Since its launch in late 1998, eBay has become one of the world’s most recognizable brands. E-commerce has become a major market in the U.S., and eBay has been at the forefront of the surge over the past decade. A number of individual sellers have made their names by successfully turning a profit on the site through a handful of different techniques.
According to industry website Web Retailer, four of the top seven highest-rated sellers on eBay as of February 2014 are from the U.K., and four out of the top nine are from the U.S.
What’s worked in the past?
Consumer demands are shifting on a regular basis, so what’s popular one day may be old news the next. For example, in 2008, Nortica put out its top 500 eBay sellers for the year – most of whom were American. A majority of the accounts were eBay members for at least four years, and the products they sold varied from user to user. The top seller, everydaysource, has made a name for itself by selling myriad electronic apparatuses over the course of its 14-year existence. In fact, a number of top eBay accounts from Nortica’s list made profits from selling in-demand technology equipment.
Yet, a number of vintage e-commerce titans gained notoriety forging a different path. The No.20-ranked seller, GlacierBayDVD, made its name selling – you guessed it: DVDs! Industry website eCommerce Bytes recently reported that Randy Smythe, the one-time operator of the account, has since moved on to a new venture in online retail. The commodity he used to sell became outdated, so he thought it was time to take on a new challenge within the industry.
The keys to success
In looking at the past and present top selling eBay accounts, a few underlying themes emerge:
1. Look to sell in-demand products: The first thing a seller should do is try to get their hands on products or services that are trendy at that time. Whether it’s DVDs, CDs, or other emerging electronic equipment, a vendor would be best advised to pick something that consumers want. Transcendent items such as books and collectibles are also popular commodities, but are more difficult to get ahold of on a consistent basis. Whatever the commodity may be, make sure it’s something that people actually want to buy. The site even has a popular items section, so if a seller is unsure, he or she can seek guidance there before diving in.
2. Find a niche and exploit it: A number of successful eBay sellers have found their success by exploring new verticals as well. For example, collectibles are a hot commodity on the Web because most of the time, the items are an appreciation asset, meaning their value increases with time. Another niche that has been exploited is the selling of sports jerseys and memorabilia. Some sellers have found a direct link to overseas production companies and list their items online for a healthy markup.
3. Get visual with the products: One of the main and only drawbacks of online shopping is the absence of tangibility. Consumers like to stimulate their senses, and the ability to pick up and touch a product is advantageous for brick-and-mortar stores. However, eBay sellers can combat this by taking multiple high-quality images of the item being sold, giving the consumer a better chance to visualize what the product may be like when it gets to his or her door. According to a recent U.S. News and World Report article, e-commerce sellers must get visual and include lengthy product descriptions, otherwise patrons won’t know what they’re buying, and the likelihood of a transaction declines as a result.
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