eBay Tips 2008: Profit from Efficiency

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I’ve met thousands of eBay sellers over the years: an admirable bunch for the most part, let me tell you. There have been a few nutters and wastrels, of course, but mostly I’ve met extremely hard-working, decent, ambitious and honourable folks.

In fact, if I have a general criticism of the eBay seller community, I’d say that you work rather too hard. As one of nature’s flaneurs, I’m dismayed by the tales of 16 and 18 hour days, constant work, lost weekends and non-existent holidays. Heavens above, if eBay isn’t about freedom and enjoying the flexibility of being an online trader (and making a living) then, hell, I don’t know what you’re in it for!

So why is it that so many eBay sellers don’t know what their most valuable commodity and resource is? It’s time. Working every hour that god sends might give you a little dose of presbyterian pleasure but if you are, here’s a thought: you’re inefficient. Have you ever calculated your hourly rate? Would you be better off behind the tills in Asda?

If the workaday activities of listing, managing, packing and despatching mean that you don’t have the time to develop, plan and grow your business, then there’s something you can improve. What you do with the time you save is up to you. Business or pleasure. But you should feel that you have the choice.

In the next five days I want to look at some ways sellers can be more profitable by being efficient. Here are some starters for ten.

Examine your working practices
What is taking up those precious minutes and hours? Is it listing, packaging, queuing at the post office, answering countless emails? If you know where the time is going you can take steps to address it. If you spend a lot of time at the post office, is there a quieter time of day that would be better or should you be considering home collection? Are the squillion emails coming in because you need to tart up your listings?

It can wait!
A lot of sellers pride themselves on offering exemplary service but sometimes the desire for speedy despatch and near instant replies to emails borders on the obsessive. Imagine you’ve done your despatches for the day and a late order comes in and, at a squeeze, you could get it in the last post. Leave it for the morning’s batch. Equally, when it comes to emails, limit your checks to regular intervals.

Kick the bad habits
What’s causing you stress? A last minute dash for a cheap listing day? A lack of jiffy bags? A disorganised working space? Stress equals time wasted, try and smooth out the pain-points.

Tomorrow: Postage and Packaging Efficiency

4 Responses

  1. The best thing I ever did for my work stress levels was to turn off the little envelope thingy that Outlook puts on the taskbar when you have a new email. I now only obsessively check my email every five minutes instead of every one, and am much happier for it.

    And under “examine your work practices”, I’d say hanging around on eBay message boards is NOT work.

    Finally, a tip that Astro posted on the PSB years ago: you know that CLDs are going to happen, so have listings ready. Have all those odd items you wouldn’t normally list sitting in Turbo Lister ready to go so you can feel smug and organised the night before 🙂

  2. For packaging the best tip I have is buy in bulk. Having a single roll of bubblewrap delivered effectively adds on about 30% to the cost. If you have room buy it by the truck load (with whatever other packaging supplies you use) and the carriage costs drop enormously. I buy packaging maybe twice a year and a same day courier costs about £150, but I’d probably pay a tenner carriage per 1500mm roll of bubble so it’s an absolute bargain – plus you get discounts for a large order.

  3. “And under “examine your work practices”, I’d say hanging around on eBay message boards is NOT work.”

    rubbish…. file under research…. 😳



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