Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Search for Goods ~ eBay, Part 2

The first thing I did with my suddenly unemployed self way back in September 2007 was get primed for an eBay business. Honestly, the first thing I did was lie silently on the couch in stunned silence. I took my kids for a walk. I called a few people. My husband and I discussed a plan before he took over the kids for the evening. I opened a bottle of wine and called a few more people. I woke up with a headache the next day THEN I figured out how to set up an eBay business.

I completed the required business forms without a clue of what I was going to sell. I just knew I needed to make money from home. My toddler was often too sick for daycare. And really, both kids needed more from me than what my work schedule had allowed. I followed the advice from What to Sell on eBay and Where to Get It, which I remember like this: Look for the types of products that are in demand or meet a consumer need. Find suppliers. Try lots of different products to increase the likelihood that something will sell. Don't be concerned if the types of products you sell have nothing to do with each other, but make sure you can make a profit when considering the freight costs, competition, time it takes to create the listings, and shipping costs for customers. Also, consider your own knowledge and experience when choosing products. I knew housewares and women's intimates. Picture the kinds of products carried at a Crate and Barrel or the lingerie department at Macy’s.

I researched products by looking at the completed listings on eBay. (You do this the same way you'd search for something to buy except refine the search by checking “showing only completed listings” on the left of your screen.) I looked at everything I could think of . . . bras, boyshorts, turkey fryers, kitchen gadgets, cuckoo clocks. Kitchen gadgets and bras were both selling well but there was lots of competition. Cuckoo clocks were selling like crazy. So were turkey fryers, otherwise known as brew kettles to the craft beer enthusiast. I looked up wholesalers online, understanding that wholesalers usually don't do the actual selling. I looked up the sales rep companies I knew from my home design store days. I looked for the brands I remembered from selling lingerie. The only thing that came out of my research was the knowledge that of the companies that were willing to sell to me, the prices were too high. I needed to find other options.

I was ecstatic when I found Via Trading. It presented a tremendous opportunity but resulted in a costly mistake. It’s worthy of its own post.

I found Salehoo. Salehoo advertises itself as “a wholesale directory of eBay product suppliers.” They supposedly specialize in companies that offer drop shipping, which sounded ideal for my situation. I could pay for products as they sell and avoid having to store them or ship them from my home. Salehoo costs $67 for a lifetime membership. I thought it was a bargain if it would help me find suppliers that were willing to do business with eBayers. I was wrong. It was a total waste of money. The wholesale prices were too high and I wasn’t impressed with the selection and products. I didn’t find any negative reviews about them at the time but there is now. Check out Salehoo Sucks if you’re interested. Apparently, Salehoo employs aggressive marketing and legal teams. I better shut up now.

And then, I found an amazing resource for product sourcing. I wish I would have found it on Day 1 of my search for suppliers. More later. This post is long enough.

picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/psd/55117620/

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