Attracting customers online isn't so different from attracting customers to a retail store. Here's a real-world example. Last week, I went to a mall to find a pair of jeans. Jeans used to be a simple purchase, but today they come in so many shapes, styles and sizes, it's hard to keep track of them all. There was no one to help me through the maze of options in the store I first walked into, so I left empty-handed and went to another. There, I was immediately approached by a very helpful salesperson who explained all the varieties of jeans to me, and I bought a fancy pair of jeans at that store--at retail price! (Now that I know my size and style, I can buy them for half-price on eBay.) But which store do you think I would return to when styles change?

Expanding my jeans shopping experience to eBay, the lesson is, any item sold on eBay deserves more than a title, a picture and a one-line description. How many times have you found an item through a keyword search just to click on it and find no further information? Plenty. It happens to thousands of prospective buyers every day. As a seller, if you're going to invest the money to list an item, give it a fighting chance for a successful sale.

An item's description tells the customer what to expect about their possible purchase. Mention size, manufacturer, material, condition--basically, anything and everything to give the buyer more information about the item. Lucky media sellers get the advantage of eBay's license of the Muze database, which supplies further details on books, movies, games and music. But believe it or not, some sellers don't even take the time to click their mouse to include it in their listings--all you'll see in their descriptions is "New and sealed." Wow. What you should do is tell the customer what they'll get and what to expect. Then take some time to sell yourself--tell them why they should buy from you.

If you're trying to sell multiple items on eBay, there may be many people who don't know the difference between the types of jeans (curvy, boot cut, cigarette, etc.), light bulbs (fluorescent, true color, watts, etc.), cell phone accessories or other products you sell. The variations are endless. The solution is one: Write solid descriptions.

When writing descriptions, it's also important to think beyond your listing pages. If you have an eBay store, consider using one of the blank pages that come with your store for a product FAQ page. Or at the very least, put the information on your "About Me" page. That way, you can provide information about all the products you sell, so customers will know which of your listings to look at.

A stellar example of doing things right is eBay seller Beachcombers! In her eBay Store, Beachcombers!Bazaar , store owner Jody Rogers has several informative FAQ pages about her Henna temporary tattoos and other products. By explaining her products, Jody can ratchet up sales far beyond those sellers who don't take the time to build their businesses. Her store is colorful, friendly and offers lots of good reasons to shop there. She uses friendly customer service tactics like "no questions asked" returns (with no return shipping costs for the customer) and custom gift boxes so shoppers can select a group of gifts in one order and make a great impression. If you're into her bangle bracelets--or know someone who is--she offers a "bangle bracelet of the month" club. Now that's merchandising for success!

Once you've got the customer, it's time to go full-gear into customer service. Send out these e-mails:

  1. Thank you for your order
  2. Your order has shipped (make sure to include a tracking or delivery confirmation number)
  3. A post-sale thank you and an invitation to return to shop

Shipping quickly will get you lots of return customers and excellent feedback. And feedback always pays off in more customers. Here are a few feedback examples from my profile:

  • Thanks so much! Fast shipping and received in excellent condition!
  • Great service, nice to do business with, we need more like 'em. A++++++
  • Super fast delivery. Certainly will do business with again. Thank you!

I'd easily shop with someone who has that kind of feedback. Wouldn't you?

I'm always shocked when I order an item on eBay and it takes two weeks to arrive. That's just not acceptable. If there'll be a delay in sending out your item, be sure to e-mail the customer. Also, pack your items carefully. Ask yourself how you'd feel if your item arrived in the condition you sent it out in. Use new padded envelopes and boxes (though you can recycle bubble wrap).

Keep in mind, also, that as an eBay store owner, you can send out newsletters to buyers who've requested them. Write news about new products you carry, trends in fashion (if that's your thing), ideas for gift-giving holidays and anything else you think your customers will find interesting. You can also use your newsletters to offer your customers a seasonal deal. How about a two-week sale? And free shipping is always appreciated, as is a 15 percent discount for a limited time.

Go the extra mile to give customers a reason to buy your items. Don't fall into the "I just don't have time for that stuff" pitfall. Investing the time to keep your customers informed will be well worth the effort; not taking the time will eventually drive you out of business.

Marsha Collier, a successful eBay PowerSeller, is Entrepreneur.com's "eBay" columnist as well as the author of the bestselling eBay references,eBay for Dummies andStarting an eBay Business for Dummies.