094: The Amazing Taste on eBay – Cyndi Zlotow

Cyndi is a long time seller with over 15 years of experience. She and her husband now sell on eBay as their sole source of income. Last year they did just shy of a quarter of a million dollars in sales and today, she is here with us.

Interesting Notes

  • Cyndi needed a way to stay home to take care of their third child who was very sick.
  • She heard eBay from her Dad. The formula “stuff + eBay = Money” formed in her mind. They had stuff in their house. They had a digital camera. They needed money. And so Cyndi tried eBay.
  • It was the time when most items on eBay are on Auctions and pictures taken need to be developed and scan to get listed.
  • Most of the items they sell now on eBay are clothing. They have started to do more estate files. They bought a Disney collector's estate in the fall. Now, they buy a thousand CDs because they've got a great deal.
  • Cyndi has 253 CDs in stock right now.
  • Her husband, Matt, is the creative one. So, he takes care of the photography task. While Cyndi does all the data entries and numbers.
  • They source from stores. They do some estate and networks to get access to collections.
  • When they got their products, they sort it out. Matt would take pictures. They both do the measurements together.
  • They work by batch. For example, Matt takes pictures of all shirts, all at once. Then Cyndi does the listing of all shirts until all shirts are done. Then, they move on to another category.
  • If they have items that they need to research, they research it all at the same time.
  • By doing in batch, there is no slowing down. There is no stopping. It's bang, bang, bang.
  • They have a 2-car garage where they convert into warehouse space. They are connoisseurs of rubber made bins.
  • They ship out 800 to 1,000 items a month.
  • They wake up early every morning. So that everything that has sold the day before and until 4AM gets shipped out that day. They make it a point that they finish their shipping needs before their kids go to school at 7AM.
  • Cyndi likes to have mixed pricing. There are some items that sell better on Auctions. When you have an item that has a high sell through rate, go to the sold items listing. Then look at the difference between the number of completed items versus the number of items sold.
  • High Sell Through Rate is an item that is going to do well at Auction. There is a market for it. It is sold on a regular basis. A lot of people are buying it.
  • Matt used to have a corporate position. They never thought they would both work full-time on eBay. But Matt hated commuting at least an hour each way every day. He hated that he is not seeing their kids. And so, as Cyndi's business keeps on growing, Matt left his corporate job. They took the risk and rolled the dice.
  • Today, they work on their eBay business on regular work hours during the day.
  • They stick to what they sell now because of the storage. Cyndi would love to get into vintage furniture or paintings that there's a lot of money and they passed up. They do not have a room for it.
  • Cyndi always wants to expand, to grow, and to hit the next level. She wants to diversify more. She does not want to be in clothing only. But, she looks into a product line that is easy to store and ship like CDs.

Advice, Tips, and Tricks

  • They use bins to store their items. Every item goes into a specific bin.
  • They label their items using a letter and a number combination at the end of each item title. The said combination coincides with the bin that the item is in. So when the fresh photo shirt sells, she will look into her sold list in the morning to see what needs to ship out. So if it's an A1, she looks into the bin of A1.
  • On pricing their items, Cyndi would check on the list of completely sold. She tries to gauge at on that. But when she finds that odd and one of a kind item, she would look at Terapeak.
  • For a person who does not have an eBay experience, you can have a trial. Or you can put the item up on Auction and let the market decide.
  • Completed Sales Listing shows you everything. It shows you the unsold items and the sold items. Take a note of how many are there. Then click on sold listings. It will be going to show you the ones that are sold. If you can see that most of them are selling then you know that you are okay to go to Auction. But, if you've got only 10% that sells, and you put the item on auction, chances are it is going to sell on the opening bid. It does not mean that it is a bad item. It means that people are not clamouring for it today. So, you can't get a bid anymore. That is the item that you have to put in Buy It Now and wait for that one buyer to come in and buy it. It is still a great item. You have to use a different marketing strategy.
  • When you are in the thrift store looking for items to sell, you should ask yourself: “where do I leave money behind?”. That way, you will know what to buy.
  • CDs are always easy to list on eBay. You scan on the barcode. You can do it on your phone in just 10 seconds. CDs are easy to store and easy to ship.

Quotes

  • “You are always trying to learn a new product, a new category where you can grow.”
  • “In order to ship out many, you have to be listing more.”
  • “Anything that you can do. That is where positive motion is going to be faster than switching from one item to the next.”
  • “You have to look at the constraints of your life.”
  • “eBay is not rocket science. It is hard work. It is not awful. We enjoy it!”
  • “You just have to do what you need to do.”
  • “If eBay is like a full-time job then treat it as a full-time job.”
  • “eBay can absolutely be done! You can do this! It is just about how much work do you want to put in!”
  • “Figure out what you are best at!”
  • “Find the things that you are good at. And if you can't, but you have somebody else, then let that somebody does the things that he/she is good at.”
  • “The more you list, the more you sell. eBay is a numbers game!”
  • “You only live once. And the kids, they are going to be little once. You only get one shot. So, roll the dice and see!”

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