Stake your claim on the web

What Customers Want from an Ebay Seller

The customer is 100% essential to your success. Without focusing on the customer’s needs, you’re doomed to fail on Ebay. Is there really any excuse to not be catering to buyer’s needs? With everything you do on Ebay, ask yourself how it will help the customer. It it doesn’t help, but actually might make their experience with you worse, then do I even need to tell you what to do?

When buyers come to Ebay, they want to buy the item they are looking for at the price they want to pay for it. And they want it quick. They don’t want to have to fight through hard to read blocks of text, ask you how much your combined shipping rates are, or contact you to get their tracking information. The more you can do to help them out, the better their experience will be, and the more likely they are to return to your store.

Here are some of things that customers really want when they buy on Ebay:

People like free shipping, and it’s encouraged by Ebay to offer it. Try to incorporate it into your auctions when it makes sense. You may profit less per item, but the number of items you sell and the exposure you receive will most likely go up.

Buyers like tracking. Sending delivery confirmation or a tracking number is not only nice, but often expected. If you use Click N Ship online ordering from USPS, you can have the delivery confirmation number automatically sent to the buyer. You’re also more likely to receive a high rating in your DSR’s from this happy buyer for communication. Buying shipping labels through Ebay or Paypal also offers tracking, and will send correspondence to the buyer letting them know the item has shipped, along with the tracking.

Strongly consider requiring insurance on items worth over $25. All it takes is one expensive item to be lost in the mail, and you could be out a week’s pay. Play it smart, especially with more expensive items, and purchase insurance. Make sure to keep the receipt to file a claim should anything happen!

Items still do best in groups. If you have a lot of 40 items and you sell 10 items per week, you may have been better off selling all of those 40 items in the same week long period, provided they are different items. Traffic doesn’t just flow from the Ebay search, it flows from one of your auctions to your next auction, increasing the chance of interested buyers, bids, and overall sales numbers.

People trust sellers with high feedback. Start building your feedback as soon as possible by purchasing items on Ebay and selling smaller, lower priced items. Cheaper items in higher quantity can boost your feedback fast.

Open another Ebay account if you plan on buying and reselling. This way, buyers can’t search through your past transactions and see how much you’ve paid for a certain item.

The new DSR (detailed seller ratings) do have some benefits. If you hit a certain sales number and have a high DSR, you can qualify for a Powerseller discount on listing fees and final value fees. To maintain high DSR ratings, ship quickly, answer questions quickly, and describe the item accurately.

People want their stuff fast. Priority USPS mail still seems to be the best shipping service for Ebay. It’s reasonably priced, and it ships fast all over the country.

Enhance the look of your auction with a template. Templates can easily be purchased through Ebay itself, or if you’re a web design pro, you can make one yourself to suit your Ebay store.

A high buy it now price on auction format listings will help to establish a perceived value of an item. If the starting bid is $99.99, but the buy it now is $199.99, there’s a perception of a deal already just by being the first person to bid at $99.99 (even if it’s unrealistic that someone will purchase it for $199.99 – you never know!).

Buyers love combined shipping. Advertise that you offer combined shipping rates for multiple purchases in several spots throughout your auction, where they can definitely see it. Some sellers have had luck offering free shipping if they spend a certain amount of money (like free shipping on orders over $100).

Until the next post, maybe you should think about exactly what your buyers want, and how you can give it to them?

 Intro photo by Didriks.

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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How to Package Ebay Items

Package Your Ebay Items to Ship Safely, Securely and Quickly

Wondering how to ship your Ebay items, and package them correctly? This guide will walk you through the process of safely packing, preparing, and shipping your items for safe delivery to your customers.

Assuming you’ve sold your item, the buyer has paid, and the money has cleared via Paypal, now it’s time to ship your item. It’s your job as a seller to get the item to the buyer safely and intact. Most shipping breakages are caused by improperly packaged items. Do it the right way from the start and avoid headaches from buyer disputes and returns. Buyer disputes, breakages, and email communication about breakages can cost you money and time. When a buyer opens the package, your making a first impression. Not only will you cut down on costs by reducing return rates, you’ll gain a potential repeat customer.

Size Up Your Items, Charge The Right Shipping Rate

Before you even list your Ebay item, you’ll need a scale to find out the weight of the item when it’s packaged. Purchase a scale from USPS, or use your own mail scale to give an accurate weight. Ebay has a shipping calculator, which does not take into account extra charges like delivery confirmation, so keep that in mind. Build in enough of a cushion to cover your items, while still being competitively priced in shipping. Also, keep in mind your cost of shipping — gas to deliver the items, bubble wrap, tape and peanuts all add up. You may want to add insurance as optional or required for your item, depending on the worth.

Pick the Right Size Box

After your item has sold, it’s time to ship it out fast so the buyer will give you some positive feedback. Take your items and place them inside a box that’s big enough for the items, but not so big that the items are floating around during shipping. USPS has a full range of free boxes for Priority shipping, a reliable service that usually only takes 3 days at the most anywhere in the United States. While you’re at it, you can ask the USPS to save good condition previously used boxes for you. They’ll gladly do so. Dumpster space costs money, and so does disposal, so you’d be saving them money. If you’re an Amazon shopper, you’ll likely have plenty of boxes as well.

packing ebay items

Place the items in a way that makes sense to ship out.If the items are small, package them two at a time, with the flattest sides facing each other.

bubble wrap

Take a piece of bubble wrap that adequately covers the entire surface of the items and wrap them up tightly. Tape it closed.

bubble wrap fragile items

Fold in the ends and tape it shut.

bubble wrap

Bubble wrap: you’ll need plenty of this before you sell anything fragile on Ebay. Accept no substitutes.

Buy Bubble Wrap on Ebay.. It’s Much Cheaper

Bubble wrap is cheapest on Ebay. Don’t buy it in stores, buy it in bulk on Ebay and support a fellow seller. Many bubble wrap items on Ebay are also sold with free shipping, so it doesn’t even make sense to buy it anywhere else. You might even (slowly) rack up some Ebay Bucks.

Wrapping Your Items with Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is the preferred way to ship most items. Tear off a piece of bubble wrap that covers more than the surface of the item, and wrap the item as tight as possible around the item(s). Next, tape the bubble wrap to itself so it’s tightly wrapped around. Fold in the sides, and tape the sides closed. Use extra tape if necessary to protect any loose areas of bubble wrap.

Next, you’ll want to place your items in the box in a way that makes sense. Keep your items away from the sides of the box if possible to minimize damage. Place flat edges of items against each other during shipping. Fill the box with peanuts to the rim, and tape the top of the box securely as well as the bottom. Use more than one piece of tape if the box is heavy. Keep in mind as well, that some shipping insurance rules state there must be adequate buffer around the product in order to receive any compensation for potential damages.

A quick way to save some extra money on bubble wrap is to save it from purchases that you make online. There are many places that throw away bubble wrap and packing peanuts, from post offices to grocery stores and malls. Check with them and they might have it for free.

packing peanuts

Fill the box entirely with packing peanuts to the rim.

fragile sign

Tape the box shut securely, and add the printed label (or hand written label) that you are going to use.

Attach a Label and Ship it Out

Next, attach the label to the top of the box. You can alternatively print your own label from USPS and get free delivery confirmation. Ebay and Paypal also offer their own portals to print shipping labels.

Next, bring it into your USPS office and ship it out! If the shipping service you chose does not come with it, consider purchasing delivery confirmation, it’s worth every penny. If you decide to use UPS rather than USPS, they offer free tracking on all items. They also offer insurance for loss or damage on the first $100 and offer easy scheduled pickups, which is why many large sellers do choose to use UPS.

While You’re at the Post Office or Before Package Pickup

Once you’ve packed up your items, it’s time to drop them off to your local post office. If you’ve used the Click N’ Ship program to place labels on the boxes, this will save the USPS clerks a lot of time, and will save you money as well. In my experience, other customers can get irritated if you have a huge lot of items to ship out while they’re behind you waiting to buy some stamps. This in turn can get the clerk on edge, and that’s the last thing you want when they’re handling your items.

Placing all of the items in a large sac (they may allow you to borrow one at USPS) is one of the best ways to transport items from car to store. Give them a quick once over when you hand them to the clerk to make sure you’ve filled out everything correctly. Also, be sure to keep all of your USPS expenses tidy by using one credit card to track your purchases. Using a card over cash is recommended, since you’ll be protected by the credit card company if you need to dispute any charges. It will also neatly organize the expenses all on one card, so come end of the year, it can be pretty easy to add it all up. Keep the physical receipts as well, or print online and store for tax purposes.

Once you’ve handed over the packages, your part is done. Tracking will automatically be sent to the buyer if you use Ebay and pay for the shipping through Ebay. A job well done will help you get more positive feedback and repeat customers. Good luck!

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