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Savvy eBay Sellers Think Like Customers First. Savvy?


Aaarrrr! Ahoy, ye mateys! This be yer eBay selling guide speaking and I’m ter share with ya how me became known as the “Bay Rum Runner.” Is it bounty ye be lookin’ for? Then read on… But ye be warned: Here there be monster profits to be made.

Savvy? (insert Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow swagger here)

It begins with this: give and you shall receive. I admit, that doesn’t seem to fit the “eBay Pirate” theme, but that was the first step toward my becoming the “Bay Rum Runner” on eBay.

As I mentioned in Tell Me About Your Big eBay But…, the key to my growing eBay sales seemed to hinge upon my customer-based approach. I wanted my listings to be friendly, easy to navigate, and, most importantly, enjoyable. Bring back a little of the “world’s largest swap meet” kind of vibe, particularly the fun of feeling like you are haggling with some real characters, not just buying from some indifferent warehouse.

The first step toward my eventually taking on a new nickname was when I decided to focus on the bonus gifts a bit more. I wanted to alleviate some of the “Am I going to be ripped off here?” worries on behalf of my potential eBay customers, many of which were newcomers. The bonus gifts seemed to do that quite nicely.

As I was running low on my baby product travel sizes for bonuses, I hit a local clearance store for anything else that might be suitable. As the babies of the family were clearly going to be pampered already with the primary auction item, I chose to focus on pampering the parents a bit through the free gifts. I was thinking about my customers’ wants, needs, and desires. What would they consider a treat?

After ultimately purchasing several “sampler kits” from a well-known organic bath and body products company, with the goal in mind to break up the kits into individual samples to give away as the bonuses, a display of the same company’s men’s line of “Bay Rum” grooming products caught my eye on my way to the door.

This is where the”give and you shall receive”principle begins to come into play. Call it karma. Call it whatever you like… the gods of capitalism were about to show me my next big eBay sale.

Years of living on the Gulf Coast had made me fairly familiar with all products boasting the scent of “Bay Rum.” Blame it on Jimmy Buffet and our plethora of palm trees, sandy beaches, Hawaiian shirts, and every casino offering free drinks to guys who say to themselves, “It’s five o’clock somewhere” after their lunch at the buffet. I knew this line was popular. I made mental note of the prices of each of the key full size products and then a bee line for my home computer to do a little research.

This is how you find new products to sell. You keep yourself open to opportunities. You never know when one will find you. You train yourself to move fast because you never know when that opportunity will pass right on by if you don’t move. You learn to make decisions and then act on them.

An hour later, I was back at the store and bought out their entire line of discontinued Bay Rum grooming products.

Now it was time for me to get them on eBay. More specifically, now it was time for me to sell them on eBay, despite some already established stiff competition selling the same line. Otherwise, I was going to have to learn to seriously love the smell of Bay Rum.

Oooh, what’s that tingle? Was that a twitch of panic? No, no, now is not the time to panic. Now is the time to breathe, be confident in my research, and launch. I’m an eBay Pirate, remember? Pirates don’t hesitate. They see what they want and they take it! Aaarrrr! Now walk the plank launch those auctions, Megan!

We’ll learn shortly the essentials to building your auctions, creating a checklist of the key ingredients for a successful listing. We’ll get to the point that you can knock out a new product launch, from discovery to research to launch, all within a handful of hours. If we weren’t parents managing the demands of kids and home simultaneously along with our eBay business, I’d say we could knock these new auction launches out even faster, but this isn’t called eSwingers at the Bachelor Pad now, is it?

One thing was clear, I had to figure out why a potential buyer would buy from my auction listings rather than one of the dozens of others. Some of the other sellers were starting their auctions at less than the price at which I bought my products. How on earth were they doing that and how was I going to compete?

Fortunately, this had also been the case with the baby bath products and I had managed to sell mine for more than my competitors in the end and in higher quantities. I achieved this through personality. I did it through professional polish, cobbled together through my hardly professional skills. I did it by thinking of my customers and what was going through their minds while they browsed the auction search results. I needed to set myself apart through personality once again.

I needed to begin branding myself. Creating an identity with which to relate.

The “Bay Rum Runner” was born.

I built auctions that complimented the theme of the product. I chose rich brown and red color schemes, outfitted with themes featuring palm trees hanging over ocean shores. I built punchy text, easy to take in by a scanning eye, and fleshed it out with clear, focused, close-up photos of my products that I took myself. I had snapped up every sample grooming kit from the same Bay Rum line and broke it down into individual samples to be given away as bonus gifts. Then I signed off each listing with the phrase, “Make me your Bay Rum Runner…”

I knew it had worked when the emails began coming in with the salutation, “Hey, Bay Rum Runner!”

My customers were identifying with me and they were having fun with it. And the sales flowed like, well, free rum at a buccaneer’s blowout. These were the sales that made me a PowerSeller. Although I no longer sell Bay Rum grooming products as my primary store line, I proudly don my “Rum Runner” hat when I do list a few.

Give and you shall receive. Yes, the bonus gifts cut into my profits, but in the end, I had higher numbers of sales and higher final bid prices because of those bonus gifts. I was selling more than the competition and my auctions were going for as much as 50-100% more for the exact same products listed by other sellers.

I thought like a customer, respecting their needs, as well as their choice to buy from me. Because they do have a choice. They deserve your respect. If you are sincere and thoughtful, they will trust you.

In order to think like a customer, you need to be a customer first. Have you bought on eBay before? Are you registered, yet? If not, the process of registering is incredibly simple. Then join my first eBay Challenge: Be the Customer First and share your buying experiences with us. Walk the plank, me mateys, I think you’ll find the waters are warm.

Ye be warned, though. You just might enjoy it. You might love it. Before you know it, you’ll not only begin contributing to your family’s finances more, but also begin contributing to the eBay community. Hopefully improving it along the way for everyone. Give and you shall receive.


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    1. eBay Challenge #1: Be the Customer First | eBay Selling for eParents on September 14th, 2007 at 12:39 pm
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