Melissa Paz, 34, is a mother, a wife, and a successful eBay seller. Her enthusiasm about her business and passion to help other sellers is almost infectious right from the moment you meet her. Based in Clermont, Florida, Melissa sells luggage and travel gear on her eBay store called Lazybreeze Deals. Her inventory mix includes suitcases, backpacks for kids and for adults, handbags, and wallets.
“eBay rocks for me because it gives me the freedom to be my best self.” This is how Melissa sums up her journey with eBay so far.
Melissa started selling books and textbooks on eBay in 2006 while studying in college in Puerto Rico, her birthplace. After moving to the United States in 2013, she started selling on eBay again while working full time as customer service representative. "We were selling perfumes, creams and lotions, clothes, shoes, anything that we could find around our house (on eBay) to make ends meet," she says.
“I realized that this was not something I could do by myself. I don't really have a business background. I couldn't find a local meet up of eBay sellers in my area. So I ended up creating my own, with the help of another eBay seller," Melissa adds. Eventually, she was able to quit her day job and devote herself to selling online full time. More recently, she was featured in Nely Galan's book, Self Made.
“I've been blessed with so many opportunities because of my business on eBay. I've gone to eBay headquarters and have been a speaker at different conferences. It's just been something that has helped me grow not just as a business person, but as an individual too. It's gotten me out of my shell," she says.
More Mom-preneur stories:
We talked with Melissa about her life, her goals, how she’s growing her business, and what keeps her going.
Mansi: You've been doing well over the years on eBay. How do you keep up this phenomenal growth?
Melissa: Well, with e-commerce there are always ups and downs. A fourth quarter during the holiday season will have a huge boom in sales, and then it'll drop for most of us. January and February were pretty rough. But then suddenly come March, people started shopping again for their spring or summer travel plans. Since I sell travel gear, that really helped.
I've been focusing on getting more products and more vendors. In the past, I had been working with just two or three companies and most of my time was taken up with that. Now, I have an assistant who helps me take care of the orders, the inventory, and day to day routine tasks.
That has allowed me to go out and get many new vendors. I have added about eight new brands. That will definitely help increase our sales on eBay. The more products you have listed, the higher is the probability of somebody finding what they're looking for and shopping from you.
Mansi: What practical steps have you taken to boost your sales?
Melissa: We did a couple of things recently. We had our assistant go through the listings and update the descriptions, remove any extra HTML code, and made sure that the listings are mobile friendly. We made sure that all the item specifics were entered and all the measurements and photos were in. We also worked aggressively on our social media marketing strategy.
Our products are now going automatically on a rotating basis to Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, little bit to Instagram, and different streams. It's not just my Facebook and social media accounts, it's also my friend Roger's, who helps with my business. I've made sure that our social media presence is much larger than it used to be and that has helped tremendously.
In addition, we've also been doing Promoted Listings on eBay. You need to make sure that there's some promotion running, like free shipping for orders over $100, or "get a discount if you order three or more products." So I’ve been working on marketing within eBay, outside of eBay, and making sure that those listings got cleaned up. All of this helped.
Mansi: What are the other tools you would want to recommend to sellers on eBay who are just starting off?
Melissa: If you have an eBay store, make it look nice: have a nice banner, make it appealing to your buyers. Make sure that you have your featured items and categories in place. Having your listings organized for buyers really helps.
I also try and use the eBay collections every now and then. That helps to market because then your products can show up in different areas of the website that they might not otherwise.
Mansi: What are your thoughts on promotion strategy?
Melissa: It depends on your product line and what you can do. With mine, I can't really mess around too much with prices because I have to adhere to MAP (Minimum Advertised Prices). I know a lot of sellers who have promotions such as, “buy three products and save 15% on your purchase.” Other sellers have the “buy two, get one free” and the lowest priced item is the one that they get free. In my case, I can only offer free shipping.
eBay’s promoted listings are very helpful to ensure the items get showcased around the website. I really like the fact that you don't have to pay for the promoted listings until somebody actually makes a purchase with it. I think that's a fantastic tool.
Also, I suggest sellers use events and seasons to promote their items. For example, top five products to get mom for Mother’s Day and link it back to their eBay store. Or create a quick video. There are so many apps now where you can grab the photos from your listing and make a little slideshow and use on Facebook and other social media.
The primary thing is making sure that your listings are 100% perfect: Each one has a good description, all of your item specifics are filled out and you've included the UPC code. Your description is written correctly, there’s no extra html and it's the right size.
Mansi: Despite her packed schedule and growing business, Melissa hasn’t forgotten to dream big. "Right now, the immediate goal is to get all the new brands and products listed. That's going to take me a few weeks or months. After we have those established and we're seeing repeat sales, and we are buying consistently from the same wholesale suppliers, then I want to get into creating my own brand and line of products. Next, I want to open a boutique which will be integrated with the eBay," she says.
Talking about her life, this mother of two says, “My business has given me the freedom to stay at home to be with my two children. They're five and three, they really do need me here. I can travel, spend time with friends and my family and I don't have to ask anybody for days off. Being able to have that freedom is one of the biggest advantages.”
Of course, Melissa had her share of ups and downs, as any business will. She says that she has been able to maintain a balance by taking a day off whenever she felt overwhelmed. “There are challenges, but I love what I do. I love selling on eBay. I love finding new products, listing them, getting those orders out, hearing the ‘cha-ching’ on my phone, and having my own website. And the social media!” she added enthusiastically.
When she’s not working, Melissa likes to travel, and spend time with friends and family. She and her husband are fond of theme parks and she keeps stress at bay with her annual pass to Universal Studios.
A normal day starts for her at 6am. After dropping her five year-old son to school, she attends to her daughter, who is three. Then she heads straight to her home office and checks for customer service issues first, followed by orders that need to be shipped and then review her assistant’s updates.
Through it all – running a business and running a household – how has this journey been for Melissa?
“I'm not going to deny that it gets frustrating and overwhelming at times, when things are slow, or when I'm kind of over scheduled. A lot of that has been on me just not being prepared enough. I'm able to avoid that a lot better now. At this point my business is a lot more streamlined.”
“It's just been a beautiful journey.”
More Mom-preneur stories:
You must be a registered user to add a comment. If you've already registered, sign in. Otherwise, register and sign in.