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When you first start selling on eBay (or Poshmark, Mercari, etc.) you’re going to mess some things up. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably going to mess a lot of things up. It probably won’t be anything too egregious but you’ll definitely lose some money, waste some time, and delay growing your business as fast as you could.
So, if you’re a clothing flipper that has mastered the basics of how to sell on eBay, know what to sell, and just needs a kick in the shorts: here it is! Five things that, if done long term, might turn out to be some of the worst mistakes you can make as an eBay seller!
1. The Inability to Say “NO!”
When I first started buying thrift store stuff to flip on eBay, I bought a lot of crap. Things that make me wish I could reach back in time and slap myself for buying. The main problem is, I knew that they were crap while I was buying them!
Whenever I would find a very high-end brand or something that was particularly hard to find, I would buy it. Style didn’t matter, condition didn’t matter, price didn’t matter. In this way, I bought a lot of overpriced inventory that never sold. I was lucky to get my money back for most of it.
Now, I have the self-control to put things back if I know that it isn’t a good flip. You don’t have to prove to anyone that you found a cool brand, leave it for someone else and move on. You don’t always have to find something.
The same inability to say “no” results in other problems for resellers as well. One of the most common ones I see and hear about is the inability to say “no” to cheap things. New sellers find it a rite of passage to build up a massive “death-pile” of unlisted inventory. If you’re not going to list it, it’s a bad buy – no matter how cheap it is.
2. Not Looking Up Enough Brands
I don’t think I’ve ever made it through a rack of clothing without looking up half a dozen brands. Resellers who become complacent and think they know enough brands, quickly get passed by new sellers who are hungry and always learning new things.
When I go to the Goodwill Outlet near me, I see the same group of 3 old couples who are digging for the same brands every single day and usually come up empty. If you see something nice, look it up! If you see something you don’t know, look it up! It might be worth nothing (it usually is), but it’s asinine to assume that just because you haven’t heard of it, it’s not worth anything.
3. Focusing on Quantity Over Quality
It may be exciting to see pictures of people sending out dozens of packages in a day (heck, we’ve Instagrammed several of ours), but remember: your goal is not a number of sales, but the amount of profit (at least I’m hoping it is…). Every time you buy something you shouldn’t, you are cutting into your profits. Not only do you lose money, but you always lose the time you spend listing the item.
Consider the Opportunity Cost of every item you buy.
If you decide to buy a bunch of mediocre things, you are losing the opportunity to spend that time and money sourcing something better. In our eBay store, we make 80% of our profits from only 20% of our sales. This phenomenon is known as the “80/20 Principle,” and it applies to almost everything in life. Now imagine, if you could stop buying the bottom 80% of crap, you could work 1/4 as much while only losing 20% of your sales! So learn from my mistakes, after you’ve gone through your cart, go through it again and put back everything you know in your gut isn’t worth it. Your goal is to find the diamonds, not shovel as much coal as possible!
4. Not Taking Customer Service Seriously
One of the biggest mistakes that new eBay sellers make is to focus entirely on sourcing and listing. When this happens, they totally forget that they’re running a business and are responsible for delighting their customers.
If you want your eBay business to grow, don’t make the mistake of forgetting to ship things on time, answer questions on time, upload tracking, etc.
If you do make the mistake of forgetting customer service your seller metrics could drop which might just leave you with a huge pile of inventory and no eBay store.
5. Not Letting Your Business Evolve
We’ve been selling on eBay for more than five years now and, during that time we’ve seen hundreds of sellers come and go. The main problem is that people get so stuck doing things one way that they get in their own way.
If you focus only on thrifting and listing the same brands your business will slowly shrivel and die as other sellers move into your market.
No matter what changes eBay make, if you are flexible your business can continue to grow.
Final Advice: Fail Fast
Don’t let fear of making mistakes on eBay keep you from taking action. In fact, get out there and get moving ASAP so you can figure out exactly what you do and don’t know.
As you move forward in building your business, remember that nothing anyone tells you (including this article) are gospel. Reselling on eBay and Poshmark are so wide open that there are literally a thousand ways to succeed.
The best process, then, is to learn as much as possible and, when you want to do something, ask yourself if it actually makes sense and works with your business model.
For example, just because one person fails/wins with a certain brand does not mean the same will be true for you. Rather, learn to evaluate each item you find so you can make a better decision about whether or not it will sell. Often your intuition is right, and if something just doesn’t seem good enough, put it back! There are always more things to flip, so don’t feel like you need to buy iffy products. With that being said, you will buy duds (and make other mistakes) from time to time. That’s just the nature of the game.
One of the tendencies of new resellers is to hold onto crappy items (or business practices) for a long time because they don’t want to admit they made a mistake. They either keep items in their death piles or list them and hide them in their inventory even though they know they won’t sell.
If you want to dominate the eBay game, don’t hold on to your mistakes because you spent a lot of time or money making them. Although it has become less frequent, we make mistakes on things all the time. Take our advice and re-donate your mistakes instantly. Don’t let them clog up your business flow. Keep your eBay machine running quickly and smoothly so it can bring in the most money possible!
Now get out there and get sourcing! Happy Selling!