All musicians start out with a love for music. Then, as a novice, they learn how to play a song or two. Later, they land their first gig, and their lifetime success depends almost entirely on their drive to keep going, work harder, and learn what it takes to earn a place on the wall of fame.
Likewise, eBay sellers start out as shoppers. Once they fall in love with the platform, they might list an old pair of shoes or the iPhone they’re about to retire. When their first item sells, that’s when the bug hits -- some people create their own products, some shop thrift stores and liquidation sales for deals, and others move on to drop shipping. The next stage in their eBay success timeline usually involves the leap to private label sales.
Here’s what you need to know to rock your strategy for private label on eBay.
What is Private Label Retail?
Retailers like you can contract out product creation through a third-party and market it under your own brand; this is usually the next step in scaling your eBay sales after you have a handle on drop shipping processes. But, you can launch a private label product line at any time.
Have you ever noticed restaurant-branded ketchup at your table when eating at a diner? Well, it’s likely the company has a contract with a larger, more well-known company who actually bottles the product. Likely, the restaurant added its brand to the label and purchased it at a lower rate for dining use and resale.
So, learn how to find manufacturers that can meet your demands and those of your customers. Make sure to detail exactly what you need before you start your search. Keep in mind that you may only be able to work with suppliers that offer lower minimum order quantities (MOQs) in the beginning. But, as you scale, more doors will open.
What Kind of Private Label Products are Available?
Private label products come in nearly every consumer product category known. For example, a pet store might add their brand name to dog leashes and collars from a trusted source. A hair salon might launch “their own line” of shampoos and conditioners when the products are actually manufactured by another company.
This list includes:
- Home & Garden
- Sporting Goods
- Toys & Hobbies
- Business & Industrial
If your business falls under one of these categories, chances are you can find a product manufacturer willing to work out a private label contract with you. However, if you’re in the arts and collectibles niche, that might be a little harder (but not impossible). As you can imagine, it’s not really an artisan-style business option.
Is Print on Demand the Same as Private Label?
Many eBay sellers have had success with print on demand. You might be wondering if this is the same as private label sales. Well, sort of.
Print on demand is the process of working with a printer to design books, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other customizable products to order at any time.
It has the added benefit of having no need for on-hand inventory. So, with this business structure, you can focus on design and marketing. Additionally, you have the ability to experiment with and change your designs as much as you like.
Most private label situations won’t offer the same level of freedom because you’ll be working with an existing manufacturer who has its own set of processes in place. These manufacturers are flexing their process to serve you.
What Are the Benefits of Private Label on eBay
You probably want to hear more about how private label can enhance your eBay business. After all, eBay is the new frontier for private label sellers.
So, here are the key benefits:
- Control Over Product Details
- Control Over Product Pricing and Profits
- Control Over Brand Identity
- Ability to Deliver Large Orders
- Ease Over Organizing Sales Processes
Your level of control over the product will vary since all private label situations will be customized as an arrangement between you and the manufacturer. In some cases, the only customization you will receive is your logo added to an existing product in the manufacturer’s catalog.
Common Private Label Pain Points to Watch for
Private label pain points can closely match those of custom manufacturing. But, the processes should run more smoothly when you work with the right companies. Here are three common problems you might come across with private label product retail:
- Lack of Manufacturer Compliance
- Poor Communication
- Unsatisfactory Manufacturer Return Policies
I like to recommend that sellers always start with a test order. Make a smaller purchase from your manufacturer before you commit to selling private label products to your customers. And, even if nothing goes wrong, make a call to customer service to see how they handle communications.
Communication and flexibility are a must for this type of retail structure and it’s your job to test the waters before you dive in. You don’t want to be in over your head before it’s too late to turn back -- that’s how sellers drown.
Private Label Best Practices to Implement
Part of the beauty of private label on eBay is that you get to leave a large portion of the work to the manufacturer. They create the product while you focus on marketing, sales, and customer service. This is how you can win at private label sales:
1. Work with a brand that shares your core values.
As an eBay seller, what are your core values? You need to know what is important to you, the retailer, and your customers before you seek a manufacturer for your private label products. For example, if you’re not going to be passionate about selling hair care products with sulfates and chemicals, find a manufacturer who creates organic shampoo bases.
Furthermore, this goes beyond product quality to your business processes. If you want to provide 100% customer satisfaction and allow free, no-questions-asked returns, make sure the company creating your products in on-board with that as well (or be willing to adjust your values and policies).
2. Make your listings easy to find and give them aesthetic appeal.
Before the sale, customers find you through the eBay search bar. By now, you already know how to write a killer headline and optimize your product descriptions. But, it’s time to take it a step further with custom listing design. Use the eBay Listing Designer to create stunning eBay listings that stand out from your competitors.
After the sale, you want to make sure your customers know what else you have to offer. So, make sure to follow up via email and let buyers know what other items you’re selling on eBay. Utilize the PDF Catalog Creator to create a branded product catalog in just a few clicks.
3. Build strong relationships with your manufacturers.
As with all aspects of business, relationships are your bread and butter. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I can leave you with is to develop and maintain great relationships with your manufacturers, second only to your relationships with your customers. Your ability to do so will make or break your success.
Imagine that it’s the holiday season and you have received more orders than you anticipated. But, you’re not the only one. In fact, most of the private label brands that your manufacturer works with are in the same boat. So, which brands do you think will get first priority when they request to quadruple their order size in early December?
The brands with the best relationships are going to get first dibs on new product orders, regardless of annual sales volume. Why? It’s human nature, pure and simple. So, don’t forget to nurture your relationships throughout the year.
Follow the advice above to totally rock your private label sales. If you think you’re ready, start today and watch those high volume eBay sales start to roll in.