With the current condition of the eBay drop store franchise industry, it has become apparent that not everyone who bought into the “owning a business without investing in inventory” sales pitch has actually succeeded as a business.
The question then becomes…Is it possible to operate a profitable business as a full time trading assistant?
The answer is complicated, and on the surface the quick answer would be NO - not without modification of the business plan suggested/promoted by most eBay drop store franchises and used by most Trading Assistants.
I can share this opinion from experience because at one time, I was a master franchise representative for one of the largest eBay drop store chains in America (and 5 other countries). The experience as a franchise rep taught me that the franchisees needed more support to become successful.
The franchisees in our chain were hungry for information about how to improve, how to market and how to make the whole operation profitable. The franchisees and I eventually became disillusioned with the franchise and its marketing/business plan (which will stay nameless) because the franchise was not willing to invest in the continued marketing support of the franchisees. I felt it was in the best interest of the franchise to make an effort to help the existing franchisees with marketing sales and business planning. In my opinion, if the existing franchisees were having trouble being successful, eventually the market would dry up and new franchisees would become difficult to find.
The franchise must be a healthy successful enterprise and all of the people who invested in that franchise must also be... Or the franchise will not survive. This prediction seems to be fulfilling itself and instead of saying I told you so, I decided it would be better to break free and help anyone who is in business as a Trading Assistant or Drop Store operator no matter their prior affiliation.
An eBay trading assistant business or drop store operation is not something which can be canned into a package and set up in a way which will guarantee success. An eBay drop store is not like a McDonald’s or Radio Shack. You can not simply put up a franchise sign and expect people to walk into your store and be comfortable with your brand. eBay is the brand, not XYZ franchise trying to look like eBay.
The American public has turned the corner, they now trust the name eBay. When a third party brand in the form of a franchise is interjected into mix is when the public looses confidence. If you were sold a franchise store and were advised that people would stream in bringing their Rolex watches and Tiffany lamps just because you put up a sign from XYZ franchise… I can imagine that you, like many of the franchisees from my former company, have noticed it just did not happen as you may have been led to believe.
So… What is the Answer? Can a Trading Assistant make a profit? – Yes or No?
Yes, as a trading assistant you can make a profit… But not without considerable effort, ingenuity and plain old marketing persistence. That and you must set up your own rules for running your business. (Depending upon standard business factors such as debt, location, traffic, etc)
If your franchise is telling you that you must do things a certain way and that method does not work for you. Do something different. You must change the way you do business and you must become proactive. eBay is an incredible brand and you made the right decision when you chose to go into business by taking advantage of that brand but you must focus on eBay and your business plan.
What can I change? How can I improve? What do my customers want?
To make a profit as a Trading Assistant you must do what every successful online business does – Find a Niche. Find one thing which you can sell consistently whether it is your own product or service or something from your area and sell that on eBay and in your own website e-commerce store. Make a deal with a local manufacturer as a local business person – and (after doing your research) offer to test their product on eBay for them. If the product is successful in a test marketing scenario, offer to make a deal with the manufacturer or distributor to handle all of the “eCommerce” sales for them for a fee or a percentage or as a partner.
The thing you must realize is that you have become an expert at something. You are now an eBay expert, which in many peoples minds makes you an eCommerce expert. Take advantage of what you have built (even if it is not yet profitable) and become more than a Trading Assistant. Become an Internet guru in your own town. There is no rule which states that Trading Assistants or Drop Store operations can not sell new and repeatable items. And it should be no surprise to any drop store owner that new and repeatable items are where all of the money on eBay is made.
Trading Assistants are familiar with selling new and used items on eBay. As an experienced Trading Assistant or Drop Store owner you undoubtedly know how to sell other people’s items on eBay. But why cant you put all of those skills to work for you and start selling new inventory?
The question then becomes, where do I get new inventory? China? Drop Shippers? Get your inventory from the people who have been selling it for years in your own home town.
Meet your local business owners at the Chamber, Rotary, networking breakfasts and offer your services as a eBay expert and eCommerce professional. You have the business background and you have the listing experience, why not think about setting up a few extra streams of income in partnership with the local pool supply store or hardware store or Harley Davidson dealership? Food for thought
–Next time we will discuss why you should have an eBay store for your Trading Assistant or Franchise eBay drop store business. And later we will discuss the advantages of having your own off eBay website.