eBay is one of the top 10 most trafficked sites on the entire Internet, so it’s no wonder that when that pang of consumerist desire hits us, we head straight to eBay. Auctions can be addictive, waiting for that final 10 seconds as you place you last bid (or, like a real pro — snipe); finding that ever elusive bargain!
Encourage Feedback & Use An Established Account
If you’re first learning how to sell on eBay and just starting out, you have zero reputation — so don’t go jumping in there trying to sell that $10,000 yacht. No-one is going to trust you — yet.
Start small, selling cheap items that people are more likely to take a gamble on — then gather as much feedback and ratings as you can. Be sure to follow up on sold items with a message to the buyer requesting feedback – and give your own.
Remember: purchasing items will also get you feedback from the seller — and it’s important you reciprocate in kind too. A good mix of both feedback as a seller and buyer is the best. The only exception I would argue for starting a new account is if your choice of username was particularly bad; “IM_A_SCAMMER” for example.
Photos Are Critical
I still can’t believe the number of people who actually put items up for sale without a photo. Only slightly worse are horrendous low resolution blurry photos taken on a very old smartphone, but at least that’s something. The first photo is free — so use it!
If you’re selling something expensive, then more photos may be viable, but otherwise consider making a photo montage with a free graphics app. That one free photo could double up as 4 smaller photos! It goes without saying that your photo should actually be of the one you’re selling, particularly if it has marks or defects — don’t just find a similar one on Google images.
Final selling prices for common items don’t actually vary that much. Do your research beforehand and you’ll have a good idea of what bid your item should end at, regardless of a 99 cent starting bit. Use the advanced search feature, make sure completed listings is checked, and see what turns up. Items in green sold successfully, items in red did not.
Find Packaging Beforehand
There’s nothing wrong with charging the buyer for postage, but to minimize your losses be sure to measure and weigh your package before listing the item — don’t just estimate what it will cost, or you’ll either be shortchanged for low-balling it, or putting off potential buyers for charging more than everyone else. If you use PayPal integration, eBay even allows you to print off a prepaid postage label that you can then drop off at a post office.
Offering free postage and packaging is certainly going to make your listing stand out, and many buyers will specifically search only for listings with free postage & packing, but consider your costings before choosing this.
One thing to avoid is selling an item as collection only. By all means offer collection as well, but give an accurate shipping estimate. It doesn’t matter if you personally don’t think the postage is worth it — let the buyer decide! It’s incredibly frustrating to find “collection only” written on a listing — especially when the guy lives in some remote part of Wales — and gives the impression you’re just too lazy to go down to the post office.
Know Your Fees
For the most part, you can list an item without any insertion fees — this means you pay nothing to just list it, so if the item doesn’t sell you haven’t lost anything. Once you start adding in featured services though, your insertion fees increase — even if it doesn’t result in a sale. These services include but are not limited to:
- More pictures
- Buy it now price
- Reserve price
- Scheduled listings
- Featured status
I’ve never felt the need to use these options, but if your item is particularly niche then you may wish to use reserve or buy-it-now prices, in the event that the auction expires and it is still priced at 99 cents. For most items, these are unnecessary and just eat away at your profits. Then there’s the flat rate final sale fee — 10% of the value. That’s on top of any listing fees you incurred. If you do a lot of selling in one month, these can really add up, and your bill at the end of month will be a lot higher than what you were expecting. Plan for this in advance or believe me, you will get a shock.
By default, your listing will finish 7 days from when you posted it — but this isn’t always ideal. Sunday afternoons are said to be the busiest time for eBayers, so aim to either post at that time or pay a small fee to schedule the listing.
Use the barcode / EAN lookup feature. eBay now maintains a huge list of consumer goods, especially electronics, so if you have the original box with a barcode listed — or are able to find the EAN from Amazon — be sure to add it into the listing.
This can be used to pre-populate the selling form with specifications and gives your listing added exposure to users searching for a specific item. It also avoids any confusion when it comes to correct categorization. The easiest way to do this is with the mobile app; use your iPhone or Android camera to scan the barcode.
Offer PayPal Payment
If you don’t have a PayPal account, get one. It offers security and protection for the buyer — and if you refuse to use PayPal on some kind of moral grounds, you really shouldn’t be selling things online. A listing which specifically doesn’t accept PayPal is perceived at worst to be untrustworthy, at best more bother than it’s worth. UK sellers — you don’t have a choice anyway, PayPal is a requirement.
Use a Template. Maybe
For power-sellers and companies, a branded template is a must. For personal users though, it may give off the wrong impression — I would actually not purchase from an individual using a professional template as it makes me think they’re not just “spring cleaning” and perhaps trying to make a genuine business of it.
Even worse, the seller has chosen a nauseating design with comic sans font. If the details are in the slightest bit hard to read, I’ll move swiftly on to other choices.
If you have used a template, at least make sure the images are working. I don’t want to see this:
Become a “Power Seller”
If you sell $3,000 worth of goods in over 100 transactions yearly, and have 98% positive feedback — you’re eligible to become a “power seller.” These are respected, trusted sellers and items sold by them feature prominently in the search results. As a power seller, you also qualify for a reduction in fees. See here for the full requirements.
Make a Storefront
The ultimate in professional branding for your eBay presence, a storefront will make it easy for users to see all of your goods in one professional-looking place. Creating a storefront costs a small monthly fee — from $20 — and comes with a quota of free listings. eBay actually provides a few decent looking storefront templates for you to download — grab one from here — but of course you have full creative control if you want it.
That’s all I’ve got for you — but I’d love to hear your tips on how to sell on eBay in the comments if you think I’ve missed something important.