How to create your eBay listings
eBay help pages will give you a detailed step by step process of how to set up your first listing on eBay if you can't work it out yourself after hitting the "create listing" button. It is fairly straightforward. In this post, therefore, I'm going to give you the information you need that eBay doesn't tell you and nor does anyone else. For example, which products to list, what to put in the title, how much to price your product at, etc.
The first thing to decide is what you want to sell. Now you can just buy the cheapest item you can find from Avon, buy 100 of it and list them, BUT that's a very quick way to go out of business. What if nobody wants that product or it sells really slowly? The key to this is doing your research.
At the top of the eBay page there is a search bar where you can type in the name of any product you are looking for. Alongside that you will see the "advanced" search facility. When you click on that you will see further options. In the second section you will see "completed listings". So the first step is to find the products from the Avon brochure that are on offer, then to type the product name into the search bar and click on the completed listings option. This will tell you whether a product has sold or not. It will also tell you what price it has sold at. Whilst this is not a foolproof method it will give you a very good indication of whether or not your chosen product will sell and whether or not there is any profit to be made.
Once you've found a product that stands a good chance of selling at the right price don't jump in both feet first and spend your entire budget on that product. You need to be aware that if a product is on offer, not only can you buy it cheaply but so can all your competitors (other Avon traders), so spread your risk across more than one product. Keep looking until you have around 10 products. One tip is not to ignore the products which aren't on offer in the Avon brochure or are on offer but nothing spectacular. Your competitors will tend to ignore these products but if there aren't many available on eBay at the moment and they have been popular in the past then you can usually price your product higher and still make a profit.
When you have your products you are ready to create your first listings. You will need an engaging title and there are many resources on the internet that can help you with this but one thing to avoid is using Avon's product name verbatim. For example, Pearl Shine. If you were to list this as, say, "Avon Pearl Shine" you would get customers who have bought the product before and know exactly what they're looking for so have typed the words "Avon Pearl Shine" into the search bar, but you would miss out on the customers who want a nail treatment that conditions their nails whilst creating a subtle sheen. A better title for this products would be "Avon pearl shine nail treatment ~ nail conditioner with a subtle sheen".
Something that I wish I had done from the start and that I would recommend you do is allocate every product you intend to sell a SKU also known as a "custom label" on eBay. A SKU is a unique number that relates to one product. Each shade of a particular product should have it's own unique SKU. A SKU can be anything you choose. Letters or numbers of a combination of both. It could be as simple as a letter followed by a number that runs in sequence e.g. the first product you sell would be ABC001 and the next ABC002 and so on. The reason for this is further down the line, once you have grown to a certain level you may want to automate your inventory control and at that stage you will need SKU's allocated to all your products. If you move onto Amazon they absolutely require SKU's for every listing so future proof your business by allocating them from the start.
A word about EAN's (Barcodes). Avon do not currently have EAN's on all their products. Where they do, use it, but where the product does not currently have an EAN eBay has the facility to add a "Does not apply" option. Amazon does not have this luxury.
It goes without saying that you should use a good quality picture. Either take your own and remove the background using a software programme like GIMP, or go to the Avon website and under training & development, advertising guidelines, images you will find approved images that Avon have authorised you to use. If you are not already a rep you would need to join Avon. Click here for more information about joining Avon.
When it comes to pricing your item, as you are just starting out, you need to compete and compete aggressively. Look at what price your competitors are selling the same product you want to sell at. Then look at the sellers feedback rating. The one thing, over price, that will influence a buyers decision in who to buy from is the feedback rating of the seller. A low feedback rating is off putting. Most buyers want to know they will get their item. Try to undercut your competitors but make sure you will still make a profit if you do. Use the fixed price option. You're a professional seller. You wouldn't expect to walk into a supermarket and start haggling over the price of an item and neither do most people who come to your store online. They want to know how much the item is and how fast they're going to get it. One other thing about pricing is always offer a free shipping option. That does not mean it's really free just incorporate your shipping costs in the price of your item. You may think that buyers would go to a seller who charges for shipping separately if they are thinking of buying more than one item but you underestimate how lazy/impatient buyers are. They want to know how much the item is and simply adding two figures together is too much effort, plus the word FREE always attracts buyers.
When it comes to payments accepted, Paypal has got to be your default. Also require immediate payment. This will avoid having to chase payments for items that have been bought and not paid for.
Offer an expedited shipping option and next day delivery even if you charge extortionate amounts for it and if possible set your handling time to 1 day. This will put pressure on you to get your packages out of the door but if you offer this you will get a "fast & free" badge added to your listing by eBay and that could be the difference between you winning a sale or your customer going to one of your competitors. Once you're sending 3-5 items per day it's worth looking into opening a Royal Mail Business account as this will give you a big discount on standard postage costs.
Whether to sell outside the UK or not is entirely up to you. If you do decide to offer overseas shipping take a look at eBay's Global Shipping Programme. If you do open your market up to other countries you could see a 16% upturn in sales but you also have to consider things like having the correct documentation. e.g. packages sent outside the EU require a CN22 customs label (available from the post office). If you have a Royal Mail Business account it can be cheaper to send mail abroad than it is to send within the UK depending on the weight of the item.
Finally, always offer a 30 day return period. If your service standards eventually reach the level where you meet the criteria for eBay top rated you need a 30 day return period in order to get it. eBay Top rated status will double your sales overnight.
My next blog will cover shipping in more detail, feedback and general customer service issues.