By June Ramli
The last few months, I have been learning how to sell through a range of online and offline efforts. Most of the items that I sold were premium quality second hand items at an affordable price. Selling is the fundamental core for any business, so if you want to be an entrepreneur, the first thing you need to do is to learn how to sell. Today, I am gonna give the readers a snippet on the four things I have been doing since last June to learn the art of selling. Let’s go.
“Once you’re in sales, you will also learn what sells and what not. Use the sensitivity of detecting market sentiments as a platform for running your business and in the identification of product winners in the future”Chinese Billionaire Li Ka-shing
This is probably the platform that I have the most experience and success with. I started selling my preloved items on the platform on a whim last June and have been making sales since. I have had both good and bad experiences selling items on eBay. The onboarding process is relatively easy, you just have to post some photos, give a good description of the item and then wait. You will get sales on that platform if you respond to your customers’ questions fast and if you price them well. Everyone on eBay is on the platform for a good bargain and that is why pricing the item reasonably well will ensure that you get success at all times. The only time I had a bad experience on the platform was for one of my dropshipping items which I had wrongly described the place of domicile as Australia instead of China. This mistake cost me gravely as the buyer managed to get the item for free.
Pro-tip: eBay will always take the buyers’ side, so if you are a seller, you will have to make sure you got all your sides covered so that you don’t end up making a loss. I am still trading on the platform but not as a paid seller which means I don’t have an eBay store. Instead, I am trading on the free platform, where you can only list 40 items a month and anything above that would incur a fee.
I have had a sellers’ account since late last year but I find that selling on Amazon is slightly more complicated as compared to eBay. The software is not as straightforward as eBay. They require way more information than eBay and don’t accept pre-loved goods. I have not updated my sellers account for some time now. It is empty at the moment with nothing on sale. I am currently devising some new products before I can start selling on the site again. As a result, I have been procrastinating on this project for some months now. However, I hope to overcome this hurdle soon and start selling on Amazon as I’ve heard that the platform is a good cash cow if done well. At the moment I am on the free account whereby they only take a small fee if you sell an item and I cannot list more than 50 items at one go.
I started my store last November with some dropshipping stuff that I had sourced from Alibaba. While I have had some successes selling on that platform, I have had to pause the store temporarily to work on several new offerings. I plan to relaunch the website in July.
Setting up a Shopify store is not as easy as people make it out to be, but that platform is better than Wix because they have chat and phone support 24/7. So non-tech savvy people consider themselves sorted. But maintaining a Shopify store without any sale is not a wise decision and certainly not cheap. Having a Shopify store means that your marketing must also kick in as people won’t be able to find the store’s URL if they don’t know of it. My advice would be if you have a product, go and sell with an established marketplace first like Malaysia’s Zalora or Australia’s Iconic, as these sites although they take some commission from your sale, but they do all the marketing for you, all you need to do is sit there and look pretty, and they will do all the hard selling for you. Also, when selling on Shopify, there is a lot of taxation such as GST involved. You need to ensure that you have priced your products well so that all these underlying costs are covered and you truly make a profit from whatever you are selling on this platform. People normally set up a store on Shopify and sell dropshipping items there. But you’ll need a lot of cash to advertise your site through Facebook marketing, etc.
In the end, in my opinion it would be way better for one to invest their money at Shopify and Facebook shares instead of going through the hassle of setting up a store and selling stuff there.
Selling At The Markets
I recently signed up for a car boot sale at a market. This is my third time signing up for such an event. I almost didn’t want to go but since I chickened out last year despite giving my name saying that I would show up, I thought this year I would just go and brush up on my selling skills.
Extroverts do extremely well at markets. Anyone who comes browsing at your store, you’ll need to engage. It doesn’t matter if they don’t buy the first time. Sometimes the buyers just need to go around, have a think and believe me, if you have engaged with them and given them a good feeling, they will come back to your store eventually and get whatever they were looking at initially.
Not engaging with your walk-in customers, no eye contact is a recipe for disaster. Remember these set of customers are there for the conversation more than the actual buy. They are not going to the mall to buy something new, they know they are going to buy a pre-loved item so tell them where the item is from, who did it belong to originally? This was something that I wasn’t good at all. In fact, with my mask and the fear of the ongoing pandemic, I found it difficult to engage in conversation with my potential customers. In the end, although several people touched my things but they ended up not buying them. I sold my goods to other store holders and with my first customer being a man who bought a picture book from me. So the moral of the story is to be successful in such markets, you need to talk and engage with your potential customers. If you are not the type who likes to engage with strangers and tell them a thing or two about your item, then you are better off staying in and selling your item online. As for price, always set them higher than what you aim for. For example, if you want to sell something for $5 set the price at $15, as buyers tend to haggle the price down since they know it is a pre-loved item that you no longer need.
About the Author: June Ramli is the news editor of dailystraits.com.