Whether you're a seasoned PowerSeller or a keen self-starter, selling on eBay can be a gripping, if at times frustrating, pursuit. Making serious profit is rarely achieved overnight, and it pays new sellers to do their homework before jumping in.
Much has changed at eBay during 2008. To name just a few, there's been the advent of the Best Match feature plus changes to Buy It Now formats and Feedback. And all have compelled even the most erudite sellers to revisit the drawing board. Here are 14 tips sellers of all levels should (re)consider before hitting the relist button.
1. Get to grips with Best Match
The introduction of Best Match in September 2008 presented both new opportunities and challenges for many sellers and has already filtered the savvy from the lazy. Rather than the default search display being sorted by items ending soonest, it's now recent sales, title keywords, item specifics, price, feedback, your detailed seller ratings and numerous other 'secret sauce' factors which help determine where your listings will feature in the mix. If you're serious about making money on eBay, it pays to know how it works.
2. Understand changes to Buy It Now and Shops
The numerous changes eBay announced in 2008 include fixed price listings being typically cheaper to list, lasting much longer (if you so wish) and all formats now factored in the main search results. Thus it is now cost-effective for sellers to list their whole inventory or stock with just one listing per product. Once you've accumulated a few sales, increase the quantity of units available and keep the listing active or relist it, to sustain the all-important Recent Sales popularity. Read more.
3. Detailed Seller what?
Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) are now as important than feedback, but the bar has been raised arguably a touch too high for some sellers in certain categories. If you receive on average over 4.6 out of 5 stars in a 30-day period, you'll likely qualify for a discount from your Final Value Fees and other benefits, but you may be penalised if you collect consistently low ratings and bad feedback. It's more important than ever to provide stellar service and communicate with your buyers. Keep an eye on your DSRs in your Seller Dashboard.
4. Open an eBay Shop
If you're a selling for anything more than a little pin money, you're probably already running an eBay shop and making savings on listing fees. eBay provides the tools you'll need to build, brand, and customise your Shop with no technical knowledge required, but the templates are basic at best, so invest time into customising the look and feel of your shop with your own HTML. Be sure to set cross promotion rules to draw attention to similar products too, and create an About Me to emphasise what makes you unique.
5. Use Selling Manager Pro
Keeping track of sales is paramount to a smooth operation, but if you're selling in volume, and don't employ some automation, your time could be soon eaten up with administration. eBay's excellent Selling Manager Pro can alleviate some of the pain. Feedback automation and crafting custom email templates will help keep your customers updated at the click of a button, allow you to archive sales and print invoices with ease, and let you gauge your sales at a glance. That said, there's no substitute for a courtesy phone call if you have a difficult or impatient customer to assuage. Just look at my phone bill!
6. Keep your customers informed
Prevention is better than cure when it comes to feedback, so friendly communication and prompt and secure shipping will help you avoid criticism. But how do you communicate the importance of your detailed seller ratings? Sadly, I think eBay fails somewhat at doing this on your behalf so it's worth spelling it out to your buyers that 5 stars makes a difference. Add a note at the top of your despatch and payment received emails, highlighting the importance of such, and mention DSRs on your shop homepage. Consider leaving feedback as soon as your buyer has paid up, too.
7. Know thy audience, know thy price
Are you selling the right item, at the right price, to the right audience? Investing time upfront will help yield better bids. Use eBay's Completed Item searches, scour your sever stats, and consult Google and Amazon to judge the going price of your items and don't forget to evaluate all your costs to determine the best price point. If you're running an eBay shop, Traffic Reports will yield valuable information, too.
8. First impression counts
An image really does speak a thousand words on eBay. You can bypass the darkroom, but you will need a decent digital camera and basic skills. If in doubt, take a dozen shots from different angles and you're bound to end up with a decent picture. Avoid using flash where possible, use a plain white background, and familiarise yourself with basic image-editing software. A basic portable studio kit is a good bet, too.
9. Donate to Charity
eBay buyers love a good deal, and they also like benevolent sellers. Whether you're a business or private seller, donating a percentage of your sale to charity may help you attract more bidders and traffic to your shop, and generate goodwill. Plus, you may well be featured on eBay's excellent Charity Hub. If you're a brand or charity, high profile auction campaigns can be a superb PR exercise, and raise significant funds in the process. Read more at eBay For Charity.
10. Update your design
We all know a clear, well-lit photograph on eBay makes all the difference, but a striking, professional shop front and listing template can go even further in inspiring confidence that you're a good, creditable seller. eBay's own listing and shop templates are quite basic, so it's worth creating your own HTML to customise your eBay presence, or hire an eBay-friendly designer. Frooition offers an excellent eBay design service.
11. Add value
There's no doubt eBay has never been so competitive, and with Best Match factoring in recent sales and price, you have to add value if you want to supplant your competition - even if you are a casual seller. It's also an ideal opportunity to be different to the competition. For example, make your iPhone listing stand out buy adding on a free case or music stand.
12. Get optimised
Thankfully, eBay is a search engine 'friendly' platform, but there's still more you can do to prime your eBay shop for search engines. Ensure a good number of your listings are on a Good-til-Cancelled format, which gives them better chance of being indexed by Google et al, and don't forget to complete your Search Engine Keywords used on eBay shop pages. An About Me page and product reviews are also a good ways to build content, bolster your natural search positioning and might impress buyers, too.
13. Sir, Madam, Baron? Make the most of your title
Use all 55 characters and use the subtitle for branding, if you've got lots of other items to sell. Think about the keywords that your buyers might use to find your item. If you're unsure about what terms buyers might use, use eBay Pulse and the Google Keyword Tool to glean ideas as to what people are searching for. Ensure your keywords are relevant - mislead buyers and you may be penalised.
14. Going, going, gone
Whilst Fixed Price items are increasingly popular with business sellers, auctions will always be an excellent way of attracting traffic to your listings, so it's worth considering a selection of auctions as attractive carrots to drive 'foot flow' to your other listings. And who knows, you might end up selling the item for above it's going price. If you're a private seller, auctions are often the best option.