Online auctions have become a great place to sell a wide range of products and services, either casually or professionally. This selling channel is dominated by eBay. You can view eBay either as the world’s largest garage sale or the world’s largest classified ads site.
At any time you will literally find millions of auction listings in eBay. eBay was built upon a community of buyers and sellers with a common interest in buying and selling a wide range of items including collectibles (a BIG eBay category), personal items, computers, home electronics and other consumer goods. In recent years, automobiles, motorcycles, homes, motor homes, land and other high-priced items have been added.
While it can be quite difficult to make millions of dollars on eBay, it is possible to earn a good living if you know how to do it right. We have been selling products on eBay since the late 1990s and we offer a few tips to get you started.
Selling Tips for eBay Auctions
- If you are going to sell personal items that you no longer need, spend some time watching auctions for similar items. Check out the way that items are presented in the auctions, and compare various ads and final bid prices to see if you can determine why one seller’s auction listings generate higher prices than others. Sometimes this has nothing to do with the auctions, but more with the length of time that the auction runs and when the auction closes. Sometimes it is just an anomaly and an item sells for a very high or low price bases on serendipity.
- If you intend to set up a full or part-time business selling new items on eBay, the best advice is to thoroughly investigate the range of final bid prices for the targeted items. eBay is a very competitive marketplace that is like a huge online bargain basement. It can be difficult to make a profit on items that are already being sold by several others on eBay. Try to find unique products that offer good average profit margins of 30%, 40% or more. You will find that as soon as your items become popular and draw attention, lots of competitors will jump in, which will erode your profits.
- Good quality pictures are essential if you want to get top dollar for your auctions. Auctions without pictures of the items you wish to sell cause users to question the condition or quality of the item as well as the reliability and professionalism of the seller. Invest in an inexpensive digital camera and take shots of your items that clearly indicate the condition and features of the item being sold.
- Provide accurate descriptions of the items being sold. Don’t oversell the quality of the item. If there are some defects, such as a scratch on the case of a stereo amplifier, point that out in the auction text and show it in a photo, if you can. The more accurate information that you provide to a potential buyer, the more likely they are to bid on your auction. If you do not point out the problems that exist, that will be viewed as misrepresentation, which will be reflected in negative feedbacks.
- Target your auction closing times to days of the week and times of the day when large numbers of people have access to eBay. Sunday tends to be the most popular day for auction closings. Sunday evening is considered to be the primo time for closings, but that may depend upon the types of items you are selling. If you are targeting businesses and you sell office products, a Monday through Friday morning or afternoon auction may work better. Try setting auctions up to close at different times and days of the week and see if a pattern emerges that indicated when you will obtain the highest bids for your goods.
- Don’t inflate shipping and handling costs. Savvy buyers watch for this. It’s okay to round your costs up to the next dollar for simplicity, but don’t double the shipping costs or tack on an extra $10. Seasoned eBay buyers will spot this right away and will not bid on your items.
- If you are going to sell items professionally, consider setting up an eBay store. The cost for doing this is minimal and it allows you to list additional items just like in an online catalog.
- If you are going to sell items professionally, consider using an auction management service. One popular choice is Anadale. Here is a link to a page that summarizes the most popular choices: Online Storefronts at a Glance. There are many choices, so do some research to find one that fits your needs. Many services offer complete storefronts, help manage inventory and provide summary pages that display all of your current auctions to users, along with the current bid prices.
- If you are a casual seller and want to sell higher-priced items such as collectibles, watches or jewelry, consider waiting until October or November to post your auctions. This is the peak of the eBay Christmas buying season and many people are looking for Christmas gifts. Personal gift items therefore tend to sell for higher prices during this time of the year.
online auction says
Thank for the great tips.
Also, offer your customer additional pictures from different angles to confirm that the product is in pristine condition.
I agree that multi-angle pictures are important. Good advice! 😀
K.J. the eBay Selling Fanatic says
“Don’t inflate shipping and handling costs”
Very good advice, as was the rest of the article. It’s so annoying to see an auction that’s listed really low, and you think you’re going to get a deal, then you click it only to see a ridiculously high shipping charge. Great post for any eBay seller.
Mike knows What Sells on eBay says
“It’s so annoying to see an auction that’s listed really low, and you think you’re going to get a deal, then you click it only to see a ridiculously high shipping charge. ”
I agree, this is so annoying and such a waste of your time. At least eBay has attempted to put a stop to this practice as they now allow buyers to rate their experience in several areas when leaving feedback; including shipping charges.
Mike knows What Sells on eBay says
“Sunday tends to be the most popular day for auction closings. Sunday evening is considered to be the primo time for closings, but that may depend upon the types of items you are selling.”
This is a great point, Sundays tend to be great closing times. However, I have found that it’s also beneficial to start auctions on Thursday evenings, and do a 10 day listing. This way, you have the benefit of your auction carrying over 2 weekends and still ending on Sunday evening. The small extra fee for a ten day listing, is more than justified by the extra weekend traffic.
Trademe Tips says
Sometimes for accurate item descriptions, it’s useful to add the equivalent brand/serial item number if possible, if it exists. I have found when buying mobile phone batteries and desktop chargers, that serial or brand item numbers can be different in ebay USA than in New Zealand. Sometimes I would do a bit of online research/comparisons to try find equivalent serial numbers, but some ebay sellers have listed equivalent or compatible items to help quickly search on ebay.