Friday, February 24, 2012

What I learned when selling on ebay

Up until this week, I've only sold one thing on ebay. It was for my MIL and was a group of new, in the box (or in ebay speak NIB) Strawberry Shortcake dolls from the 80s. She made $100 and was happy to clean out her basement (a little, you should see that place - it's like a store down there).

Last week I posted seven different lots of my kids' old Thomas trains and a new Missoni for Target bag that I got a smoking deal on. The auctions ended last night and I made nearly $175. That's a good chunk of change - a nice start to the fund for a trip to California with my mom.

Here are a few things that I learned and some that I will do differently next time:

1. For a busy mom like me, eight auctions at the same time was a bit much to manage. I will probably split it up a little more next time, so I'm not swamped with packing up eight different packages the same day.

2. Group things in managable lots that make sense to the buyer. On this one, I think I did pretty well. My five year-old helped me take the trains and put them together in groups that made sense - a group of all the main characters, a lot of track and buildings, a 'starter set' of trains with a carrying case.

3. Don't promise to send anything international. I wouldn't know how to figure out the shipping and it seemed like a pretty sketchy proposal. Even though my profile says I only send to US addresses, I still had four people ask if I would ship international. The answer - NO. That said, I did notice one of my buyers was in Korea and after a few back and forths, I found out the buyer had a US address. I'm not sure how that works and I don't really want to.

4. Spend a little time researching the shipping costs. I estimated $7.95 for each of my auctions, but quickly found out that wasn't enough in most cases. I ended up pulling about $15 from my earnings for this mistake.

5. Packaging it all up takes longer than you think. I ended up wrapping each train before putting in the boxes (which I had to beg my neighbor for because I was four boxes short). It took forever, even with a couple of little helpers (or maybe because of the little helpers).

6. Stock pile some boxes, so you don't have to pilfer from your neighbor's basement.

7. Don't take your packages to Office Depot or one of those other 'convenience' locations. At my Office Depot, I had to enter all the addresses into their system manually, which took about 10-15 minutes. Then they weigh and measure each package and give you your shipping options (UPS, Priority or Parcel Post). After being there for about 45 minutes, the computer crashed and I had to go to the post office anyway. The post office only took 10 minutes - less time than it took to enter my info at OD.

8. Don't bring your kids with you to the post office, if you can avoid it. Needless to say, the wait at OD was exhasting. The boys were bored (and rightfully so). If you have to bring them, bribe them with icecream. That worked for me. ;-)

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