New Seller? A Guide to selling on Ebay

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Welcome to the country's biggest marketplace.  You have stuff to sell.  How do you make the best of your listing?

  • Photos:

    This is really important.  Very few people are prepared to buy something without seeing it.  A good photo is a must.  Your first picture on your listing is free, so make sure you make the most of it.  Also make sure that your photo is well-lit and sharp.  The best photos are fairly close, taken in natural light, away from sources of reflection/glare.  Make sure your picture is as accurate as possible.  You want your item to look good and people to be able to tell what they're getting.  Limit use of Photoshop-type software to adjust images as this can affect how the colour/condition can look. Avoid using stock/generic photos of items unless it's in addition to your own photo.  People like to see *exactly* what they're getting.  If you're selling anything - especially a high price item - people can be suspicious of non-original pictures.

  • Descriptions:

    One-line descriptions are fine if your item explains itself, however, try to imagine the things you'd like to know if you were buying the item. Clothing - Describe the colour, condition (as new/wash worn/etc..) and any damage.  If you think the damage sounds worse than it is, take a picture.  Measure the garment and include measurements like length (after all, knee-length for you could be floor-length for someone else), rise (jeans and trousers), sleeve length etc.
    Phones - Obviously you should mention all the features your phone includes and remember to describe its condition and whether or not you're including bundled items like software and headsets.Books - You should check the publication details on the first page - this will tell you whether this is first edition or not and the date of printing which will be important if it's any kind of reference material that gets regularly updated.
    Be honest.  No, really.  You don't want to embellish your item too much and disappoint your buyer.  Unhappy buyers leave negative feedback and that's just what you don't want.  I've found that buyers will happily buy even damaged items as long are you are completely honest.  Obviously they won't achieve the same price as an as-new or new item, but buyers appreciate honesty.

  • Keywords:

    Ebay can be very stern about keywords.  Some people seem to get away with murder when it comes to their listings, but there's nothing more annoying than having your listing pulled for "keyword spam".  This means using words in your item title that aren't appropriate.  Saying "as new" in your description means that any buyers searching for "new" will get your item in their results.  Your item isn't new so not what they're looking for. any reference to a designer label e.g. "Black handbag like Prada" is also out.  Strings of celebrity names after an item associated with them is, oddly enough, ok.  But it looks horrible. I always avoid listings like that on principle.

  • Postage:

    A potential minefield.  Royal Mail provide lists of postage costs based on weight at their website so you can make an approximation.  No-one expects free packaging, so be sure to reasonably estimate those costs.  If you use the postage charge to offset fees, make sure you include this in your terms and conditions of sale.  It's not good practice to routinely overcharge - with the star ratings system, people will find you out.  It's mean and not in the spirit of the site.  In short - add a few pence if you want, but don't start charging ridiculous amounts - it will lose you customers.  It's a good idea to apply postage discounts to listings for customers buying multiple items.  After all, you will undoubtedly send them together, so why not pass the saving on?

  • Your listing:

    Appearance - Using colour and/or decoration on your listing can be appealing, however avoid going crazy with flashing, blingy .gifs or unneccessary blurb.  Make sure you specify your terms and conditions, but this can be in smaller tasteful type at the bottom of the page.  Don't alienate your potential customers by attacking them about non-payment before they've even bid. WATCH YOUR SPELLING.  Commonly mis-spelled words - gilet, suede, sequins.  Also mis-spelling in your title will mean that your listing may not always appear in searches.  Be sure to complete the item information and if you're using a listing tool like Turbo Lister, make sure you update the information for each item.  Listing in the correct category is vital, check similar items on ebay and see where they are if you're not sure.

    Payment - I'm a fan of Paypal.  Their commission rates are reasonable and you get your payment fast and secure without hassle.  You and you customer can then benefit from protection.  You can also automatically apply postage discounts.  If you don't like the idea, then ensure that you use secure methods of payment. Postal orders should be crossed - they are then like cheques and can only be cashed by the payee.  Uncrossed postal orders are NOT secure.  They are the equivalent of sending cash through the post.  Your customer will have to use recorded/special delivery to ensure you receive it and there's no guarantee that they won't still go astray at the sorting office or be mis-delivered and cashed by someone else.  So cheques/CROSSED Postal Orders or Paypal.  No cash or cash equivalent.  Remember, if you ask buyers to post payment to you, you have to make allowance in your pricing structure for the buyers additional expense.  Be sure to specify how long after the listing is the maximum you will wait for payment.  You can then justifiably send reminders to your customer without appearing over-anxious.  Remember - everyone has a life and one thing you can expect is that unexpected things happen.  People's connections fail, they get ill, they go on holiday/business trips whatever.  Be reasonable.

  • Feedback:

    Feedback is the lifeblood of Ebay, especially for sellers.  It's important to be honest and friendly in the feedback you leave and make it accurate.  It's a good idea to wait until the transaction is complete.  You can then avoid having to go back to feedback and make amendments later.  As a seller, it's good practice to wait until the item has been received by the buyer.  If you adopt this practice, make sure your buyer knows.  A simple e-mail when you have posted the item takes only a few seconds but reassures your buyer and ensures that they know to expect the package.  If it goes astray you'll know quickly and you can investigate.  If you don't receive feedback, a gentle reminder is fine - I usually ask the buyer if they received their item or if there are any problems.  This is usually enough.  Don't nag.  Feedback is voluntary and not everyone like to leave it.

    It's rare for any item to be the only one of its kind on Ebay. Make sure your listing doesn't let you down.

Good luck and happy selling!

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