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Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Running an ebay shop

Well I've been at it now for approx 2.5 yrs so I can't remember the hitches of when I first started. It didn't take me long to realise that listing with the auction method at 99p (for free) just wasn't worth the time and effort. Hence I soon dropped auctions altogether and just listed with 'buy it now' or 'make me an offer'. This means I am able to put the least offer I will accept and leave the automatic system to run itself. Any silly offers just get automatically rejected without my even knowing, unless I go into the settings to check.

I said to myself that when I reached 30 listings I would get a shop and that's when I got my first cheaper shop for around £15 a month. This is a good one to run with if you don't do this for a living. Even though each listing is cheaper with a shop, it's not worth investing in until you have a fair bit of stock. You still have to pay a fee per listing so if you add that to your monthly shop fee and divide between how many items you have, you'll soon see it only becomes profitable with a fair bit of stock. When I reached a target of approx 100 listings I promoted to the next shop of £50 per month. I felt this was a huge commitment but I have never looked back.

I run with around 400 items. I wish I had time to put on more but that's anther story. My target is that each month should be a bigger profit than its counterpart on the previous year. Bingo, I'm reaching this continually. It's a slow rise but it's an encouraging one.

The other point I've noticed that the quality of my stock has improved. Again another story really but basically I don't just purchase any only old crockery - I'm slowly learning what sells and what is rubbish. I've also added vintage-style ladies clothing to my categories so I'm expanding aswell.

There are many pitfalls to working with ebay and most sellers continually moan about them - and rightly so sometimes. However, if ebay didn't set high standards then the customers wouldn't have the confidence to shop there so I'm also quite glad of these standards. Basically the customer gives you remarks and points for your service. 99% of customers understand the importance of this method and are honest and helpful. It is, as always in life, the minority of mean people that can spoil the system. It is a constant worry that you will get a very low point for your postage and the fault could quite easily lay with the courier - but there's nothing a seller can do about this excuse. Note I'm not giving great details of each bad experience I've had, I'm trying to speak generally of this because it is one of drawbacks of selling on ebay and can be very, very frustrating. However, my shop has survived thus far. By the way some customers never leave feedback and this is ok too. Not everyone wants to live their lives with 'red tape'.

Fees are another bug bearer of ebay selling. I have 5 different sets of fees for every item I sell. Ebay shop fee, ebay listing fee, ebay final selling fee, paypal basic fee & paypal final selling fee. So you need to be on top of calculating these to ensure you are making a profit. Plus also allowing for packaging costs and the price you paid for your goods initially. All takes time and effort. I keep a lovely boring spreadsheet with all this info so god help me if my computer goes doolally. I also tie this stock info in with my tax accounts so if I were audited, I know all my fees ins and outgoings.

Going on to the tax man - I have no idea at what stage you should declare this as income. I do it as a living so I've always done my tax return. There are sellers on ebay who have thousands of stock and still don't express themselves as a business. Not sure about that one.

I do make a good profit from my shop on ebay but it is a long working day ie from the minute I'm awake until I go to sleep. Of course not continually but at least once an hour I'll be tap-tap-tapping those keyboard keys. If I go on holiday I have to ensure I have internet access. The one time I shut my shop down for a holiday had a big impact on sales. My ebay shop certainly makes a better profit than my 'private' e-shop does. I don't link them together so they do run as different shops.

I also have help running my ebay shop in that someone else takes the photographs of my goods and also does someof the finer technological aspects of the computer side of things. This person is unpaid and does it for love so that does help. Probably only skimmed the surface in this discussion but I'll think of things I've missed and discuss another time.

Next time I have a chat I'll be discussing purchasing of my stock. I would welcome any comments from readers and would love to answer any questions resulting from any of my blogs.

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