25 million people sell on eBay; electronics, clothes, cars, art, the list is endless. If you have been considering joining them, now is the time to jump in. Starting in the spring of 2013, the online marketplace began changing several major policies to make it easier for you to sell your stuff.
eBay wants to go head to head with Amazon, so one of the major changes is to it’s fee structure. Whilte the new system is designed to attract big retailers, the streamlined fees make it much easier for newbies. There are also new policies that impact photographs, fixed pricing and shipping. Here’s how sellers can take advantage of the changes.
Starting in April 2013, the online auction site began simplifying seller fees. It will no longer charge sellers a listing fee to post items, with a few exceptions. The new fee structure lets you post up to 50 items a month – for free! In return, sellers pay eBay a flat fee of 10% of the final price, including shipping costs. If you list over 50 items a month, expect to pay up to $.30 for each additional listing.
Keep in mind, some categories will still charge listing fees, including: Real Estate, Motors and Heavy Equipment. There will also continue to be fees for Advanced listing upgrades like like larger pictures, listings in more than one category and international visibility. In many cases, the extra fees are worth it, but check the optional fees charts as upgrades differ by category and length of auction.
If you think you will list more than 50 items a month, Consumer FU recommends eBay’s new Store Subscriptions. Starting in May 2013, these new subscription models will give you hundreds of free listings and reduce the percentage of your final sales fees to as low as 4%. Subscription fees start at $15.95 a month.
Boost Search Results
The new fee structure will attract more sellers than ever, so you’ll want to make sure buyers see your products at the top of their search. Start by understanding how eBay ranks items in the Best Match search function often used by new buyers.The formula weighs things like sellers ratings, pricing and the relevance of your item to a specific search request. Here are the key elements to increasing your ranking.
Take advantage of eBay’s new policy allowing sellers to post up to 12 pictures for free for each listing (in most categories). Show the item from multiple angles and remove everything else from the background. Make sure you are only posting quality photos, because starting in July 2013, eBay will enforce new picture quality requirements and block listings if the pictures are too big, have borders, or have seller-added text.
Use keywords in the title and description to include: color, year, name, model and condition. Use the eBay catalog to increase the chances your item shows up in a search and get access to the average selling price. Add any additional details and other terms shoppers may use. For example, if you are selling a notebook, include terms like laptop, computer and Mac. For an extra fee, you can add a subtitle, but be aware that it will not show up in searches by default.
Go beyond brand names to include model numbers, Universal Product Codes (UPC’s) manufactuer’s part numbers. It will increase the chances that your item will also get picked up search engines like Google and Yahoo.
Offering free shipping attracts more buyers and automatically gives you a 5-star rating for S&H. You can always build the cost into your minimum price and limit how far you will ship. You will also get a special logo on your page if you promise to ship in four days using the Fast ‘N Free option.
Starting in June 2013, all sellers will automatically be opted in to new business policies for shipping, payment and returns. It will save you time, but it is up to you to review the policies and opt-out if you do not agree. Go into My eBay / Activity / All Selling.
Find the right price for your item to get maximum bids. Veteran buyers will usually skip the Best Match search, and instead search using Lowest Price and Highest Priced. You don’t want to get caught in the middle, so do your homework before you post. Conduct a completed listings search to see much similar items got, and note the descriptions and photos to determine why that item sold for more than others.
In spring 2013, eBay also started changing the selling format for some auctions and fixed price items. As in the past, you can set a reserve price for an extra fee so you can start the bidding low and pull out if the auction doesn’t meet your secret minimum requirement.
You can still add a Buy It Now fixed price option to any auction, but starting in May 2013 the fixed price must be 30% higher than the initial auction start price. Sellers will also get more protection with this format. In 2013, eBay plans to roll out changes that will keep the Buy It Now item up for sale until that buyer actually pays for it.
Sellers will also have more protections when they give buyers the option to negotiate a lower price by creating a Best Offer . Starting in May 2013, the item will remain for sale until the buyer pays for the item. You will also be able to set up an automatic response to accept or decline offers depending on your price limits.
Sellers will also have more protection from buyers who don’t follow through. Starting in April 2013, if you don’t get payment within 2 days, you can open an unpaid case in the Resolution Center. ( It used to be a four day wait to open a complaint) If you want to give the buyer an extension, you can use the Unpaid Item Assistant to set a new deadline.
A complete listing should always be very clear about any warranty or guarantee so expectations are reasonable. Be sure to include any damages, dents and dings in your listing and never oversell. Not only is it dishonest, you never want to try to trick buyers. If you do have an unhappy customer, address the problem immediately.
Offering good customer service will benefit you in the long run, as buyers can post feedback scores and comments on your Feedback Profile. Negative feedback can be especially damaging to sellers. Not only will you be ranked lower in searches, but many buyers use these ratings to determine if they want to work with a seller, or pass them up for someone who seems more reliable.
Starting May 2013, eBay will provide Feedback Protection for sellers who received negative reviews unfairly due to a dispute. Once an eBay Buyer Protection case is resolved, eBay will automatically remove all buyer feedback connected to that case.
To maximize your sales, educate yourself by scanning eBay’s selling guides and popular item lists. Learn what is hot now, and where you can earn top dollar. Take your research one step further by reviewing the company’s quarterly data of top brands and trending items.
You can also keep tabs on customer behavior using eBay’s analytics application. It lets you see the rank of your item in search results, determine how customers are finding you and how long they are spending on your page, and see how your listings compare to others. Here are a few additional places to educate yourself about best practices on EBay:
eBay University – face to face classes with people in you community, fee based
eBay Radio Group – website weekly newsletter, library of selling tips, chat board
eCommerce Bytes – website offers daily news, calculators, tips for eBay users
One other point about being a good seller. Customers like to think they know the person they are buying from; so make sure you fill out your eBay About Me profile page. Include your picture, list your interests and explain why you are selling your stuff.
Showcasing a little of yourself in listings may also help you get the edge on the competition. Buyers like working with like minded people, so it could help you to put some personality in your listing. Explain how you got the item and why you are selling it. It isn’t necessary, but it could be the connection that helps you make a sale.
Boring, But Important
Responsible sellers take time to check out the Rules & Policies section for policies for on everything from prohibited items and outages, to buyer protection and discussion boards. Start small and read just the ones that address the items you are going to sell first.
Another section you should always read is the Terms & Conditions. It includes rules for legal responsibility and opting out of the arbitration policy. This is also where they warn you about penalties for late payments: eBay can slap you with late fees, contact the credit bureaus, and even get a collection agency involved if you don’t pay your fees in time.
The online marketplace is an ebb and flow; something that no one wanted 6 months ago could be in high demand this week. To get top dollar, do your research and keep on top of trends. Don’t price your items basd on what you think you should get for them, price your products based on what they are going for on the open market. Most of all, don’t get overwhelmed. Start small, list just a few items until you find what works best for you. Be patient and have fun. The more you do it, the easier it will get and the more money you will make by selling your stuff.