A Power Seller by day, The Winning Bidder by night
Mar 8, 2005 (Updated Apr 1, 2005)
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I have been buying and selling on eBay for the past 7 years and I am currently an eBay Power Seller. This sounds really cheesy but I quit my job to sell on eBay and stay home with my kids. Most people complain about eBay because of a poor experience that theyve had with a buyer or a seller. All I can say is you didnt buy from me.
I suppose most people are familiar with eBay, theyve made quite a name for themselves in recent years with a really high profit margin. Sellers were making a buck, buyers were saving a buck and everyone was happy. All good things do come to an end, at least for me. eBay is not what it use to be and I am speaking as both the buyer and the seller.
As a buyer I enjoy having a large selection of products however I can spend hours searching on eBay. It is increasingly difficult to find a great deal. Whenever fees go up so do the prices on eBay. After calculating the shipping prices into the price it is often cheaper to go to the local store and buy the item brand new. There are still deals to be found if you have the time to search for them. I no longer have the patience of waiting 7-10 days for an auction to end so I buy exclusively from buy it now auctions or from seller stores.
As a seller I am swamped with fees. Theres a fee to list, a fee to close, a fee to add a photo, a fee to accept payment, and a fee to mail through USPS not to mention all the packaging and material fees. When I received my yearly e-mail from eBay indicating the new price increases for the year I was
.not happy. (Not happy isnt really the word that reflects how I felt.) Anyway, enough about my opinion, on with the attraction.
eBay has a niche market and has done quite well of surpassing the competitors. eBay is an online auction site which will be celebrating their 10th year in business this September. eBay plays the role of an auctioneer but eBay is not an auctioneer because they do not physically have the property nor do they have anything to do with the exchange of money. eBay itself does not sell anything, they offer a service. Their front page now says The worlds online marketplace which is an accurate description. Individuals come to the eBays website and list their merchandise. The term list means that that seller puts a detailed description of an item on eBays site with a picture and their terms which will be different for each seller. The seller tells eBay the minimum that they are willing to sell the item for and eBay moderates the bids. The potential buyers come from all over the world and look at the merchandise on eBays site. The potential buyer will place a bid to indicate to eBay the price that they are interested in paying for the item. A bid is a legally binding contract between the buyer and the seller. eBay will handle the bidding and notify both parties of the status of the deal through eBays site and through email. eBay will notify the seller and winning bidder when the auction has ended. The winner will pay the seller and the seller will pay eBay for their service.
In the beginning there was such a thrill. Sellers would list low and bidders would have a ball bidding up the price. The buyers would over bid in the heat of the moment just for the thrill of the win. The seller would be giddy with the thrill of people fighting over their junk. Those days are over now. Now the money-hungry sellers list so high so they are sure to get their buck and of course have to in order to make a profit. The stingy buyers are no longer willing to hike the price because the supply is far more than the demand.
The buyer will first of all want to really read and understand eBays terms and description of the auction process. No one can explain it as well as eBay has.
The bottom line is the transaction is a gamble so have in your mind a financial number that you are ready to gamble with. You may be willing to risk $5 for a DVD and not be crushed if you never see it but devastated if you send someone $2,000 for a laptop that you never receive.
eBay is just an advertiser and a central location for buyers and sellers come to. If you get scammed out of $2,000 for a laptop eBay will not be able to help you because they didnt sell you the item. Your transaction is supposed to be a legally binding contract so you could hire a lawyer.
People are generally good sellers but research is always required. Each person has a numerical rating of how many transactions they have completed. When you click the number it will reveal how many positive, neutral, and bad experience the seller/buyer has had. Just because the seller has a couple negatives on their record it doesnt mean that the seller is necessarily bad either. A lot of time the seller is being rated by a bad buyer who didnt read the auction correctly or is revenge rating. I always review the negative comments to see if there is a trend before making my own conclusion.
Another misleading thing about the feedback is that someone could have a high number with 100% positive feedback and never sold a thing which really doesnt indicate what kind of a seller they are. I also look for that and bid accordingly. It is extremely helpful if a person starts as a buyer before they begin selling.
One of the things that I am cautious about as a buyer is the shipping charges. Most sellers have a shipping calculator on their auction. A buyer can enter their zip code for an immediate shipping quote. Once upon a time sellers would combine shipping and would save the buyer in shipping fees. For some reason, sellers have been really sticking it to the buyer in this area. They will advertise combined shipping on their auction and then charge a large handling fee for each of the auctions. I have found it necessary to ask what combined shipping fees are for the items Im interested in before bidding. Sellers recoup fees through shipping and handling charges so should be considered before making a bid. The bid that is placed is only for the item, the shipping automatically gets tacked onto the price after the auction ends.
It is courtesy for the buyer to leave feedback. If the buyer is unhappy with their purchase it is appropriate to contact the seller with the problem before leaving negative feedback. The majority of sellers are just average people and make honest mistakes which they are willing to resolve.
The seller is the one that pays for the eBay fees to list, eBay fees when an auction closes successfully, Paypal fees to accept payment, photo fees for having photos on someones server, Postage fees, packing supplies, gas and transportation fees, and internet fees.
It actually takes a lot of work to be a seller. Before selling you will need to find a product that someone will want to buy. After researching the closed auctions you will have an idea of how much to list it for on eBay unless you are confident in your product and can start the product low for the fun of bidding. Low listing prices actually might backfire on some items because it leads the buyer to think that the price reflects the quality of the item. In other situations it gets more buyers to consider your product.
It is a good idea to find a box and all packaging materials to ship the item with so that you can accurately weigh the item because underestimating shipping will come out of the sellers profits. The USPS offers free Priority boxes which keeps the costs down and reduces the risk of damage for the product.
A buyer will be more interested in items that they know a lot about so an auction with more descriptions and photos will do better. All of the sellers terms should be listed in the auction such as how soon payment is required and what payment methods are accepted. Once the auction has completed the seller is expected to send out an invoice with the winning price, shipping, and details on where to send the payment.
Once the seller receives the payment they will prepare the package for shipping and drop it off at the appropriate shipping service.
It is courtesy for the seller to leave feedback. It is best to give a buyer a reminder notice for an auction that has not been paid for before giving negative feedback. I have fond that 99% of people pay for their auctions. The ones that dont have simply forgotten and do so immediately when reminded. This also saves the buyer the hassle of re-listing and money for re-listing.
eBay and their website
Before buying and selling you should read their website because it gives details on the whole process..and hey, we're talking about money and legally bound here so you want to know what you're doing.
In the beginning the site would error out and be down at times but that never happens anymore. I have not seen the site down for years. The site does have weekly maintenance on Friday mornings from 1-3AM PST in which all of eBay is down. Listings are not allowed to be started or ended during this scheduled down time so should not effect any transactions.
The website is always changing to incorporate better features for both the buyer and the seller and dare I say to turn a fast buck.
eBay offers a lot of upgrade features for advertising your product for an additional fee.
Inserting in more than one category and price is determined by starting price. I have not found any use in this. I personally think that there are too many things listed on eBay to look at everything in the category.
Subtitle is .50 and will give you a sentence to talk about your item. The information in this block is not searchable. I have found this to be very effective especially when selling something like a laptop because you can list the upgrades which are a huge selling point. I have also found that the subtitles stand out more than any other technique.
Buy it now is .05 and will give the buyer an opportunity to purchase the item immediately at a set price rather than waiting for the auction to end. This option is eliminated when a bid is put on the item. I found this to be very useful and use it a lot. It entices people to put a bid on an item early so that someone doesnt get it. I have also found it effective when priced just around $2 more than the starting price. For instance, I may list a pair of jeans that you want to sell for $7.99 and a buy it now for 9.99. Usually only one or two people would be interested in the jeans anyway so I can unload the item faster and not risk the item selling for 10.50 which puts the product in a higher closing fee and Paypal fee bracket.
Reserve varies in fees depending on the starting and selling price. Hardly anyone uses this feature anymore because most buyers refuse to play along. Here is an example of how it would work. A seller would start a $2,000 laptop out at .01 with an unknown reserve amount. Buyers would bid until the reserve is reached. If the reserve is not met no one will win the auction.
Listing Designer is a .10 themed layout for your listing. If you are listing around Easter time you may want to choose a bunny rabbit border around your listing. It also allows you to display your picture on the top, bottom, or side. Themed layouts are rarely necessary and often distract from the auction. If you are handy with HTML you can make your own for free.
Gallery A gallery photo costs .35. A thumbnail picture of your item will appear next to your auction link. This can work for or against you. I have found that it works against me when I am listing things such as clothes. The challenge is to get a person to open your auction listing and a tiny photo of your item does not do the product justice. There are times when a photo is helpful like when you are selling a video game system with 50 games. People are more likely to click on a link that visibly has more stuff. It is often a waste to add a picture to an item in which everyone already knows what the product looks like. It is also a waste to post a picture that is fuzzy or if the item is hard to see in the photo.
Bold Bold is $1.00 and means that the title of your auction will be in bold. This is a very effective technique. When you look the pages of listings see if the bold stands out to you.
Border A border is $3.00 and gives you a box around you listing. This is not used much in the areas that I sell and I have never used it. This may be effective if you were offering a Dutch auction where you had 100 of the same items.
Highlight is $5.00 and puts a yellow streak through your auction title. The price alone limits the usage. This is usually reserved for high priced items.
It is important to have a good title otherwise the upgrades wont be effective. No upgrades are required to sell a product. If you have a good product, right price, and accurately listed youll have no problems getting hits. There is a web counter on the bottom of the auction page. I keep an eye on my hits and compare them to others selling similar products. If you are getting a low number of hits it may be necessary to analyze the title or placement, or price.
I had a lot of luck with the eBay store as a marketing tool. There are a lot of benefits if you sell at an auction while you have an eBay Store. Most importantly, you can market yourself. When an individual is reading your auction description they will see 4 photos of other items that you are selling which brings them into your store. A lot of people look for combined shipping for similar products so that also helps.
I will use clothes for an example. Clothes could be catagorized by girl or boy, by size, or by brand. When the person clicks the link they will see all the size 2T clothes that are for sell. Once a person has accessed your store they see only things that you are selling and can search your store with the search buttom.
If you are listing a store auction the listing is not accessible from a standard eBay search so you wont get as much visibility which is why running auctions at the same time is a good way to get people into your store.
A store listing has a set price so there is no bidding. A person buys it or leaves. Keep in mind that very few people will see a store listing. Lets say 160 people view a pair of jeans on an auction, only 6 might view them on a store listing.
Pricing for stores are different as well. The store costs $15.95/mo and you will be charged until the service is canceled. So if you have 0 things listed one month you will still be charged. Simply cancel your service and reopen when you have more inventory.
Listing an item in your store is less expensive. The listing fee is only .02 for each auction regardless of asking price. Closing price is 8% an additional 5% for $25.01 and over.
An eBay store is something to consider if youre selling in high volume and dont need to move merchandise as quickly. You can also have your own website rediret to your eBay store which is another great way to market yourself.
eBay Motors is part of eBay but works a little differently. Anything that has to do with an automobile will be in the eBay Motors section. Listing and selling a vehicle has different pricing. Their website would be the best source for information on buying or selling in this department: http://pages.motors.ebay.com/howto/overview.html
If you have things that you want to sell but dont have the time to sell on EBay you can hire a Trading Assistant to do it for you. Enter your zip code and see if theres one in your area: http://contact.eBay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?TradingAssistant&page=main
Searching on eBay
I love the search features eBay has. You can search by title, description, sort by price, sort by location, and more!
Now that so many people are listing on eBay it makes it more difficult for the buyer to find what theyre looking for. I usually have an idea of what I want to buy so try to put in a key word. People typically list sizes or brands in their listing. I usually list conditions when I search. If I wanted to buy a Tommy Hilfiger purse I would search: Hilfiger (purse,bag,tote,handbag) -clutch This filter allows me to see only Hilfiger brand items which would normally bring up pants and shirts, etc. I further sort my criteria by saying that it must be a purse or bag or tote, or handbag. The clutch means that I do not want to see any results that have the word clutch so even if it said handbag it would not be displayed.
If you are not sure what keyword to use EBay gives you a list of popular searches on the left side under More with EBay. For example, if you enter jeans in the search box you will have the option under More with EBay there will be an option for See more Keywords
NWT = new with tag
NWOT = new without tag
MIP = Mint in package
NIB = new in box
LN = Like new
LTD Limited Edition
Lot = a group of similar items
OOP = Out of print
Rare = hard to find primarily on EBay
HTF = Hard to find
VHTF = Very hard to find
BIN = Buy it now
NR = No reserve
S/H = Shipping and handling
Ret = Retail price
USPS United Sates Postal Service
A word of warning. There are many computer hackers that send out mass e-mails saying that they are eBay and attempt to get your password. Assume that all emails are spam; eBay will rarely contact you for information. If you think the email is legitimate you can go to www.eBay.com and log on safely and take care of any problems that way. There is absolutely no reason to click a link through e-mail.
eBay's Customer Service
I have contacted eBay several times in the past and have been always received a quick response. Most of the responses are cut and paste. I have had billing problems with them in the past. I have been double billed for things, I've gone a whole month without being billed for anything. They always correct their mistakes and communicate the glitches via email.
Overall eBay has been a very good experience for me. I have fun buying things on eBay and have found many deals. I also enjoy selling on eBay and have made a nice profit on things that would have otherwise been in the trash.
eBay was an excellent idea and they have done a great job growing it to a mammoth marketplace. eBay is always adding new features to make listing and buying easier.
There is so much more to eBay that I havent even mentioned. I recommend using the eBay site map to answer any question. I use it frequently because the site is so large its hard to remember everything and frequently things change. The page can be found at: http://pages.ebay.com/sitemap.html?ssPageName=h:h:smap:US
What product did you purchase or try to purchase? Everything on the site
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