Can you make more – by selling less?

Next week, Masterchef: The Professionals is back and I can’t wait! Over the past few years I’ve become strangely addicted to watching this series because I find it fascinating to see how quickly (or slowly) the chefs’ learn new skills and how their dishes change over time as the series progresses.

Often though, I notice that the contestants find it hard to take on board the comments and tips given by their mentor – well nobody really likes criticism – but of course it’s the mentor that (usually) knows best – through years of experience.

I remember watching an episode last year and marvelling at the recipes the chefs’ had cooked up and then creatively laid out on a plate like a work of art and thinking to myself, wow that’s amazing – it looks tasty, it’s presented really well, I could definitely eat that…but I was surprised when the judges looked at the dishes, turned their noses up and basically said that there was simply too much food. Surely not!

Even the contestants looked pretty upset to be told this – and these were professionals! And I thought it looked about right too, but no, according to the judges, the portions were far too big. There was simply too much food on the plate! So in fact what they were saying was that less is more.

But what’s this got to do with selling online?

I know it’s an age-old cliché and one that doesn’t always seem to make sense in our modern society filled with all those exciting new things to get our mitts on. A society where everything seems to be super-sized or padded out with extras, but when it comes to selling online and particularly on eBay, less can certainly equal more for you. In fact, by selling less you can ultimately make significantly more money.

How fewer listings can increase your profits – plus a simple idea that will have potential buyers clamouring to purchase your products…

I’m not talking about kicking back, watching Masterchef and only creating a few listings a month for a couple of old bits and bobs that you’ve managed to find lying around the house. What I’m talking about here is targeting your time, your products and your listings carefully, thereby maximising your profit for every sale.

Let’s delve into this in a little more detail though; it’s all very well me saying that you can make more money by selling fewer products, but that information isn’t much use unless you can convert it into useable knowledge. Essentially there are two distinct ways that this principle can relate to you and your online business. If you have been a subscriber to my eletter for a while the first won’t be a great surprise to you.

Sell products with a great profit margin and you won’t need to sell as many items

Firstly, if there is a decent profit to be made on a product, then price it accordingly. This may seem obvious but I see so many products – particularly on eBay – being sold for profits of £1.00 and £2.00 each when actually they could make five times that amount. Don’t be scared about pricing your goods at a higher price. Cheapest isn’t always best!

In fact this is something I discussed with my E-Seller Mastery students during last Sunday’s workshop. It’s easy to get sucked into being the cheapest seller but why would you do that when all you end up doing is ‘turning money’ rather than profiting?

Secondly, finding one hot product, and creating one multiple item listing for a profit of lets say £4 on each sale will take you much less time than creating five different listings that each bring £1 to your bank account. Makes sense doesn’t it. But what does this mean in reality?

Stop creating all those time consuming listings and re-think your strategy

If you have concentrated all of your time up to this point on creating as many listings as you possibly can, not really caring how much profit you make as long as it is something, then now is the time to make a change.

Take a tip from me, because these days, when I’m looking for a new product to sell online I actually spend more time researching than I do in creating the listing itself. Researching products is a huge part of my day – and many of those products I pass on to members of The Source Report so I am constantly looking for new profitable items. Now, that’s not to say that creating a decent description isn’t worth doing, because obviously a great description, fantastic images, an eye-catching title and everything else to do with every listing you create will make a significant difference to your profits and you should spend time on this also.

However without first spending time researching your items so that you know, or at least have a good estimate of how much money they will make you, you might find that your wonderful descriptions are actually working against you simply because of the time they take to create, leaving you with little time for research.

So research is the key then? Yes absolutely! And the good news is that although research for your online business should never stop (you will always need to keep an eye on the market, your competition and prospective new products to sell), once you have a successful product or inventory of products, and a number of reliable and affordable suppliers, you will find yourself with a lot more free time and a more streamlined, successful business to boot.

Supply and demand – capitalise on the human desire to win

Now, I said at the outset that there are two different ways that less can equal more for you when selling online, so before I finish up for this week I would like to briefly cover this second method of generating a great income from less stock.

There’s no denying that it is human nature to want to win, although this instinct is certainly more ingrained in some humans than in others. But you can take advantage of this when it comes to creating your own listings by choosing to list fewer of a certain product than you might actually have available…

How does this help you? Well by listing a small amount of goods, and making reference to this within your listing, you can create a significant demand for your ‘limited supply’. So for example, lets say you have 100 available of a particular product but you list only 15 of them initially and state ‘limited stock’ within your description (or as keywords if you have the space and can do so without compromising other important keywords) which gives potential buyers the idea that you only have 15 of this item in total. This prompts them to purchase right away as they feel they might miss out if they don’t take action immediately.

Once you have sold 12 or 13, up the quantity to 15 again and repeat the same process. This idea can work as both auction and ‘Buy It Now’ as, in an auction, your prospective buyers will feel the need to outbid each other in order to win just one of these ‘limited’ items and, in a Buy It Now listing, impulse buyers will feel the necessity to get their hands on what you are offering before it vanishes from your shop.

You just need to be a little bit creative!

So, just like those Masterchefs’, remember – don’t pile your plate high because less can certainly be more in this instance and you’ll find yourself able to increase your prices to meet the artificial demand that you have generated.