Online shopping ebay store

Fresh starts, new beginnings and plenty of vigour – the new year beckons with potential. So many people will be thinking about a change in their career or starting a business right now, we thought it would be a great time to introduce one of the amazing entrepreneurs who is growing a business right here at Cookes.

Malik is the owner of Urban Design UK, a retailer with a shopfront on eBay. With a growing range of genuine branded cosmetics, Malik has joined a thriving platform to become one of the 3.4 million sole traders in the UK. His business has expanded from a modest home business to a successful store, taking over three storage units at Cookes. In 2018, Malik plans to increase his online presence on other platforms and with his own website.

Of course, launching your own business is hard work and gaining a foothold on a platform as busy as eBay isn’t easy. Malik began his business some years ago selling mobile phone accessories, before moving into men’s accessories and cosmetics. Over time he refined his range and is moving towards high-end brands such as Max Factor and Revlon.

Tips for selling on eBay

Time, patience and a strong, reliable customer service are the cornerstones to the success of Urban Design. Malik also offers his best tips for selling on eBay:

“You need a good description and pictures. Use your own, so that it’s clear to buyers you have genuine products and make sure the lighting is a natural as possible so that the real colours show up. Avoid sellers who just use stock images if you can’t be sure their products are of good quality.”

Quality pictures do require a good camera, and Malik has invested in photography equipment, and of course, his laptop. However, by selling online he avoids expensive outlays on city centre rental prices. Having a self-storage unit does have its advantages though.

“I started the business from home, and moved into a storage unit after just a few months. It means the house is free from boxes of stock, and I have set business hours. Plus, storage units are not that expensive, I can expand the size of my shop when I need to, and there is no long term commitment, so I feel in complete control of my business,” Malik expands.

Self-storage for eBay businesses

Malik original launched Urban Design UK in London, before moving to the Midlands with his family. He also tried a couple of different storage providers before settling at Cookes.

“Originally I was looking for low costs and a company that took in stock deliveries for me, which most of them do. However, after spending some time in the unit packing deliveries, I quickly realised that I also needed professional level lighting, wifi and, most essential, heating. It can be very cold in some of those units even in the summer.

When I found I was too cold to work, I had to do something about it. The place I was using at the time were a chain and that made them a little inflexible. When I spoke to Cookes they were really helpful and professional, working out the best solution and fitting lighting for me with just one week’s notice. As it’s indoors the building is warmer, even without additional heating. I’ve been here 15 months now and expanded into my 3rd unit recently.”

With plenty of shelving provided by Cookes, Malik can easily access stock for packing and posting.

Urban Design UK sell on eBay under the seller name of Urban Arc. Malik stocks only genuine cosmetics, and only lists anything he has in stock, so it can be sent out quickly. He is also happy to discuss any products or concerns with customers, usually via the eBay messaging system.

“Fake cosmetics are a concern on eBay. Why risk putting something untested on your skin?” he says. “If you are looking at unknown brands, it might be harder to tell. A regular user of a Revlon foundation will easily notice the difference in a fake. Always check the seller feedback and, if you have doubts, don’t buy from them.”

If you are thinking of starting your own online business, then 2018 could be your year. To discuss storage options, just call the friendly Cookes team on 0121 285 5197.


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.