When Katy Zilverberg left her traditional 9-to-5 job for a career in small business consulting, she began selling on eBay as a way to supplement her income as she grew her new business. Two years later, selling on eBay is her business, and her full-time job is running her eBay store, A Boutique for Him.
Katy won the 2017 Rising Star SHINE Award, and it’s no surprise—she’s a shining example of how to find success by putting customers first. Katy says she always keeps the customer’s best interests in mind. “This means I make my decisions and design my policies with the goal of making it as easy as possible for buyers to purchase from me,” she says. For Katy, this means offering free shipping on lightweight items, 30- and 60-day returns, international shipping with no country exceptions, and making use of Best Offer on all listings. “Many sellers handicap their own success and growth by trying to find solutions to problems that don't actually exist, and in the process create more problems for themselves. eBay has allowed me to be confident in my business and my buyers, knowing that all buyers have value and eBay will support me as a seller.”
Her philosophy is clearly working. Katy’s seen incredible success, including 50% year-over-year growth last year. We talked to Katy about her experience as a SHINE Finalist at eBay Open, and her approach to putting the customer first.
Tell us your impressions of the SHINE Awards? What inspired you to submit your story?
I love the idea of sellers getting recognition for the work that we do. It can be an isolating business, particularly for sellers like myself who are a solo operation with no employees. We have to make more of an effort to reach out to build a sense of community. I was inspired to submit my story because I fit in more than one of the categories, and I felt like my journey was interesting and unique, something that could inspire other sellers or people who are just thinking about getting started.
How did you campaign for votes during the public voting phase?
At the time of the voting phase, I was involved in a large facebook group of over 30,000 members, so I had access to a lot of eBay sellers who were eager to support me and vote daily.
What do you think made your application stand out and made you a finalist?
First, there were my numbers, which show that in a relatively short period of time I was able to build a very successful, thriving eBay store. Beyond that, I think my overall approach to selling is appealing; I am very positive, follow best practices, focus on providing the absolute best buyer experience, and I'm always looking to improve my performance. On top of that, my involvement in the seller community and my work to help other sellers excel and lift each other up makes me stand out.
As a finalist, you received a VIP experience at eBay Open. What was your favorite part about being a SHINE finalist at eBay Open?
I loved meeting the other finalists and learning their stories. Everyone has a different journey, and I find the details fascinating. I would say my absolute favorite part was getting to know 2016 SHINE Winner Laurie Wong from Reflections of Trinity and 2017 Finalists Denise and Patrick Martell. I love the work we've been able to do since eBay Open to create the Share The Light fundraising campaign for Laurie. It's been a great experience and I hope we can do more to come together as a community to help each other.
Why would you recommend other sellers attend eBay Open?
eBay Open is a very special experience. The content is great, there are awesome workshops, and the main stage talks are super informative. The best part for me, however, was the community aspect, getting to meet and interact with other sellers from all over the world. Everyone who comes is so excited and proud of the work they do. They are eager to get to know each other and learn from each other.
On top of that, the access you have to eBay employees is off the charts. Getting to form relationships with eBay staff is invaluable. Every single interaction I had with eBay folks was positive and inspiring. It was clear that they were interested in getting to know us and hearing what we had to say about eBay. I think there tends to be too much of a separation between sellers and eBay employees out in the real world. There's a real tendency for sellers, when they get frustrated or are having a hard time, to see eBay as the “other,” a company that maybe doesn't have their best interests in mind. In reality, I think we are all partners, and I think eBay as a company and eBay employees are very committed to treating us as partners. We just need to be open and willing to build those relationships.
The eBay community is outstanding, but it's not just sellers or just eBay staff; we're all in it together, we can all grow together, and we can all be excited about what we do together. eBay Open oozes a positive community spirit, and I think everyone should experience that.
What are you going to do with the prize money?
I have a number of goals when it comes to my prize money. I've already hired a CPA to get all my finances and taxes in order and take care of my monthly bookkeeping. I also need to add to my inventory storage solutions, as my inventory is growing. Then, I will be doing some equipment upgrades, such as a new listing laptop and thermal printer for labels. Lastly, I will be using funds to invest in more inventory.
What’s your single best tip for being successful on eBay?
Always be learning and improving. If you aren't satisfied with your sales or your performance, look internally at the things that are within your control to change. It's a waste of time to externalize your problems; no one but you can make you successful, so if you aren't doing as well as you'd like to, think about what you need to change. Keep it positive and don't forget we're all on the same team.
What eBay tools do you make use of most, and what benefits have you seen from utilizing these tools?
I use Markdown Manager. I have my store pretty much constantly on sale, cycling between 35%, 40%, and 50% off. I also use promoted listings for all of my listings. I think both of these tools result in a lot more sales. I've seen a big jump from promoted listings in the last month or so.
What motivates you to keep selling on eBay?
I love the independence it affords me. I like working for myself, being completely responsible for my own successes and failures. I love the hunt, the challenge of finding that next treasure and then making the sale. I love the diverse community of sellers and eBay employees. I love being a part of it, bringing positivity to it, lifting up my fellow sellers, learning from everyone, and helping people when I can.
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