Whether you're about to start a business on eBay or are ready to take your existing business to the next level, we've put together 51 tips for successful selling on eBay from a panel of experts:
- Marsha Collier (eBay User ID: marsha_c), PowerSeller, eBay University instructor and author of eBay for Dummies, now in its fourth edition
- David Early (eBay User ID: 66cvette), PowerSeller and creator of MarketPlacePro, software that enables individuals to sell products and manage their businesses online
- Jim "Griff" Griffith, dean of eBay Education, author of The Official eBay Bible and host of eBay Radio
- Steve Lindhorst (eBay User ID: listingrover), instructor at eBay University, owner of a small business on eBay, and dealer assistant who helps car dealerships list inventory on eBay
- Christopher Spencer (eBay User ID: borntodeal), Gold Power-Seller and president of The Spencer Company, which has listed more than 80,000 items on eBay
Here are their secrets to eBay sales success.
Do Your Homework
1. Set aside a day to browse the entire ebay site. Use the eBay Navigation Bar as your anchor--it's located on the top of every eBay page. Make a note of the pages you'll need in the future, such as the "Services" page, which contains a treasure trove of tools and services. -J.G.
2. Get step-by-step guidance. Visit www.ebay.com/education. It teaches everything you need to know to sell on eBay and offers interactive audio tours that show you exactly how to create a listing. -C.S.
What to Sell?
3. Sell what you know first. If you're into fashion, sell that; if you're into golf, sell golf equipment, and so on. -M.C.
4. Be observant. Watch for opportunities to obtain items (in quantity if possible) at a low price for resale. Often, they're right under your nose, such as merchandise your local retailer would liquidate. Make an offer to clear out the retailer's old or damaged stock. -S.L.
5. Don't start out with just one product or product line. An effective way to build a customer base on eBay is to offer at least two separate types of items, between which you can cross promote and drive customers from one to the other. -J.G.
6. Spend time on eBay browsing outside your normal categories. Find out what's hot at www.ebay.com/sellercentral. -S.L.
7. Become a Trading Assistant and sell other people's items for a commission. As a Trading Assistant, you won't have the expense of building inventory, and you can build your business on eBay very quickly without having to spend a lot of capital. -C.S.
8. Take some calculated risks. Being too careful can cost you. Do a little research on eBay, and trust your gut when you find potentially salable items. -S.L.
9. If you're not familiar with the product you're trying to sell, educate yourself before you write the description. If you describe the item incorrectly, buyers may be leery of bidding. Even worse, buyers could decide not to bid on any of your future items if they're under the impression that you don't know what you're selling. The more correct information you have and use, the more credible you'll become in the buyers' eyes. -D.E.
Getting Set Up
10. Become a verified member of ebay through their ID verification process. Getting verified will help get you past a lot of the restrictions placed on new sellers. -C.S.
11. Choose your ebay user ID wisely. Pick a name that's descriptive, easy to remember and instantly identifiable with your niche. Your user ID will become your business identification--the name that people in the eBay universe will learn to search for when they want to buy your products. -D.E.
12. Create a second user ID for your eBay business. As long as each user ID you create is sent to a separate e-mail address, you can create as many user IDs as you want. So if you decide to start selling car accessories in addition to Hummel figurines, you might choose another user ID that would be more pertinent to your new product line, such as "Mustangsrock" or "Supeduphotrods." -D.E.
13. Organize. If you're selling from home, set up a dedicated space with areas for inventory storage, packing materials, photographing and, of course, a desk for your computer and printer. The best businesses are orderly and organized. -J.G.
14. Set up a designated area within your business location used only for photography. You can use household lighting and inexpensive cloth or paper backdrops. -J.G.
15. When taking pictures of the items you're selling, choose a camera with good macro-lens and auto-focus features, and make sure it easily interfaces with your computer. Get great lighting tips from eBay community boards. -C.S.