Tips And Treats
eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) manages an online auction and shopping website, where people buy and sell goods and services worldwide. eBay is a great way to test a new product. For a growing number of entrepreneurs, though, eBay is their sole storefront. The beauty of eBay is that it lets you get into e-commerce without having to go through the trouble and expense of setting up an e-commerce site of your own.
There are more tips here for sellers than for buyers. But, even if you only buy on eBay and have no interest in becoming a seller, it is suggested that you read all of the tips as there is plenty of information that will make you a better buyer.
Last Updated - 30th July 2006
Tips for Buyers
Almost everyone starts his or her eBay experience as a buyer. Learning how to buy effectively will improve your eBay experience and prepare you for becoming a seller. It is recommend that you make at least ten successful transactions on eBay before trying to sell.
- Build A Positive Feedback Rating - Give and get good feedback. This is less critical for buyers than for sellers, but having a good feedback rating makes other eBayers comfortable doing business with you.
- How to build feedback quickly? - Here is a quick way to build good feedback:
- Make some purchases for a few lower cost items you use everyday or that you would normally buy at a store. There are plenty of items in the Health & Beauty category that you buy every day such as shampoo and razor blades often at prices less than you would pay at Wal-Mart.
- Pay promptly using PayPal and immediately post feedback for the seller as soon as you get the item. If the seller does not post feedback, send them a short email telling them that you posted feedback for them and you would appreciate them reciprocating.
- Be generous with your feedback - Post feedback quickly and leave specific comments. Leaving a comment that says: great seller, is nice but it is more helpful to say, Item arrived quickly in perfect condition, just as described. Or: Quick Professional transaction good email and just what I ordered. This type of feedback is very helpful to future buyers and it tends to get you better feedback comments in return.
- Use PayPal - Sellers want to be paid quickly and everyone is concerned about fraud. There is no faster or safer way to complete an eBay transaction than PayPal (now owned by eBay). PayPal is now used by over 100 Million users around the world and now processes more debit and credit card payments than Citibank. Over 80% of registered eBay users accept PayPal and eBay has fully integrated PayPal into their systems. Take the time to become a verified seller and always give your verified shipping address. This gets you the fraud protection. Go to www.paypal.com .
- Avoid Fraud on Large Purchases - Given the millions of transactions that occur each month, fraud is actually rare on ebay but it does exist. The most common type of fraud on eBay is a seller that offers an expensive item for sale at an unbelievably good price. When you win the item the seller asks to be paid in cash, cashiers check or money order. You send the money and then the seller disappears.
- Demanding a cashiers check or a money order only is a red flag. Never bid on a large purchase if the seller will not take Paypal or a credit card. Always check the seller's feedback and how long they have been registered on eBay.
- Most fraudesters set up an eBay account, run a few quick expensive auctions, get the money and either disappear or are kicked off of eBay as soon as they are discovered. Be especially careful if the seller is located outside the U.S.
- Pay sellers quickly - Paying quickly will help you build feedback faster and you will get your item sooner.
- Be honest admit your mistakes - If you forgot about the auction and are late getting a payment off, or you forgot to ship something you sold be up front and honest. Apologize and admit your mistake. People can be very forgiving if they believe you. They can be unforgiving if they think they are being taken for a ride.
- Create an About Me page on eBay - EBay allows you to create a page to describe you and your family or even include your pets. You can put a photo on the page, talk about your hobbies, your family basically anything you like. The About Me page is where a person can get a sense of who you are and if they would like to do business with you. If you have a web site, this is the one place on eBay where it is allowed to direct buyers to your web site.
- Master the power of searching - According to eBay, about 65% of bidders find their item by searching. Including the exact name of the product you are selling is key to bidders finding your auction. Some sellers place a tilde (~) or a star * next to their auction title to help get attention. Place a space between a tilde (or *) and a word, or the word will not come up in a search.
- For example: *Nikon* would not result in any items found, because eBays search engine sees the * as part of the word. According to Power Seller News, some of the most searched words on eBay are: DVD, Art, BMW, Gucci, Longaberger, Louis Vuitton, Laptop, Playstation 2 and Paintball.
- Use eBays powerful search engine to find items and to see what items are selling and how much they are selling for.
- Be sure to thank people - Send an email to your seller when the item arrives. Thank them and let them know you posted feedback and are happy with the transaction.
- Search for misspelled items to find bargains - Finding misspelled items is a great sport on eBay. Remember that 65% of eBay buyers find items by searching. If someone spells an item name incorrectly it will not come up in a search. These items usually get very few bids and this is a great place to shop.
- Here are a few misspelled words to try: jewlery, strawbery, Ken Griffy, Porsch, beaney, If you want to buy something specific on eBay, think of how the word could be commonly misspelled and type it into the search box. You will often be surprised how many items come up.
- Use the .02 or .03 rule - Most people bid in even numbers. If the bid increment is 50 cents, make your bid .52 or .53. This way you will just outbid someone by a few cents instead of a large increment. This is very important when sniping.
- Learn to snipe - EBays proxy bidding system allows you to set your highest bid and then forget about it. EBay will keep bidding the minimum increment up to your maximum. This is fine if you know exactly how much you want to pay for something. If you are not sure how much you want to bid or if you know an item will be hot, then learn how to snipe at the last minute. Here is how to snipe:
- Open one window with the auction description. Open a second window and place the highest amount you will pay for the item and hit Review Bid. Now enter your username and password but dont hit Place Bid yet. Wait until 15 or 20 seconds before the auction ends. (Refresh your first window to see the time left). At the right moment, hit Place Bid. With luck your bid will arrive at the perfect time to beat out your competition.
- Be sure to synchronize your time with the official eBay time or you could just miss the end of an auction.
- Use Ending Today - When searching eBay listings and categories, it can become very tiresome because there is so much out there. If youre just browsing for stuff to buy, then select a category, and select Ending Today. Items ending in the next 24 hours will be highlighted in red. Here's a tip to find great bargains. Look for items ending after midnight. There aren't as many people up after midnight and those auctions tend to get fewer bids.
- Search Completed items - To find out what a product is worth, it doesnt do any good to find prices for on-going auctions as this could change minute by minute. Searching Completed Items (from the eBay search box) is the best way to determine an items worth or value.
- Check the sellers feedback rating --and the comments - Because you are spending your hard-earned money, it pays to check the feedback left by others about the person from whom youre thinking of buying. When in an items auction page, select view sellers feedback. This will list all comments made by others that have dealt with this person in the past. It can be very revealing. If you see a bunch of negative comments, stay away from this seller. If you see positive, then proceed. Dont let one or two negatives dissuade you if most of the feedback is positive. Everyone makes mistakes, and things do get lost in the mail. Also there are some people out there who are very difficult to please. Be careful buying expensive items from sellers who are newly registered or have a low feedback score.
- Be careful about leaving negative feedback - You should always try and work things out with the seller. If a seller is a total fraud, then go ahead and leave negative feedback. EBay is a community and most people are basically good, although all of us screw up once in a while. Unfortunately there are a few Crazies out there. If you leave negative feedback on them, they seek revenge, start flaming email wars, send emails to your bidders and so on. Sometimes leaving negative feedback on these people can cause more trouble than it is worth.
- Check your email at least twice daily - As a buyer, you want to ensure you win the most bids you can within your price range, of course. Since eBay will email you whenever youre outbid on an item for which you have an outstanding bid, you want to be sure you know as soon as possible, so you can re-bid if you want to. If you dont check your email, and you receive an outbid notice, by the time you do check email, the auction may be over for that item. Checking your email regularly will keep you informed of the status of your bids. Also you want to respond quickly to any emails from buyers or sellers relating to your bids or your auctions.
- How to narrow your search? - Since using a single word for your search can return many, many ads, you may want to narrow the search even more to get down to a more specific need. For example, suppose you are looking specifically for Timex watches as opposed to just any watches. Then use the AND keyword function in your search. In the search field, you'd enter Timex watch. This would return a list of all ads with both the words Timex and watch in them and exclude all ads that do not contain both words.
- How to narrow your search even more? - Let's say you are looking for ads that include certain phrases, or words that go together in a specific order. For instance, if you are searching for teddy bears, you can use quotation marks. The command you would use is "teddy bear". This will return a listing of all ads with the words teddy bear in them. The word bear must immediately follow the word teddy for the listing to show.
- Finding auctions with multiple words - If you are searching for items that have one of multiple words, you can use the OR keyword in your search. For example, if you wanted to find all auctions that have in their title listing the words cat or dog, then you would enter (cat, dog) in the search field. This would return all ads that have either the word cat or the word dog in their listing.
- Locating auctions with one word, but not another - If you are looking for watches, but are not interested in Timex watches then you would use the AND NOT keywords. In the search field, you would enter: watch -timex. This would return all auctions whose listings included the word watch, but excluded the word Timex. (Note there is no space between the minus sign and the word timex).
- Dont Fall for Spoof email supposedly from eBay or PayPal - Many emails you receive in your email account from PayPal or eBay are really fakes. If eBay sends you an email to your email address and they sometimes do, dont open it. Whenever eBay sends you an email they also send it to youre My Messages box in youre My eBay Page. Just go to youre My eBay Page where you will also see the email if it really came from eBay. You can open it there safely. If you receive an email from PayPal, dont click on any of the links. Instead just log into your PayPal account and you will see any notices on your main account page. All genuine emails from eBay and/or PayPal will be always be addressed to you by name. If the email says Dear Member --it is a fake!
- Be careful using a SPAM filter - Unfortunately once you start buying and selling on eBay, your email gets out there and your volume of spam increases. Eudora has a great free email program called Eudora Lite, free at www.eudora.com, which allows you to direct all your eBay related email into a special mailbox where you can filter it. There are also new services available on the Internet to filter out spam but they are not 100% reliable. They sometimes filter out legitimate messages and still let a lot of spam through. That can be a problem --you might not ge legitimate emails from sellers, bidders or buyers. So get in the habit of checking your spam filter regulary.
- Know what you are buying - Unless the item you are bidding on is clear and unambiguous, be a little careful. If an item description is not complete, or if you are buying a collectible or something used, take the time to email the seller and ask questions or for clarification. If the seller doesnt answer quickly and completely, that is a warning flag and you should be careful.
- Be especially care when bidding on high-priced items.
Tips For Sellers
Whether you just want to have some fun, use eBay to clear out your attic, make a few extra bucks, or even start an eBay business, you will have to master the basics to sell successfully on eBay. The following tips are a good start but you will need to keep learning to master the secrets of eBay success.
- Learn to sell on eBay - Even if you dont need the extra money and have no interest in building an eBay business, try selling things from time-to-time. Why? Its fun! You will get far more for stuff on eBay than you would from a yard sale. Also, selling will make you a better buyer. You will understand things from the sellers point of view and learn other ways to spot bargains.
- Buy on Overstock.com and other auctions to sell on eBay - eBay is king of the mountain. Overstock.com, and others are good auction sites, but they are not even a close second to eBay. Because Overstock.com auctions do not get as much action, you can often buy good items on Yahoo and resell them on eBay for a profit. The same is true of Amazon, ePier, BidFields and other smaller auction sites.
- The best types of products to sell on eBay - Everyone wants to sell the latest consumer product but the truth is there is a lot of competition from established sellers and even big online companies that have discovered eBay. The best item to sell on eBay is something used or a very specialized (niche) product that few others are selling. You can buy virtually anything used: clothing, books, computers, DVDs, Stereo equipment, and so on. If you are going to sell new goods, make sure you can buy them cheaply enough to sell and make a profit. One source is the closeout and liquidation companies that sell overstocks and seasonal items returned by department stores. Another great item is consumables. The idea here is to get repeat business via your web site from customers who buy from you on eBay. One of the best selling products from The Auction Sellers Resource is the Wholesale Buying System (WBS). This tells you how, what and where to buy products to sell on eBay. The WBS comes with password protected access to a members-only web site where you can access thousands of wholesale companies directly. The web site is updated monthly to add new sources.
- Search Listings on eBay to see what is selling - Go to: http://listings.eBay.com to see what is being listed and sold on eBay. The number in parentheses after the category title is the number of auctions for a given item. In general, the higher the number the more action and sales.
- Master niche marketing and specialize for success - This is home plate for your success strategy. Find your own niche. Define your market. Then you can know the type of person youre going to be selling to and the types of product you want to sell. You will also have less competition. Forget trying to sell computers, digital cameras, iPods and plasma TVs. There is no way you can compete with the big guys unless you have tons of money. And those drop ship web sites and programs that claim to have those products are mostly scams. Find a small niche --or several small niches that you can dominate. Along with being in a superior position to take advantage of repeat business, the benefits from becoming specialized are endless. If you know more about your product area, you will be able to buy at better prices and people who sense you specialize in something will be more comfortable buying from you.
- Become an expert in your field - Become an authority on what you do in your online auction business. If you sell printer ink cartridges, you want to be thought of before anyone else. When you become an authority in your field, a whole new universe of business and opportunity is opened up to you. Read books and training manuals, visit the chat and message boards, attend an eBay University when it comes to your town, go to eBay Live, and keep learning all the time.
- Increase sales by putting audio in your auctions.
- Get a sales tax number - Contact the sales tax authority in your county or state offices to get a sales tax number. This will allow you to buy from many wholesale companies that would not deal with you otherwise. If you are not sure who to contact in your state, just call your local chamber of commerce and they will advise you or give you the phone number or web site address to register.
- Automate your auctions - Automate your auctions with an auction management service. These services also track your inventory and sales, send automated emails to customers, provide a PayPal or credit card gateway and automatically post feedback once payment is received. People are often hesitant to pay a monthly fee to an auction management company, over time they really save you money and they are far better than eBay's tools such as Turbo Lister and Selling Manager. You should also invest in software to print labels. www.edicia.com is a good resource. You can get a great deal on label printers and scales that integrate right into your computer.
- Build credibility - Be trustworthy. Remove every doubt about your credibility. You can do this through presenting yourself positively through your feedback, being passionately devoted to your business and by being an expert. See the section above on creating an About Me page. A photo of yourself will humanize the online experience can bring amazing results. One with your dog or cat in the picture is even better.
- Your auction headline and item description is where it all begins - Your headline is your advertising and your item description is your salesperson. On the web, how you're potential buyer perceives you and your product is everything. Be sure to use power words in your auction title (headline). Rare, Unique, Powerful, New, Unusual, Stunning, Top Notch, First Class, etc. Just be sure not to exaggerate. Dont call something rare if it is not. Copy writing is the art of showing you and what you sell to your buyer in the best possible light. Its the most important thing you have going for you. A carefully crafted sales letter (item description) can increase you results exponentially without having to spend an extra penny.
- Use keywords in your auction headline (title) and description - Remember that 65% of eBay bidders find what they are looking for by using the search function. Be sure to use carefully chosen and accurate key words in your title and description. eBay gives you 55 characters in your headline. Be sure to use all of them. This will help you get hits.
- Stand behind your product and service - Offer an unconditional money-back guarantee on every thing you sell. Now if you are selling cars or houses, or as-is used goods that may not be a good idea but the simple offer of a satisfaction guarantee will dramatically increase your sales. Even unhappy people rarely go to the trouble of sending something back. The cost of providing the few refunds will be far out weighted by the increased volume of your sales. At the very least offer a guarantee that your items are exactly as described and you will give a full refund if they are not.
- Set up an eBay Store - eBay Store listing fees are very low (much lower than auctions). This is a great place to park merchandise between auctions, to clear out slow moving merchandise, and a place you can promote in your emails, and with various web site promotion techniques. Place a clickable link in your auction item descriptions that invite people to view your store. Also, eBay indexes your store listings to search engines such as Froogle. If someone comes to your store from off of eBay (such as from a Google search) and buys something from you, then eBay credits you 75% of the final value fee.
- Accept personal checks up to $20 for immediate shipment from anyone with good feedback - Remember it costs about $20 these days in bank fees if you bounce a check. Most people will not write a bad check for this reason.
- Set up a PayPal Shop - PayPal offers a service to all of their users called PayPal Shops. A PayPal shop is nothing more than a link to your eBay store or your web site. PayPal offers users a search engine where they can search PayPal shops for goods offered by merchants who accept PayPal. Occasionally PayPal may feature your shop on their checkout page. If this happens your shop will get thousands of hits a day as long as it is featured.
- Use an email signature - One great free way to promote your auction business is by using a signature. Signatures are six to eight line inserts at the end of your email messages. All email programs support them. Your signature should include a description of what you sell and a hyper-link to your eBay store or your about me page.
- Automate your shipping and save time at the post office - If you dont have much time to spend at the post office, and I'm sure you don't, prepare in advance. You can have all of your mailing supplies sent to you by the USPS and UPS. Visit http://www.usps.gov and http://ups.com for more details. eBay and PayPal now have an automated shipping system integrated with UPS and USPS right on their site. If you ship via USPS Priority Mail (a favorite option for eBay sellers) you can use delivery confirmation to track your packages. It is free if you do it on line at http://www.usps.com or it costs 45 cents to do it at the post office window.
- Building a High Feedback Rating Quickly - Here is a quick way to build good feedback: Sell something at a very low price, such as an inexpensive baseball card for under a dollar. Put up a Dutch auction for 50 of the item you are selling. Dont worry about making money; just try to break even. Mail the cards out quickly, post great feedback for each buyer and send each buyer an email politely asking each of them to return the favor. Be sure to include the hyperlink to the feedback post in your email.
- Where to get free shipping supplies? - If you send your items via USPS priority mail the post office will give you free envelopes, tape, and boxes. Think this through. If you pay the priority mail fee, and get free boxes, that is often close to what UPS charges when you add in the cost of a box. See below, however, for ways to get free boxes and packing materials. Another source for free supplies is your local gift shop or kitchen shop. These merchants receive merchandise in good boxes everyday with plenty of bubble-pak and Styrofoam peanuts that they simply throw away or pay to have recycled. Get friendly with your local gift shop and you can have access to tons of free shipping suppliers.
- Sign Up for BuySafe and SquareTrade - If you sell expensive goods, BuySafe is a company that provides fraud insurance to your buyers. It cost a little to sign up, but BuySafe has plenty of evidence that shows that using BuySafe in your auctions will increase your bids and final values much more than the cost of their service. Sign up at www.buysafe.com. SquareTrade is sort of the Better Business Bureau of eBay. Sign up at www.squaretrade.com. They also provide a dispute resolution service for their members and can get bad feedback removed.
- Get your news from AuctionBytes.com - www.AuctionBytes.com is a great site with lots of free resources for auction sellers. They have an online auction calendar that lists best times to start and end an auction, a free online tutorial on how to take good photos, a daily and a weekly free newsletter and plenty of additional free resources. Best of all they have a daily news feed of news about eBay and online auctions.
- Use Google AdWords to drive hits to your auctions, eBay Store or your web site - Google AdWords can get expensive, but if you look for the obscure keywords no one else is bidding on your can really drive hits from out of eBay to your auctions or eBay Store. If you send someone from outside of eBay directly to your store and they buy, eBay credits you 75% of the store fee. If you join eBays affiliate program and this person was a first-time buyer, then eBay will pay you a commission on top of that. There is a service called Wordtracker that is free to try out and very inexpensive to subscribe to. It will help you find those obscure key words that you can buy very cheaply.
- Learn simple HTML commands to spice up your auctions - Dont be afraid of HTML. Anyone can do it. For example, you should start all of your eBay auction item description with the command: <font size=+1> This will make your type larger and easier to read. It helps to break your item description into smaller shorter paragraphs to increase readability. Just use this command to create a new paragraph <P>. You can make your text bold by typing <B> at the beginning of the bold text and </B> where you want it to end.
- Create attractive backgrounds for your auctions - Go to: http://www.grsites.com/textures to get free background textures for your auction item descriptions. Over 6000 backgrounds are available at no cost.
- If you are going to be in this business you need to know the vocabulary - Net Lingo at http://www.netlingo.com is a free site that teaches you all the terms and lingo of the world wide web and various online services.
- Get a professional auction education - Watch for announcements of eBay University coming to a city near you. (Usually listed on the eBay community page.)
* Use the various eBay online tutorials
* Print out the eBay help files and place them in a 3-ring notebook for easy reference.
* Buy some of the great eBay training books from The Auction Sellers Resource Bookshop
- Incorporate to Protect yourself from liability - Not many people get sued selling stuff on eBay, but it can happen. If you incorporate, the corporation can shield you from most lawsuits. In fact once a lawyer learn that you are incorporated and you don't keep assets in the corporation, a lot of times they will not bother suing because they know your assets are protected. There are also lots of tax benefits to incorporating even if your eBay income is fairly small.
- Learn how to buy at government auctions - Government auctions can be a great place to find bargains but proceed with caution. Make sure you thoroughly inspect anything before you buy it.
- Package your eBay shipments professionally - No one likes to receive his or her treasure in a battered shoe box or an old cereal box. Take the time to pack your sales carefully. Invest in bubble pak, peanuts, tissue paper and so on.
- Sell Designer Clothes and Accessories - Clothing and accessories from top designers such as Gucci, Hermes, Christian Dior, Armani and so on are one of the hottest sellers on eBay and you can make excellent profit margins.
- Set your starting bid low to attract hits - Do you have a good item that you KNOW will sell well? Start it off at a very low price. This will get you healthy early bidding. You want a large group around the item; some will be competitive bidders people who will pay extra just for the thrill of winning. You'll usually get more for your item than someone who priced their item higher, because your auction has more bidders watching.
- Write complete auction item descriptions - Make your item description as complete as possible. Include all relevant details: condition, size, weight, age, collectability, any short-comings or defects, etc. What you think is not important may be very important to someone else. Describe your items condition, talk about its benefits and uses and keep writing until you run out of something to say.
- Have a written sales, payment and delivery policy to protect yourself and avoid misunderstandings - Spell out everything you do. How much do you charge for shipping? How will you ship the item? What is your policy on insurance? Do you use escrow for expensive items? When do you post feedback? Do you hold checks until they clear? The more information you give a buyer the better the buying and selling experience will be for both parties but dont forget to make it sound friendly. You dont want your auctions to sound like a bunch of rules written by a junior high school principal.
- Dont get greedy and overcharge for shipping - This is one of the more common causes of negative feedback. You should only charge what it normally costs you to pack and ship. Buyers are sensitive in this area. They know when you are making a profit on shipping. You can charge a small premium to cover your cost of handling and shipping materials, but it should be reasonable. Always offer to combine shipping costs if a person buys more than one item. Explain your shipping policy in the item description. There is a game some sellers play whereby they list a $5 item for 99-cents but the shipping is $7.99 when it only cost a dollar to ship. eBay will cancel your auction if they catch you doing this as it constitutes fee avoidance.
- Always include the auction number in your emails - Always include the auction number with the end of auction notice and any request for payment. Place the number in the subject line so you can easily track emails. People often bid on several items and can get confused.
- Start and end your auctions at the best times - Do you always start and end your auctions at the best times? Start and end your auctions at peak traffic periods when traffic is the heaviest. Make sure you to end on Sunday or Monday evenings between 5 and 10 PM (Pacific Time). Saturday and Sunday mornings are also good times. Believe it or not, Mondays during the lunch hour are very good also. Remember there can sometimes be a posting delay of up to two hours on eBay during the busy times. Also --dont forget that eBay uses Pacific Time. This is one of the best reasons to use an auction management service such as Vendio.com. You can create your auction and schedule it to launch at a specific time or day.
- What to do when you make a mistake in an auction? - If an auction has not received any bids you can revise it. Click on the link revise auction right below your username. If the auction has received bids, you can first cancel the bids and then cancel the auction. If you go to My Account on youre My eBay Page there is a link where you can email eBay and ask them to credit the listing fee. Just explain that you cancelled the auction, fixed the mistake and relisted it. Give them the old and the new item number and they will usually but not always credit you the fee.
- Why does eBay end auctions? - eBay will only end your auction if you violate the listing guidelines. First of all print out the guidelines and read them carefully. They are written to give eBay wide latitude. EBay rarely discovers a listing violation. They rely mostly on the community to report violations. (Yes, there are a lot of busybodies with too much time on their hands). The most common violations are listing in the wrong category, key word spamming, putting a link to an outside web site in your auction description and featuring items that are not qualified for featuring, i.e. information products. One way to get your auctions examined is to make a complaint about someone elses auction. Whenever you make a complaint, eBay also examines all the ongoing auctions of the complainer. So unless your auctions are squeaky clean, think again about reporting someone else.
- What to do when eBay ends an auction? - If you are guilty as sin just forget it and get on with your life. Its not the end of the world. If you feel you are wronged, then answer the auction ended email with a polite request for an explanation and/or tell your side of the story. Please understand the eBay enforcement employees receive hundreds of angry emails a day. It is very easy for them to get pissy (excuse my language). A polite and sincere inquiry will often uncover valuable information. Your violation may have been a minor technicality, which can be easily corrected. They will rarely tell you this if you send them an angry or rude email.
- Set up a web site and use eBay to drive business to it - Every eBay seller should have a web site. Remember sales you make from your web site do not incur eBay fees. EBay has cracked down on sellers using auctions to drive hits to their web sites, but there are still some loopholes and techniques you can use without running a foul of eBay.
- How to keep your customers happy and generate lots of positive feedback - Customers want three things: instant gratification, clear, fast communications and to get what they were promised.
- Use PayPal to get payment quickly and then ship quickly.
- Answer emails immediately
- Reveal any flaws or shortcomings your item has
- Never over-promise or over describe an item
- Package your items carefully and professionally
- If you can, toss in something for free
- Over-communicate with your buyers - When an auction ends, send your buyers an immediate email congratulating them and providing clear payment instructions. Send them another email when you ship the item (this really impresses buyers). Send them a follow-up email to see if everything went okay. This email should include the link where they can post feedback.
- Be careful using the Reserve Price Auction (RPA) - No one likes a reserve. Most people understand the necessity for it, but there are a large percentage of users who will simply not bid on RPA. If you know something will sell, then price it slightly lower than the minimum you will take. If you are selling a very expensive item, certainly place a reserve on it, but let the potential bidders know what the reserve is. It doesnt have to be a secret. The point of a reserve is to protect you against something selling too cheaply. Being open about your reserve can actually help you get bids.
- Increase bids by making your auctions readable - Use a short opening paragraph that promises something and then deliver on the promise. Describe the product but also write about its benefits and/or how it is used. If you have personally used the product, describe your experience. Short sentences are more readable than long ones. If you write a long sentence, follow it with a short one. Keep your paragraphs to less than 3 or 4 lines. Boldface important words or phrases. Include attention-getters: questions, news items, a guarantee or a promise. Ask for the bid at the end of the description. Use active verbs and enthusiastic language.
- Use Bold, and Highlight to increase visibility - These features cost a little so they are not appropriate for low cost items unless you are using a Dutch auction but it has been proved that they increase both hits and bids.
- Use a hit counter to track your auction - The most important thing to know about an item that did not sell is: Did it not get hits, or did it get hits and did not get bids? If you are getting hits and not bids, then you know there is demand and interest in the item, but there is something wrong with your price or your description. If you are not getting hits, then there is either no demand or interest in the item or your headline stinks. Use services such as Honesty.com and Square Trade to help you build trust and credibility.
- Always use a regional listing - There are some people who only/prefer to buy from their local regions. When you pick a region, it doesnt limit your auction to a region, it just tells sellers from that area that you are nearby. There is no charge to use a regional listing.
- Build a mailing list of your customers - Build a base of customers who buy your type or category of product. Once someone bids on your auction, or sends you an email with a question, then you not eBay, own that email address and you can communicate with that person in the future. Whenever you are launching an auction, send your existing customers an email letting them know. (Not every little auction but for special hard to find items). Because someone actually purchased something from you, you now own that customer so it is not against eBays regulations to market to them directly through email or from your web site.
- Create an Opt-in newsletter - If you are operating in some area of specialty such as art, antiques, collectibles, sports, etc., then create an online newsletter for your customers. Instead of sending the newsletter out, just send out the table of contents with a link to a page on your web site where the newsletter is posted. This drives traffic to your web site, which is the whole point. Your newsletter should also include a link to your active auctions.
- Re-listing Strategies - Did your auction fail? No bids, no hits? You can still re-list for free. Before you hit the re-list button lets look at what happened.
- Was the item over-priced? Was it in the correct category? Do you need a better headline or description? Is there any demand for the product you are selling?
- You can relist one time for free if an item doesn't sell. If you keep relisting and the item doesn't sell, you are burning up eBay fees. If others are selling your same item, and you are not go back and reexamine what you are doing.
- Experiment for success - Dont be afraid to try something new. Just be careful, you dont throw a lot of money into something that isnt yet proven. Try new products, new categories, new sources, new headlines, and so on. eBay is no where near being a mature marketplace. It is still growing and evolving. The rules change weekly. Dont be afraid to be a pioneer just use a little caution when it comes to spending large amounts of money.
- Choosing a category - Ok, you have put a lot of thought into your product and completed the introspective phase of getting started. You are excited about your merchandise and ready to start selling it. The next step is to find your niche market; as applies to online auctions, this refers to the category you will list your item(s) in. Considering eBay has over 7,500 categories to choose from, this should be a relatively easy process. But there is one important strategic trick you should know. Before listing your item in any category, follow these simple steps:
- First, browse through the eBay categories and write down the ones you feel are relevant to your product. You should be able to find at least 3-5 possible choices.
- Next, write down the number of auctions currently online in each of those categories (it will appear next to the category name). An average category has about 4,000, so if there are more than that you may conclude that the category is active, If there are less than 2000 you may consider it inactive. Some categories have over 50,000 auctions going at any one time. Using this ranking system, rate the categories that you have chosen for your product. It is recommend you list in the most active categories only because they get the most traffic. If you put your product in an inactive section of eBay, you may get little or no bids, even if you feature it .Avoid categories with less than 1,000 auctions online unless your product is highly specialized to that category!
- List in two categories - eBay has a new feature that allows you to list in two categories. There is a small extra fee but any feature, highlight or bold fees are doubled. Here is an example: If you were selling a collectible, most collectible buyers also buy books and price guides to their collectibles. So list your collectible in the appropriate category and also list it in the Books>Non-fiction>collectibles and Price guides category.
- Use good photos and images in your auctions - Digital cameras and scanners have become very cheap. If you are going to take a lot of photos, probably the best, all around auction camera is the Nikon 2100 or 3100. As Nikon has come out with newer models, these two models can be bought very inexpensively and they contain all the features an auction seller needs. Keep your photos small in a digital sense. Large image files take forever to load and your buyer will click off to another auction instead of getting a cup of coffee while your 300 K file downloads.
- Take the time to take good photos - Here are some simple tips to take good digital photos:
- Clean up the area around the subject or use a backdrop
- Always use a tripod to make your photos sharp
- Avoid clutter in the photo
- Shoot outdoors on a cloudy day or in open shade. Dont shoot in direct sunlight, as the contrast is too high
- Indirect window light is also excellent.
- Get reasonably close to the object
- Show a close-up of any repairs or defects
- If relevant, show the product being used.
- If size is an issue, show some thing such as a coin or a ruler to to indicate dimensions.
- Learn the right way to drop ship - Lets face it --most of these drop shipping companies are scams --or if not scams they just don't work. You spend a fortune in eBay listing fees on stuff that either won't sell at the price you need to get or is being sold by others for less. The only way to drop ship profitably is to work with a direct source such as a manufacturer or master distributor. These drop ship companies are just middlemen who buy from distributors, mark up the product and sell it to you. The markup they are getting is the markup you need to make a profit.
- Keep track of your fees - You need to be careful with your fees its easy to overspend and kill your profits. Be very careful about using the special featured fees. Make sure your margin is adequate to still make a profit. ProfitCalc, is an eBay fee calculator that has really saved me a lot of money.
- Use Dutch auctions to increase your profits - If you are a Low Volume Seller, or if you sell products with a low dollar margin, you may need to run multiple Dutch auctions to make a good living on eBay. A Dutch Auction is used when you have several identical items for sale. You set the minimum price you are willing to sell for, and specify the quantity for sale. Many bidders will bid on more than one item. The person who bids the lowest for the last available quantity sets the price for all winning bidders.
- Learn to sell information products on eBay - People will pay good money for information they can use. If you can write reasonably well, and you have a topic you have some expertise in, you can probably write a reference guide or how-to manual and sell it on eBay and even on the web. You can create an e-book (or a printed book) on almost any topic: Pets, Finance, Bible Studies, Poetry, childrens stories, software, computer tips, making money with XYZ and so on. You can also compile information on antiques, collectibles, computer images, recipes, genealogy, etc. Search the non-fiction books category and the information products category on eBay to see what is selling then try to identify a unique niche for a new product or category. If you are going to create an e-Book, the best program on the market is eBook Pro. eBook Pro is not only a superior (and user friendly) software for packaging information, it also gives you far more security and control than other programs or packaging options. There's no longer any reason for you to be taking dangerous risks with your business. Now your computer can deliver your products instantly and automatically (with zero cost) over the Internet. eBook Pro can even:
- Capture your customers' credit card numbers or direct them to PayPal
- Wire their money directly into your bank account
- Enter their customer contact information into your own private database.
- With eBook Pro, your eBooks are easy to produce, they're cost-effective, and they have the potential to generate tons of profit with relatively little effort on you part!
- Where to get help with your auction questions - Forums and message posts are one of the quickest and easiest ways to get help answering almost any question that might come up about selling on eBay and other auction sites. The best and most used forums on eBay are of course at eBays Community section. You can find the discussion boards broken down by subject at: http://pages.eBay.com/community/boards/index.html and there are several category-specific chat rooms at: http://pages.eBay.com/community/chat/index.html
- Bookmark these eBay links to save time - Set up a favorites folder marked eBay and place these links in it for easy and quick reference.
- Advanced Search page - http://pages.eBay.com/search/items/search_adv.html
- Search eBay stores - http://pages.eBay.com/search/items/search_stores.html
- Announcements and news -http://pages.eBay.com/search/items/search_stores.html
- Discussion Boards - http://pages.eBay.com/community/boards/index.html
- Leave Feedback - http://cgi2.eBay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?LeaveFeedbackShow
- Rules and policies - http://pages.eBay.com/services/tsindex.html
- About Me Page setup - http://members.eBay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?AboutMeLogin
- What to do when someone doesnt pay? - EBay has a very defined procedure for bidders that dont pay. Here are the steps:
- First send an email requesting payment and warning the buyer you will file a non-payment complaint to eBay if they dont pay within a specified time. If they still dont pay, go to your My eBay Page and find the link to the dispute resolution center.
- Follow the instructions there to make a cliam and file a final value fee credit (to refund your fees)
- EBay will contact the buyer and give them a warning (this often gets the buyer to pay) Any bidder that receives a third warning will be indefinitely suspended from eBay.
- There is also another option. In your terms of sale at the end of each auction description, place the statement: If you fail to pay within 10 business days, then this auction is cancelled by mutual agreement. On the eBay Non-payment Bidder page, there is a button you can check that said this auction was cancelled by mutual agreement. If you check this button, then your fee will be immediately refunded without going through all the steps and waiting the full period. (eBay does email the NPB and ask if they agree --but they almost always do so they don't get an unpaid item strike against them).
- Make money selling things for others - There are several Power Sellers that specialize in consignment sales. Simply put you find people who have something to sell but do not have the time or knowledge to sell on eBay. You sell it for them and take a commission. Typically you can earn 10-15% on expensive items and up to 35% on lower cost items. EBay has a program called Trading Assistant where you register to help other eBayers sell their goods. You can register HERE. My best selling book, How To Start & Run an eBay Consignment Business contains all of the contracts, forms and ads you need to become a successful trading assistant.
- Turn your inventory over often - How many times you can turn your inventory over is the key to making high profits. Too many sellers get stuck with something that wont sell at a profit and they keep re-listing and re-listing until some day it eventually sells. In the meantime, they could have sold the dog at cost, and put the money into something that will turn over rapidly. Rapid turnover and re-investing your money back into more products is one of the long-term keys to success on eBay.
- How to get something for free on eBay - Check out the wholesale lots section on eBay. Often the same people who are selling individual items at auction are selling the same things in wholesale lots for a lot less money each, but you may have to buy 10 items to get the wholesale price.
- How to buy large wholesale lots with very little money - Often you will see goods going for incredible low wholesale prices, but you have to buy a very large quantity to get the great price. Here is where you need friends. Get a group of people together to share the cost of a wholesale lot. Once you get the items, put them up in smaller wholesale lots in Dutch auction. Here is an example: Last year the mini RC cars were hot sellers. Today they are all over eBay at $9.95 each. Most wholesale sites will sell you the cars for $4.25 in case lots of 24. But you can go to the importer and buy them for $2.50 each if you buy 10 cases. If you go in with a few friends, you could each buy two or three cases and sell the cars retail at a good markup or at a low wholesale price and turn them over very quickly. Buying at wholesale and finding wholesalers is very difficult.
- Know and understand, your costs - It is very easy to sell a lot of goods at auction and not have any money left at the end of the month. If you are going to be successful, it is critical that you track and have good visibility into your cost structure. Here are some of the costs you should be tracking:
- Product cost (including inbound shipping).
- Listing and reserve fees
- Feature fees
- Final Value fee (if the item sells).
- Auction Management Service (if you use one).
- Credit card or PayPal service fees
- Internet service or DSL fees
- Shipping costs and materials
- More on what to sell and finding a niche market on eBay - In the early days, you could sell just about anything on eBay and make money. Today, major corporations such as J. C. Penny, Bloomingdales, and Disney have moved onto eBay in a big way. It is still possible for small sellers to make big profits. The secret is to specialize, seek out the offbeat and to find used items that are in demand.
- The point is you dont have to sell the latest digital camera, Gucci shoes, or expensive diamond jewelry to make money on eBay. Most of the sellers items listed above buy their goods from garage sales, thrift stores, flea markets, and closeout dealers.
- More on writing power auction titles (headlines) - The auction title is your headline. Newspapers and magazines use headlines to attract readers to the story. Advertisers use headlines to pull readers into the sales copy. Remember your headline and your auction description is your front-line salesperson. Sixty-five percent of eBay bidders find an item by searching. Make sure the item you are selling is described in the headline using a term someone would search for. Be sure to spell the name correctly.
- Use Power Words in your head line
- Use all capital letters in your headline to make it stand out
- Use the Bold Face and Highlight option if your price-point can afford the extra fee
- Use tildes "~ " to set off your headline. (Caution: Make sure there is space between your tilde ~ and any searchable word or eBays search engine may not recognize it)
- Avoid goofy characters such as L@@K, MUST C and SAVE $$$$$$
- If you are not using a reserve price, say so with No Reserve or NR
- Most of all, be sure your headline is credible and accurately describes what you are offering.
- Turning Words Into Dollars: Writing Winning Auction Descriptions - You have all seen the difficult-to-read auction descriptions: Small type, run-on sentences and paragraphs, missing information and so on. If you really want the item, you are forced to email the seller to get more information or you just give up and go on to the next item.
- Use the HTML command <font-size=+1> at the beginning of your description or If you use eBays HTML editor, set it to Medium font size. This will increase the standard eBay type size to make your words readable on any computer screen
- Clearly state what you are selling in the first paragraph. Make your paragraphs short no more than two or three sentences. There is plenty of research that shows web page readers like to scan text. If you paragraphs are too long, it makes it harder to scan. Place an extra return between paragraphs to create some white space around them.
- Use bullets to describe features and benefits.
- Write short sentences and/or follow a long sentence with a short sentence.
- Write complete sentences (i.e. subject and a verb). Avoid complex punctuation and long prepositional phrases.
- Dont worry about your auction description being too long. It is more important to include all the information a buyer needs than to have a short description. If your description is easy-to-read, potential bidders will keep reading until they have all the information they need.
- Describe all relevant details such as age, condition, hallmarks, flaws, packaging, size, manufacturer, and so on.
- Use power words to create word pictures and emotional responses. A few examples are: New, Rare, Genuine, Beautiful, Original, Charming, First Class, Lovely, Save Money, Bargain, Guaranteed, and Expensive-Looking. Stress any product benefits such as health, beauty, time-saving, ease-of-use, money-saving, etc. (Caution: When using power words, dont exaggerate. For example do not describe something as rare if it is not.)
- Personalize the description. Tell the reader how or where you found the item or how you use it.
- Spell out your shipping and payment terms clearly and completely.
- Last, but not least have fun!!! - EBay demonstrates just how powerful the internet can be in bringing people together, finding common interests and yes you can make a little money.
- Dive into the whole eBay experience. Buy, sell, chat, post on the message boards, go to live events, and buy an eBay T-shirt or hat. Most of all, when the bidding gets hot and furious, remember its just a piece of merchandise your are bidding on its not the end of the world if someone beats you out.
Disclaimer: The eBay Tips / Information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Tips And Treats . com and/or its partners.
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