When does a ‘seller’ become a ‘supplier’

It’s been a busy, busy couple of weeks for me, with no sign of things slowing down!

Earlier this week I re-opened my E-Seller Mastery Programme, which has already received an amazing response, so if you haven’t had a chance to look at the details on this yet I recommend you do before spaces sell out. You can do that here:

E-Seller Mastery 2014

Also, following the launch of my new report, the ‘Quick Start Guide to Online Selling’ last week, I’ve received plenty of emails from budding start-ups – with many asking me whether they should jump straight in, find a supplier of wholesale products and buy a huge amount of stock in bulk immediately, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to give you some tips on this topic.

Although you can start up with very little, (I started with less than £150) I know that sometimes it’s good to have a little nest-egg as a safe-guard and it’s good to get some practice in at buying and selling so that you feel comfortable. Practice is a good thing. So I want to remind you that eBay and Amazon are not just about selling. Think about the buying side of things – because this can be a great way to get started, before you then start dealing with trade suppliers.

When you start up your online business (or even if you have been selling online for a while) don’t forget that you can purchase items from eBay or Amazon, from Play or Ebid to then resell yourself – a method that is often overlooked because it’s right under your nose.

Of course, the most popular business model online does involve purchasing from wholesalers and manufacturers and then reselling at a profit. This is a very simple and straightforward approach. But, if you don’t want to use a wholesaler, manufacturer or drop shipper right away, you can utilise eBay, Amazon, Play, Ebid and other online venues to source products from other sellers at bargain prices and then resell for more.

This is in a way a kind of arbitrage system – buying from one seller and then simply relisting and selling at a profit – a method that many really successful sellers (particularly on eBay) use to add extra products to their inventories.

Seek out the ‘casual sellers’

I’m sure you are aware of just how easy it is to mistype a word – I’m not perfect, I do it all the time, but I make sure I always spell-check before I submit my online product listings to avoid any mistakes going live – the more casual sellers, on eBay for example, don’t worry about this kind of thing though – they just want to get their listings out there and sell their items as quickly as possible.

So let’s look at eBay. As you know, there are literally millions of people selling on the site and while many of these are full time or part time professional sellers, there are also a great many others who only sell occasionally when they have had a good spring clean and who want to make a few extra pounds from their personal items.

These sellers – the casual sellers – are of great interest to professional sellers like you and me. Casual eBay sellers are simply not experienced at the important things that shouldn’t be overlooked in order to get your items to sell. Things like title keywords, good photographs, correct categories for their items, and spell-checking – most casual sellers don’t bother to spell-check and so often their listings are difficult to find due to their main keywords being spelt incorrectly or being totally irrelevant.

Now you and I know that title keywords are vitally important – this is basic information that every professional eBay seller should know, but it’s the casual sellers’ downfall and can mean the difference between their items selling or not. This means that mistakes are very often and very easily made. But this is actually a real advantage for you because you can seek out those misspelled or poorly described listings, grab a bargain and re-sell for a profit.

You can use this method on eBay.co.uk and eBay.com or any other eBay site for that matter. Or you can seek out misspelled items on Amazon, Ebid or Play and then flip them over to ebay for resale purposes. It works and is also a great way to get a feel for eBay buying and selling if you haven’t started already. It’s also a really good way to add extra stock to your store and make a little extra cash.

How it works

If you are going to buy and resell on eBay, in order to do this you will need to have more than one eBay ID but that’s ok because it’s perfectly acceptable and is allowed. You need a buying ID and a selling ID so that the items you have purchased on eBay can’t be seen as a purchase when you come to sell the same item. It would rather defeat the object if your interested buyer could simply look at your feedback and see that you paid next to nothing for something that you are now listing for a lot more.

eBay allow as many ID’s as you want – all you have to do is sign up again using a different email address. You will also need to open a new separate PayPal account too but each of these takes only a few minutes.

So, what you need to do is take a look at some categories and markets that you know a little bit about, after all if you try looking in a market that you don’t know anything about how will you know that what you are looking at is a bargain or not?

Start by doing some searches with commonly misspelled words and look for listing titles that are very badly worded. You can also search for keywords such as ‘Wow’, ‘Gorgeous’ and ‘The’ as these are unnecessary title keywords – if a seller is using one of these words in their title, the chances are that the rest of their keywords might be a bit dodgy too. People don’t search for those words in normal, everyday life when they are looking for specific items.

You can also search for listings that have been placed in the wrong category, and don’t forget to look for newly listed under-priced items on Buy It Now listings. All of these are the types of listings that will get very little traffic, leaving the door open for you to swoop in, purchase and then re-list with a better description, better keywords, better photographs and a higher price.

There are some great tools around that will help you search for spelling mistakes in eBay listings. Try Fat Fingers a really simple to use site to find misspelled items – go and have a play around with it, it’s free and good fun!


Split job-lots for big profits

Another way to go about this is to look for job-lots of items that are listed very cheaply. It’s likely that the seller can’t be bothered or simply hasn’t got the time to list each item individually so is just selling everything as one lot. Check out the lot because there could be a few pieces in there that are worth more than everything put together. You can then purchase the lot, split the items and sell them individually, each at a profit. Obviously you will have to do a bit of research to make sure you know the true value of what you are buying, but it can be worth it. The same goes for things listed as ‘wholesale stock’.

For a very long time I purchased a product as ‘wholesale stock’ from an eBay.com seller at a greatly reduced rate, which became even better value with the exchange rate at the time, and sold it on eBay.co.uk for a good profit, so you can definitely find some great bargains. It does take a bit of practice to know where to look, but after a while you get a feel for it.

Do try this method out and remember, if you don’t take advantage of poorly listed items to help get your online business off the ground, there is always someone else who will.

As always I wish you the very best of success,

Amanda O'Brien