Selling on eBay (or a similar site, like Bonanza) can be confusing, frustrating and time-consuming. Here are a few pointers for those just starting out, or anyone needing a refresher! This post goes over:
Listing to Maximize Visibility
"Your goal as a seller is to give your item every possible chance of being found!"eBay has been adding more and more options for search modification. Many potential buyers are taking advance of this filtration as increasing amounts of ‘junk’ finds its way to eBay.
CATEGORY: Its essential that you click on an accurate category in the beginning of listing your item. Not too complicated If you later think that a different category would better suit your item, you can always modify it (although you’ll need to re-input some of your item specifics, see more below). This will help your item gain visibility… more on this below in “ITEM SPECIFICS.”
TITLE: Every word in your title is searchable for your potential customer. There is an 80 character limit to the title, and you should use as much of it as you need to describe your item. Most people put at least the following information in the title:
ITEM SPECIFICS: Fill these in to the best of your ability. These are helpful for a few reasons. First, they will allow your item to show up in a search if you filled in the item specifics with a word that you happened to leave out in the title. Second, these are essential for helping your item maintain in the search results if the searcher is using the search modifications. Lastly, these help your soon-to-be-customer get a nice overview after they click on your item.
What exactly are these “search modifications?” Just search an item and take a peek at the side bar:
The description… what you need
"Keep your buyer and yourself happy by making the description as complete as possible"The description should be complete for two reasons. First, you’re trying to sell your item. The more information your buyer has, the happier they’ll be, and the more comfortable they’ll feel purchasing from you. Secondly, you need to protect yourself. There are always going to be problem-customers. If you have more information and pictures in your listing, its less likely that someone could get away with claiming that your “item is not as described” and forcing you to, at best, refund them. But we’ll keep that negative info down below in the “avoiding problem buyers” section!!
CONTENT: Make your listing as accurate and detailed as possible. Re-state everything that is in the title and item specifics, plus more. In addition to that info, I also include measurements (avoid ‘fit’ issues or ‘I thought it was this size’ problems), additional details (pockets, zippers, etc.) and an extremely detailed condition. Make sure to clearly state any flaws with the item, such as snags, stains, holes, fabric irregularities, fading, tailoring, or any other pertinent information. With this, the buyer will be more informed and more likely to be satisfied with your item.
AESTHETICS: I use fairly large font. Recently I’ve been using size 24 for the title and 18 for the rest. I give a brief paragraph-type description, followed by bullet-pointed essentials for simplicity. I end with my selling details (see below).
PICTURES: Pictures are essential. I’m a firm believer that the quality of pictures can make or break a sale. Universally accepted pictures are taken with a non-distracting background in a clean environment. I take mine on a white bed sheet, but if you have a good mannequin, that would work, too! Common customer pet-peeves: items on the floor, overexposure, misrepresented color, blurriness, lacking important details (especially for shoes and handbags). eBay allows up to 12 pictures to be uploaded for free, so there really is no excuse for not adding a sufficient number of pictures (show all angles and any defects!).
Shipping & handling options
"Know your options & know how to protect yourself… just in case"BASICS: I use either priority or first class mail as my shipping method, and I only ship domestically. I charge what the actual cost is for shipping, or use the “free shipping” option and just add the shipping into my starting or BIN price. Note that eBay charges a final value fee based on the total sale amount, including shipping. Buyers frequently feel that they’re getting a better deal if they get free shipping. For my handling time I put 5 days. I note that “long” handling time in the body of my listing, and state that I typically am able to ship sooner than that, but to please not purchase my item if you can’t potentially wait 5 days.
COSTS: Items under 13 oz can be shipped with first class mail, but you have to use all of your own shipping supplies. I find that it’s easiest to ship everything with a flat rate priority mail package. I get these either at a USPS store or online at USPS.com. The packages I most frequently use are the ‘flat rate envelope,’ the ‘padded flat rate envelope,’ or any variety of the boxes they provide. The padded flat rate envelopes are around $5.00 and can fit most items I need to ship, including jeans or even shoes (small feet!).
LABELS: I suggest printing your USPS shipping labels online because delivery confirmation is free (all packages must have some form of delivery confirmation!). You simply go into your “sold” section on ebay and click on “print shipping label.” The tracking number will automatically pop up for the buyer, which is nice. If your item is over $250, you need to get signature confirmation and insurance in order to be covered by paypal/ eBay in the case of a claim (I get it on everything over $150, just to be safe). With your labels on your packages, you can either drop them off at the post office, or schedule a pickup on USPS.com.
A NOTE ON INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING: I rarely ship internationally now because its such a hassle. But if you do, make sure you ship with delivery confirmation for the same reason as stated above. This will be expensive for your buyer, so make sure they know that ahead of time (you might want to do a quote online). Do not ship with a cheaper method without tracking unless you want to risk being scammed. And do not ever agree to devalue the customs form or mark “gift” so your buyer can avoid fees. This is illegal and if there are problems (ex: item damaged), you’re out of luck.
There is always someone out there waiting to take advantage of someone else. This is probably even more true when dealing with people on the internet. Here’s how to minimize the risk to yourself.
ADD RESTRICTIONS: Add restrictions to help filter out problem buyers
My Ebay=> Account tab=> Site Preferences=>Buyer Requirements=>Edit
- To avoid non-paying buyers, you can require immediate payment when a buyer uses the “buy it now” option. To do this, check the appropriate box on the listing page. If you’re a brand new seller, you may not have this option presented to you. To find it, go to the “Decide how you’d like to be payed” heading and click on “add or remove options,” just to the right.
- If you’re paranoid like I am (or are selling a high-value item), you can check the feedback left by your buyers to see if they have a history of giving sellers a hard time (remember, all buyers have 100% feedback because sellers can only leave positives). Red flags would be a lot of negatives given to the sellers, bad comments, etc.
- Remember the shipping tips and never ship without delivery confirmation!!
- If a potential buyer is giving you a funny vibe, then don’t ship the item out. Its better to cancel the transaction and deal with an angry person (and likely negative feedback) than to deal with a costly (time and money!) scam.
- If you end up in a sticky situation, the Purseforum has a lot of helpful members in their Ebay Forum section!