You basically act as a broker. You find items that are available for purchase on the internet at a discount, and you list them on eBay as if you were the owner, yourself. Don’t worry. There’s nothing unethical about this. In fact, it’s becoming more and more common these days. Think of it this way. You’re offering a service to people who aren’t very skilled with internet research. You’re finding products that they couldn’t otherwise find. Now, there’s a little risk involved with this strategy, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
There are many places on the internet where you can find really good deals on any number of items. Some common places to look are the Amazon.com marketplace, alternate auction sites (besides eBay), online wholesalers, and dropshippers. Once you find a good deal, you need to do a little research to find out what the market value is on eBay. You can do a quick search of closed listings to see how much people are paying for the particular item you’ve found. Once you’ve confirmed that there’s a good market for the item you’ve found, you list the item on eBay. You can use a stock photo of the item for your listing. These can usually be found on the original manufacturer’s web page.
When the item sells on eBay, you’ll get an email notification. The next step is for you to place an order for the actual item from your source. In some cases, depending on the source, you can have the item packed by your source so that it appears to have come directly from you. This is especially true in the case of drop shippers. In other cases, you’ll want to have the item shipped to you; then you can ship the item to your buyer. This incurs additional shipping costs, and it takes a little longer for your buyer to get the item.
In my introduction, I mentioned that there is a little risk involved. The risk is to your eBay feedback score, which is essentially your reputation. You incur this risk by promising someone else’s product, and you’ll suffer if the product is out of stock when it comes time to deliver to your customer. So, to protect yourself, you should only list items that are in good supply. Don’t ever list an item from a source that only has one or two available. In the event that someone places an order with you, and you find that the item is out of stock with your supplier, you’ll have to find an alternate supplier fast. And, you should be willing to pay a little more for the item in order to satisfy your customer. Personally, I’d be prepared to lose a few dollars in order to salvage my feedback score.
The best way to avoid this risk altogether is to use a drop shipper and to actually buy some products from the drop shipper, who then sets the products aside for you. When the product sells, the drop shipper packages the item and ships it for you. This virtually guarantees that you’ll never receive an order only to find that your supplier is out of stock. Though, there’s a little risk with this method as well. Once you buy the product, you own it, even though it’s sitting in the drop shipper’s warehouse, and if the market price drops for that product, you’re out of luck. You may have to sell the product at a loss.
So, both methods come with their respective risks. You’ll have to choose which one you’re more comfortable with. As long as you’re careful, you’ll be fine. And you’ll stand a good chance of making some great money on eBay, while never stocking anything in your home.
For more details, be sure to read my original eBay blog post on this topic.