The web is a great leveller for businesses, enabling small companies to compete with their larger rivals – nowhere is this illustrated more clearly than on auction site eBay.
Currently, eBay is the UK’s leading eCommerce site – with over 150,000 small businesses selling their wares online.
Here are some tips to help small businesses sell successfully online:
Aside from providing the goods as advertised, good customer service is the key to repeat custom in any line of business. Some of the things you can do to differentiate yourself from your competitors include:
- Offer fair postage, or even free postage if this is a realistic option for smaller items.
- Communicate well with prospective customers, and reply to queries in a timely manner.
- Dispatch items as soon as possible.
- Take customer feedback seriously, and make changes to improve your overall service.
You are a business
Unlike hobby sellers, if you are looking to use eBay to run your own business, you need to look and act like a business.
- Keep accurate records of all transactions you make, income and expenditure.
- Use sites like Bytestart to understand how tax works, and when you need to register as self-employed with HMRC.
- Take time to create a good brand for your business, and use the same branding on all your communications, packaging, and website.
Know your market
As with all types of business, you need to be sure that there is a market available for your products.
- Check what type of competition there is for the type of products you wish to sell.
- Are you able to undercut your rivals and still make a worthwhile profit?
- Are there ways you can differentiate yourself from your competitors, and offer something new?
- Can you offer free postage, or ‘3 for 2’ type promotions to attract new customers?
No-one will buy your goods unless you present them well. This is a fundamental truth behind retailing.
- Create clean and attractive graphics and photographs.
- Use concise descriptions, and spell check before you post information online.
- Ask colleagues of friends to preview your goods, to look at your items from a customer’s point of view.
- Providing you have provided a good service, your seller ratings themselves are a strong selling point, providing reassurance to would-be buyers.
The web allows small businesses to try new things, and make changes in an instant.
- Don’t get stuck in a rut. Try new things, and re-design your online store if you feel things have become stale.
- You should be able to adapt rapidly to changes your competitors make, or changes to products your offer.
For a wealth of tips for small business people, visit the eBay business centre.