Small ebay sellers, can you make it work?

by ballistic 20 Replies latest jw friends

  • ballistic

    Hi guys

    I know there's a few ebay sellers on here, so sorry for the totally non JW themed post... but...

    I am out of work at the moment and the job situation is quite bad here in the UK for IT workers so I decided to start selling small items on ebay. With UK amounts in pounds sterling, this is how selling a 99p item with 91p postage breaks down:

    Ebay final value fee: 10p

    Paypal fee: 26p

    Postage: 81p

    Polythene Bag (when bought x1000) 1.25p

    Sticky labels: 1p

    Sellotape: 1p

    Jiffy Envelope (when bought x 1000) 3.9p

    Ebay insertion fee (divided by 10) 4p

    This does not include: petrol to post office, running printer inks, running office and PC. Minimum wage in the UK which is £5.80 \ hour.

    What you are left with is 62.8p out of which has to come the above not included items (especially your wages) plus your cost of actually buying in the product \ materials to produce what you are selling.

    Anyway, a guy contacted me the other day and said, you have a great selection of products, but I need more of each one but I'll only pay half the price and had the cheek to add, "there is still enough profit in it for you". Cheeky git.

    So, the bottom line is, I've enjoyed doing this and I have a couple of hundred happy customers, but can I really afford to keep doing this?

    As usual any random thoughts appreciated.


  • slimboyfat

    I sell online but not on eBay. I consider myself quite good at it. My advice would be to make the priority sourcing items that have a larger profit margin. Sourcing is absolutely everything, that can't be emphasized too much. If you can find cheap sources of stuff that sells well, the cost of sellotape, jiffy bags and other minor costs will no longer be a pressing concern. It's good to keep such costs down of course and buy packaging in bulk and all that, but it's pretty precarious if your profit depends on a few pence here and there. Plus you will also find, perhaps counterintuitively, that the people who buy more expensive stuff are less likely to complain. Practically all my problem customers have been people who bought stuff for under £5, complaining about postage costs or wanting the item even cheaper. (If you get a PPI account with Royal Mail not only is postage cheaper, but customers won't know how much the postage has cost on each item either because each item simply has a standard stamp with your account number on it. This avoids postal charges becoming an issue, because the actual cost to the seller is not transparent.) People who pay £25 and upwards rarely cause any trouble at all. My customers generally are a gentle lot and this may also be related to what I sell. I dare say if I sold electrical goods or jewellery I might encounter people trying to scam me, because some kinds of goods attract more problems than others. I sometimes get offers from people asking me to lower a price, but I rarely agree to that. I have good stock and it sells. If they don't want to pay my asking price for it then someone else will. If they could find it cheaper elsewhere themselves then they wouldn't be contacting me about it in the first place.

  • Chalam

    I have been selling records for 10 years on eBay.

    For the low profit items you are going to have to shift a high volume of units to make some $$$.

    I agree with slimboyfat, find a niche in the market if you can, something with higher prices and more profit.



  • Aussie Oz
    Aussie Oz

    Wife and i sell our artworks online but not on ebay. I have a 4 rules of any enterprise i have my sticky fingers in:





  • ballistic

    I think that finding high profit margin items which can't be undercut by other sellers on ebay is like finding the holy grail.

    ebay seems to be a very cut throat environment. If you have something which cannot be replicated then that is great.

    Also, there is a great deal of variability of quality in what I am selling, so someone could sell for less by lying about the quality of their items.

    I agree that small profit items need to be sold high volume. I am just starting out so this is what I am experimenting with - what sells and in what volume... and discovering it's not very easy.

  • Aussie Oz
    Aussie Oz

    very true balistic. i tried buying and selling small stuff like old projectors, record players and the like but not a lot of joy...

    we make stuff that few others do. That keeps ours unique and thus we can get better profit margin.

    My wife uses facebook as her main sales tool. The more she puts in the more she gets out in sales.

    For artwork, ebay is a killer as you cant compete with 99 cent paintings from Israel.

    Perhaps there is an ebay forum that may hold answers for you?



  • lisaBObeesa

    Ebay used to be so great. I would go to yard sales and pick up junk and collectables and sell them on ebay. I would support my family two months out of the year that way.

    Those days are gone.

    Small sellers of low $ items are out. With the fees and other stupid changes (like you MUST take paypal, no more level playing field in the auction listings, etc), we can't make any money that way anymore.

  • St George of England
    St George of England

    You may want to have a look at a book in your local library - "Make money on ebay UK" by Dan Wilson. Unlike so many ebay books which are US origin this is by the co-founder of ebay UK and Wilson worked at ebay until recently. He also buys and sells on ebay himself. Quite a good read I thought.

    Maybe you could tour local KH's for old books to 'recycle' and sell them to collectors!


  • besty

    At the risk of going too far off-topic I would like to ask if anyone has discovered an economical way to sell books online?

    I'd like to start with some of our own library before sourcing books to sell.

    Any ideas welcome.

  • AK - Jeff
    AK - Jeff
    My wife uses facebook as her main sales tool. The more she puts in the more she gets out in sales.

    How? Just curious. FB is a social utility - how do you use it to generate sales?


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