How old is your Ebay store inventory?

Tracking and managing inventory for any business can be a frustrating process.  In the world of Ebay, we often fall into a business through selling off our own possessions,  garage sales and bargain hunting.  It can grow until one day we wake up and find that we are indeed in a business and not just a hobby!

I recently attended an inventory management class that stressed the importance of not falling in love with your inventory!  Old inventory costs you money by tying up your cash, sitting on a shelf and making your store look outdated.

If you’ve made some purchasing mistakes, mark it down and move it out!  Just because you love it, doesn’t mean the shoppers love it.  DON’T LET YOUR INVENTORY SEE IT’S FIRST BIRTHDAY!  As Ebayer’s we can particularly fall into the mindset that because we work at home, and it just costs a few cents to list an item in store inventory, that we can hang on to items forever.  Your customers start to become “blind” to your items if they see the same thing for months or years!

I came away from this class ready to take a hard look at the items I have gathering dust on the shelf!

Chicago Ebay Live 2008

Whew!  Our week in Chicago and attending the Ebay Live 2008 went by in a whirlwind.  I brought the family and we had a mini vacation along with Ebay Live.  Love the windy city!

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We were “power” sightseeing for the first few days and came limping into Ebay Live.

Ebay Live this year was rather subdued compared to the Vegas Live I had previously attended.  Attendance and vendors seemed to be down in number.  While there was a full slate of classes, I found it a bit difficult to find the kind of information that I was looking for to help me take my business to a new level.

The exception here was my favorite speaker, Seth Godin, creator of the wildly popular Squidoo site.  He is an entertaining and thought provoking speaker with a unique take on the world of online sales.  I’m still pondering his suggestions and looking for a way to stand out and be “remarkable”.

Janelle Elms of OSI Rock Stars had a fun promotion running through a “Spot the Rock Stars” contest.  It was fun participating and spreading the word to fellow Ebayers about Janelle’s wonderful online education site!

The McCormick West Convention center is the largest in the USA – as my blisters can attest to.  Check out the view over the center from the McCormick Hyatt Hotel.

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  As usual Ebay, throws a great party and we thoroughly enjoyed the Gala celebration with Chris Isaak entertaining.

Sourcing at your Niche Trade Shows

Most of my sourcing is done on the internet, but every now and then it’s really helpful to get out there to a trade show specifically tailored to your niche market.  On Thursday I’m heading out to the International Quilt Market in Portland to find out what’s new and exciting in the quilting world. 

I’ve been to gift trade shows but they haven’t been especially useful to me since they did not really zero in on the marketplace that I sell in.  The more focused the trade show, the more likely you are to find good products targeted to your demographic.  No matter what product category you sell in, there is probably a trade show that you may find useful. 

Be prepared to bring information on your company such as business cards, screen shot of your online store (if you have one), tax ID info, and other pertinent business statistics.  Scope out the show for a day before you commit to buy, then take the evening to do some online research and decide on your purchases.   When dealing with new product lines, ask if you can make a small purchase to test the market before commiting to buy a large amount.

You may just find that hot product to roll out this holiday season!

Use Squidoo to boost your Ebay Store Sales

With the competition among Ebay sellers stronger than ever, you need to use every tool at your disposal to promote your business.   Squidoo is the perfect site to showcase your products, write about your areas of expertise, and bump you up in the Google search rankings.  

Squidoo is social networking at it’s best.  You’ll create lens with modules from Ebay, Amazon, Flickr, YouTube and more.  Add your own text modules, photos and logos and you’re off and running.  Readers have an opportunity to give your lens a star rating, lensroll you or favorite you.  Keep updating your lens content to keep it fresh and informative and you’ll create a great marketing opportunity!

Visit a few of my lens’s to check out the possibilities.  I’ve creating a lens for my Alice in Stitches Ebay Store, one for Tips and Tricks of Quilting, Weird and Wacky Knitting, Art Quilting and OSI Rock Stars Online Success Site.

Setting up a new home business office

It’s finally happening!  I’m going to be able to reclaim the house from the endless boxes and shipments and paperwork that comes with having a home based Ebay business.  OK – so I’m not really moving the business out of my house … but almost.  We were rather fortunate to have a good sized house with a large unfinished basement.  One room in the basement was remodeled for our teen son – who has recently moved out on his own.   And now, the room is mine – at least after repainting over the graffiti, etc. – and repairing after a teen boy!

As we move, we’re trying to purge ourselves of accumulated clutter, excess files and so on – being hard since I do believe that deep down every Ebay seller is a bit of a pack rat!  The basement has been slowly turned into an inventory storage area and now the office will be on the same floor.  All except the fabric room – up on the 2nd floor – my one time sewing room is being converted to floor to ceiling fabric shelves.  I do insist, however, that my desk and sewing machine remain!

We may be able to dine in our dining room once again and have guests without piling boxes in a corner!

Diversify Your Online Sales baskets

Business is never static in the world of online sales.   Ebay is in a constant state of change for better or worse.  New online sales sites pop up and others fade away.  The best hedge against a dramatic downturn in your business is to be sure you are diversified.   None of us have a crystal ball that will give us a glimpse into the future of Ebay, Amazon or our own websites.  The best we can do is to spread our business among several venues.

Choose the venues that will be the most lucrative for you.  Of course, you want to include sites that have good traffic – and for most, that will be Ebay and Amazon.  Building your own website is also a great hedge against the uncertainty of changing times with other online sites.  Be sure that you are able to manage the extra traffic and sales through the additional sites.  Building additional sales venues won’t help you if you’ll be overwhelmed as soon as the sales start rolling in.  Be sure that you have a growth plan in place to create the business you want.

Ebay sellers consider selling on Amazon

I’ve been selling on Ebay for about 3 years now and last year broadened my online presence to include Amazon.  It was a great move for me.  Ebay is a wonderful sales venue and I continue to build my store there while I look for additional opportunities. 

Amazon is ideal for a seller of easily restockable items – you set your listing up once and just add quantity.  I love having a site that requires little maintenance.  There is a definite learning curve with Amazon as with any new venture – but patience and persistence pays off.  During the fall and holiday season, you’ll find sales will absolutely take off – particularly if you’ve worked on filling your site with quality items throughout the year.

If you’d like to learn more about the “ins and outs” of becoming an Amazon seller, negotiating their rules and operating within the system, check out my (Alice Rudolph) podcast at OSI Rock Stars, with Janelle Elms.  If you’re not yet a member of OSI Rock Stars, you’ll find a site here that’s filled with useful information to create the business you’ve always dreamed of.