Read an Excerpt
More than a million people actively sell on eBay. Of those people, eBay recently reported that more than 430,000 make a full-time living from their eBay business. These numbers are increasing rapidly every month. eBay drop-off centers such as AuctionDrop are opening at an incredible pace. Late-night infomercials on TV now show successful eBay sellers jumping off their giant yachts, purchased with massive eBay profits!
The number of buyers on eBay is increasing as well, with more than 105 million registered global users—45 million of whom are “active, ” having bid, bought, or sold in the last 12 months.
Even with the growing number of buyers, sellers are finding it more competitive to sell on eBay. Average selling prices across eBay are decreasing. Why? Because each category has sellers who sell more than $50,000 a month. Those high-volume sellers capture large portions of market share, which allows them to buy their inventory at lower prices. They then pass on those savings to buyers, creating a continuing price war among other sellers.
Although sellers compete primarily on price, other factors such as feedback, branding, promotion, and merchandising determine which sellers can easily be found by buyers—and ultimately who makes the sale.
Get Big Fast . . .
Given the competitive environment on eBay, many sellers go out of business because they are simply outsold by their competitors. eBay’s stated goal is to make inefficient markets efficient. Unfortunately, as markets—such as eBay categories—become more and more efficient, sellers have fewer and fewer competitive advantages. In fact, in many eBay categories, the only competitive advantage left is size, and with it the ability to source products less expensively than competitors.
So, if you are selling on eBay and want to survive, you have to grow your business rapidly to stay competitive with the rest of your peer group. If you do not, you will not endure the Darwinian nature of eBay.
Unfortunately, until now, there has been no guide describing what to do after you master the basics of selling on eBay. This book is that guide. It gives you two tools proven to generate rapidly growing eBay businesses:
- Ten very specific strategies you can start using now to scale your business.
- A framework called the Five P’s, for thinking strategically about your eBay business. The Five P’s are price, product, promotion, placement, and performance.
Using both of these tools, you will be able to take your business not only to the next level, but also quite possibly grow it into a million-dollar-a-year venture.
Where Do the Strategies Come From?
I am the founder of a company called ChannelAdvisor. At ChannelAdvisor, for the last five years we have helped businesses of all sizes sell on eBay. We provide the software and services that power businesses of all sizes: from individuals with very small operations to large, homegrown firms such as GlacierBayDVD (the largest DVD seller on eBay) to corporate retailers such as Best Buy, IBM, and The Sharper Image.
While working with more than 3,000 eBay businesses, we have developed the strategies and the Five P’s framework and tested them repeatedly, improving them along the way. In fact, the strategies in this book drive most of the million-dollar-a-month sellers on eBay—and a large percentage of the million-dollar-a-year eBay businesses, too.
We decided that these strategies are too important to share with just a closed group of sellers; the whole community should benefit from them. So, we compiled the best, most proven strategies into this book.
In fact, throughout the book, I prefer to use the pronoun we rather than I, because I cannot take credit for creating these strategies, and because we more accurately communicates the reality that the content of this book was created by a team of more than 60 folks working very hard for the last five years. I’m fortunate enough to be the person who has gathered all of the best practices here in a format that I hope you feel is easy to understand and digest. I hope you come back to the book again and again, as you try the different strategies.
Is This Book for You?
If you want to take your eBay business to the next level, eBay™ Strategies will give you the foundation to build on. If you want to develop a million-dollar-a-year eBay business, this book will save you a great deal of time and effort getting there.
Because of eBay’s competitive nature, if you’re a seller and you don’t want to grow your business, you will most likely be forced out of business or, at best, forced to change categories every year or so. Even if you don’t want to scale your business, this book will help you carve out a niche that will be more sustainable, using the strategies outlined here.
This book, eBay™ Strategies, was designed to be the book you read after you’ve read the basic “how to ” books about eBay. So that we can focus on more advanced topics, we’ve assumed that you have a general knowledge of selling on eBay. For example, you won’t find any screen shots of the “Sell Your Item ” section of eBay. You should already understand the basics of the eBay auction process, the different listing options, and the after-sales process. In parts of the book, we do recap some areas in which you may be rusty, such as the various eBay listing upgrade options and the fee table.
If you don’t have general knowledge of selling on eBay, look first to the excellent on-site help and tools provided by eBay itself. Also, we recommend one of the many “how to ” books about eBay, such as The Official eBay Bible (Gotham Books), Starting an eBay Business for Dummies (Wiley), and eBay Hacks (O’Reilly).
You can read this book from cover to cover, and it’s a useful reference. Beginning in Chapter 4, each chapter ends with a real-world case study that not only introduces you to an interesting eBay business, but also illustrates the concepts of the chapter and how that eBay seller has leveraged the strategy.
Each chapter contains a detailed summary, so that 3, 6, 9, or 12 months after you’ve read the book, if you want to brush up on a topic such as pricing, you can read the few pages of summary in Chapter 4 for a refresher. Think of them as Cliffs Notes for eBay™ Strategies.
The book also introduces a good bit of terminology that may be new to you, which you will need as you scale your eBay business. All of the important words and phrases are defined in-line in the text, and they are reviewed in the chapter summaries. What’s more, all the important terms we define in the text are also gathered in the glossary near the end of the book. So, if you can’t remember a specific term, there are three places where you can find it.
Beyond the Book
As you know, selling on eBay is a fluid, ever-changing business. That is part of the fun. With this in mind, we are offering two supplemental, Web-based resources to readers of the book.
First, a dedicated blog (short for “Web log ”) is available at:
Here you can get daily updates about eBay, the topics covered in this book, and other items of interest to eBay sellers.
Second, we believe strongly in the concept of community; it’s one of the cornerstones of the eBay experience. So, we’ve created an “eBay group ” specifically for readers of this book, where you can ask questions, meet your fellow readers, discuss your successes and failures, and share any new strategies that might be developed. The eBay group is available at:
Buying this book is the first of many important steps toward growing your eBay business—and making sure that your business will be around for the long haul, not pushed out of the marketplace by the thousands of new sellers entering eBay every day.
I sincerely hope that each and every one of you finds the strategies in this book helpful to your business. May you blow away your expectations (and your competition)!
Scot Wingo June 2004