I’ve been a seller on eBay since 2000. At first, I was intimated by the process; however, I took baby steps and made my first sell. After that, I was hooked. I have to admit that things haven’t always gone smoothly, but after 12 years of experience I’ve finally figured out how to successfully sell on eBay. If you’re interested in making some extra cash, follow these steps to get started on eBay today.
How to Sell on eBay in 7 Easy Steps
- Determine your passion – When I began my eBay journey, I sold things that I no longer used or needed. As I gained more experience, my focus narrowed to things I was passionate about such as electronics, books, music, and toys. Eventually, I focused solely on toys and made a significant amount of money from action figures and Barbie dolls. If you want to be a successful seller on eBay, you have to determine what you are passionate about selling and build your plan around your passion.
- Source your inventory – Some popular places to source inventory include: Clearance racks, thrift shops, garage sales, or online stores (I sourced at least 25% of my inventory from eBay). Try not to go overboard when sourcing product. Set a budget and determine how you will store and manage (see next item). Remember you are running a business and you have to control costs. If you’re more of a casual seller, I’d recommended your visiting eBay’s Selling Inspiration House to find inventory in your own home.
- Store and manage your inventory – Most houses or apartments aren’t big enough to store huge amounts of products. When I was selling at my peak, I had toys strewn all over the house and my wife was not very happy with me. If you have the space, I suggest that you dedicate a room to your eBay activities. If have shifted my eBay inventory to my garage and I only bring it inside when I’m ready to ship. I also recommend that you develop a system to manage and track your inventory. I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for items after they sold because I didn’t remember where I had placed them. Use a simple spreadsheet or document to keep things in order.
Create your listing – There are seven keys to a successful listing (1) Write a compelling title. Be descriptive and include popular key words. Try use use all 55 characters. (2) Describe your item. Go into great detail. Cover all of the features and the flaws. (3) Take great pictures. Photos add to your product’s description and give the buyers a visual. Good photos instill confidence in buyers. (4) Determine if you will sell via auction or fixed price. Auctions usually work well for used, rare, or highly coveted items. Fixed price works best with new items. You can offer both options in your listings. (5) Offer a reasonable price. Many people shop eBay because they are looking for deals. Regardless of how much you think an item is worth, you will only get what buyers are willing to pay. Use eBay’s research tools to help you determine the best price. (6) Payment options. PayPal is probably the best payment option because it’s convenient, fast and safe (you’ll have to set up an account if you don’t already have one). eBay offers other options, but I haven’t used any of them. You’ll have figure out what works best for you. (7) Determine duration. eBay offers 1,3,7, and 10 day durations for listings. Popular items usually sell quickly, but other items might require longer durations to generate interest. In my experience, items sell better if they end on Sunday evening.
- Manage shipping – Many seller’s have lost money because they didn’t properly account for shipping costs. Other sellers have anger buyers because their shipping prices were too high. eBay offers shipping tools that take some of the guess work out of the process. Buyers really respond to free shipping and you should consider it as an option. I also recommend that you offer international shipping. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of your shipping supplies (boxes, tape, bubble wrap, etc) when you’re listing your item.
- Provide excellent customer service – Always be professional and courteous to any buyer or potential buyer no matter how mean, nasty and unreasonable they may be. The most important thing you can do to keep customers happy is to keep the lines of communication open. Respond to messages, answer questions, and provide tracking numbers for packages. Do your best to make the buying experience pleasant.
- Ask for feedback – Feedback is a seller’s lifeblood. If you provide great customer service, buyers will usually give you positive feedback. Sometimes buyers forget to leave feedback and it’s okay to ask. You should also leave your buyers feedback if they uphold their end of the deal. Some unscrupulous buyers will try to threaten you with negative feedback in order to get you to do things you may not want to. Don’t fall victim to their threats. eBay has ways to protect sellers who take care of their business in a professional manner.
It took me several years to learn these things and apply them on a consistent basis. I hope they will help you find success selling on eBay.
Questions: Have you ever sold on eBay? If so, what tips do you have to share?
Disclosure: I am a member of the eBay Parent Panel.