Selling on eBay

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Virtual Retail may indeed be new to eBay, however we have many years experience in advertising and completing multi million pound deals.  We have therefore created this guide to assist new buyers and sellers with their eBay experience.  There is no real set criteria to determine whether a buyer or seller is genuine, the only real way is to do your homework and check them out yourselves.  If you went into a high street store looking to buy a large item, would you buy the first one or look around at compariable products?  Consider the same approach when using eBay and you should be fine and enjoy your eBay experience.

General Information

You will notice guides on here stating 'check feedback', 'if less than 100 then avoid' and various other claims that to be honest, are way off the mark.  A good example is a company that sells widgets, assume they sell over 500 a day on eBay and one gets lost out of each batch posted, surely when you consider that over the space of a month the seller will have on average 15,000 positive feedback versus the 30 negative feedback for the same period.  Does this make that seller a risk or bad 'eBayer'?  Not in the slightest - its actually reasonably good and very justifiable.  Royal Mail admit that for 15,000 items sent a small proportion such as 30, going missing is acceptable and they will take that risk.  Therefore as buyers or sellers on eBay we have to consider taking a similar approach and be more open and understanding when it comes to buying or selling online.

Granted, most people say 'why should I, i'll just go elsewhere', but this shouldn't always be the case.  For example, we are new to eBay but have been trading worldwide for many years and have a wealth of buying power so we can sell expensive items at less than 50% of the RRP.  Does that mean we are not genuine?  Of course not.  We probably have more experience in large business deals than 75% of the stores you see on eBay but this does not mean we are better than them and likewise does not mean they are better than us because they have a higher feedback score.

Top Tips

Many people first “try” selling on eBay because they want to clear out their unused items or clear the garage/loft space and because they just fancy giving it a go. Very few start out to sell on eBay professionally from day one but it does happen and you should therefore take this into account when you consider buying from a new member.

Before we explain the selling process, firstly ask yourself what do you intend to sell, why you think eBay is the best venue and what do you want to get for your item?  Experience and statistical analysis suggests that you should look into naming your item properly, have a realistic view that eBay may not be the best venue and also that you may not get the price you actually want.  

Top 10 Considerations prior to selling on eBay

Before you start selling there are a number of things to consider.  The main ones are shown below; 

1)  Do your own research:
Do you want to be stuffing jiffy bags with CD’s/DVD’s or sell larger electrical/homeware items?  Each have their own practical aspects and their own pro's and con's.  For example how to wrap, how to ship and any after sales service you may offer.  You will need to consider the space that you have, for example a spare bedroom or garage.  You will be surprised just how quickly you can fill that space. Do you want to start small and grow your business, or are you going to start big and go for it?

2)  Your eBay user ID:
Will your user name reflect what you sell? Or would you rather a catchy sounding name?  If you are a company try using that, although websites such as will not be allowed.  It is entirely your choice just so long as the name is available.  

3)  Grow your Feedback Score:
There are lots of guides stating a minimum number of feedback as being trustworthy.  This is not the case whatsoever.  A minimum of 25 positive feedback sounds good but what if that person is new, genuine and just wants a quick sale?  If they are willing to give a phone number, have a website/store or are well known then forget their feedback score as their own reputation speaks higher than any score eBay can provide.  Remember you get people trying to deliberately mess a feedback score by bidding, not paying and leaving negative feedback just to discredit the seller - its sad but it does happen! 

4)  Image & Brand Marketing: 
Look at other peoples listings and see what they have written and see what images they have used.  On eBay, images are not copyright protected and you are free to right click and use them for your own goods so long as the item is identical.  Remember the image is to some, everything, and they will make a bid just by seeing the photo.  Whilst we say this is madness, it does happen so in order to preserve your feedback score, we recommend you show an accurate image and not a false one that may mislead a buyer as they will leave you negative feedback and will be within their rights to do so.  Try to develop your own style, image and brand that will make you stand out from the rest.

5)  Learn the eBay fee structure:
Take time to read, understand and acknowledge the eBay fee structure.  They are your lifeline - a single penny can make a significant difference in the fees charged by eBay to list your auctions. This difference can add up to hundreds of pounds when you start listing large expensive items in various auctions.

6)  Learn and understand suppliers:
Get to know your suppliers, know their competitors, and buy at the price you feel happy with.  Anyone can buy stock wholesale given the right contacts, but do you want to be selling sunglasses in January?  You don’t want to be buying at a price that others are already selling cheaper on eBay so check your suppliers thouroughly and make sure you understand all of their costs.  Again, DO your research!

7)  Packaging & Shipping costs:
Consider what packing supplies you will need for what you are selling. There are lots of good packaging companies out there such as Staples or do a search for Jiffy Bags on eBay and see what comes up.  Obviously, if they are selling a lot daily then they can be trusted!  Remember, if you are selling low value items or you want to reduce your overheads so consider buying in bulk - you will always get them cheaper if you ask!  

8)  Stock control & stock management:
If you intend to start selling in volume then you will require a certain level of stock to get started.  For example, if you are considering selling CD’s and sell them on a regular basis then you will need a number of them - consider an Excel Database or look for a cheap database builder that can do this on your behalf.  Muze, as used by eBay costs 10's of thousands per annum (as we know) so its not ideal for new sellers on any medium.

9)  Sales tools:
Will you be using eBay selling tools?  The standard Sell Your Item (SYI) form is great for one off items but if you are selling in bulk, then it would be a good idea to consider the tools available. Turbo Lister is great for prepping your auctions early and uploading in one go at a time that suits you.  Check eBay for other useful tools and techniques - they are here to help after all, they make money when you make money! 

10)  Time Management:
You need to have time off. You can’t work twenty four hours in a day, well at least you can't for any sustained period of time!  If you work full time, don’t forget to have at least one day off per week like you would in any conventional job.  Obviously, weekends are the best times to work so have a Monday/Tuesday off - the quieter periods and re-charge your batteries.  Additionally when you are working look at the way you work, for example orgaise your desk and buy proper tools to do the job - it is worth it at the end of the day!  

Next Steps

Will you be using auction templates?  What sales format will you use?  For example Auction or Buy it Now?  Will you use standard email responses, templates? Or hand write each one? Will you be including bounce back/compliment/contact slips with each parcel/packet sent out?

When you start listing you are going to get asked lots of questions, if you get the same question every time you list something, then perhaps you need to include that information in your listing - don't hide it or people will wonder why you are being vague with your listing description - remember, too much information is a bore so keep it factual and precise and most importantly - truthful and to the point.  You will also get asked some pretty silly questions for example you list a new sealed DVD and someone will ask 'is it a copy or new'.  Just be careful not to leave sarcastic or insulting responses as the silly questions are usually the interested party checking that there is a human being at the other end of the computer screen and a sarcastic response has just lost you a sale, however small you feel it is.

Non Paying Bidders

You will get some of these, we all do and get used to it and remember don’t let them get to you. They are pretty much everywhere on eBay so take time to learn the UPI Un-Paid Item process and how to re-claim your Final Value Fee's.

Negative feedback

Again, you will get some of these whether geuine or not.  Unfortunately there isn't much you can do to remove the feedback once its been left.  We all want to keep our hard earned 100% positive feedback but it is a fact of life there are some people that will ruin this for no fault of your own.  It doesn’t matter what you do, you will never please everyone - there will always be one person who will leave a negative response for no reason whatsoever.  There are also those bidders who look for sellers with 100% feedback to see if they can threaten them with a negative unless they get say free postage for example, this is called “Feedback Extortion” be aware of it and know how to defend against it.  All importantly, don’t take it personally and don't let it get to you.  

Communication is the key to success, communicate with your bidders from the moment the auction starts NOT just at the payment part!  Right from the Ask a Seller a Question, through to the final email saying payment received and goods shipped, let your bidder know where they are in the loophole and keep them updated throughout the shipping process.  When the auction ends, when they email you for payment details, when you ship/post their item, let them know! Remember to be polite and courteous at all times, no matter how “daft” the emails are.

Finally. What’s the point of working for yourself selling on eBay if you don’t enjoy it?  Have time for yourself and your family and most importantly - HAVE FUN!

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