Starting eCommerce with Ebay.. noob questions

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I have very limited experience with ecommerce. I was going to get into it before with my own shopify website, but having zero experience with SEO, marketing, etc, it was just a lot to learn at once. I'm 19 years old and in college and I just had a hard time juggling everything at once, so I'm looking to get back into this and start small.

For the last 3 or 4 months I've been flipping electronics from craigslist to ebay. I turned my only $300 into $9,000. Not quite a success story, but I'm proud of it and I want to use this money to get started with a proper Ebay business. For personal reasons I no longer have access to my license and using craigslist to source items is out of the question. I'm going to have to buy from a wholesaler or dropship. From when I made my Shopify website (which now does not exist) a while back, I got a Worldwide Brands membership, so I've been using that as my starting point to find suppliers.

My big question, though. I have $9000. That's it, and I'm worried I may be spending the majority of it on a lawyer for my gigantic traffic ticket that caused me to lose my license. I'm wondering if I'd be better off dropshipping until I have more capital, or would this be enough to start? I know it largely depends on what I buy. I'm hoping to find a product in the $300-700 dollar range. I wont be able to buy many of them, but the margins should be high enough to keep me going and grow my capital.

I'm really just looking for any advice you can shoot at me. If my capital is not large enough, I've considered writing an ebook about how to flip things and make money on craigslist, but I dont know how successful something like that would be. If I didnt lose my license I would still be on craigslist, but I dont want to give up, I want to keep making money even if I have to change my plan. By the end of the court case for this traffic ticket, I may only have a few thousand left. The reason I say this is that I'm not trying to become a millionaire over night. I dont expect to open an ebay store and make $60 profit on everything I sell. I just want to start somewhere and grow
#ebay #ecommerce #noob #questions #starting
  • Profile picture of the author DWolfe
    First off put your money away and take care of your legal matters. Start off small on e-bay to get going. Don't try and re-invent the wheel. Look up Auction Debt Eliminator and ImportExport on these threads.

    ADE knows about E-bay but since you lost your wheels his methods may not work. ImportExport posts what to beware of with sourcing. Their are a few other great people in this section so study what they teach. The Search button is your friend. Be careful or others will help you spend every last dime you have. Good luck
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  • Profile picture of the author invadercow
    My lawyer last time I got a big ticket was $5,000 so I'm expecting around the same. He's expensive but he's the best and does a good job. My biggest issue really is with sourcing. Everything I read seems to talk about what sort of item to start with, but never really where to get it. I feel like I'm going to be stuck there because I dont have enough money to order a ton from a manufacturer, and ordering from a dropshipper and then selling on amazon/ebay will kill my profit after all the fees. Buying in light bulk might be my only choice, but maybe an expert can chime in.
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  • Profile picture of the author Silas Hart
    would suggest getting Profit Bandit and learning more about retail arbitrage. Focus more directly on items with high turn over (low rank, meaning it sells faster on the Amazon marketplace) and accepting a low profit. With items of a low profit and high rank, sales prices tend to be more stable rather than shooting to buy something for $10 and selling it for $90, where as someone could come in after you and list it for $30, just to get the sale on an item with a slow turn over.

    Keep the eBay account, and when you sign up for Amazon FBA, opt for Multi-channel fulfillment and list the same items on eBay.

    I went to Target and they had 12 of a Power Rangers action figure with a little motorcycle toy on sale for $7.99 - it didn't look like that good of a deal at first until it was scanned. Some sold recently on Amazon FBA for $35, and some sold on eBay for $40. Thats a profit of $18.48, after fee's and shipping to your eBay customer from Amazon, it's about the same. All sold within 30 days, which turned a $100 investment into $317. Not all purchases yield such a high margin, but its not impossible.

    With FBA, and multichannel selling, you can focus more on growing that $9,000 into a larger amount of capital and less on laborious things such as packing and shipping. As someone who has taught a lot of people to work on eBay, Amazon, and start up their own eCommerce site, the biggest struggle people have with this method of making money online is that they want to turn $50 into $10000 but end up pulling money from that fund for personal things in life before they can start to really let the money work for itself and setting themselves up for larger amounts of residual income. You've already worked through the hardest part of it, so now focus on growth. In all honesty, $9000 won't immediately set you up with $4,000/mo in income, but if you hustle at it is a little then I dont see why you couldn't turn that $9000 into $10600, and turn that into $12500 and thats basically just at 18% - I've seen people jump into and almost double their money within the first couple of months.

    Also, keep doing what you are doing because you are only going to get better at it.
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  • Profile picture of the author sidiniquity
    You've got the right attitude. At least you realise that selling on ebay is not your ticket to instant riches.

    You've already done a lot of hard work, grafting your way to $9k. That's a lot of money, what with the ease at which you can start a new store these days. If you want to focus on dropshipping and don't mind the small margins, then $9k is way more than enough.

    Dropshipping is all about starting small. Set up a store, preferably your own store with your own branding, rather than an ebay store. I mean, sure, you can go the ebay route, but as a dropshipper, your main challenge is setting yourself apart from the crowd.

    You can set up a Shopify or Bigcommerce store, giving you your own unique site. Spend $5 on a logo from fiverr, start a blog, and voila, you are well on your way to standing out of the crowd.

    Then get in touch with dropshippers for the product you want to sell and start loading them on your site. You don't have to pay for inventory or storage. Shopify/Bigcommerce will allow you to accept payments online, and automatically forward the order to your dropshipper. Your dropshipper will charge your card, and you keep the difference as profit.

    Your biggest challenge will be marketing the site. Setting it up, contacting dropshippers, that's the easy part. This is where your capital comes in handy. You can start with some advertising for quick traffic, but also invest in content marketing, social media, e-mail marketing and other means of getting organic traffic.

    Like I said, you've already got the right idea. Now just get started and don't worry about the money because you have enough. Go research a product niche, set up a store in Shopify, and start contacting dropshippers. Do it now.
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    • Profile picture of the author invadercow
      Originally Posted by sidiniquity View Post

      You've got the right attitude. At least you realise that selling on ebay is not your ticket to instant riches.

      You've already done a lot of hard work, grafting your way to $9k. That's a lot of money, what with the ease at which you can start a new store these days. If you want to focus on dropshipping and don't mind the small margins, then $9k is way more than enough.

      Dropshipping is all about starting small. Set up a store, preferably your own store with your own branding, rather than an ebay store. I mean, sure, you can go the ebay route, but as a dropshipper, your main challenge is setting yourself apart from the crowd.

      You can set up a Shopify or Bigcommerce store, giving you your own unique site. Spend $5 on a logo from fiverr, start a blog, and voila, you are well on your way to standing out of the crowd.

      Then get in touch with dropshippers for the product you want to sell and start loading them on your site. You don't have to pay for inventory or storage. Shopify/Bigcommerce will allow you to accept payments online, and automatically forward the order to your dropshipper. Your dropshipper will charge your card, and you keep the difference as profit.

      Your biggest challenge will be marketing the site. Setting it up, contacting dropshippers, that's the easy part. This is where your capital comes in handy. You can start with some advertising for quick traffic, but also invest in content marketing, social media, e-mail marketing and other means of getting organic traffic.

      Like I said, you've already got the right idea. Now just get started and don't worry about the money because you have enough. Go research a product niche, set up a store in Shopify, and start contacting dropshippers. Do it now.
      I'd love to have my own store; I'd MUCH prefer it over ebay or Amazon FBA. The problem, though, isnt the store design or the coding, I can do all of that myself. My biggest issue I've always had with starting a store is the following:
      I have to find an item. Finding an item with low competition is easy, finding an item with good margins is easy, finding an item in demand is easy, but finding an item that has a mix of those qualities is almost impossible. I've found a few items like that, but whenever I find the perfect item I cant find a dropshipper or manufacturer that even wants to deal with someone that doesnt have tens of thousands to invest in inventory.
      Maybe I have some huge misconception. Maybe it's possible to make money with an item that isn't perfect. I've never actually publicly opened a store.

      The reason I like Ebay and Amazon FBA is because I can sell anything I can get my hands on that makes money. I dont have to spend forever finding the perfect niche, because it just seems like there is no way I can start a standalone ecommerce site in 2014 with my amount of money
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      • Profile picture of the author Solid Commerce
        There's a lot of awesome information in this thread, and you seem like a super sharp individual. I'd say you're on the right track already, just based on what I can gather of your attitude and level of smarts.

        And you're right, when it comes to your concerns. Starting up your own store means that you've got to focus yourself in one direction or another, which is something that you don't necessarily have to do when you're just flipping whatever it is you get your hands on. Which is a great way to make some cash...but imagine what you could do with a brand, y'know?

        Anyway, here's my idea. If you ask me, the most successful online retailers and brands are the ones that target the right kind of audience. Seems to me like the most Internet-friendly crowd is that awesome 18-45 demographic. And you're basically spending every single day with one of the most valuable subsets of that demographic -- college students!

        I'd just do some research on campus. Ask your fellow students. What do they want to buy? What are they interested in? Is there something they'd REALLY love to be buying online, but can't? Maybe it's something school-related. Maybe you can find a way to buy and then sell Scantrons EVEN cheaper than the bookstore at school does (that's a bad hypothetical, but you see what I mean?).

        There are a ton of ways that you can come up with something to sell online to your fellow students, and I bet you can find it by just surveying randos on campus in between classes. Stop anyone who'll let you and ask them a series of questions about what they buy online, what they wish they could buy online, etc.

        Then? Sell those things online! Blammo. You can market on-campus, and the college demographic is a super easy shot when it comes to online marketing. Start a blog and rock some social media, and you're pretty much golden.

        Hope this helps! Great luck to you.
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        _ Sean B.
        Solid Commerce

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        • Profile picture of the author digital wiz
          Very important. Whatever products you are selling look for a digital product ebook, video, mp3 etc in the same niche with giveaway rights. Or make up a series of reports in the same niche. Set up a squeeze page or a form asking for the person's email address in return for getting free access to the product. Have it feed into an auto-responder and send out the products. You can set up the whole thing so it runs automatically.

          You want to collect email addresses so you can contact these people in the future if you get new products, have a promotion, send them a special promo code etc.

          So for example if you are selling products for dog owners you might find some info on dog training, how to keep your dog healthy etc and give it for free in exchange for the email address.

          You worked hard to get people to your site and you want to find some way to ask them to come back on a regular basis.

          You can find help with setting up a form/squeeze page to capture email addresses and using an auto responder on this site or on YouTube.

          Please don't span. Only send out an email once or twice a month and make sure it is relevant to the niche.

          Good luck with your store.
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      • Profile picture of the author arttse
        If you need to learn how to import buy importexport's ebook. If you need to learn how to sell on ebay or find out which products will make you money visit neilwaterhouse.com or waterhouseresearch.com

        I have no affiliations with either of these sites...
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  • Profile picture of the author invadercow
    Okay guys, here's a few udpates:
    SolidCommerce, you actually gave me an idea. My college has a forum that people communicate on very regularly. You know what sucks about re-selling your textbooks to buy more for next semester? Shipping them and waiting 2 weeks. Everyone complains about how much of a pain it is to go buy boxes, shipping materials, and then waiting for online websites to buy them for $80 each. My school does school buy-backs sometimes and they buy books at $40 each. I bet if I got emails from the school forum, got a list set up, I could buy books for cheap and re-sell them to online buyers.
    Note: $80 and $40 were approximations. I've sold books from $70-110 to online buyers, and I've sold them to the college for $30-50

    I called the local newspaper and I'm running an ad so I can register my DBA (new law i guess). On Monday the DBA will be in effect and I'll have my EIN number issued. Starting as soon as I can, I'll be calling light-bulk wholesalers that I find through WorldwideBrands. I know a lot of people talk about how WorldwideBrands is almost as bad as Alibaba, but I don't plan on dropshipping, I'm going to see if I can buy cheap products in bulk or light-bulk. The margins will be smaller, but if I can buy A LOT of cheap products that all make a dollar, it will be worth it to me as it will teach me about Ebay and Amazon FBA so I can decide which platform I want to use (still deciding, but leaning towards FBA).

    Of course with every new business you have to start small. I cant just go straight to manufacturers, I dont have the resources or the money, so the margins may be small for now, but it's better than zero!
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    • Profile picture of the author Solid Commerce
      Heck yeah! It sounds like you're really going for it.

      As someone who was in college not too terribly long ago himself, I think you've hit on a really great idea.

      Make sure you let us know how it goes!
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      _ Sean B.
      Solid Commerce

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  • Profile picture of the author oatslimes
    Nice where did you get the electronics?

    I posted about 50 things on eBay and am devastated because nothing's selling. I'll see how it goes, maybe if you shuffle them on again and relist. I think if you do free shipping and buy it now, you'll get more interest and sales.
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    • Profile picture of the author jeffduhon
      My 2 cents, start dropshipping on ebay/az and go from there. Huge profits to be made.
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  • Good for you man,

    From what I'm predicting, and you don't have to come out and say it, but the electronics you were selling weren't exactly 'legal' and that's why you can't source there anymore - electronics anyway.

    But, that's neither here, nor there.

    I'm glad you're getting closer to the manufacturer, because your margins get bigger at that point, but you have to remember a couple of things.

    If you're to sell on eBay - you HAVE to know how much they WILL sell for PRIOR to acquisition.

    This is critically important. Otherwise, you will be sitting on inventory that won't sell - much like oatslimes mentioned with his store. I suspect that he/she didn't do their research. They might have purchased item hoping they would sell, or thinking they would sell, or being told they would sell, but in reality - they might sit there in perpetuity at that price-point needed for profitability.


    In addition, you need to know the FORMAT that yields the price that you researched the item will sell in.

    From there, you need to follow the 3 rules of eBay so you can rank higher than all of your competition - including top-rated powersellers.

    If you can maximize your views-to-actions ratio, then you're higher than all of them.

    From there, make sure you're funneling all of the traffic that you're getting because of the increase in traffic into the desired action. (Purchase, hopefully, but if not a purchase - an offer, or a watcher on a BIN, or a bid on an auction.)

    Research, my friend.

    And don't let a distractor tell you to do something else apart from your original plan. ^^^^^^^ You're doing fine at what you're doing - you just need some direction. Not a different route.


    -Auction Debt Eliminator.
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  • Profile picture of the author DWaters
    Turning $300 into $9000 is indeed a success story and you should be proud of it!
    You seem to have a good attitude toward being an entrpreneur and I expect you will do well.
    I am not an expert with ebay (I sell on Amazon myself) but you may want to look up Skip McGrath's website. He offers a TON of great information.
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  • Profile picture of the author NickJabber
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