I was so much impressed with the in-depth analysis of how eBay works, that I felt compelled to contact Annie and ask to “pick her brains” to share her insights with CrazyLister’s community.
The outcome is the first ever interview post on this blog. And just like the title says:
I thought I knew everything about eBay, until I interviewed Annie and her Father Anthony.
Without further due – let’s dive in…
What is your history with eBay?
When RoofTop Antiques first came to be, it was literally a Mom and Pop operation – my Mom and Pop, to be more specific. They had always collected antiques and unique items that caught their eye. It wasn’t surprising to me when my dad started selling on eBay in 2004. My parents had acquired so much stuff that they really couldn’t enjoy the individual pieces that they truly loved. So my dad began listing items and sending them out into the world. Soon, his project turned into a time-consuming hobby. It was more than he could handle on his own, so my mom joined in the venture. They became regulars at auctions, garage sales, thrift shops and flea markets where they were purchasing items specifically to sell online.
I joined the effort in 2009.
In the spring of 2011, his side business became his full-time job. We moved into a newly constructed facility, nearly 6,000 square feet in size. Within two years, five additional employees were added to our team. Our business was thriving.
As of today, our team has conducted more than 19,000 successful transactions across more than 60 countries. We are PowerSellers and Top Rated Sellers.
What have you experienced on eBay in the past 2 years?
In the last two years, we doubled our inventory from 3,000 items to 6,000. We increased the quality of items we were listing. Our strong customer service was pushed to a higher level, and we began marketing our business on social media. Despite the push for greatness, sales really began to dwindle in the spring of 2014.
How have you responded to this challenge?
We faced the challenges of eBay head on. We didn’t take to the forums and bad-mouth executives or policies (though we felt like it some days). We took a good long look at our business and outlined two main objectives:
i. How can we improve our presence on eBay?
ii. How can we establish a presence outside of eBay?
Taking into account the altered atmosphere of eBay (and really of the internet as a whole) we developed a plan to make ourselves more relevant, desirable and attractive to customers.
What specifically did you do to improve your presence on eBay?
Our first step was really to identify ourselves. We changed our name to reflect the majority of the items we sell on eBay, and had a logo created to speak that identity to our potential customers. We worked hard to make our voice consistent within the marketplace.
Our next step within eBay was to make use of two new tools created for users: eBay Collections and eBay Guides. We started with eBay Collections which eBay describes as:
…groups of eBay items hand-selected by eBay members, mixed and matched around a theme, concept or passion. By creating intriguing and inspiring collections of products, you can attract eager buyers who are able to purchase items right from the collections you create. Your collections can also be exposed to new buyers via sharing from other members and have the potential to appear on the eBay Today page.
What is the basic underlying principle you are applying with these strategies?
Relevancy! You need to have product that people are interested in. Your wares should be desirable to your target customer, and presented in a way that is pleasing to them. It is also valuable to provide information that people are looking for (and that they may not be able to find anywhere else).
If you could travel back in time and give your younger eBay self one bit of advice, what would that be?
Our answer is two-fold. First, we would advise ourselves to pay more attention to what was going on with eBay in regards to politics and policies. We now see that doing this would have prepared us for the challenges that we faced (and still face) with eBay, and the resulting impact that had on our business. We now monitor eBay, and ecommerce news on a daily basis. Additionally, we have built relationships with top eBay executives which has afforded us the opportunity to be actively involved in new policy development.