How Much Inventory Makes A Good eBay Store?

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That’s a question I hear pretty often.  Sometimes people ask me to look at their store to see why they’re not getting very many sales. Often the first thing I notice is that their inventory is fewer than 300 items.

Let me ask you a question.

If you went to a store, let’s say Macy’s, and they had 113 items in the store, what are the odds that you’d find something there you needed, wanted, or just had to have?

For me, the odds would be pretty slim.  I bet they would be for you too.

Stores that sell a lot of inventory, have a lot of inventory in stock.  You can’t sell it if you don’t have it in stock.

The same principles that apply to retail apply to selling online.

I try to keep my store at 900-1000 items.  That way, if I’m out of town for a few days, sick, or just not able to list, I still have plenty of inventory listed.

This summer, I plan to increase my inventory numbers.

Everywhere you go, you need to be thinking “eBay”  not just at yard sales and thrift stores.  Think “eBay” when you’re at Wal-mart, Target, Macy’s, discount stores, sidewalk sales.  Pretty soon, you’ll find that it’s not difficult to find inventory if you open your eyes and look around you.

If you don’t have a lot of money to invest in your eBay business, then literally, look around you.  Look in your closets, your garage, attic, storage sheds, anywhere you have belongings.  Look on Craigslist and Freecycle too… never know what you’re going to find.

I highly doubt that a person can make a full time income by selling on eBay and having 100 items listed in their store.  Not unless they are $1,000.00 items.

My advice to you: If you have fewer than 100 items in your store, set a goal to get to 100 items listed.

If you have at least 100 but not up to 300 items yet, then set a goal and work toward 300.

If you have at least 300 but not 500, set a goal and work toward having 500 items listed in your store.

If you have at least 500, but aren’t close to 1,000 items in your store, then set goals in 100 item increments to get your store up to 1,000 items listed.

I guarantee you that each time you get to the next 100 items listed in your store, you will see your sales increase.  In my opinion, you can never have too many items listed.


Question From the Inbox: How do You Manage Your eBay Fees?

Here’s a question from a reader that landed in our in box this week:


I’ve been selling on eBay for about 3 months now, and the eBay fees are so high. I’m charged over half of what I make. I have even tried opening a store and the bill was still as high as it was before. I’m very careful about the fees, but they are still so high. How do you make money on eBay? I enjoy doing this very much, but am about to have to quit because of this.


This is an excellent question, and one that I had in mind when I started trying to sell on eBay.

Here are my thoughts on this question:

First of all, I use what I call “fees management” techniques.  Here are a few of them:

1) I have always quantified my listings when I have multiples of the same item.  That way, you’re not paying multiple fees to have them listed.

2) When I started selling, I limited myself to a certain amount of listings per month so that I wasn’t going over what I felt I could afford in eBay fees.

3) I try to sell items that are higher in value so the percentage of the final value fee will be lower, and so I can make as much money, but sell fewer items.

4) I add a small handling fee to my shipping, usually $1.00-$1.50 per item.  Sometimes, it works out to be a little less, but that way, I have a little “cushion” to help pay all my fees–paypal too. (Although you should never put in your listing that your handling fee is to cover eBay fees.)

I also had to realize that paying “rent” on having an eBay store was a lot less than I’d pay if I rented a “brick and mortar” store. (Lizzie here–FAR FAR FAR less than operating a brick and mortar store.)

Keep in mind that your eBay and paypal fees are all a tax deductible expense.

This month, my eBay fees are currently at $507.  I have a premium store and my listings are all .05 per month.  I maintain a store of 1030+items.  My sales for this month are currently at $5,998.67.  So, I feel it’s worth it for me to pay around $500 to sell nearly 6k in inventory.



From The Inbox: How do you know what price to ask for an item?

Here’s a question that we’ve received from several readers over the last few weeks:

“How do you know how much to ask for an item in your eBay store?”

This is a great question, especially since selling on auction and selling in your store are really two different strategies.

I try to get as much as I can for an item in my store.  I’m not a huge fan of auction because most of the time, I find that auctions aren’t as profitable as buy it now store items.

I don’t normally do a lot of research on an item unless I’m not familiar with it.  Usually when I look at an item, I price it in my store based on my gut feeling.

My gut feeling comes from what I know about that item, my previous experience with selling that brand or type of item and what I think I can get for an item.

For example, if my gut feeling says $24.99, I will price it higher than that.

If $24.99 is the lowest I’ll go on that item and most of the time, I’ll list it at $29.99 so I have room to take an offer.

Some times, people will pay my full asking price, other times, they’ll come along and make an offer that’s in line with my gut feeling, either way it’s a win-win situation.  I’ve found that if I price an item at the price I want to get for it with no room to accept offers best offers get frustrating.

Most of the time, I can look at an item and tell you what price I’d list it at.  Cashmere, $39.99 (unless it’s new with tags)  CAbi Jeans $59.99, etc.

It’s because of my selling experience for the last 5 years on eBay that my gut feeling is pretty good.

As you sell more and gain more experience, you’ll learn to trust your gut feeling more and more.

If I don’t know anything about an item, I usually set it aside in my eBay room until I have time to do a little bit of research  so I can get an idea of how to price it and what keywords to use in the title.


Question From the Inbox: Do You Tithe From Your eBay Income?

October 27, 2010 by The Selling Sisters  
Filed under From the Inbox, Working At Home

After posting: Rachel’s Philosophy For Selling on eBay, I received this question from Kate.

“The foundation of my business is all about giving into my local home church.  I know the Lord is with me in this it’s just been a battle.  If it’s ok to ask, do you tithe?   And do you do it once a month or on each sale?”

This is an excellent question, and I appreciate Kate asking it.  Here’s my response to her question:

Hi Kate,

Yes, I tithe and I also give to missions through our church. I transfer my paypal funds once a month and get paid from piano lessons once a month, so I tithe once a month.

I’ve been self employed for 2 years now and I STILL thank God and rejoice every time I get a new student, and every month I reach my sales goals. It’s not me building my business, it’s God giving me the wisdom and tools. And He’s doing the work, I just have to ask Him to do it.

Sometimes, to reach my goal for the month, I need a $200 sales day…….I look at my numbers and think, “Wow, that’s a lot of sales.”

Then I think, “God is bigger than that, $200 is nothing to Him.”  I pray and tell God that, and He delivers. I get home to find I not only met my goal but exceeded it……and it’s all God.


I just want to say that whether you believe in God or not, the principle is still the same, when you give, you will be blessed.

I believe that if you are greedy with what you’re given, you may still have a profitable business, but it will not be blessed like the person who is thankful for their sales and gives to others.

If you have a question for either Rachel or Lizzie (or both of us) please email us, we’d love to share your question and our answer on our blog.  If you have a question about something related to selling online, I’m sure other people have the same question too.