As a seller, you are looking to get the best price for your item, while your buyers will be looking for a bargain. As a seller it is easy to make silly mistakes that will cost you dollars, if not your reputation.
One of the commonest mistakes that sellers can make involves overestimating the amount that an item is worth. So many times I have seen items with minimum bids or reserves that are ridiculously high, and on most occasions it comes as no surprise to me - but a big surprise to them - when the auction ends with no bids.
What is even more surprising is when I make a subsequent offer for the item they are often unwilling to accept anything less than the minimum bid, notwithstanding the fact that they could not sell the item at that price in the first place.
They would rather "hold out for the sucker", hoping to attract some eBay newbie with more money than sense (most of us - including myself - were there once). Sometimes they get lucky - I've seen it happen - but more often than not it is simply a waste of time and money.
The simple rule to observe here is this: Before you even think about putting the item up for sale, do your homework. Search for completed items similar to the one that you are selling. Look at how much they fetch and ask yourself whether or not you are willing to let your item go for that price. If the answer is no, it's probably not worth your while listing the item at all
Listing your item
Many people have the opinion that the purpose of a listing is to sell an item.
I do not agree. I believe the purpose of the listing is to sell a service.
Unless the item is a unique one, the chances are that several others are also selling the same item. What will distinguish your listing from the crowd? Your ability to set their mind at ease about the product you are selling and to deliver it in a timely fashion.
To write a good listing you have to put yourself in the buyer's
shoes. Those of you who have bought items on eBay before will obviously find this easier. If your prospective buyer has questions that the listing does not answer, the chances are
good that they will not take the time to ask, they will simply ignore your listing and move on - and fewer bidders mean a lower final price. With that in mind, your objective is to make sure that all of their questions are answered to their
satisfaction in the listing. This means details.
- Get the headline right! Spelling mistakes in the headline may make searching for your item difficult, resulting in fewer bids and lower selling prices. I have picked up some great bargains from people who literally did not know what they were selling.
- Don't be an idiot, Part 1: Resist the temptation to simply copy a chunk of information from the manufacturer's web site. Most buyers know what they are looking for and do not need to be told this stuff. For those that do not, and are simply browsing, a hyperlink to the manufacturer's web site is a more efficient use of space and looks far more professional. If you use an "external" link
(like this one) that will open in another window so they won't lose their place.
- Break it up! If you do decide to cut-and-paste, please tidy it up and make it presentable - nothing is as unreadable as a massive chunk of text. If the listing is not readable, guess what? People won't read it.
- Bigger is not necessarily better. Short listings are usually far more readable than long ones. Most long listings are that way either because of huge amounts of small print or because of a website cut-and-paste, both of which are bad ideas. Don't go to the other extreme though. One-line listings are the province of noobs and scammers.
- Provide specifics. Most people know exactly what they are looking for, but they do not know the particulars of the item that you have for sale, so give a good description. Is it new? Used? Sealed? What condition is it
- If you provide a warranty, a money-back guarantee or some other assurance, say so. If not, peoples will assume
that it is offered "AS-IS-NO-WARRANTY-NO-RETURN"… and will bid accordingly.
- Timing is everything. An auction that ends at 5AM on Tuesday morning will generally attract lower bids than the same listing that ends on Sunday afternoon. Why is this? Quite simply, most people are procrastinators and tend to bid late. It therefore follows that the times when most people are actually surfing eBay are better for getting high bids. Conversely, if you are looking for bargains, watch for listings that are ending at odd
- Don't be an idiot, Part 2: One common mistake, especially among sellers who are new to eBay is to TYPE THE LISTING IN ALL CAPS. Among the on-line community this is the equivalent of shouting, and is generally viewed as being in poor taste.
- Above all else, make sure you proofread. Spelling and grammatical errors in your listing will make you look like an
idiot - or worse, a would-be scammer.
- Keep it real. Make sure you quote an estimated shipping price. This will give your prospective buyer an accurate idea of the total cost of the item, as well as putting their minds at rest about your philosophy regarding shipping.
Try to keep your shipping costs reasonable - too many sellers try to pad their profits by adding exorbitant "handling" charges.
More on shipping and handling later.
All this stuff sounds like a lot of hard work - and it is - but I believe that the payoff is worse to the additional 10 to 20 minutes per listing that it takes to put together a first-class listing. I have put together well-written listings for used items that ended up selling for more than the cost of a new one.