Post by Marsha Collier
Want to succeed as an online seller? Too many folks try to tell you how easy it is. Bottom line? It isn’t easy – especially the part where you actually try to make a profit. You have to keep up with changes in the market— like shifts in consumer buying behaviors— study from tried and true experts, and practice!
The best place to get a feel for online selling is on eBay. I’ve written many bestselling books on the subject, and I’m a Top Seller on the site. Remember that you can’t make a dime if you don’t actually list anything, and you probably won’t be successful without making a few mistakes. But, you can also learn from the successes and mistakes of others. So in this post, I want to offer some advice on how to create listings that sell – and how to earn the most profits from those sales!
Bonus Tip: Use tools like Google’s Keyword Tool (used by advertisers who place ads with Google) or Title Builder, an accurate eBay-centric search tool to identify top keywords people search for.
- 1. Listing title. Nothing is more important than your title. You’ve no doubt heard about SEO (search engine optimization). Well, you can apply these same practices on eBay to increase sales. It’s all about “keywords” – the terms people will use to search for your item. Note that rarely would anyone search for a “beautiful” sweater. More than likely, someone would search for a sweater in a certain size, color, fabric, brand name, sleeve length – get it? Do not waste your 80 characters (total allowed on eBay for your item title) on fluffy adjectives or adverbs. The item title does not have to be a proper sentence; instead, be sure to make the verbiage descriptive with practical details. Since eBay buyers see less than the full title listing when browsing (mobile only shows 25 characters), keep the less important words at the end. Search will find the matching words anywhere in your title when someone searches for them.
Bonus Tip: To accurately portray colors of metals, use a Cloud Dome (or Cloud Dome Nimbus for smartphone cameras). It holds your camera steady and uses a mathematical formula to reflect light at exact angles for the best images possible.
- 2. Pictures. You may post up to 12 pictures at no charge, but most new items can be illustrated completely in just two clear, well-lit photos. Be sure the photos you upload are at least 500 pixels wide or you run the risk of eBay rejecting them. Use multiple photos if you are selling a collectible or rare piece so that you cover every possible angle. Be sure to photograph any flaws so the customer can effectively evaluate an item’s condition before bidding on or buying vintage items. If you would prefer to show images within your description, go to the HTML description builder and use the code <img src=”URL of the photo on the web” height=”height in pixels” width=”width in pixels“>. When shooting images of jewelry, coins or anything detailed, use your camera’s macro setting. Do not use any fancy backgrounds that may distract from your item.
Bonus Tip: Double check your profit margin before you list. Although eBay has fee calculators, one of the best I have found is at http://salecalc.com/ – this tool takes all fees and expenses into account and gives you an accurate picture of how much you will make on your item if you sell it at a certain price point.
- 3. Price it right! Check eBay’s completed listings search to see if your item actually sells well on the site and how much similar ones have sold for in recent auctions. Prices and trends may change by the minute and there is no point in listing when an item isn’t selling well. Check current listings too: How many sellers are selling your item? And at what price? As with any market, eBay items sell based on supply and demand. Choose your items carefully, price strategically and put slow selling items in your store. If you have a bit of wiggle room in your pricing, consider using eBay’s “Make Offer” option when listing. This way you can determine the sale price based on a customer’s offer. You can make up to 3 counter-offers to a buyer. Free shipping is also a good strategy for attracting customers and can make your listing seem more appealing than another seller with the same or a similar item – buyers feel like their money is going further, and there’s no guessing as to what cost the final invoice may reflect.
Bonus Tip: Print out “thank you” notes and include them in your orders. Include information about you, your website or other merchandise you carry. Consider also offering customers a discount on their next order.
- 4. Don’t ignore the value of Customer Service. Good customer service will set you apart (and give you a leg-up on the competition from big brands) by letting the customer know you care. Communicate with your customer, even within your description. Let the customer know you are invested in their happiness with the purchase. Sell to international customers; American goods are very popular overseas. Putting the customer first through stellar customer service promotes repeat business and helps you reach the goal of Top Seller Status (where you receive a 20% discount on final value fees and are advantaged by eBay’s Best Match search algorithm). Find out more about Top Seller Status here.
- 5. Ship the item out FAST! Know when your auction listings are scheduled to end, and be prepared to immediately pack and ship any items that have sold. For “Buy It Now” listings, set aside a few minutes each day to take care of shipping needs. Once the customer has sent you money, the item belongs to him or her – it no longer has a place in your inventory area. Keep a stock of shipping supplies (padded envelopes and free Priority Mail® packaging here) that match the items you sell. Use First Class mail whenever possible for items less than 13 ounces and send them in a bubble wrap envelope to save on weight. When it comes to shipping costs, box weight can make a big difference, so you might consider Priority Mail® Flat Rate Boxes, depending on the size and shape of the item. Priority Mail® Regional Rate Boxes can also be an economical option, depending on your shipping destination. Use the postal zone charts at this link to calculate shipping rates from your ZIP Code. Remember, Top Seller Status, which can increase your profit margin, is impacted by how buyers rate your shipping time and shipping costs.
Bonus Tip: As your business grows, no doubt you will sell on other sites like Etsy, Amazon, Facebook or your own website. Keep all your shipping records in one place: on your computer. Use this link for a 60 day trial to DYMO Endicia and see how easy postage and shipping can be. http://bit.ly/free60days