What's good for the goose isn't good for the gander--on eBay, that is. The strategies, tools, resources and techniques employed by experienced eBay sellers vary significantly depending on the items being sold. Sure, there are some basic techniques that eBay sellers in all categories should follow, such as optimizing listing titles and writing informative item descriptions complete with lots of pictures.
But in a marketplace with tens of millions of different items, clearly you can't treat them all the same. Even when you divide items into broad categories with similar characteristics, experienced sellers know that each listing requires its own special touches.
Seasoned sellers use different techniques to sell items with low and high average selling prices (ASPs), items that sell in bulk, big items, collectibles and, in a special category, automobiles. Here are some insider tips from eBay category experts about how to best sell items in each of those categories.
Low average selling price doesn't mean low opportunity. Health & Beauty, one of the fastest-growing categories on eBay, with $196 million in products sold in the U.S. in 2004, features items from antiperspirants to weight-loss patches that sell for a few dollars each. Other items with low ASPs include books, movies and DVDs.
If you want to run with the best low-ASP sellers, cater to the mind-set of low-ASP purchasers. For example, Anna Fieler, senior category manager for Health & Beauty, says, "You may want to use Buy It Now for many of these items. Given the low price point and impulse-driven nature of some beauty purchases, Buy It Now may increase the velocity of your sales and provide a better buyer experience."
Focus strongly on offering value when selling low-ASP items. Clearly show buyers how much their eBay purchase price saves them compared to retail prices. To deliver still more value, consider low-cost or free shipping options, because shipping may represent a large percentage of the purchase price for low-ASP items.
Don't neglect to take advantage of techniques for controlling your own costs--especially critical with low-ASP items. For instance, many people stock lower-priced items in eBay Stores to take advantage of Stores' relatively low listing fees. "Utilize eBay Stores for low-ASP products that may be slower-moving," says Andrew Lee, senior category manager for DVDs & Movies. Sellers can also use their core listings to drive traffic to their eBay Stores in a coordinated selling strategy that optimizes inventory turn, he adds.
After you've gotten costs under control, consider ways to increase your revenue. For example, you may be able to build your average transaction amount if you find ways to bundle low-ASP products together. With consumable items such as health and beauty aids, develop a replenishment strategy to keep satisfied customers ordering regularly. Lee recommends you cross-merchandise by offering DVDs to people who are purchasing players. You'll find a guide to cross promotion at http://pages.ebay.com/sell/crosspromotionstutorial.
Items with a high average selling price include computers, TVs and other electronics, cameras and jewelry. When you're selling high-priced items, it's essential to know the key objective metrics by which buyers will evaluate your items. With heavy equipment, such as lawn mowers, for instance, one key metric is the number of hours the machine has been used, notes Steve Cohen, category manager for Home Improvement.
In addition to knowing metrics, high-ASP-item buyers may need objective proof that your description of an item is accurate. When it comes to diamonds, for example, proof will consist of a certificate issued by a gem-grading laboratory, says Amy Norman, category manager for Watches & Designer Jewelry.
Don't stop there. Also consider offering buyers purchase protection, such as PayPal Buyer Protection, which gives $1,000 of coverage at no additional cost on qualified purchases paid for through PayPal. "We recommend offering PayPal Buyer Protection," Cohen says.
Pricing is equally important with high-ASP items. Use the "Completed Listings Only" option in the Search tool to learn results of similar sales. Consider using a low starting bid price along with a reserve to protect your selling price, suggests Ben Hanna, senior manager of Business & Industrial.
You may want to list high-ASP items in multiple categories when appropriate. This can expose your item to a broader selection of customers. High-ASP-item sellers should also consider using eBay's buyer management tools, Cohen says. These allow sellers to block certain types of bidders from participating in a specific transaction.
Finally, make it easy for your buyers to pay for their high-ASP purchases. Highlight any payment and financing options you may offer, and be clear about deposit requirements and other terms. "Sellers can also offer equipment financing on items over $2,000 through Direct Capitaland receive a refund of their eBay Final Value Fees if the item is financed," Hanna notes.
For items less than $2,000 and greater than $200, sellers can offer promotional financing options, such as deferred-interest payments, through PayPal Buyer Credit. Offering promotional financing makes items more affordable for buyers by allowing them to make low monthly payments or to defer interest payments.