Monday, December 5, 2016

10 Tips for Successful Selling on eBay

During the last ten years, I’ve been a member of the Ebay community. I’d use the word “family”, which Ebay might prefer, but my mother doesn’t charge listing fees and my brother isn’t interested in a Final Valuation Fee! I’d like to share some tips I’ve learned along the way on maximizing your selling success – and hence, your financial bottom line – the Ebay way.

1. Don’t sell junk. If it’s broken beyond repair, filthy, musty, rusted, AND has a dollar value of $50 or less, don’t try to pawn it off on someone else. You’ll get the feedback that you deserve for selling “junk”, you’ll damage your Ebay reputation, and most likely be besieged by buyers who want to return the item. Plus, you’ll incur listing and final valuation fees from Ebay that will eat away at your final profit. If it’s junk, don’t try to make a quick buck from it – throw it away.


2. Know what you’re selling. Share that knowledge with your prospective buyers. When you’re writing up your listing for an item, include every possible bit of information that you have on the listing. There’s nothing worse than a seller who lists an item with one single photo and a two sentence description. The more information that you can provide, the higher the interest you’ll pique. Even if you have to do some research on the item, it’s worth the time and effort. People are much more inclined to to feel comfortable making a purchase when they have all the details they need to make an informed decision. Also, by including all of the information that you have on your item, you won’t be besieged by messages asking for that information from buyers.


Also, be sure to include your RETURN policy AND your shipping charges in the body of your listing, not just in the “Check Out” or other portion of the overall listing format. I don’t accept returns, and I state so, and why: I don’t accept them because of my low selling and shipping charges, and because I invite buyers to ask any and all questions prior to bidding. That way, buyers don’t have the excuse of saying that they didn’t see your return policy until it was time for checkout.


3. Take multiple photos UNLESS you’re listing a simple, inexpensive item. Ebay currently does not charge a fee for “Gallery” photos. If you’re selling an item that can be truly captured in one good – and I do mean good – photograph, go with that one photo. This applies to things that are relatively well known: a pair of Waterford Lismore wine glasses, a blouse, dress, gloves, brooch or pin, anything that doesn’t require photographic authentication (i.e., the word Tiffany inscribed onto a ring or bracelet, the Botkier authenticity plaque, the serial number for a Louis Vuitton purse). For items that you list with a sales price of $100 or more, you’ll get a quicker sale by downloading multiple photos. Ebay currently charges 75 cents for a total of six photos (including the gallery), and $1 for up to 12 photos. If you’re listing a Lagos, David Yurman, John Hardy watch or piece of jewelry, your buyers will want to see this item in several different sights: with the authenticity markings on the item, how the light hits it, the front, bottom, side views, etc. What’s an extra 75 cents or $1 going to really cost you, when the use of multiple photos validates your listing? Buyers LOVE to see as many photos of an item as possible!


4. Don’t sell single small, inexpensive items, like one blouse, or one skirt – especially if they’re ‘pre owned’ and most likely won’t fetch more than a $10 selling price. You’re far better off from a sales standpoint to GROUP multiple smaller items into a ‘lot’. Rather than listing two or three blouses in separate listings, sell them as a lot of three items, and be sure to STATE this in your auction heading. It really doesn’t make much difference if they’re of different styles or fabrics, or even different sizes. If you price the group correctly, a buyer may have an interest in one or two of them, but is willing to pay for the third item knowing that somewhere in his or her circle of family and friends, that third blouse will also find a home. You’ll save money on individual listing fees and shipping, as well as attracting more buyers willing to shell out shipping fees for more than one item. They’ll feel as though they’re saving on shipping, which they will be.


This principle applies pretty much to any small/inexpensive items that you’re selling, not just clothing. Don’t list your costume jewelry pieces individually! People will be much more intrigued by a “lot” of at least five to seven items.


5. Be smart about WHEN you start your listings. I’ve literally sold items within minutes of listing them. Keep in mind that your listing appears – and starts to run – immediately, unless you’ve set the default that you want to have it start at a specific time and date. (You do have that option on the Ebay listing form, although many people aren’t aware of it.) You can write your listings up during the day, even in bulk, and set them to start in the EVENING – the best time for new listings to appear! Don’t start your listings at 11:45 A.M. on a Wednesday. DO start them on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, anytime after 7:00 P.M. (I’m on Eastern time here.)


6. Research a fair price for your item before you list it. You may have paid $150 for that Waterford horse crystal sculpture five years ago, but what’s it worth today?


The real key to successful selling on Ebay isn’t an item’s worth – it’s what people are willing to pay for it.


Search for the same or similar items currently listed on Ebay. If you can, search online or major department/specialty stores web sites where you can find the item shown currently. (Be sure to include that information in your listing! “This Yianni Gosca topaz ring is presently being offered at www.neimannmarcus.com under ‘Fine Jewelry’ for $625, plus tax and shipping.”) If you can wait, start an Ebay ‘search’ for your item, and have the site email you listings of the same or similar items when they’re just listed. You can modify your Ebay search request to receive emails for six months or longer, and you can also renew or stop the searched at any time. It’s a great way to see what the ‘competition’ is asking, and a great way to follow up on the auction (and the sales price) once the auction
has ended.


7. Use Paypal as your primary means of payment acceptance. Well over 75% of all Ebay sellers now accept Paypal. Yes, they do charge a fee for each transaction, but it’s safe and secure, and, of course, owned by Ebay now. Paypal is now the only means of payment that I currently accept, which I state in each auction. If there’s a problem with a seller’s payment, you do have the resources and backing of Paypal to help straighten out a situation – which has proved to be very helpful for me personally in the past. If you’re going to accept personal checks, don’t post feedback or send your item out until the check has cleared. Be very careful in accepting cashier’s checks. Take them to the bank yourself (a bit of a hassle you won’t need if you use Paypal!) and have them validated. Some individuals/groups are so savvy and clever now in forging cashiers/bank checks that even the banks have a hard time verifying them; often, they’ll give you the cash after a seven day or so wait period, to make sure that the document is indeed authentic.


8. Make your auction listing headline stand out! You only have x number of words to convey to the entire Ebay cyberworld exactly what it is that you’re selling, and why it’s so special that they should take a second look. Ebay has recently instituted a policy that forbids the use of the phrase “like new” in a headline; use words such as “mint”, “pristine”, “perfect” or other adjectives instead to describe an item’s condition.


What you DO want to include are the following: A specific, crisp and clear wording of the item. Let’s say that you’re selling a Botkier handbag, a Carlton doctor’s bag to be precise. DON’T list it this way: “Great bag! Botkier Brown Hobo Brand New With Tags!” Okay, we have your personal feeling that this bag is “great”, that it’s some shade of brown, and that it’s brand new with some sort of tags. Why not try this instead: “Auth Botkier Carlton Doctors Bag, Chestnut Brown, BNWT,$625!” Now what you’re telling them is that you verify authenticity of the bag (don’t waste space by spelling out the word ‘authentic’; everyone on Ebay knows what ‘auth’ means!), the style of the bag, its exact color (it’s not a light brown bag!), the fact that it’s brand new with tags, and that those tags show a list price of – wow! – $625. When a buyer looks at your sales price of $300, they’ll know that they’ll be getting a bargain.


I’m personally adverse to using the second line in a listing headline, the ‘caption’ space, for two reasons: a) it costs an additional 50 cents per listing, yet another fee that eats into your profit, and b) if you’re smart and WORK on a great headline, you don’t need a subcaption: you’ve already ‘captured’ everything a buyer needs to know in your headline. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, especially if adding a second line ups the value (“Comes with COA from original jeweler”, “Brand new with original box & dust bag”, etc.


9. Save a TEMPLATE for ease in listing your items. Most of the important information – item location, forms of payment accepted, etc. – will automatically be kept in that template and save you a ton of time each time you go to list an item. Another thought: Keep your listings ‘fresh’ by adding at least one new item every week.


10. Know the value of your FEEDBACK rating; this can make or break you as a seller! Try to resolve any and every issue before feedback is posted. This isn’t just logical, but good business and common sense as well. I NEVER bid on an item until I’ve check a seller’s feedback; it truly is your reflection to the Ebay community as to who you are as a seller and a person. That having been said, be sure to follow up with feedback of your own to your buyers – but WAIT until after they’ve received their purchase! Wait two or three days after you know they’ve received it; if they aren’t happy, you will know by then, and will have the chance to correct the problem before they post feedback for you. Posting feedback for your buyers isn’t just a good, courteous act; it also encourages your buyers to reciprocate with positive feedback for you as a seller.


Take advantage of Ebay promotional specials when listing as well. Right now, Ebay has lowered the price of each new listing by $1.50 (with some exceptions) until May 14th. If you’re listing five or ten items, this saving can be substantial! You generally don’t find out about these promotions until the day that they start, when Ebay will send out a mass email mailing, so be sure to check every email from Ebay when it’s received.


Selling on Ebay can be, and has been, a wonderful and fascinating experience! Over the years, I’ve made many online contacts through buyers who’ve turned into friends. It can also, perhaps, open the doors to an entirely new and financially rewarding career for you as well. Consider buying items in bulk lots from reputable sellers, and re-selling them yourself. Many a Power Seller was born this way!


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