What I Learned From My Year Working on the eBay Platform

I worked the eBay auction platform from Winter of 2016 to early January of 2018, a little over a year. I didn’t shut off my store until just a few months ago because I wasn’t sure that I was done with eBay until then.

Since I am sure that I am done now with eBay, I thought I would put my thoughts about that time here for future reference.

I don’t have concrete numbers, just casual tallies at this point. But I really didn’t make that much and my feeling was that I lost a little money or maybe broke even. The real value for me was what I learned about running my own business and experience that I can transfer to other types of platforms going forward. Next up for me is Upwork.

Overall, it was a positive experience in spite of falling prey to a couple of common scams that most eBay noobs fall for. I found that it was what I liked in a job, autonomy and the ability to work from my home. Most importantly if you put in the hard work you will see benefits.

The reasons I stopped doing it for now were that I don’t have the space for the inventory to do it as a full time job. I also don’t have a car every day which makes it hard to shop for inventory. I would like to open my store again in the future as time and items to sell become available to me.

Pros:

  • Remote work done at my own pace.
  • I learned how to run an on-line store, including photographing items for sale.
  • I learned how to use SEO titles to increase views of my store and items.
  • Exposure to a Global Internet audience of potential customers.
  • Personal Growth:
    • Random strangers sending me emails doesn’t terrify me anymore!
    • I got rid of extra stuff before I downsized to a smaller home.
    • I learned to bargain effectively!
    • I learned to shop wisely for used quality items.
    • I learned the importance of a business plan/strategy even for the smallest of businesses like mine.

Cons:

  • Getting scammed:
    There are many ways of getting scammed on eBay as a seller by either customers or other sellers as I’ve found out. Here are the ones that I’ve encountered and what I did going forward to reduce my harm from them.

    • Refund fishing, this is where someone pays a price for an item, then when they receive it try to negotiate a partial or full refund in exchange for not giving you a bad review. They can also say that the item is broken or not as described.
    • Bad review without contacting you first to give you a chance to fix the situation. Basically punishing you as a buyer, knowing it will effect your sales as a new buyer. This happened to me, when I researched the issue with the customer I found that they also sold items similar to mine in their store. I think killing the competition was their aim. I contacted them with my theory and they changed the negative feed back to neutral. A little better but not as good as no review or a good review.

      Solutions :

      • Always use the eBay messaging system, never contact customers outside of this system. If you need to escalate the problem to eBay’s attention the conversation with the customer must be in eBay’s messaging system.
      • Get a photo of the damaged item from the customer. If they refuse to provide a photo escalate the issue to eBay. eBay can drop the case in your favor and will if you can prove the customer wrong.
      • Don’t sell valuable items on eBay, at least not at first. Electronics, designer items, jewelry are notorious for attracting scam buyers and headaches for new sellers. I sold cheap items for a dollar or less in cost, but vintage and/or cool. There will always be value in items to someone if you found the the value in them when you bought them. This also gives you room to drop the price by having sales on your store periodically.
      • Trust your instincts, if a potential buyer asks a lot of unnecessary or weird questions don’t hesitate to block them. Don’t get pressured into a sale price or a refund if you don’t feel right about it. Don’t lose sleep over eBay, it’s just not worth it.

Pro tips:

  • Use eBay’s postal shipping to pay for and print your shipping labels. You will save money. Your customers will get immediate tracking updates from the USPS. You get the protection of that tracking. Once the USPS has delivered the package the customer cannot say they did not receive it, even if it’s stolen off their porch, not the sellers responsibility at that point.
  • Use Priority mail, shipping supplies, except tape, are free from the USPS. Order from their website: https://usps.com
  • Breakable things will break, pack items well and professionally.
  • Ship quickly. This will get you high ratings from customers every time.

 

Resources:

There are many YouTube videos about eBay but these are the ones that I found helpful for my eBay business plan.

The Scavenger Life Podcast

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