[SELL IT!] Tips for Ebay Sellers

Category: Shopping

A reader asks: 'I am trying about selling some stuff on eBay to make a little extra money, but my previous attempts to sell on eBay haven't worked out very well. Can you give me some power tips for eBay sellers to help me succeed?' Well, yes! Read on...

Tips and Tricks for eBay Sellers

Looking to make some extra cash? eBay provides a number of ways for you to sell products or services quickly. It's become one of the largest online marketplaces for several reasons. First, almost anyone can use it, making it an even playing field for the small, one-person seller as much as it is for a big corporation. Second, eBay helps you promote your items, and you can take advantage of certain eBay features to control and predict your success. Third, it saves on the cost of owning a website, marketing, and much more. You pay only the minimal fees eBay states on the website.

You can take advantage of this great opportunity by doing several key things. You will probably want to sell the item fast, and probably you want to sell the item at the highest price you can get for it. Here are some eBay seller tips to get you started.

Ebay tips for sellers

Check Your Timing

If you were selling a used car, you'd be more likely to sell it, and get a good selling price, if you parked it on a busy street. Likewise, if you're an eBay seller, you want your auction to end when the greatest number of people are browsing and bidding against each other at eBay. So, to get the highest prices when selling your items at eBay, schedule your auctions so that they appear on the first page of eBay at the busiest times at eBay. There are some exceptions, but in general you'll get the greatest number of bids and the highest selling prices if you schedule your auctions to end during the peak eBay traffic periods on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Research Is Key

Research can come from looking at eBay itself. Don't just look at current products and see what similar products are selling for now. You can check with eBay to see what products have sold for in the past, as this is a more accurate look. Just because something is up for sale, doesn't mean it's selling. Just because someone placed a bid for $10 on a pair of jeans, doesn't mean it sold for that.

You can get a more accurate idea of how tpo price your items when you use the Completed Listings check box feature in the advanced search features. To learn more about completed listings research, visit: this page.

You should also think about keywords when listing your item. Populate your title with as many relevant keywords as possible, so that people searching on eBay will find your listing. For example, don't make your listing title "Apple iPhone 6S." Instead, go with something like "Apple iPhone 6S 64GB Unlocked Gold Smartphone."

Sell Quickly

If you need money quickly, you can change the number of days your bids are up. You can place the bid date as low as a couple of days. This encourages bidders to act now. You can also put up a Buy It Now button with a set price. This feature allows you to set an ideal price, and people can purchase the product outright instead of having to wait until the bidding is over.

Photos Are Everything

No matter how beautiful your description is, more products are sold based on pictures. Take plenty, at different angles, close up, and make them clear. Use a white background for dark objects and plenty of light. Use a dark background for a white object, etc. All eBay sellers know that if you want to sell anything, the photo is the most important part of it. Even eBay offers assistance on how to take better pictures on their website.

Start Small, Build a Reputation

If you're a new seller, many bidders might not give you their trust yet. Sell a few items at low prices and give your all to quality when you first start out. Offering lower prices on a few of your products at first will encourage bidders to purchase.

Be honest with what you have. It's better to be honest about it in the notes about dents or damages, than to have it come out in the rating and comments section. People reading such things in the review section will be glad you were honest, and they will praise you even more if it was better than described.

Forget the Small Stuff

Don't bother with products that sell for less than a few dollars. Also, do research on every item that you own. If people aren't buying what you're selling, don't bother putting it up for bid. You'll pay a lot in eBay fees when you list items that aren't selling, and you'll lose money on a deal if you sell stuff for only $1.

Ship Smart

And finally, be smart about shipping. Accurate shipping rates are often what bidders are looking for. Smart bidders know that it doesn't take $10 to ship a paperback to the next state. Offer alternative, lower cost shipping if possible, offer to let the buyer pick up if local, and get approximate, realistic shipping costs. If you don't know, buy a metered scale from your local post office. This will help you save time and your customers will be happy knowing they aren't getting ripped off on shipping charges. You might also think twice about offering shipping for heavy items, which would require expensive shipping. Local pickup is a good idea for large items. USPS offers a tool to help customers figure out their shipping costs.

Starting out selling on eBay takes research, patience and keeping a cool head. Find out what products are selling for, and offer accurate shipping prices. Respond quickly to questions left by bidders, ship quickly, and provide the type of customer service you'd want if you were the buyer.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "[SELL IT!] Tips for Ebay Sellers"

Posted by:

14 Apr 2017

I am off ebay for good. I made some money on some mid-value items (circa $100), but the last sale was some sheet music from France. I provably shipped it, and they provably paid for it, but ebay would not give me the money until they *received* it. Like I am responsible for the vagaries of the USPS and/or La Poste!?!? I find that craigslist it much better, especially if you don't want to fool around with shipping. only never put your phone number in the ad, nor your email address. let people contact you through craigslist.

Posted by:

14 Apr 2017

We used to sell low value items on ebay and stopped as soon as we had a customer base that allowed us to set up our own website.

If looking to start a business you will have to work for far less than minimum wage to get things moving IF you manage to get enough sales.

Check your prices and that applies to not only what you are selling but also what you are buying. Margins are (and have to be) a LOT bigger than those quoted by big stores as profit percentages (these are after all overheads).

For SMCGs wholesale discounts should be at least 50% off retail. 'Trade' rates are 25% to 33%. FMCGs are lower but the difference is made up in turnover.

It's not a game for the cautious or unprepared.

IF you can treat the money as only a way of keeping score good luck. If you need a profit to eat best get a job at minimum wage anywhere.

Posted by:

14 Apr 2017

As an eBay buyer, and seller, (not as a business, but of our own stuff we no longer need or want), I am VERY impressed with this article.

I would add, put measurements in the listing, especially for clothing. Buy a yardstick and lay it on the item for the pictures, and write them in the description.

All shippers throw packages around, "fragile" on a label makes no difference. Your packages need to be sturdy enough to survive being dropped from the second story.

There is one thing that is very controversial ... feedback. Sellers appear to be equally divided on when to leave it for the buyer.

Some buyers, believe it or not, hate not getting feedback immediately. When we first started we didn't leave it until a week after buyer had received the item, now we leave as part of the initial service. They buy, they pay, we ship, we leave feedback. Done and done!

And if you are the buyer, check a sellers feedback before buying or bidding. If they have any neutral or negative scores read the comments. Also check their stars score, and decide if the seller is good for you. We are not against negatives, it happens, but if the seller leaves a sarcastic response, we move on.

An excellent resource is the eBay community .. http://community.ebay.com/

Posted by:

14 Apr 2017

I have been selling on Ebay since 1999. My total sales have been over $22,000. My net has been over $17,000.

I have been selling mostly from my transportation collections. Books, photos, videos, timetables, paper, road maps, maps, artifacts, models, etc. And also some other items, like old phone books, records etc. Now have a large following & repeat customers.

I research the costs for each item. Packaging, travel, postage (USPS only), Ebay & Paypal fees & add a 10% contingency. Total + my profit is then added for my minimum asking bid price. Auction only. Most items are usually bid higher than the minimum price.

When I list, I state "no returns", "as is condition". Insurance & Tracking costs by buyer, "Buyers Risk". I show the max amount of photos allowed by Ebay. Give a very complete & transparent description. Have had very few problems in nearly 20-years. Ebay is painless. I ship USPS, 1st Class Letter or Package, Media Mail, Priority.
To Foreign locations, "all costs by buyer". Had buyers from all over the world.

In my Subject Line Description, I only use search words that people would use to locate items. Never words such as: old, new, good, clean, a, it, or, vintage, &, rare. Do not run words together or use punctuation marks, or try not too.

Search terms for a Chicago 1959 Phone Directory should be: 1959 Chicago Telephone Directory Phone Book Classified as an example.

Many of my listings were for as little as a $1 profit & sold for much more. I am on Ebay as seller jphuf to get an idea.

Posted by:

14 Apr 2017

Be sure to read all the eBay help before starting as a new seller. And stay up to date, read the changes to their terms as they are updated so you don't inadvertently break the "rules" eBay sets.

Sellers with great experience may easily be not following current requirements without realizing.

Follow the "rules" and I am sure you will find eBay both fulfilling and profitable.

Posted by:

14 Apr 2017

I've been an ebay seller over 10 years. It's a good way to generate supplemental income as well as downsize your estate while you're still alive so your spouse widow won't have to. However, selling on ebay is not a hobby for the faint of heart.

It's out of pocket costs are far less than renting a store or attending trade shows as a vendor. I sell worldwide and manage to move 97% of what I post for auction. My feedback rating is 100% with over 6000 sales but, as a seller, I have found it really doesn't matter what your score is as buyers can do no wrong if an issue arises through no fault of your own. As far as ebay is concerned it's a buyers market, they rule. Item goes missing in transit, seller is responsible. Buyer is fickle and changes mind, wants to return for refund seller is accountable. As long as you realize this going in all will be well. 99% of my buyers have been magical. I do get repeat business from buyers.

It's supremely important that your item descriptions are honest, accurate. If something is wrong with the item mention it, if item's condition isn't perfect mention it. You don't want to get too wordy in an ad but you do want the buyer to be informed about it's true condition. Item not as described covers a lot of impact with ebay if the buyer is unhappy and frankly, you don't need the grief paying the price for a white lie whether it was deliberate on your end or not.

Reporting the income to federal and state + sales tax collection liability: this is a nagging issue in some states and no state rulings are uniform. Since I sell collectables only from my years of conspicuous consumption my state Department of Revenue has allowed me to operate as a glorified garage sale and exempted my liability (status revocable at any time) collecting a state sales tax on ebay. You may have to get a state tax number as an internet seller if your gross exceeds a certain amount or items sold exceeds a certain amount. Actually, you should obtain one anyway whether or not you exceed either quota ($$ or xyz items sold annually) as that maximum gross allowable is suggested rather than law. Many states have realized they can generate far more revenue coming after tax collection offenders 3-5 years out rather than next fiscal year account amount actually due + interest accrued over time + 25% penalty.

Highly recommend you allow Paypal as a venue for payment, buying or selling. It's fast, it's universal. It's also a means to allow buyers to use their credit cards for purchasing your stuff without you facing the problems of cybertheft storing someone else's credit card information.

Posted by:

15 Apr 2017

Most important thing an E-bay seller can do is to understand how to pack fragile items. the package _will_ be dropped 4 feet, that is part of most carriers shorting process. if you stick something in a box with some small Bubble wrap it will arrive broken and you will have hassles.

Using a commercial shipping account will allow lower postage costs which will improve sales, as any buyer will add the shipping cost to the current price to figure out what she or he is willing to bid

Having well described items packed well with efficient shipping prices and shipped promptly will build your reputation fast. Delivering Broken junk will result in lots of charge back claims.

Posted by:

16 Apr 2017

I once sold an item on eBay and decided to offer FREE SHIPPING to attract a buyer.
The problem was, I greatly underestimated the shipping--IS THERE A WAY TO ESTIMATE THE MAXIMUM SHIPPING COST OF SOMETHING? :)....
The item I sold was lightweight, in a box, and about 16x16x12." Before pricing the item, I used the shipping calculator on USPS and figured: since I'm on the West Coast, I'll enter a zip code from a small state on the East Coast to estimate the shipping. Sure enough, someone from the East Coast purchased my item, but to my surprise, my estimate was way off--I think I spent $30 more than I expected on shipping (I think the buyer was in Connecticut). I wish there was a better way to predict shipping costs because I like offering free shipping, but now I'm scared to.

Posted by:

17 Apr 2017

To Carmen (16 Apr 2017):
Did you choose "Large Package" when you calculated postage? Also, did you enter an adequate weight?
Did you allow for insurance?
You describe the same procedure I use.
(Aside: I am astounded at the high shipping prices. The USPS site says $40 to ship eight pounds in a large package across the country!)

Posted by:

07 Aug 2017

All the selling tips are great and should be followed! But no matter how detailed your description or how good your photos are etc, nothing hinders sales quite like eBay's search facility!

It takes me hours to find most things I want for several reasons: You can no longer choose to see items from top rated sellers; you can no longer choose to see items from sellers BASED in your own country - just items based in your own country, most of which are offered by sellers in China or Hong Kong. And it doesn't matter if you choose to 'refine' your search by material or any other criteria because too many sellers practise keyword spamming!

I just wish there was another auction site in the UK....

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