Saturday, December 16

How to Improve The Sales on Ebay: Step by Step Guide

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How important each of these aspects is for a seller depends mainly on what is sold, but there are ways in which eBay selling process can optimize all three and ultimately improve sales.

Step 1: Improve the listings

Improves sales by: Increased traffic, conversions

Effort: Easy

Results: Immediate

The easiest way to increase eBay sales is to optimize the listings so more people find the items and more people who see them decide to purchase.

(1) Think of an eBay listing in terms of SEO. Use keywords in the title as most searches are title-only. Subtitles are not searched by the basic eBay search, so if using a subtitle, don’t use it for keywords, use it for extra information that might draw people in to look at the actual listing. Many eBay traders confuse tools that bring in traffic with those that improve conversion rate and waste valuable title space on words like “great”, “look!” and similar. Nobody searches for “great” anything, so don’t use that in the title of the listing. Think about what people might search for and use as many as can fit in the title, for example: “Hand made natural wood bead bracelet Christmas gift”. Don’t use keyword spamming though (for example don’t say “Like Dior” if it’s not Dior) as it’s against eBay rules.

(2) Is there a need to make the listing stand out? If competing with a lot of similar items on eBay, it might be worth doing. eBay has many listing enhancements, but most of them cost money. A photo is a must, but a subtitle, bold or a colorful strip are all worth considering for higher-price items if the listinga are competing with a lot of similar ones. Remember, the goal here is to make people click on a particular listing among the search results. Paying fro premium listings is worth it only for very expensive items or for high volume sellers who need to maintain a presence at the top of search results.

(3) Once in the listing, the goal is a conversion, or making the sale. Make sure that the listing provides a detailed description of the item, particularly technical data, sizing and good quality, clear and honest photos. There is a fine line between taking a flattering picture and a dishonest one. Don’t hide faults, but don’t advertise them on photos either (but do mention in description).

Don’t use garish colors, many different fonts or animated creatures: this is neither attractive nor professional and distracts from what is being sold (and for buyers that have bandwidth limits, it’s unnecessary use of data).

Make sure the listing contains all the necessary general information, like return policy, payment terms, warnings about international shipping and so on, but don’t fill the whole page with this information. There is nothing as discouraging as “Don’t bid if …” that greets one at the beginning of the eBay listing.

The listing should be about the item first and the seller and their policies only later.

(4) Use a variety of sales formats. eBay started as an auction site, and it still holds many auction-type listings. However, the BIN (Buy It Now) format is extremely popular, especially for new items and there is plenty of buyers who are after day-to-day items and who just want something for sure, and quickly – and are not willing to wait for the end of an auction. Offering a BIN with an auction item is a good compromise, and it might also start the bidding going earlier as some people might bid just to knock the BIN price off the listing.

For a regular seller, a variety of formats (auction, BIN, both) is advisable, and it’s also worth considering opening a shop. A basic eBay store costs only a few dollars a month to maintain and allows sellers to list BIN items for much longer at much lower cost per listing. The disadvantage is that store items don’t (for all practical purposes) show in eBay search results so there is still a need to maintain a presence in the “normal” eBay area with BIN and auction items simply to advertise the listings.

Always include the link to “seller’s other items” and the eBay store in each of the listings.

Step 2: Be flexible on payment and postage

Improves sales by: Conversions, repeated custom

Effort: Easy

Results: Immediate

(5) Offer variety of postage options, and post as widely as possible.

Offer fast postage, insured postage and normal postage as standard for national listings and consider selling internationally, especially if selling unique, collectors’ or hand-made items. Always specify the international postage, especially if located outside the US as otherwise you will end up with US buyers unaware of overseas locations demanding the local postage rate.

(6) Offer returns if at all possible. There is nothing that encourages unsure buyers more than offering returns, and if the item is light, consider postage refund as well as purchase price refund.

(7) Take responsibility for items damaged in transit. There is few more off-putting things that an eBay listing that says “once it’s out of my hands, I am not responsible for it”. Unless selling high-price items, it’s simply good customer service to offer insurance and refunds for items damaged in transit.

(8) Avoid ‘pickup only’ listings. They have low visibility and people are often surprisingly willing to pay a lot for postage of even heavy items. As long as it can be packed (and pretty much everything can, at a cost), it can be posted.

(9) Accept as many payment types as possible. PayPal is good, and required for most if not all listings, but some people might want to pay in other ways. Checks, cash on collection and postal orders are all fairly standard. Many European buyers use direct bank transfers and there is no reason why not to accept this method, although beware forex variations. Don’t accept foreign checks though as the bank charges for those can be horrendous and be wary of anybody trying to pay by Western Union or other money transfer services as it often indicates a scammer.

Step 3: Provide good customer service: feedback matters

Improves sales by: Conversions, repeated custom

Effort: Moderate

Results: Medium term

(9) Answer queries quickly and comprehensively. If the query is from a potential customer, it might lead to a purchase. If it’s from a buyer, it’s even more important.

(10) Give buyers a benefit of the doubt: this might cost a bit of money short term, but is great for feedback and building seller’s eBay identity. If somebody asks for a refund, assume they have a reason. If they want to retract a bid, let them do it. Being savvy is good, being mercenary is not.

(11) Keep a minimum of professionalism: avoid text speak and spell-check your messages.

(12) Try to keep the postage times reasonable. It’s very frustrating to buy something to then find out in the small print that a seller takes two weeks to dispatch the items.

Step 4: Build the eBay brand

Improves sales by: Increased conversions, repeated custom

Effort: High

Results: Long term

(13) Building an identity on eBay and creating a brand is a long-term process and largely depends on whether particular seller’s customers are likely to be repeated business. Choosing a relevant name, maintaining the same style of listings (font, colors) and a consistent type of merchandise will all help.

Step 5: Consider not only “How?” but “What?” of selling

Improves sales by: Increased traffic

Effort: High

Results: Immediate

(14) One of the best ways to improve sales is to branch out and start selling different types of goods. This immediately broadens the potential market and thus the volume of sales. Ideally, aim at cross-over so selling complementary products (shoes and polish, underwear and hosiery, ornaments and candles) is a good idea. In order to sell completely different types of items (lingerie and electronics for example) it’s better to have a different eBay account for each broad category.

Step 6: Market your listings outside eBay

Improves sales by: Increased traffic

Effort: High

Results: Possibly immediate, sure long term

(15) For sellers who have a web or bricks-and-mortar presence beyond eBay it’s worth using this synergy to market their eBay listings, provided it’s relevant. A blog, a review site article and social media from stumbleupon to Facebook can all help to achieve visibility and ultimately increase sales.

Some of the ways of optimizing eBay sales take a lot of effort, some are quick and easy, but all should noticeably improve the volume and value of sales for most kids of merchandise and most categories of sellers.

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