7 Fundamental Seller's Tools
As a seller just starting out on eBay, the bewildering array of resources, services, and tools available to you can be overwhelming. Which of these do you really need?
You don't need to subscribe to every service or check every metric to find success on eBay, but you should probably use at least a few of them. Here are seven tools worth considering for new sellers, based on what established sellers have found to be essential.
Selling Manager is the first service you should subscribe to as an eBay seller. Selling Manager does a simple, but wonderfully helpful thing: it changes the layout and features of your My eBay area. The changes emphasize the needs of sellers, adding quick links to feedback tools, buyer communication tools, and payment and shipping tools. Selling Manager also adds charts and graphs to your default My eBay selling view so you can quickly get a sense of your sales volume and the current status of all listings posted in the last 90 days. Other tools included will block problem bidders or cancel unwanted bids on auction listings.
Best of all, Selling Manager is free. If you plan to get serious about eBay selling, subscribing to this service ought to be your first task. You may even decide to pay for a subscription to Selling Manager Pro, which includes extra features like template storage and inventory management.
Though the summary of the Seller Dashboard shown in the Selling Manager My eBay view is a useful one, most sellers will want to monitor the full version of their dashboard. This dashboard is a free service that tracks all status changes related to selling.
Summaries found within your dashboard include your current performance rating on eBay, which is used to place your items in Best Match searches. You'll also find detailed seller rating scores, the number of buyer protection cases that have been opened against you, your total sales, and your current account status (i.e., your eBay fees).
As you grow, you'll find yourself wanting more from your eBay listings. That's why many sellers end up subscribing for an eBay Store. These upgraded accounts offer cheaper fees for bulk listings, a web-based storefront, and a convenient way for shoppers to easily search and place bookmarks within your listings alone—without the clutter and competition from other sellers.
Opening an eBay storefront is fairly inexpensive, especially compared to the number of tools you receive with the subscription. The web-based storefront is user-friendly, and bulk item tools like ongoing listings are great for sellers with large inventories.
The stores come in five levels, from a Starter Store to an Enterprise Store. The more expensive the plan, the better the selling tools, but take a look at all the options to determine which tier will best serve your needs. Some tiers even include other tools mentioned in this list.
As a new seller, the challenges of figuring out what to sell and how to set your prices are no small obstacles. They can be some of the most difficult aspects of selling, as well as the most important. The secret behind successfully managing these challenges is good information. Data about what people are buying right now on eBay, how much they're willing to pay, and how shoppers prefer these things to be listed (in terms of listing format and listing upgrades) can make all the difference when it comes time to pick an item and set a price.
That's where market research and analytics tools like Terapeak or Hammertap come in. These tools will tell you what you need to know to stay competitive, complete with color-coded charts, graphs, and trend descriptions. Yes, they are well worth the subscription price, but if you already have a subscription for a Basic eBay Store (or a higher tier), you get Terapeak included at no extra cost.
While analytics tools like Terapeak tell you everything that you need to know about other sellers and the eBay marketplace as a whole, Sales Reports tells you how your auctions are doing on eBay. It breaks down the performance of your listings, the fees you're incurring (so you can better control them), and your progress toward growth goals. These details help sellers learn what listing timings work best and other strategies that get into the minutiae of selling.
Sales Reports is free for any eBay seller to use. If you want to go deeper into your data, you can subscribe to Sales Reports Plus. This upgraded tool stores data for two years instead of just six months, so you can watch trends develop over longer timeframes. It also includes extra features allowing you to study groups of items to understand how categories, formats, and other factors influence sales. Sales Reports Plus also comes free with any eBay store subscription.
Most new eBay sellers would love to come to the table with a long list of existing sourcing relationships and partner businesses, but many don't. Dropshipping sites can help fill that gap, giving a new seller a way to get started, learn the ropes, build a feedback profile, and make a little money in the process. These services complete orders and ship them to the customer on your behalf. For instance, if you get an order for a t-shirt, you would forward that order to a dropshipper, which would make the t-shirt and send it to the customer.
Choose the right dropshipper, wholesaler index, or club, and you could form a relationship that will be a part of your business for years to come. Just keep important tips and tricks in mind if you go the dropshipping route. There can be major downsides to dropshipping, not the least of which is that you never actually possess the product you're selling—making quality control nearly impossible. You may want to develop backup business models so that you can eventually grow out of dropshipping.
You may think your troubles end once the sales start rolling in, but you'll find that retail bookkeeping is a significant obstacle in and of itself. Luckily, selling on eBay makes you an online retailer, and the right accounting software can automatically pull data from your eBay profile.
Cloud-based accounting software like QuickBooks Online and Xero are versatile programs, built to easily integrate third-party apps like eBay and PayPal. Once they're set up, they'll regularly compile all your relevant sales data, including taxes and overhead budgets. There are plenty of options for accounting software, and you don't necessarily have to use a cloud-based app.