I’ve been practising eBay dropshipping now for nearly a year so I thought it was time to look back and give you a bit of a progress update and reflective look at what I have achieved and some of the ups and downs from David Wu’s dropshipping technique.
Be sure to read all the way to the end of the article as the last tip is a bit of a gem and will save you hours on your listings.
I’ve now really expanded my eBay store and now have over 1000 products in my shop, so thought this as a great juncture to bring you my top tips:
1 - Manual vs Automated Listing Tools
Initially I started listing all of the products myself, which was a necessary evil to learn how to correctly format your listings and really understand the inner workings of the system.
This is incredibly time consuming as this takes about 10 minutes to create a decent listing, however, this is definitely worthwhile.
I then went to Upwork and decided to hire someone to do this task for me to free me up to more interesting tasks where I could add more value.
After a while my Virtual Assistant persuaded me to try out an automated eBay listing tool called Hydralister, where you input the URL of the product, and the software automatically pulls in the products images and attributes. This also gives you the opportunity to bulk list items, so dramatically reduces the amount of time needed to create a listing.
This was great news for my Virtual Assistant as I was paying them per listing, however, what I found was that the quality of the listings were a lot inferior to creating manual lisitings.
You really need to check each listing to make sure it pulled in the correct information, which is often as time-consuming as creating the listing manually in the first place.
In the end I found another Virtual Assistant from the Philippines on Upwork, and she is simply amazing. She can create listings really quickly, her attention to detail is excellent and her eBay listings are of great quality.
2 - Use SKUgrid to Track Stock Levels
One really useful tool that I’ve adopted as part of my business is SKUgrid, which easily allows you to track product prices and stock levels from your product source.
It’s simple to set up and all you need to do is add the source URL of your product, add the percentage markup that you want on each item and it will automatically update the prices on your eBay listing if they change on the product source and will move items in and out of stock on your eBay store as well.
This means that your prices remain as competitive as possible and means that you no longer have to send fiddly emails to customers making up excuses as to why your product has run out of stock. In the past I found this extremely frustrating as in one minute I was excited about making a sale and the next I would be annoyed as the product was out of stock.
You also run the risk of receiving negative feedback if this happens too often, and I’m sure cancelling a lot of orders doesn’t look good either.
I'll give a full review of SKUgrid in due course, however, if you have a few hundred listings already, I highly recommend you switching.
3 - Automate Your System
With a Virtual Assistant and the use of SKUgrid, I’ve really limited the amount of work that I need to put in to a few hours a week, where I am processing orders, responding to customer service enquiries and sourcing new products for my VA
4 - list Items that are not available within the Global Shipping Programme
About 70% of my sales come from UK customers, so I think it is absolutely worth listing products that don’t qualify for GSP, and in fact because other dropshippers may not be doing this, it gives you more chance to rank your product highly.
It’s often difficult to know if a product qualifies for the GSP before you list it, so I just let my VA list batches of products for me, then I check and see which products don’t qualify from them.
If they don’t qualify then I try not to add many more products in that category, as overall I still think its better to list products for the Global Shipping Programme simply because you have a broader reach.
5 - Add Seasonal Items
When I didn’t have an automated stock/repricing tool, I stayed away from adding seasonal items as they would quickly go out of stock, however, now that my system is more automated I think it pays to start looking at the seasons and understanding what is going to be hot soon.
Ideally you’ll have a list of products ready a month in advance so your VA can get these up on eBay.
For example, think about adding Outdoor Games and Barbeque equipment in May, just before the summer rush starts to hit
6 - Check your Sources
Having a solid, reliable supplier really is key to success and it’s quite easy to tell which suppliers will be good to work with from a few simple emails.
First of all, you want to check out the supplier to see if they have the credentials needed for your eBay business model ie do they send invoices, do they ship to the GSP.
To help this I use the email below:
I really love the range of products that you offer and want to buy some of your products for a friend of mine. I just wanted to know if you have the possibility of a Guest Checkout or something like this, where you wouldn’t include a copy of the invoice with the dispatch?
Is this a possibility, or could you send the invoice to me electronically as I will be paying for the product?
Can you also let me know if you’re happy to ship to freight forwarding addresses?
One final question is whether you provide a tracking number when your deliveries are dispatched?
Looking forward to hear from you soon,
Send this to the customer service contacts for each of the suppliers just from how quickly they respond to you and how professional their replies are you’ll get a good initial impression of if you want to work with them or not.
When you’ve found a few suppliers that you think you can work with, add about 20 of their products to your eBay account and test what their sales process is like.
You could reduce the markup that you are asking to increases the likelihood of selling a product, or even better you could buy a product from them and then ask for a return.
This is a great test as you’ll find out what the packaging is like, if they send automated emails to you with tracking numbers, how quickly they dispatch the products and also how easy it is to make a return with them.
This is crucial information that you must find out before you start adding hundreds of products from one supplier.
Some suppliers also have a tendency to change products quite quickly, which I would avoid as well, as you’ll have a smaller window of opportunity to sell your product before it goes out of stock.
7 - January and February Suck
Yes, be prepared that some months of the year will be better than others and January / February simply suck.
I had by far my worse months ever, at the same time that I was trying to build up the store, which was really discouraging.
However, if you keep the faith and keep on listing then your sales will recover.
8 - Diversify with Other Business Ideas
If eBay dropshipping is your only income or you want this to become your main source of income then you should be aware that at any moment this business could disappear.
- You could receive negative ratings, which is a quick way to lose sales.
- eBay could review your account and even though you are making money for them, they don’t look so favourably on dropshippers so could quite easily close your account.
- Paypal could close your account as well. For example, this month they froze my account for a couple of weeks due to a fraudulent payment, which was nothing to do with me, but showed how fragile this business model is
Remember, the market and the business could change very quickly, for example both eBay and Paypal have increased their fees recently, which decreases the chunk of the pie that you can take.
As digital entrepreneurs we need to be able to adapt to change quickly and there are usually ways around obstacles, however, you should also be prepared for the fact that this business can quickly disappear as well.
9 - Invest in a Shop
Whilst it was great when I was starting out using free listings on my personal account to list items, there were a lot of downsides. For example, I couldn’t scale as quickly as I wanted and the free listings couldn’t be used as Good til Cancelled listings, which in turn meant I couldn’t use stock tracking tools.Investing in a shop is well worth the investment because:
- You’ll get cheaper listing fees
- You can add branding to your store and start to build out an identity. This in turn gives buyers more trust that you are a bonafide company and increases your chances of making a sale
- You can use categories – Creating a decent taxonomy with well-defined categories and sub-categories will increase your sales as you’ll benefit from cross selling items and if buyers don’t like the product they were originally looking at, they can more easily navigate around your store and find similar products they like
- You can create sales – Using the Markdown Manager functionality, I have a look at which products have a large number of people watching them and add a 5 or 10% sale for a few days. If you’re worried about your profit then increase the price before adding the 10% discount so your mark up stays the same! It’s a bit sneaky, but it works
- The Seller dashboard is also a lot better if you use a shop and you’ll get a lot of other useful tools and statistics that you can use
10 - Buy a Responsive Theme
In 2017 if your store is not accessible on a handheld device then quite frankly you are crazy. Imagine if you had a queue of people outside of your shop and suddenly you decided to only let half of the queue enter your shop…You wouldn’t do it, right?
So, you don’t have any excuses and if your store is not using a responsive theme, then you’re cutting that queue in half.
You can buy a decent them for as little as $20 and adding this to your site and to your listings is really easy to do and well worth the effort.
11 - Use Good Til Cancelled Listings
Using 30 day listings has the advantage that your listing is featured immediately at the top of search results when it is a new listing and has the advantage of adding a bit of scarcity when your product’s listing is due to expire, however, I have now switched all my listings to Good Till Cancelled for the following reasons:
- You keep a sales record of each product sold… When you sell an item it is shown on the listing and usually you’ll find that if you have sold one item, it is a positive signal to buyers that the product is of good quality and will help them choose you over other listings who haven’t previously sold
- You get to see the cumulative number of views and people who have been watching your product, which helps you monitor products• You’re more likely to have your product listing ranking well in Google… A lot of visits will come directly from Google to your listing
- You don’t need to continually re-list your products
- GTC listings are more compatible with stock tracking software like SKUgridOf course, there are pros and cons for each of these options but I think more serious sellers usually prefer to go with Good Til Cancelled listings.
KEY TIP : 12 - Use an EAN / UPC Generator
Trying to source the EAN / UPC for each products is a massive pain in the butt and also quite a time consuming activity.
You’ll often find a number of different EANs available for each product and in some cases none at all. I also find that for products that I have listed with an EAN, eBay will often add a ‘similar products’ carousel underneath your product listing, which shows other people on eBay selling the same products, which are usually going to be a lot cheaper and makes it difficult for you to make a sale.
An EAN number is simply a unique number that is given to identify a product.You will find a lot of services out there where you can buy EANs, however, I don’t think you need to use these at all and can generate them yourselves a lot more easily.I just use the attached spreadsheet and generate all of my own EANs from this list.
A word of caution however, is that eBay is on a bit of a mission to try and categorise products out there so that it makes it easier for you to list and buy in the future.
There is a rumour that in the future you may be penalised if you don’t list your products with the correct EANs, however, until I see more evidence of this I’ll continue to list with my own numbers.
WHAT ARE YOUR KILLER TIPS?
If you like these tips then please let us know in the comments below or if you have some more killer tips of your own then we’re keen to find out