Hand holding phone showing online shopping cart

Can you believe eBay has been around for over 20 years? It’s a huge marketplace, providing sellers with access to a worldwide audience of customers. EBay allows small companies and sole traders to set up shop alongside high street brands and compete more evenly.

Of course, the bigger shops still have some advantages – with bigger buying power and larger sources of stock, there’s more room for them to reduce prices. But it’s not all about the price – so here’s our top tips for growing your own eBay business.

  1. Clear, branded eBay descriptions.

As with most everything online, you only have seconds to grab the attention of your customer. After spending hours combing through the search pages of eBay to find ‘Rattan Garden Furniture’ or a ‘Vintage Child’s Toy Kitchen’, there’s nothing more off putting than a poorly written listing.

Create your own shop logo, and make sure it’s visible at the top of each description. It gives your shop a more professional and reassuring feel. Make sure every description is concise, but contains key details – the technical specifications and colour, dimensions and cleaning instructions.

If you have all of the details to hand, a buyer will feel more confident in knowing what to expect, and will be happy to pay a little more for that certainty.

  1. Fair postage and policies

Buying from eBay can feel a little daunting to the uninitiated, as it’s not always clear whether the seller is an established retailer. Of course, this benefits us as sole traders, as there’s no immediate advantage to being a high street brand on eBay – as long as we have clear policies in place.

Make sure your postage is fair – it’s easy to be found out if you are inflating courier charges or trying to profit on a stamp, and it will be noted in your subsequent feedback.

Have policies in place that outline whether you’ll accept returns on faulty items. Nothing reassures a buyer than knowing there’s an easy solution to potential problems.

Finally, take advantage of the About page to give some background to your business and location.

  1. Speedy communications

By providing clear and detailed item descriptions, you’ll cut out a lot of repetitive questions from potential customers. However, you’ll still get some queries before a sale, as well as customers contacting you in relation to delivery issues and so on.

Make sure you respond to every question clearly and quickly. Waiting days for an answer to a problem will just aggravate the situation, while potential sales will be lost as shoppers go on to the next seller.

When a sale is made, providing swift confirmation followed by emails to acknowledge postage and delivery will also build confidence in your brand.

  1. Organisation

Organisation is the key to running any successful business. While your eBay shop may start off as a hobby, as it grows it will take more and more of your time. To keep both your reliability – and your own sanity – it’s important to develop a process.

Firstly, if you can, keep to office hours. Then when you ‘finish work’ for the day, you can turn off your computer and relax, while your online shop just keeps on selling.

Secondly, develop a routine. Spend the morning answering queries from customers and organising new stock. Next focus on printing off new sales up to your cut off time. Then allow time to package and address them all, in time for collection by your courier, or for you to skip off to the post office.

Abstract blurred boxes on rows of shelves in big modern warehous

  1. Expand and grow

As your sales increase, routine becomes more important. Most eBayers start off at home. The constant swapping of the dining table from family use to functional production line will soon lose its appeal though.

As boxes of stock start to take over the available space in the home, consider expanding your operations to a storage unit. There are a number of advantages.

You’ll have a clear divide between home life and work life. You can set up an office space inside your unit, with a desk for your computer. This will allow you to focus without distractions during office hours. Many self storage units can be equipped with heating, power and Wi-Fi.

Your storage unit can also be fitted with racking, keeping boxes of stock organised and easy to hand. The tools you need for packaging, weighing and labelling items can stay out where they are needed.

A self-storage unit also has benefits over traditional shop premises. There is no separate business rates or council tax. You pay one rental fee – and only on the size of the unit you need. Then, as business booms, it’s easy to move into larger units or rent a second one – with more stock allowing you to match high street prices.

Finally, storage companies often offer other business perks. Cookes has a kitchen, bathroom and meeting space on site for your use – removing practical concerns from working on site all day. And we’ll accept deliveries, so you can forget hanging about waiting for stock to arrive, and spend your time elsewhere.

If you’re thinking of starting, or expanding, your eBay business, then get in touch. We’re here to help.


Postman delivering parcel to the office

You might think that working for a storage company doesn’t involve a great deal of customer interaction. Visit Cookes Storage and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. It’s a hub for business, full of friendly chatter and a cup of coffee always on hand for visitors.

That’s because storage in the UK is a rapidly growing entity, offering more than just an empty, lockable space ready for boxes of ageing paperwork. At Cookes you’ll find office space, a kitchen, bathroom and plenty of seating for casual meetings. The storage industry is expanding and diversifying as much as any other, and offering business services is just the start.

A number of businesses operate completely from the storage units in the building. Smaller lockers might be preferred by students or members of the public for short term rent. However, there is a choice of larger units up to a 500ft² warehouse.

What helps Cookes stand out is their commitment to the local area of Sutton Coldfield, Tamworth and Birmingham, and to helping other businesses grow. The staff are regular networkers, involved with the local community and understand the challenges facing businesses today. The Cookes team, from both the furniture and storage sides of the business, come together to sponsor local events, most recently the Great Midlands Fun Run.

It’s a matter of pride that every customer soon feels part of the family. But that’s no surprise when you consider that Cookes has been run as a family business for over 70 years.

There are a number of other family groups working at Cookes. Deputy Branch Manager Deven and her mother Lesley work together overseeing operations in the storage facility. They are on hand to take calls, accept deliveries and greet visitors, providing a front of face service for any business on site and welcoming every one of their customers by name.

man repairing motorbike in a storag unit

Together with Logistics Manager Andrew Davies, Deven and Lesley help new businesses get set up in their storage facility, whether it’s a day-access unit or one of the 385ft² drive up units with outside access. They’ll organise Wi-Fi, lighting and power, and provide quotes personalised for your business type. Their in-house removals team can even be on hand to transport heavier items.

The versatility, and lower costs of using an out of town storage unit for business, rather than inner city properties with full business rates, appeals to a number of industries. At Cookes alone there are already plenty of different business types with different needs:

  • Long term secure storage with occasional access, archiving paperwork and customer information, perfect for accountants and lawyers
  • Regular access to store equipment and large items of stock or samples, great for retailers, architects, carpet fitters and so on
  • Charities, storing donated furniture and clothing until needed
  • Daily access, from motorbike workshops to online retailers
  • Evening access, for band practice or hobbies.

With more enquiries coming in every week for space to turn into yoga studios or for artists looking for rooms to work, the versatility of the storage industry just keeps on growing. The team are ready to take on any challenge, with expansion plans already underway to offer even more storage for local businesses.

If you’re local and looking for space to grow your business, get in touch with Cookes. You’ll be surprised at how versatile an empty space can be.



Business Self Storage

December has arrived, and most businesses are gearing up for the busiest few weeks of the year. The 5 weeks of the festive season can account for up to half a year’s revenue for many small retailers. With every retailer – on and offline – in competition for consumers, it’s vital that business owners have prepared in advance.

Small businesses in particular have to juggle a variety of factors over the festive season that can impact on their ability to meet customer needs – staff holidays and sickness, cash flow and holiday pay, delivery demands and increases in theft. And there’s still the Christmas party to organise.

One aspect that’s vital to your sales this December is having enough of every product in place, particularly popular items that make up a large part of your profits. With online shopping, next day deliveries and plenty of options, consumers are not likely to hang around long if you hang up the ‘out of stock’ sign.

The issue many small businesses face is a lack of space. Whether you have a physical shop or sell entirely online, all the additional stock has to be put somewhere while you wait for the orders to flood in.

Stacking haphazardly in corridors and backrooms will likely result in items being damaged or lost, while the time taken to hunt down each order for wrapping and stamping all adds to delays in sending items out and meeting customer demands.

The advantages of offsite business storage

There’s an easy solution to toppling box piles though, and that’s taking advantage of short term business self-storage units. Off-site storage has a lot of benefits for smaller businesses – in fact more and more retailers are using them on a regular basis, or running their business from their storage site entirely.

Here’s why inventory storage could be the solution – and bring you a big increase in profits this Christmas.

  1. Rental agreements are on a short term or monthly basis – no year-long contracts and huge overheads here.
  2. The size of the unit you take is also flexible, so you don’t need to pay for a mass of empty space – just take the unit that meets your needs.
  3. Indoor off-site storage is dry and clean. There’s no need to worry about stock getting dirty or damaged. An indoor business storage facility is often temperature controlled as well – so even food and drink can be stored safely.
  4. With CCTV and often PIN access controls in place, your stock is safe and secure. Some stock storage facilities even offer a reception service, accepting deliveries so that you don’t need to worry about time spent waiting while you could be out working.
  5. If your business is already overflowing with boxes, crates and festive chaos, but you don’t have time to move it all, then the right self-storage providers can even solve that problem. Cookes Storage in Sutton Coldfield will even come and collect your goods for you – so that all you need to do is make sales and see your profits soar.
  6. Once you’ve organised your stock in your unit, you’ll be able to locate individual items with ease and get everything packed and ready for shipping in no time at all – meaning you can pack and shift more in one day and meet more customer demands.

Finally, once the festive season is over you’ll be able to see at a glance what, if any, stock is left over and get it all marked down in time for the January sales before leaving your temporary business premises – until the next seasons demand begin.