Automating other tasks

You can automate a few more tasks. Having so many options is like being in a sweet shop: You may want it all, but that may not be good for you. For example, if you use online postage, you may not want to print your labels because that doubles your work. Take a serious look at the options you're offered and see whether they fit into your particular work style.

Checking out

When someone wins or buys an item, eBay.co.uk's checkout integrates directly with PayPal and also indicates your other preferred forms of payment. If you're closing less than 100 auctions a day, that arrangement is all you need. eBay and PayPal also send an e-mail to you and the buyer so that you can arrange payment.

Some online auction management services offer your own private checkout area, which costs you a percentage of your sale, so you need to decide whether your business warrants this option - many do not. A personalised winner's notification e-mail can easily contain a link to your PayPal payment area, making a checkout service unnecessary.

Tracking buyer information

Keeping track of your winners isn't rocket science. You can track buyer information in an Excel spreadsheet or a Word document, both of which are exportable to almost any program for follow-up mailings promoting future sales. If you choose to have an online management service to track buyer information for you, make sure that you can download the information to your computer (in case you and the online service part company someday).

Generating customised reports

Sales reports, ledgers, and tax information are all important reports for your business. Online services and software supply different versions of these reports.

PayPal allows you to download your sales data into a format compatible with QuickBooks, a highly respected and popular bookkeeping program. You can also choose to download your data in Excel spreadsheet format (the downloads also work in Microsoft Works). PayPal reports are full of detailed information about your sales and deposits. Putting this information in a standard accounting software program on a regular basis makes your year-end calculations easier to bear. (In Chapter 16, we detail what else you may need for this task.)

Submitting feedback

If you're running a lot of auctions, leaving feedback can be a chore. One solution is to automate the submission of feedback through an online service or software. Timing the automation of this task can, however, be tricky.

Don't leave feedback for an eBay.co.uk transaction until after you hear from the buyer that the purchase is satisfactory. Leaving positive feedback immediately after you receive payment from the buyer is too soon. After you receive an e-mail assuring you that the customer is satisfied, manually leaving feedback by going to the feedback forum (or the item page) can be just as easy - if not easier - as bulk-loading feedback.

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