I would certainly not claim to be the best Ebay seller there is but I have a lot of experience. My current score on Ebay is 1,484 transactions and I have 100% positive feedback. I have been an Ebay member since 2004 and 981 of these feedback ratings are for items I sold on to someone. When we were down-sizing I sold all our surplus stuff on Ebay and when a relative died I sold the contents of their house, including a few hundred ornaments, 175 pictures, loads of furniture and a dozen tea sets on Ebay.
Friends have got to know about my expertise as an Ebay seller and occasionally I sell something for a friend and more often I have been asked for tips on how to be a successful seller, so here are my top tips:
Is it worth selling? – Ask yourself, is this something you would like to buy yourself, is it in good enough condition to sell, is it useful for parts or is it so unusual someone might just want it? Just because you no longer want an item it doesn’t mean it isn’t useful to someone else but check it for damage as disappointed buyers will leave negative feedback.
Photographs – Take time over your photographs, think about the background, the lighting and the arrangement. This is your shop window and you should make it look as attractive as possible or as informative as possible. With tech items it is worth photographing the detail, model numbers etc and if an item has some damage a clear photograph of this can help to show you are honest and sell the item.
Use the whole word-count in your item title – Ebay will tell you that items with longer titles sell better, so give as much information as you can fit in the title. Make sure you include the size or model number, if relevant, in your title so that browsing buyers can pick yours out from the list.
Do your research – Find out how much the sort of items you are selling might sell for on Ebay by checking out the completed listings in the advanced search settings. Sometimes things are listed at high prices but they never sell. These completed listings will help inform where to start an auction or what price to ask. Your research should also reveal as much as you can about an item. When I started selling my relative’s ornaments I knew nothing about Italian figurines but I quickly learnt. If you have receipts for an item these may provide additional detail.
Descriptions – Put in as much detail as you can in the description. Always include actual measurements [I have lost count of how many Ebay sellers I have had to contact regarding the measurements of an item] but cover yourself by telling buyers these measurements are approximate. Be honest about any damage on the item and don’t sell anything you wouldn’t want to buy yourself. Tell buyers how old an item is and how much it has been used. We sold our high quality back-packing tent on Ebay and although I said how much it had been used and how long we had owned it I still got a very good price for it. I think it helps buyers to feel confident by telling them why you are selling; for example I might say I am having another clear out or a spring clean or I have lost weight and this item no longer fits me or that my interests have changed. It is also helpful to tell potential buyers if your item is from a smoke and pet-free home.
Posting and packing – Consider whether an item can be posted or if it is only suitable for collection. Home collection can be inconvenient for you [as you have to be in] and limits your number of buyers plus someone will always ask if you can post something to them. If possible always offer a postage option but this will mean you need to ensure you have suitable packing materials and with delicate items you can’t skimp on these. Make sure you check the postage cost as the Royal Mail charge on size as well as weight. When I was selling the hundreds of fragile china ornaments we bought double-wall boxes, bubble wrap and packing chips in bulk and I packed each item with care, this packaging took time and cost money and was reflected in the packing charges. Despite travelling across the world everything arrived in one piece. At other times I keep packaging from parcels I receive and recycle these keeping costs down. All that said, I offered many of the 175 pictures from the walls of my relatives home and some of the bric-a-brac as themed lots of around eight to ten pictures [all the cherub pictures, all the floral ones etc] and people collected these. These lots were attractive to dealers and I arranged a number of collections on the same day and displayed other items I hadn’t listed on Ebay and managed to sell a number of these to buyers. Buyers like free postage and packing and this can make sense for buy-it-now sales, although of course you have to add the cost of P&P in to your listed price.
Auction or Buy-it-Now – Ebay has got much smarter at recommending whether you should offer an item on buy-it-now or auction [although it isn’t always right]. In general I find that unusual technical or collector items are best as an auction as guessing the price these will reach can be difficult and they sometimes fetch more than you expected. I often get asked if I will change an auction to buy-it-now and I am willing to do this if there are no bids and they are offering what seems a fair price. I do often have to tell potential buyers that I am not prepared to end an item that someone is already bidding on just so that they can buy it immediately. Also be aware; some buyers may ask for a buy-it-now option and then not actually buy it. Buyers need to know that as soon as you have changed an auction to buy-it-now anyone can buy the item; sometimes buyers are not quick enough and miss out. I have had good success with the best offer option on buy-it-now auctions. I have accepted fair offers or suggested a counter offer when something has been listed for a few days and I can see there is little interest.
Length of your auction – This has to fit in with you, so that you can post an item as soon after it has been paid for as you can, but it also needs to reflect the type of item it is. Something unusual is better left on for ten-days, for example the rare tank regiment drinking glasses I sold were not something that is offered on Ebay everyday and it took time for everyone interested to find them. Other items are more common place and can be listed for just a few days. Ending auction items during the day on weekdays can limit working buyers from bidding and ending auctions early on Sunday morning isn’t always wise but as you might be selling to people in different time-zones [see below] this is complicated.
Posting abroad – It is worth considering posting abroad for collectors and unusual items. Many of the ornaments I sold in 2014 went to Russia but others went to Italy, the Netherlands, the USA and Australia; collectors of particular items can live anywhere.
Questions – I often get asked questions about an item and I strive to answer these as quickly as possible and as accurately as possible. Sometimes these questions are about something that I should have included in the listing and I will then publish the question on the listing for other buyers to see. Answering these questions clearly and efficiently demonstrates that you are a reliable Ebay seller and helps to give a buyer confidence in you.
Communication – I always write a personal post card and place it in each parcel I send to an Ebay buyer, I might tell them a story about the item they are buying or just express gratitude for their business and hope they enjoy using the item. Many buyers appreciate this and mention it in my feedback. Using Ebay’s messaging I also tell buyers that I have received their payment and when I am posting their item and the method of postage so that they know when to expect it. I always post items when I say I will as reliability is important. I leave feedback after I have posted an item and I politely ask buyers to consider leaving feedback for me.
Happy Ebay selling and I am sure I have missed all sorts of stuff out of these tips so if you have any questions just ask!
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