Linda Lightman started her eBay luxury consignment business over 17 years ago. In those early days, she was a one-woman show. “I wore all the hats,” she shared with me over the phone. “I did the photography—outside in our yard—I wrote the copy, and I took care of the shipping.” As she reflects on her evolving business, Linda’s Stuff, she says it’s the process she developed, that she’s come to be most proud of.
An entrepreneurial career in fashion didn’t occur to Linda when she graduated college. “Although, fashion was always my passion,” she says. Even so, Linda leapt right into law school and soon began her professional life as an attorney in New York.
One Christmas break, about 17 years ago, her two young boys suggested they sell some old video games they were no longer playing. When their local store offered $5 for the games (a near $55 loss for Linda), the boys suggested eBay. “eBay opened up a global marketplace that we wouldn’t normally have access to. We’ve been loyal eBay users since then.”
After seeing how easy it was to sell the video games on eBay, Linda began selling her own designer clothing on eBay – and when word of her success got around, she did the same for friends, and friends of friends. Linda’s husband eventually left his job to work with Linda and her growing business. “And the rest is history!” she says.
As a luxury consignment retailer, Linda shares that her business goals are twofold: get the most value for consignors and for buyers. The Linda’s Stuff business has a few commandments. The first is free-shipping on domestic purchases – always. They also promise a same-day handling time. Plus, they will always accept returns, without question.
Linda’s Stuff adheres to regular retail promotions to give their sales a boost using eBay’s promotions manager, a free tool for eBay store subscribers. The tool helps sellers create smart promotional offers, so buyers are enticed to purchase more from the same store, and spend more on each order. Applying promotions to your merchandise can help items stand apart from competitors, and get in front of more buyers. By showcasing relevant items together in groups, you significantly increase the likelihood that a purchase will be made – in fact, sellers new to promotions manager see an 11% increase in sales. Promotions manager can also help sellers promote appropriate retail moments to their buyers.
Promotions manager walks eBay store subscribers through different types of promotion types:
Linda’s team relies on eBay’s promotions manager tool to provide sales opportunities for her buyers regularly, most often offering codeless coupons. Even as this interview took place, she let me know of a promotion running in their eBay store: 25% off 4 or more items, and 35% off 7 or more items (best offer excluded). Linda shared, “Promotions are meant to be exciting and inspiring for buyers, and our buyers and consignors are verbal about how much a promotion means to them.”
Linda said her team is always looking to move the sales needle, even if only a little bit. And it works—a tremendous segment of Linda’s Stuff success comes solely from repeat business. She says, right off the cuff, that the promotions manager tool is great for encouraging your shoppers to easily increase their cart size. We asked Linda to dive further into her top tips when using the promotions manager tool:
Think like a traditional retailer.
If you want your business (big or small) to be successful on eBay, it’s important to adopt the mindset of a retailer. “Get out of the mindset that you’re only selling something on eBay,” Linda cautioned. Take stock of what your store looks like on a daily basis, consider marking down listings that have been published for a while, and try different promotional tactics.
For example, Linda’s Stuff uses grouping tactics to offer discounts to their customers. However, Linda did mentioned she’d love to do more grouping promotions, like offering a promotion for a shared collection of high-end items, or a special discount if there are several pieces from one specific consignor. Whether it’s strategizing over a seasonal promotion or simply marking down older listings, remain in the mindset of a traditional retailer.
Start small, and see what your success looks like.
For new sellers, it’s hard to look at promotions using a long-term scope. It can feel like you’re losing money when it’s actually boosting sales. “If offering promotions at first feels like you’re giving away items, start small. Benchmark success, and grow from there.” To avoid the pangs of anxiety, taking on smaller goals, like a monthly promotion, can help you get comfortable with the concept.
Take your time.
Don’t rush your process to get up to speed. Especially if your business is relatively new, don’t feel compelled to over-extend your inventory with too many promotions. Take your time to do it right. Your eBay business requires strategic thought behind your promotions, and a part of promotions manager that Linda relies on are the metrics it can provide. “You can easily track what you did, and better understand your results.”
What works for one business, may not work for yours. (And that’s okay).
It’s hard not to compare your store with its competition. Taking time to understand your store’s unique customers and their needs will help reveal what your business can handle in the short or long-term.
As Linda reflected on her self-taught retail education and her journey from a one-woman-operation to a full-fledged business built from nothing, she said she feels lucky to have had the eBay platform to ramp herself up to be a successful business owner.
Today, Linda’s Stuff is housed in a 93,000-square foot warehouse and has more than 110 employees. Despite the tremendous success her business continues to see, her biggest priority is her customers’ happiness. “We like to hear what our buyers have to say about our sales and promotions—and they’ve made it clear that they’re very happy with the value that they can get from our sales.”
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