EBay: ‘Not Just a Flea Market’

Speaker, writer, and retailer Mary Liz Curtin, owner of Leon & Lulu (a furniture, accessories, and gifts store named after her cat and dog) in Clawson, Mich., presented “All That Sparkles Has Got to Go: Tips to Moving Inventory on eBay.” And Curtin came prepared. Using props of “flying plush monkeys” and headset gift incentives for audience participation, Curtin showed the audience how to “enjoy the game of eBay.”

February 2007 ComScore Rankings list eBay as the largest e-commerce property in terms of unique worldwide users each month. So what can you find on eBay? Hard-to-find merchandise, anything that’s searchable (not just “diamond ring”), retired items, and all sorts of stuff you don’t need anymore.

And how can you use eBay? Via a classic auction, live auction, or combination auction and Buy It Now option, as well as setting a reserve. The first course of business is to decide “who you are going to be on eBay,” i.e., your business model. Do you want to unload one piece, or start a substantial business? The answer will dictate your approach to eBay sales. In order to “buy for success,” Curtin advised planning before you buy, creating a focal point, and buying enough product.

Curtin addressed pricing, positioning, customer service, markdowns, merchandizing, and running sales. She stressed customer research (including behavior, values, emotions, physical state, income and spending ability, and getting to know the “sale” customer, Millennials, and the tween market) and customer service.

“Customer service on the Web is even more important than customer service in-store because, remember, you’re not face-to-face,” she said. Plus, positive feedback ratings of a minimum of 98 percent are essential to becoming an eBay “power seller.”

Pay attention to the digital image you post (a minimum of 600 by 800 pixels) and its accompanying description, your user I.D., title (the “billboard to your listing”), terms of service (including returns), accepting payments (and instructions), freight, logo, upping your e-mail response time (one to two hours), and populating your About Me page (specific abilities, credentials, years in business).

Most important, do your homework. Curtin said, “Look at the [eBay] winners and pattern yourself after them.”

“What you’re selling is romance and happiness, and you want to make it the prettiest environment to do that in.”

“Customer service on the Web is even more important than customer service in-store because, remember, you’re not face-to-face.”

“Look at the winners and pattern yourself after them.”

“The amount of repeat business on eBay is phenomenal, and largely misunderstood.”

“American math skills are plummeting. We’re getting dumber and dumber, so keep it as easy as possible.”

“Put your sale on your Internet calendar; tweens are shopping with their fingers.”

“EBay is not just a flea market.”

“Laughter has been the key to success over and over again.”

“I believe firmly that the strongest sellers have the best customer service.”

“I encourage you to enjoy the game of eBay.”

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