Ebay Buying and Selling Tips

Monday, March 23, 2009 23:00
Posted in category Shopping
<div class=\"postavatar\">Ebay Buying and Selling Tips</div>

Post written by Tanya Doyle

Ebay Buying and Selling Tips to Maximize Profits

Buying and selling on Ebay doesn’t require a degree nor is it considered an art form.  However, there are a few common sense guidelines to follow that will maximize your profit as well as your savings.

Buying Tips

Let’s face it, everyone loves a bargain and there are a lot of them to be had on Ebay.  But for the most part, you have to have a lot of patience in order to get a great deal.  Ebay has a great search tool that allows you to enter the description of what you are looking for and then to save that search with the option to receive emails every day with new listings that match your parameters.  Depending on what you’re looking for, you will most likely see a lot of them and if you’re patient, you will find what you are looking for at the price you are willing to pay for it.  When you maximize your savings you are also maximizing your profit when you go to resell an item if it is in good shape.  I have made a profit many times having just been patient enough to not give into the, “I gotta have it now” urge. I love to buy my kids designer boutique clothes and shoes on Ebay and I get the items that I want at a tiny fraction of retail and my kids dress like rock stars.  When they are outgrown, I simply list and resell them on Ebay. 

Once at Ebay it only takes putting in an item search to discover that everyone on the planet has one and is willing to sell it at a price.  Being a little more exact in your search term will narrow your items down to a few hundred and in some cases a few choices.  For example, type in Sweatshirt and you get about 46,024 items.  Narrow it to Mens sweatshirts and you’re down to 6,911.  Narrow it to Under Armour brand and you’re down to 21 results.  Some items automatically offer further sorting such as new, used, auction only format, Buy It Now (instant gratification), size, location and about a million other combinations that you can alter via the initial search or narrow results within the search.  This makes finding what you want easy! However finding someone you trust to buy from at a fair price and actually winning it is a whole different matter. Be sure to check their feedback!  I make it a rule to stay away from any seller with lower than 97% positive feedback rating.  Read the negative and neutral comments.  Slow shippers, misrepresented items, poor communication, excessive shipping costs are the most common reasons for negative feedback.  If a seller has the same complaints over and over then you can expect the same problems with any transaction that you have with them.  There are exceptions and sometimes sellers get dinged for really picky and unnecessary reasons.  Some people are just mean and nasty and are looking for a virtual dog to kick, which sometimes ends up being a good Ebay seller.   That’s why I always read sellers feedback. This is one of the biggest tips to prevent you from gettting ripped off!  Also remember that if the seller takes PayPal which is clearly stated in almost all auctions, you have a fair degree of PayPal buyer protection, but you need a PayPal account to be able to pay and take advantage of this buyer protection.

If I really want an item and there are no bids then I will usually enter the opening bid rather than my maximum bid so as not to jack up the price if someone bids against me.  The most bidding typically takes place in the last 15 seconds of the auction.  I have found a lot of items don’t get bid on due to bad timing, such as selling an item out of season, poor picture quality, misspelled listings, excessive competition or even ending an auction at a stupid time like 3 a.m.   On these items you can sometimes slip in under the radar especially with a few clarifying questions asked in advance.  There have been quite a few items that I have missed because I didn’t bid, then missed the end of the auction and the item didn’t sell.  Then I kick myself because I could have gotten it for the opening bid.  And following Murphy’s Law, if the item gets relisted it always gets tons of bids and goes for far more than the opening bid. 

Don’t forget to leave feedback.  Your experience, whether good or bad, is what makes the ratings as a buyer or a seller the common ground for trust.  Even if you have a bad experience and you can’t quite bring yourself to leave someone negative or even neutral feedback, at least leave positive feedback with the problems that you had.  My single biggest beef is with excessive shipping cost or profit gouging.  That is when someone lists an item for cheap, tells you that shipping will be actual cost, (save those emails so that you can quote them back that the real shipping they promised in writing is what is expected) and then because the $50 item sold for $3.00 they try to ship it for $47 thus making up their profit on you by charging excessive shipping. If you fail to tell the next guy how you were treated you’re just helping that bad seller rip people off.  Common sense and a cool mouse can lead to some really great buys.

Listing and Selling Tips

Having a PayPal account that has a verified address is a must in any circumstance. 

There are a few basic ways to list and all of them involve work and paying attention to detail. No one wants to buy from a liar so make sure you have what you say.  Describe it truthfully and honestly.  You can add flair to your description to make your listing informative and interesting, but don’t embellish to make it sound better than the item actually is.  You had better have what you describe or it will come back to haunt you in the form of negative or neutral feedback, angry buyers and in the long run, lost money. New with tags doesn’t mean washed and worn 5 times.  It means brand new with tags still attached.  Clean is a relevant term; just make sure it’s not from a pig’s perspective.  Excellent condition implies that there are no scratches, stains, holes, wash wear or tiny dead creatures or undesirable parts of your pets included. One of my favorite tips both buying and selling, if it is a one sentence description or even in some cases one or two words, run.  Example: Red shirt, (is a red flag!) The more exact the description usually indicates a better seller and you’ll also have a better idea of what your buying.

Ebay patrols spamming and will remove your auctions for putting excessive brand names in your title or description as well as certain words that don’t apply.  They will remove your listing for adding “Like New” in your title.  I guess they figure it’s either new or used; period.  If you have a brand name item that’s high dollar you must assume that it’s genuine even if you didn’t purchase it directly from the manufacturer.  I once listed a Kate Spade handbag that I found in a high end Thrift Store and made the mistake of mentioning that I couldn’t guarantee its authenticity.  Ebay removed the listing and didn’t even notify me so I relisted it thinking that it dropped off into space for whatever reason.  Ebay removed the listing again.  I contacted a customer service rep through the live chat option and was told that I could relist it again but to make no mention of its authenticity and to just “assume” that it was authentic.  My third listing was removed as well and Ebay then informed me that I couldn’t list the handbag under any circumstances whatsoever.  At that point I could have cheerfully strangled anyone who worked for Ebay.

Depending on what you’re listing decide on the small details before you start entering your information.  You should decide your auction length, what day you want to list and the ending day and time and what additional selling features you are going to use.  Examples of this might include using Ebay listing service for the odd item here or there and using the “list a similar item” option can save you a lot of time and work.  Find another listing that is doing well (auction looks good and has a high counters number) and basically use their listing for your similar item. Use common sense when deciding on additional listing options.  A .99 item does not need $49 in extra highlighting, deluxe picture gallery and priority listing. Additional seller fees and specified start times and PayPal fees could kill any potential gains you might make.  These listing options really pay off when using them for a vehicle or an expensive collectable and typically justify the extra expense and longer auction time.  Be mindful of your auction end time and day for the buyer that you have in mind.  Remember that prime buyers might be more available in the evening or a weekend so plan and compare who you think is your best audience and position your auction accordingly. Also remember that if you live on one coast or the other or you don’t feel like shipping an item to Tibet and having the extra work of figuring the shipping costs and having a ton of customs documents to fill out, think about the end price and real costs. maximize your profit by thinking your sale thru from start to finish and having a balanced plan equal to the cost, effort, shipping and time that will justify fair to the buyer and reasonable profit for your item/work.  You will turn most buyers off right away if you charge $10 to ship a t-shirt or other small, lightweight item.  Sometimes you can start an item at a higher price but keep the shipping low or even free (shipping cost calculated in the starting bid) to really bump up the competition for a bidding war.  Reserves serve the main purpose of protecting you as the seller from losing your shirt but use a reserve price mainly for vehicles and expensive items as they tend to turn off a lot of buyers.  Everyone on Ebay is looking for a bargain. 

Auctiva is a free auction service that allows you to use numerous pictures and several extra features that Ebay charges for. Relisting and checking details or editing your auctions with Ebay through Auctiva is a snap and if you have a lot of items to sell, this service is well worth looking into.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, customer service is key.  How fast you get the item shipped, how well you pack your items and how accurate and quickly you respond to buyers needs will tell your buyers, trust me and come back again!  The golden rule goes a long way towards trust, sales and your feedback ratings.  If you have a perfect feedback rating of 500 at 100% your $4 profit if you make a mistake is not worth risking.  Maximize your reputation for being honest and quick to make things right if you make a mistake and your assured a great Ebay experience both buying and selling.  I am not exactly an Ebay expert but I have invested thousands of hours into both buying and selling and have learned a few hard lessons that I hope to prevent others from making. Please share your pearls of wisdom and tricks of the trade as we all can use a good tip during these tough times.

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5 Responses to “Ebay Buying and Selling Tips”

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