Eight Fundamental Seller's Tools

As a seller just starting out on eBay, it can often seem as though there are a bewildering array of resources, services, and tools of various kinds available to you, but which of these do you really need to notice, monitor, or enable? Here are seven that other sellers have found to be essential.

Selling Manager

Selling Manager is the first service to which you should subscribe as an eBay seller, and it is a complete no-brainer. Selling Manager does a simple thing: it changes the layout and features of your My eBay area to be more in tune with the needs of sellers, adding quick links to feedback tools, buyer communication tools, payment and shipping tools, as well as changing the general layout of your default My eBay selling view to include charts and graphs related to sales volume, the current status/processing stage of all listings posted in the last 90 days, your Seller Dashboard summary, and links to useful tools like those used to block problem bidders or cancel unwanted bids on auction listings.

If you plan to do eBay selling in any volume at all, a free subscription to Selling Manager (or a premium subscription to Selling Manager Pro, which also includes features like template storage and inventory management) ought to be your first task.

Your Seller Dashboard

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 for changes in any of the kinds of statuses it monitors. Amongst other things, your dashboard gives you a summary of your current performance rating on eBay, which is used to place your items in Best Match searches, your current detailed seller ratings 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), amongst other things.

Turbo Lister

One of the things every beginning seller learns very quickly is that the regular eBay selling form is slow. Very slow. It may not seem that way when you list your first item or even your fifth, but by the time you're listing your twenty-fifth, you'll be wishing there was an easy-to-understand, low-investment way to list much, much more quickly on eBay.

There is, and it's free, and it's called Turbo Lister. It's a piece of software that you can download from eBay that makes listing items for sale on eBay many orders of magnitude faster and more convenient. The only catch: it's a Windows-only piece of software.

The good news? Linux and Mac users can download VirtualBox for free to run Windows software if they have access to a Windows license and DVD, including Windows software like Turbo Lister. Yes, if you're listing a lot of items regularly, it's totally worth the trouble.

Terapeak (Or Another Market Research Tool)

As a new seller, the challenges of figuring out what to sell and how to set your prices are no small obstacles. In fact, they can be some of the most difficult make-or-break skills to acquire. The secret behind these tasks? They aren't actually skills. They're just a matter of having good information about what people are looking for and 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.

Where can you get information like this? From market research and analytics tool like Terapeak or its main competitor, Hammertap, in full, blazing color packed with charts, graphs, trends, and anything else you need to know to stay competitive. Yes, they are well worth the subscription price, even for regular-but-casual sellers.

Sales Reports Plus

While analytics tools like Terapeak tell you everything that you need to know about how other sellers and the eBay marketplace as a whole are faring, Sales Reports Plus tells you how your auctions are doing on eBay, and how different variations in your listings are performing for the kinds of items that you happen to sell. Get breakdowns of how much you're selling, how much you're paying in fees (so that you can better control them), what your growth rate looks like over time, what listing timings are working best for you and a wealth of other details—and all of this for free to anyone that cares to request it. As a seller, you should.

eBay Stores

As you grow, you'll soon find yourself wanting things that regular eBay listings just don't give you in many ways: economical fee structures, a web-based storefront, a way for shoppers to easily search just your listings and to bookmark all of your items in an easy-to-access-and-remember way, and so on. eBay Stores are the way to accomplish this.

Opening an eBay storefront is an inexpensive way to get not just a web-based storefront that leverages eBay's marketplace audience, but also lots of tools for dealing with larger inventories, ongoing listings for regular stock, a more affordable fee structure, and multiple additional ways for both you and your products to be marketed on the eBay website.

Drop Shipping and Wholesale Indexes

Most new eBay sellers would love to come to the table with a long list of existing sourcing relationships and associated/partner businesses, but many just don't. Though "drop ship sites" and similar wholesale indexes are both controversial and difficult to use as the bedrock of an eBay business in the long term, they can go a long way toward helping a new seller to get started, learn the ropes, build a feedback profile, and make a little money in the process.

Choose the right drop shipper or wholesaler index or club, and you could form long-lasting business relationships that will be a part of your business for years to come. Just keep important tips and tricks in mind if you go the drop-shipping route, and keep other business models on the back burner as you grow out of the drop-shipping game.

Easy-to-Use Accounting Platforms

Even once sales are going swimmingly, you'll find that there are still obstacles to overcome, such as the difficulty and drudgery of bookkeeping in the world of retail. Happily, selling on eBay puts you solidly in the realm of online retail, which means that, in theory, you could get your hands on some accounting software smart enough to visit eBay for you and enter all of the information on your business itself, on a regular basis.

Welcome to the world of online accounting and tax preparation platforms—find one that works for you and (preferably) that automatically draws your data from both eBay and PayPal on a regular basis so that you're free to spend time sourcing and listing, rather than having to worry about paperwork and numbers.