Selling on eBay: Tips for success (Feature)
By Jay Dougherty Aug 13, 2010, 3:06 GMT
Washington - Need a little extra cash? Take a look around you. You probably have items taking up space on shelves, cluttering your closet, or stuffed away in storage bags that could be making you money rather than adding to the clutter in your life. And these days, who wouldn't like to turn clutter into cash?
The solution, for many, is eBay. And that makes sense. After all, it's the world's largest marketplace, and if you want to get maximum value for things you no longer need or use, you want a big market.
But not all eBay sellers are equally as smart about listing their goods. Take a look at recent items sold on eBay, and you'll find that the same item can sell for significantly different sums. One reason for this is the condition of the item. Obviously, things in better condition sell for more. But beyond condition, there are tricks that smart sellers use to ensure that they get maximum exposure - and maximum value - for their items for sale. Read on for a few.
--- Photograph your items
When you list an item for sale on eBay, the site offers to supply a stock photo of the item if it recognises it. Don't bother. Take pictures yourself of the actual items you have for sale, and use those in your ad. Potential buyers want to see what they're getting - not some pristine example of the item that may or may not resemble the condition your item is in. In addition to providing buyers with more information about the item you're selling, self-made photographs also inspire trust in you as a seller. Buyer trust can mean the difference between no bid on your item and a bidding war.
--- Provide an honest description
As in life, honesty is the best policy on eBay ads, even if being honest means that you might not get as much for your item as you wish.
If what you're selling is married by some dings and dents, say so - and photograph those imperfections so that buyers know exactly what the defects are. By all means, don't say an item is in 'mint condition' if it's not. In addition to selling on eBay, you're establishing a reputation, and that reputation will be bolstered by complete frankness about an item's condition. Also, you don't want to have to deal with a disgruntled buyer after a sale - the hassle will not be worth any premium you might receive from overstating the condition of your goods.
--- Time your sales
One big mistake that novice eBay sellers make is not to think about the time of day that their auctions will end. Time the listing of your goods so that your auctions end when most people will be on the site looking for things to purchase.
There's some debate about the optimal time for an auction to end. Some claim that you should list items so that they end on a Tuesday. Others say that weekends are best. There's no dispute, however, about when your auctions should not end. Don't make the mistake of having an auction end between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m., for instance. Early mornings are probably also not good. Think about the times when your target audience is likely to be online, and time the placement of your ads so that the auction endings fall within those times.
--- Know the demand
Knowing how much demand there is for an item you list is vital because with that knowledge, you'll know how to proceed on such issues as whether to set a reserve price, what level to start the bidding at, and more.
You can find out how hotly people are likely to bid on your wares by using eBay's Advanced Search feature to search for 'completed listings.' Study recently-ended auctions for the exact item that you're selling, and take note of how many people bid on them and what the final prices are.
If the item is in high demand, that should tell you that it's acceptable to start the bidding at a low level, which encourages more people to enter the auction. More people bidding on your item can potentially mean a bidding war, and that's good for sellers. It also means that you shouldn't bother with setting a reserve price, which is the lowest level at which you are willing to part with an item. Setting a reserve price will cost you a bit more when you list the item, and it may discourage bidders, as well, since they won't know whether the item will ultimately sell - regardless of whether they bid.
--- Don't waste your time
eBay's Advanced Search feature can also help you learn whether listing an item will be worth your while. If the item you'd like to sell typically does not bring enough even to cover the cost of postage, or if many identical items have gone unsold in the recent past, then save the money you would have to spend to list the item. Consider another venue for selling it - or perhaps give it away or donate it. Old computer parts, electronics that are several generations old, and many other items never draw much attention from bidders. Put your time and energy toward creating listings for things that will sell, not ones that probably won't.