page to choose account type. As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s completely up to you run the Ebay business online as a person or business. If personal, I will suggest to go with Premier as it provides functions to seller for collecting payment.
All the detail personal information is mandate. When there is any change to your personal information, make sure you update the information as soon as possible as I am assuming you do not want to miss any important message from Paypal when they have questions about money in your account.
After you fill out the personal information, Paypal will ask you to link either your bank account or credit card to your Paypal account. As a seller, you will most likely transfer your profit from Paypal account to bank account in the future, I will suggest you to go with “Pay with my Bank Account”.
Unless you know your banking information by heart like me, (My advantage of working for a financial institution before kicks in here!) you will need a cheque handy to enter your banking information. After you enter all the information, the following page will appear as to be safe, Paypal wants to confirm your account to make sure it gets linked to your right account.
One more important thing to mention here is to get your Paypal account confirmed as soon as you receive the two small amount deposited into your bank account. This will remove the limit on your Paypal account. For details of verifying your account and limit on your brand new unverified account, please click on the link on the front page of your Paypal account. (as showing below)
I have not written any blog post recently, so people might wonder what Sibo is up to these days. Well today I want to give a little update for the last one month or so. My dad came over around to Canada around 20th of October. As he has not been here in Canada since I moved from here from China 13 years ago, I feel like an obligation to show him around. He is only here in Vancouver for 2 days because it was a business trip, so I was busy driving for 2 days. I went to China and joined Canton Fair late October and early November. The fair has over 50 years history, but as the relationship between China and Japan is going not so well recently, the fair is a little slower than usual. It was a good thing for me as a newbie to it though because not SO many people were there, I can still walk around there slowly. I checked out some sections such as Toys, Home Decorations and Outdoor Sports. Even I missed the section for electronic products, overall I still think the trip work money and time.
For more information about Canton Fair, please go their official website, http://www.cantonfair.org.cn/en/
It sounds very sad. So does it mean that you as a beginner have no opportunities at all. Absolutely not! There are tons of small manufacturers and suppliers out there, who are not very well known and could not even afford to budget on their massive marketing yet. They are waiting to find retailers to spread out their brand as quickly as possible, but the problem is, if they don’t speak loudly, how are you able to hear their voice?
Today I am going to share some great value I personally created by using last 18 months of my time focusing on selling products on Ebay. Maybe you have read my last few posts and maybe this is the first time you are reading my blog. It’s all good. I will refer to some contents in previous posts, but I will make the navigation as easy as possible.
In today’s post, I am going to show you step by step how I begin with an idea, followed by a process of conducting a product research on ebay, studying the demand and supply from the market and eventually find an idea product. I am going to use screen shots and YouTube videos to make the process easy to follow. If you find anything unclear or confusing during your reading, please leave me a comment by the end of this post or just simply shoot me an email, I promise I will provide explanations in more details.
If I just simply tell you the facts by using plain words, it might be too boring and not very easy for you to follow – who wants to listen to all the theories anyway? So I decide to use a real life example to show you exactly how I find an ideal product. If you come across any good ideas, I want to ask you a favor by telling me how you have done that, so we can learn from each other and also help my future sharing with greater value that both of you and I create today.
I spent some time last weekend and searched for a new product line by using the tools that I am going to introduce in this post later. Here come my steps:
Like what I mentioned in my previous post, locate your target market, this time I decide to focus on ladies as they are the 80% of online shoppers. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you can’t run a successful business by focusing on guys, to be very honest here, two of my current selling products are big boys’ toys, and they are both generating good income, so if your idea is to target gentlemen, by all mean, go for it! Also as I pointed out in my previous post, Find your niche product for a niche market, hobby rated products have been my favorite so far. Therefore I started my research by using google search engine and found general ideas on common hobbies for ladies from two blog posts:
This step takes me about 5-10 minutes.
2. Brainstorm products:
The ideas I found from step 1 helped me on starting my research, so I went through each of them by brainstorming the possible products I can come up with related to these hobbies. For example,
1) For cooking, I was considering selling cooking books, recipes and kitchenware.
2) For running, I was thinking about products such as apparels, mp3 accessories.
3) For Gardening, I looked at offering tools and garden decors.
For myself, I eventually decided to focus on home decors as it’s not only something very popular, but also it’s a subject my wife is very interested, so I rather kill two birds with one stone – remember we were talking about “work effectively and efficiently” here.
This step takes me about 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
P.S. I typed out my ideas for each hobby in a word document and saved in my work folder in my computer for future use as I believe the best idea might not come out from my mind for the very first time.
3. Find out how good your product is.
“How good is my idea?” is the question you might want to ask yourself, so in this section I am going to show you a couple of ways you can use to find out the answer yourself.
Before you dive into the research, there are the results you want to keep in mind:
– Supply: How big is the market? How many active listings are out there?
– Demand: How many people are buying this kind of products?
– Competition: Is this product line oversupplied or there are still more rooms to offer supply? What kind of competition is on the market? Is this type of products offered by a couple of big sellers or the market share is divided quite equally to several sellers?
I will first start with a DIY way and I will get into some details on how to use a great tool called Terapeak to conduct your ebay research.
This is the simplest way without costing any money by only using ebay search function. However it does take more time to see the results.
Go to ebay.com (or ebay.ca if you are in Canada) – Please notice that the beauty of running a business on ebay is not to limit yourself to any geographic area, so I highly recommend you to aim globally at this early stage, and type in the key word of your product into the default search function on ebay.
Continue with my example here, I got close to 2 million items selling on ebay after I typed in “home décor”. That is a lot! Now you noticed that right under where I typed in my product, ebay gave some more specific categories such as “modern home décor”, “wall décor”, etc. In addition, on the left hand side bar, it listed the details on each sub category under the main category, “Home & Garden”. However, you do not want to be too specific on your research yet as this all depends on the suppliers you can find in the future. From my previous experience, if you narrow down your research too early, you might not have enough products to sell for the future.
Further down to the left hand bar, there are some categories you want to pay more attentions to.
b. Buying formats: This depends on the character of your product, most of the items I am selling are using the format, “Buy It Now”, but auction can be a very good strategy when dealing with very popular items such as Apple iphones and I had great success by employing auctions in early years when selling mp3 players.
c. Show Only: It gives the great inside when including different parameters. I feel like I need to expand a little bit on this topic here by sharing some of my stories:
> Expedited shipping: during holiday seasons of year 2011, I added expedited shipping to my gift products 2 weeks before Christmas as I received increasing requests from customers on expedited shipping. In the most extreme case, one customer paid me to use UPS 2 day guarantee delivery service, which costs close to $45 USD to ship one of my items with a price $60 as a gift to her friend at a different location. To me, this is a little insane (excuse me), but, that’s once a year, for the wonderful Christmas, why not. I am pretty sure you and I have run into the same situation before by doing the best we can to impress our significant ones.
> Free Shipping: When I first started selling a certain series of products in year 2010, I included shipping costs like what I usually did, but the product did not sell much. I knew there was nothing wrong with the products and I was very confident that my listings were way prettier than my competitors, so I did more research by using this filter. All in the sudden, I realized that almost every single seller selling the same type of products at that time offered free shipping. Why? Because it’s easy for customers to calculate the total cost and it also offers a smart option for discount. I changed all my listings overnight and in 2 months, my sales went up 150%!
> Completed Shipping: This good option filters the active listings and only shows you what happened to the ended listing in last few weeks. As you know, when you are selling products, it does not matter how many people are looking at them. What really matters is how many of them actually bought your products. This gives you a clue.
d. Location: There are suppliers who only offer products and services in USA, so this gives you the ability to filter by using different geographic area.
There are some signs you want to watch very closely:
a. Oversupply: Many active listings are on the market, but very few of them made sales. One of the examples I want to use here is “perfume”. In year 2010, I didn’t pay too much attention to this factor while I was doing my research and end up wasting around 15 hours of my time by giving up on this type of products. I hope you learn from my lesson.
b. Price variance is big: For the exact same product, sometimes the price range can be very wide. Usually this happens to less popular items. When there are no major bands taking the major market shares for this certain product line, there is no clear guideline, so sellers can mark the price as whatever amount they like. In this case, there is a big potential for price wars to happen in the future.
c. No major brands, but one or two big sellers. This is an awkward monopoly or oligopoly situation, which usually creates the higher barrier to newbies. It’s not hard for you to agree with me that to start a retail business today and directly compete with Wal-Mart is no different than suicide.
Study your competitors’ performance. This is where I like ebay the most. It gave you track records of all the sellers on ebay by providing a feedback system. By studying the statistics carefully, you can figure out:
a. Reputation: the feedback score tells you how good the quality of the products they are carrying and how well they provide their customers service. In addition, it also shows you what kind of volumes they are selling (you need to run a little bit math here though). If you have no clue about what I am talking about, I will expand this topic in my future posts when I talked about how to manage your ebay account.
b. Listing layout: This tells what kind of tactics your competitors are using to make the product more visual and sometimes you can even learn upsell opportunities from them if you studied their listing hardly enough.
This process can take up to 1.5 hours or even more depending how much details you want to get.
If you have made this far on reading my post, I appreciate your time. Don’t forget, if you have experiences you want to share, please leave a comment.
2) Use analytical tools for ebay:
Maybe there is a little bit overwhelming at the beginning, but Terapeak can help you with quick and easy to understand statistics to make the product research as easy as pie.
While ebay is growing dramatically in last decade, there are more and more websites appearing onto the market and they start offering different tools to help analyzing products and improve the efficiency for listing for ebay users.
As sellers, we will focus on the type of tools to analyze the data from current selling products on ebay in order to study the market and the competitors quicker and better. In future posts, I will also talk about the type of tools I use to help list products.
There are quite a few analytical tools out there for ebay. Terapeak, Hammertap Goofbay, just to name a few. As Terapeak is the one I used in the past, I will focus on explaining how you can utilize it for your product research in my post.
First let’s start with a 70 seconds commercial made by Terapeak.
For an overview, you can go to Terapeak’s website. Please notice that Terapeak has an alliance with ebay, so all the data it’s providing from ebay is very accurate and trustable, which is also the main reason I chose it from its peers.
The common wisdom of “you get what you pay for” is applicable here when thinking about using this tool. Most of the analytical tools for ebay charge you a monthly or annual fee. I can only tell you from my own experience that this tool worth my time. Of course if you prefer to do-it-yourself, I already showed you how to do that in last section.
Terapeak offers a 7 day free trial to help you with an easy start. The registration is very straight forward and you need to provide your email address and payment method – credit card or Paypal. As I cancelled the services for a few months while I was away for certain time period in year 2011, in my opinion whenever you want to cancel the service there is no hassle at all. Once you complete the email activation, you can set up your password and ready to go.
I include my youTube video on some basics of using TeraPeak tool and you are more than welcome to leave your feedbacks and please let me know how I can improve it in the future.
This process takes me 15 minutes to find all the key factors, so I think Terapeak is a tool with detailed statistics to help on my research both effectively and efficiently.
4. Save competitors information for later use
After you have done your research, you want to save the top competitors selling the product you found. Even though you might have spent quite some time to research the sellers.
In near future, after you figure out the suppliers, you will start listing your products on ebay, at that time, the listings of your top competitors especially their top selling products in that category will give you excellent examples of how you should build your listings.
This will only take 5-10 minutes if you already skim through some of your competitors’ top selling listings in step 3.
Congratulations if you have read through the whole post. I know it’s a long one and lots of information was involved. More importantly, you need to apply your have just learned into actions as soon as you can. If you have any questions, or comments, please email me directly or leave me a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. If you had any success on finding your ideal products, please share it!
Why is this important? It helps you focus on and improve your effectiveness and efficiency. You see I mention these words lots of times in my blog posts. That’s because I truly believe that’s where you can differentiate yourself from the rest. As human beings, we often find hard time to step out from our comfort zone. We ignore the probability to improve our lives, or as an idiom says,” if it’s not broke don’t fix it.”
To run a successful business is not about to make everything working, it’s to be selective. I came across more than 10 products when I was running my product researches on ebay, but only ended up selling 3 of them right now. It was not because the rest did not work out. In fact, all of them are decent products and I made money on any single one of them, however there are ones with lower profit margin. That means I have to sell more time in order to reach my dollar target. The time I spend in processing orders and looking after customer inquires doubled or even tripled, so as soon as I find better products, they are out of my consideration.
Timothy Ferriss talked a lot regarding 80-20 rule is his book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich (Expanded and Updated). As this is the spirit of being selective, I decide to spend a little bit time here to explain it. The 80-20 rule was created by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto early last century. After the rule was created, it has been applied into different areas. The basic idea in 80-20 rule says in anything a few (20%) are vital while many (80%) are trivial.
To apply this to the ebay business we are talking about here, I often find it is true that about 80% of my income are earned from about 20% of my products. I was still offering the other 80% of the product just for the sake of giving more options to the customers, however very quickly I realized that was a silly idea as it wasted my time (as I have to list the products) and money (as I have to pay listing fees to ebay for each product), so I took down about 40% of the products that were not selling (to be more accurate, no selling in 60 days). That action not only saved me more than $25 per month, but also saved me 15% of my time on running those products. On the customer services side, this is also true. 20% or even less in my situation, about 5% customers were causing me 80% of the time on dealing issues with them. To improve on this, I fired some of the customers – don’t assume customers are always right. Trust me, there are irresponsible people out there, so the best way to save yourself from trouble is not to deal with them in the future.
Be selective and say no to options that did not work the best.