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When is the Best Time to Sell on Ebay?

Busy Times on Ebay, Slow Times, and When the Best Time is to Schedule an Auction

There are certain times of day that are great for listing items on Ebay. There are even certain days of the week that usually result in more traffic and bids. What days would those be?

First, you have to think like a buyer. Are buyers really going to be sitting on the computer at 4:30 am on a Tuesday morning, waiting for your item to end? Probably not. While there could be buyers at those odd hours, most people are going to be asleep. If your target market is the United States, then you should be targeting the Eastern time zone, Central, Mountain, and West Coast. That’s a difference of three hours that you have to keep into consideration if you’d like to fully tap into those west coast buyers. For example, if you end an auction at 8pm on a Thursday, you could be missing out on buyers. Why? A good portion of your buyers on the west coast will be eating dinner, stuck in rush hour traffic on their way home from work, or tending to their kids. If you bumped your auction end time to 9:45pm, you’ll still have the majority of east coast buyers, but also the west coast buyers, where it’s 6:45 (enough time for most people to get home, and hopefully eat some dinner too).

The Slowest and Busiest Days of the Week on Ebay

Generally, there are certain slow days and busy days on Ebay, except during the holiday season, when almost every day is busy. For the rest of the year, Ebay traffic levels are at their highest during Sunday night. Saturday nights and Friday nights are the least busy, because no one’s home or on the computer. Sunday night, no one has any obligations. Everyone is home, getting their last few hours of rest in before the work week begins. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights are also good nights to list items, but skip Friday and Saturday for the most part.

Photo right: watch photo by Scott Feldstein on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

There are some exceptions to the rule about Sunday being the busiest day of the week on Ebay. If Monday is a holiday, you’ll see traffic levels still stay low on Sunday night. If there’s an event on Sunday night, like the Super Bowl, then you’ll see traffic levels also be very low. Another interesting fact? Sometimes what’s on TV impacts the traffic levels of Ebay, like a major show finale, sports events, and political debates. Slow economic news, current events, or storms can also affect traffic levels immensely, so keep an eye on the news.

To take the most advantage of these peak times, experiment with what works best by scheduling Ebay auctions. Schedule some of your products to end during the peak times listed, as well as a few other key nights. Don’t be afraid to try listings during weekdays as well. Fixed price items give buyers the option to buy your item at any time of day. Over time, you’ll notice which times of day seem to be the busiest for the niche that you are selling.

You can also boost bidding activity using these other rules of thumb:

  • Longer auctions get more bids than shorter ones. Seven or ten day auctions are ideal, so consider starting them on Thursday as a ten day, or Sunday as a seven day auction.
  • Always check to see what holidays are coming up in the upcoming week. Those Monday holidays like Labor Day, Columbus Day, and Memorial Day can wreck havoc on Sunday night listings.
  • Mon-Thursday nights also tend to have high levels of bidding activity between 8pm and 10pm.
  • Friday and Saturday are the slowest nights on Ebay.

The Top Ten Things to Include in Every Ebay Auction

booksEbay Essentials That Will Improve the Clarity of Your Auctions to Potential Customers

One of the top reasons auctions perform poorly is that there is a lack of information in the auction. Providing all of the information that your customers will need to make an educated purchase will help them with the buying process, address any questions, concerns and fears that they may have. That information should be communicated in a well organized, attractive, and clear way that your buyer can easily read, scan, and view.

Here are 10 things to make sure you include in every one of your Ebay auctions to help out your buyers, and ensure a higher sale price:

1. At least 4 photos of the item, no matter how small the item is. Buyers can’t see your item in person, so they need to see the bottom, top, side angles, front angles, back angles, and any details like tags, inside tags, accessories, and close-ups to give them a good idea of what exactly your item looks like. Photos are free to add to your auction , up to twelve, so there’s no reason to not add them.

2. The condition of the item.Honesty is key here to a successful auction. As long as you are up front and document any flaws in your item (and photograph them), buyers will still show interest and bid on your item in most cases. Dishonesty will only result in buyer returns and possibly a negative feedback.

3. Your shipping policy and rates. Do you ship today, the next day, or next Friday if I pay today? Customers want to know when they can expect to receive their item, and how much it’s going to cost them before they bid.

4. Your return policy. Returns are a big issue with Ebay. Some sellers do allow returns, while others flat our refuse returns all together. Neither side is right or wrong, and both have their benefits. Decide which policy you want to adopt and stick to it (but realize customers are still going to want to return items once in a while – so be prepared for them to contact you sooner or later).

5. The retail price of the item. Include the full retail price to give buyers an idea of what the item is normally worth, even if the item is pre-owned.

6. Use bold, italics, underlining, and different colors in your text. Limit the underlining and various colors to the things you really need to stick out, instead of overusing it. Sticking with no more than 3 different colors in the text is more visually appealing and effective.

7. Use bulleted lists to make the item details easier to scan through and read. It adds organization to your listing that looks professional, and the buyer will appreciate.

8. Provide an FAQ area at the bottom of your page. Frequently asked questions are going to be “when do you ship?” “what shipping service do you use?” and “do you combine shipping?”.

9. Answer the question whether you ship internationally or not. With more expensive items, it can be worth it to ship internationally. However, shipping insurance is not always available to some countries.

10. Provide a link to your About me page, which should state more about you, and your business.

More Ebay Auction Essentials

When you give the buyer a more complete story, they’ll feel like they can actually touch, see, and experience everything about the item as if they had seen it in person. Utilizing the above techniques are some good ways to give the buyer that experience in a clear, easy to read manner.

Besides the must haves listed above, it’s important to never stop trying to improve your auctions. A few things can save you a lot of time, and create a much more organized place for buyers to browse, click, read, and buy.

  • Templates. Auction templates are readily available for free or for purchase on Ebay itself. These are usually priced very modestly, and can even be customized to your liking. Creating a uniform look throughout your store, auction, and About Me page will create a more “branded” look that buyers will feel comfortable with. You can also use these graphics, colors schemes, and layouts on your blogs and marketing materials. Contact the seller or artist directly to see what else is available for customization. These are often easy copy and paste solutions.
  • Link to your other auctions and store. Link directly to certain sections of your store, or certain complimenting items.
  • Store window. Vendio and Auctiva are the leading sources for creating a store window to showcase your other Ebay items. By directing traffic to your other listings, you are creating cross traffic that can lead to multiple sales from a single buyer. However, these days might be coming to a close as Ebay no longer supports third party scrolling windows (bummer). Hopefully we will have an update for you once we see the viable replacement.
  • Your store logo in every auction. After some time of selling on Ebay, buyers can come to know and trust your logo. Having yours prominently displayed in each auction can give that vote of confidence that the buyer is dealing with someone who really cares about their reputation. This works especially well if you sell in a particular niche on Ebay, where repeat customers will be coming back to you again and again.
  • ISBN or product model number. Ebay now allows extra specifics to be added to the top of every listing beneath the bid information and price. Take advantage of this organized way of communicating important data by listing important specifics like model numbers, ISBN numbers, color, size, and any included materials.

Photo by Hung Thai.

Once you’re done listing all of your important data, implementing a template, writing an FAQ, or placing links to your store pages, remember to save the auction as a listing template. This is on the submission page to finalize the auction before it goes live, and can save a lot of wording down the road.

Why Aren’t my Ebay Auctions Making Money? 8 Quick Fixes

Why Aren’t my Ebay Auctions Making Money? 8 Quick Fixes

On Ebay, there are two types of sellers: those that know how to sell, and those that don’t. The good news is, it’s completely up to you which of these categories you fall into. If you’re Ebay sales are falling flat or just plain falling, it’s your auctions that are to blame. With some quick fixes, you can spruce up your auctions in no time and start increasing sales once again.

If you fall into the category of “not making money on your Ebay auctions”, read on and see if one or more of these reasons applies to you:

1. Your Photo is a Mess.
Photos are necessary on Ebay. They’re what sell the item in the end, and what buyers expect to see… and plenty of them! No matter how small or cheap your item is, a great photo will enhance the auction. If you can’t take a good photo, learning a little Ebay photography is pretty easy. Just search “Ebay photography” on Google to find hundreds of help pages. The more photos in your auction, the more money you could potentially make.

2. The Description is Incomplete.
When buyers buy, they want to make sure they’re bidding on something they want. If you can’t describe the item, they can’t be sure what it is. Sometimes sellers (especially newbies) wrongly assume buyers will read between the lines, or assume the condition is obvious. That’s not how Ebay works. Give a robust, telling description that tells the buyer everything they need to know, soup to nuts. That includes the condition, the color, make, brand, model, anything included with the item, the working condition, the origin, interior features, exterior features, and the uses for the item. Or, you can stick with the terse descriptions and drive away buyers like the Bubonic Plague.

3. Your Shipping Costs Aren’t Competitive.
Shipping costs have become quite competitive on Ebay. Why? Buyers have demanded free shipping and lower shipping prices, and ecommerce has listened. This means higher shipping prices are really going to drive away potential buyers. Sure, it’s going to eat into your profits, but it’s going to keep you in the game. Find a way to get your shipping costs lower, whether that means offering free, slower shipping via UPS Ground or USPS Parcel Post, or factoring the shipping cost into the item price. Also, be sure to research your competitors to see what they are charging currently for similar items.

4. Your Feedback Score is Low.
On Ebay, your feedback score is like your license to sell. You want to keep that license at all costs, or you’ll be losing customers left and right! This can be done very easily. Like any retail business, the customer is always right. Even the most unreasonable questions, comments, and requests should be answered cordially. Sometimes the buyers that ask the most questions wind up purchasing the most, and really appreciate the time you take to answer their questions. They’ll also be the first to sing your praise in the form of feedback and DSR ratings (those star ratings that Ebay has). If your feedback score is low, don’t worry, you can improve it! Just keep selling, being honest, and keep shipping your items out fast. You’ll have your score back to near-perfect in no time.

5. The Market is Over Saturated.
Not all items sell on Ebay. In fact, most don’t sell, but Ebay still makes money on those items (while you lose money). Ebay encourages you to list, list, list every single item you have until it sells, no matter what. In reality, some research should be done prior to making big investments.

As you’ll find out with a little Ebay research, the marketplace can be very oversaturated in a certain niche. For example, Beanie Babies used to be all the rage on Ebay when the website was very young. Today, Beanie Babies aren’t nearly as possible as they once were, and the price of these collectibles has gone down considerably. If you were to enter the Beanie Baby field today as a seller, you would find far more competitors and probably a marketplace ripe with sellers, but rather dry in terms of buyers. Avoid this type of scenario all together and search completed listings and average selling prices on Ebay prior to making big inventory commitments and purchases, and find a fresher, less competitive niche that has buyers hungry for those items.

6. Your About Me Page is Flat.
The About ME page should be a confidence boost for buyers that you’re someone credible to buy from. It can contain information on your policies, what you sell, what discounts you offer, and your philosophy on selling on Ebay. There’s no limit to the length of this page, and you’re allowed 3 links on this page as well. Take advantage and point to your most attractive pages, whether it’s a clearance store page, free shipping offers, or just to your storefront. This page is where you should be gaining buyer’s trust, and getting rid of any doubts they might have about you as a seller.

7. Your Customers Are Afraid to Buy from You.
Just like the About ME page is a confidence booster, the auction should feel safe and trustworthy. Provide a guarantee to customers that the item is authentic, comes from a pet-free smoke free environment, and is completely brand new (or in whatever condition) and you’ll make customers feel much, much more comfortable to make a bid.

8. You Haven’t Filled Out the Item Specifics.
Underneath the gallery photo inside the item page, and above the description, there’s a box that states some of the item details. This is often the first thing buyers read as they enter your auction. If you’re not filling this out, you’re making a mistake! It’s also used to help sort your item in Ebay searches, so not filling it out can hurt you in valuable clicks. Ebay has made this box of item specifics easily scannable to buyers, so feel free to add your own item specifics in the “other” box. Buyers won’t spend long on your page, so if you can grab their attention quickly while they’re “above the fold,” you’ll have a better chance of getting them to bid or buy.

If you have all of these basics already done, then you should be on your way to making more money on Ebay.

Introduction photo of cassette tape by Ronald K on flickr.

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A Fatal Mistake – Starting Ebay Auction Items too Cheaply

When you start your auction, starting price does matter. Ebay is the place where everyone is looking for a deal, and buyers know how to find them.  If you price your auctions too cheaply, the buyer will not only not bid, but maybe even stick around and see if they can snag that item up at that low starting bid.

So is it worth it to start an item so cheap? Sometimes, Ebay isn’t the answer to everything. There are different avenues to sell your item, so it might be better off going back into your store inventory awaiting a buyer that’s willing to pay more for it.

There are ways that you can prevent your item from ending at a cheap price, and not surprisingly, one of the best ways to do so is to conduct some prior research through completed items. Second, you’ll want to avoid that temptation of starting the auction cheap just to make a sale! If you’ve had the inventory lying around for 6 months or so, it might be time to dump the item cheap, but if it’s new… this could be a big mistake. I’ve had many, many auctions end at 99 cents that I’ve lost money on. However, these were items that I just wanted to get rid of so it was no big loss (like the picture of the track jacket in the intro, bombed out at under a buck and it was brand new!). Also keep in mind the PayPal fees and Ebay fees, these add up quick.

You can also use some of your items that aren’t selling as loss leaders to bring buyers to your store. If the item simply won’t sell, start it at the cheapest possible price and chalk it up to advertising for your store. You can always right the losses off on your tax return at the end of the year.

Photo right by adifanset on Flickr.