It seems like everybody and their dog is selling on eBay these days. I can see the allure: in hours you can have a beautiful looking storefront, and a flood of potential customers fighting over your products.
These easy-to-start eBay ventures are becoming representative of a shift in the way we do business in the online world. Ever seen an internet entrepreneur’s rag-to-riches story? These stories embody the one thing that makes online businesses so appealing: the barriers to entry are so low, everybody and their dog can get rich online.
Competition now is intense. You’re not just competing against the store owner next to you anymore. Now, the world is grabbing at a slice of your pie. In such situations, there are typically two things that you can do to beat the competition:
- Have a unique selling proposition, or advantage that no one else can replicate.
- Like I mentioned in my article on cutting delivery costs, find small pockets of missed opportunities to cut costs.
Today, we’ll focus on the second way to win in the eBay race. Let’s get started.
Consolidate your logistics
Often, new business owners have to hack together numerous different services to fulfill an order. This can cause a lot of cost and time wastage because the various nodes of the logistics chain are simply not communicating with each other.
You then have to be the central node connecting all the different dots. Now ask any eBay business owner out there and they’ll agree – this is absolutely tiring!
In addition, you become a single point of failure for the entire operation. Sick for a week? There goes your business along with it.
The solution is to find a service provider that provides door-to-door logistics. Preferably you’ll also be able to store your goods in their warehouse so your entire operation is automated. This leads us to our next point…
Automate your order fulfillment
Are you manually filling out online forms to hire a courier company to send your wares? The mere act of switching between 1) receiving orders on eBay and 2) translating that into a format the courier company can understand, can cost you hundreds of man hours a year.
If you’re dealing in fast moving, low margin items, the pain becomes even more acute. For example, if you’re selling 10 small water bottles a day to different customers, instead of 1 piece of expensive furniture a day, then you’re going to spend 10 times more just doing this manual work.
The solution then is to get a service provider that actually integrates with eBay’s services, so that you don’t have to be a go-between. One such provider is InExpress, which actually ticks many of the boxes that we’re talking about in this article.
Get someone to do the shopping for you
You might be thinking, sure. But doesn’t sticking with that one provider mean that I’m locked into whatever price they quote me? What if it becomes highly expensive?
Again, a company like InExpress has you covered. They actually work with the best logistic companies in the world to bring you the best shipping service on the market today. Place your order through them and they will send it through quickly and for the best price they can find.
One huge advantage is that they actually receive bulk discounts from placing so many orders through these partner logistics companies. So while you might pay a slight margin for their ‘brokering’ services, you actually save more over the long run.
Store your goods in cheaper locations
As a small operation, you might be happy to store all your wares at home. However, as you scale and grow bigger it can become untenable to keep product at home. Furthermore, the mere act of keeping boxes and boxes of items at home is probably uneconomical.
The reason is simple: residential floor space is generally more expensive that industrial/warehouse floor space. That study you’ve converted into a warehouse? Yeah, you could be renting it out for much more than you’re saving on warehousing costs.
eBay businesses ain’t easy, I’ll admit. But you can make your life easier by taking a careful look at your operations and analysing its inefficiencies.
Just know that you’re not treading on new ground. Dozens of online entrepreneurs before you have discovered the same problems, and thankfully, their solutions. We only mentioned InExpress here, but there are numerous other service providers that can help you out.
Expect costs, but don’t be afraid of shelling out a few dollars for business growth. All the best to your endeavours!