It’s easier than ever to buy and sell something off the Internet.
In fact, according to Comscore, Cyber Monday 2010 was the busiest online shopping day ever, with $1.028 billion spent in the US, a rise of 16% vs. 2009, with 4% more shoppers participating and an average spend of $114.
Now’s the time to act if you want to grab a piece of that pie. But how do you get started in selling a product for yourself on a site like Ebay? What are the best tips for success? What are the biggest potential roadblocks to avoid? And what are the insider strategies you can use to build your business, one transaction at a time?
To find out, we interviewed a vintage and dolls and toys seller from Dallas, Texas. Her “Rated Top-Seller” name is Betsy1951 (and she prefers not to use her real name). Below is part one of a three-part series:
ISBB: How long have you been selling on e-commerce sites?
Betsy1951: Eleven years.
Which sites have been the most successful?
I only sell on Ebay because it’s the best site for my hobby.
How did you get started? Did you need help?
In 1999, I explored Ebay for fun. I’d already been a doll dealer and collector for 10 years as a hobby, so naturally I started clicking on doll auctions. It was easy to see that dolls were selling for higher prices on Ebay than they were at doll shows. What didn’t seem easy was the process of getting words and photos from my house to Ebay. So I hired a computer geek to guide me through the process. I also bought a book (“Dummies” was not in the title) that introduced me to this special kind of marketing.
When did you reach an epiphany that you could make a good living buying and selling online?
I was pleased right away that buyers appreciated what I was offering them. And nearly everything I listed on Ebay sold. No one ever sells everything, or even a tiny percentage of everything, at a doll show or in their antique mall booth.
It wasn’t an epiphany, but in recent years, I realized a switch of markets was necessary. Doll shows — antique shows in which only dolls are sold — gradually have become non-existent, at least in the Southwest, although they continue to fare well on the coasts. Antique malls, too, are now a vanishing breed as a result of customers switching to online shopping, to Ebay. They’ve heard they “could find it on Ebay” — and the ad slogan was correct.
Many dealers, moving their business to Ebay or to their own websites, stopped selling at shows. It’s not that buyers and sellers were anxious to abandon the in-person show experience, but the marketplace changed, and we sellers had to change, too.
For more advice or to see some of Betsy’s vintage dolls and toys online, visit her Ebay myworld page. She uploads new products frequently.