Saturday, January 03, 2009

What to Do When Your eBay Item Isn't Selling

Ebay is an exciting frontier for sellers. There are few other businesses which allow you to make a steady income from home, selling items you choose to sell. And with Ebay’s global following, there are plenty of buyers out there willing to spend money on your merchandise.

So what if your auctions aren’t performing as well as you would like? It happens to most Ebay sellers from time to time, but flagging auctions aren’t the end of the world. Increasing your sales might be as easy as revamping your price structure to meet current market trends. You should also take a look at your listings to make sure they’re as complete and buyer-friendly as possible.

First, check your prices. What have other, similar items been selling for lately? You can check by using Ebay’s advanced search function. Check the box at the top of the listings to see only auctions which have been completed. This is a good way to study market trends and to learn whether your prices are too high, too low, or right on the money. Search for similar items to see how much competition you’ve got. If the market is saturated and prices have fallen off, try selling another type of product until demand once again outweighs supply.

Starting your auctions off at a low minimum bid is actually a great way to get more bids. Buyers see an item listed for a dollar, and they are tempted to place a bid. Others will follow suit, and soon the item will sell for more than you’d expect. Dollar bids bring out the thriftiness and competitiveness in Ebay buyers. Let them fight over your item, and you’ll end up with more bids and higher profits in the long run. The only caveat is that you don't want to set the opening so far below anticipated sale price that eBay flags you as if you were trying to avoid higher listing fees.

Auction listings are at least as important as the items you’re selling. If yours are too short or don’t accurately describe your merchandise, buyers will notice. Also beware of typos and misspellings in your item descriptions. Avoid using distracting graphics or garishly bright text. To provide an easy-to-read listing, either use HTML tags to format the text, or use one of Ebay’s auction templates. Buyers won’t waste time on something they can’t read. You probably wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time struggling through a poorly written, disorganized auction listing. Neither will your customers.

You want to build up a reputation for being an honest seller. If you don’t provide enough details about your products – especially if the goods are used or lightly damaged – buyers will feel like they got duped when the items arrive. And unhappy buyers lead to negative feedback, which directly impacts your reputation and your success on Ebay. Strive for a feedback rating close to 100%. If your feedback number or positive score is low, buyers will go elsewhere to make their purchases. Luckily, you can increase your score by making purchases.

Finally, eBay now requires that you be clear about your refund and exchange policies. If you don’t accept returns, say so. If you do accept returns, clearly state your requirements. You will also need so specify a handling time in your listing. Buyers like to know that you have a firm set of rules in place before they risk a purchase.

And, of course, accept a variety of electronic payment methods. You want to give buyers every possible chance to buy from you. According to eBay's website,
Checks and money orders are no longer allowed as payment methods on eBay. All items appearing on must be paid for using either:

* PayPal (funded by PayPal account balance, credit card, debit card, bank account, PayPal Pay Later, PayPal Buyer Credit or eBay gift certificate)
* Credit or debit card payment to a seller (through a seller's Internet merchant account)
* ProPay
* Payment upon pickup

In January 2009, all of the approved electronic payment methods will be integrated into eBay checkout. For example, if a seller offers credit or debit card as a payment option, buyers will be able to directly enter their credit card information securely in eBay checkout and their payment will be directly routed to the seller's Internet merchant account.

We are also working with other electronic payment providers currently included in our Accepted Payments Policy to integrate their services into eBay checkout in 2009.

Keep up with your competition, make sure you are following eBay's TOS, troubleshoot your listings, and you’ll soon turn those flagging auctions into real moneymakers.

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