Thursday, March 20, 2014

EBAY SELLING (with some buying tips mixed in)

Have I ever told y’all that I’m an ebay selling magnate?  Not really, but I have found a good thing that pretty much funds my little vintage Coach purse habit, as well as takes care of most of Gavin’s dress clothes.  Not bad, eh?

I have found a few tips that have helped me become more successful along the way.  Read on, if you’re interested!  Of course, you may already have figured this out, or may have some different ideas.  Pass on, pretty please…

1. Get some feedback stars on your ebay account first.  If you haven’t already, buy a few things on ebay.  Rate your purchases to give the seller feedback so that you will get some buyer ratings prior to becoming a seller.  I’m always suspicious of sellers with only a few stars of feedback.  I may consider using them, since everyone has to start somewhere, but I definitely read what feedback they have and make sure they have successfully sold before.  Buying from ebay will also help you learn the ropes of what an ebay buyer expects so you can meet their expectations.

2. Buy name brands, sell name brands.  They tend to last better anyway, so you’ll have something worthwhile to sell.  You might be able to sell non-name brand (Walmart & Target brands, Old Navy), but you’ll get pennies.  Gap, J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, Janie and Jack and Boden are all brands that resale well.  Lands’ End sells okay - that’s a great brand to BUY used, because it’s great quality, but for some reason sells for less than it should.  This is my top selling recommendation.  I usually either break even on most of Gavin’s dress clothes (meaning I sell them for what I bought them used), or even make a “profit”, because a) the name brand interests people, and b) the dress clothes manage to stay in pretty good condition versus the everyday clothes.  I also do very well selling name brand handbags (Coach, Dooney & Burke, Francesco Biasia), but I don’t bother with the non-known brands unless I only expect a few dollars for them.

3. Sell only items in decent condition.  You may be able to get a few dollars for “play condition” name brand items, but don’t bother with stained or torn items.  Most of Gavin’s play clothes just get donated or passed on to others.  There really isn’t much resale value in them.  Ask yourself, would I ever put my child in this?  If yes, then perhaps there is a market for the item.  If not, unless you are the pickiest person on the planet with an unlimited budget (but then why would you be reading this blog?), just pass it on.

4. List items individually as much as possible.  You may have combined certain items, but that doesn’t mean the buyer wants to use those items that way.  (This is just my experience, I have seen certain sellers do very well with selling outfits.)

5. If listing lots, list only items of the same size together.  Nothing is worse than wanting one item in a lot, but the other item is too small for your child, so what is the point of paying for both items?  You won’t get more money for that kind of a lot.  Also, make sure the brands you’re listing in the lot are comparable - one Old Navy item in a Gap lot will bring the whole lot price down.

6. Be HONEST.  Specify condition issues.  Don’t just assume the pictures show it, nor assume that people should expect less because the price is low.  Be the kind of seller from whom you would want to buy (Got it?  Trying not to end with a preposition, not so sure I succeeded in the grammar area anyway).  Many people are willing to buy used condition items especially in certain name brands, but they do want to know what they are getting.

7. Skip the reserve price option (especially if you plan to start your auction price WAY below it).  This almost never works (at least in my experience).  Just start your bidding at the minimum you would want to get and see what happens.  You can always revise your selling price later if it doesn’t sell, but many people (me included) won’t even bid on an item with reserve pricing. Or, they bid, but it never even gets up close to the reserve price so it doesn't sell at all.

8.  I always add the Buy It Now option along with my auction price (it’s free).  Sometimes I’m shocked how much more people will pay just to order it right away, even though they might have won the auction price if they were willing to wait.  Not that I’m complaining!

9. Make sure you know how you plan to ship your item prior to listing it.  Buyer will pay the shipping price you list, so know which items are less than 13 ounces (for first class US Postal mailing), what will fit in a small, medium or large priority mail USPS box and list your shipping charges accordingly.  It's a shame to lose money on your item because you didn't plan the shipping charges properly - I think we've all done it at least once!  Sometimes really high shipping costs deter bidders, so I sometimes list my shipping price a little under what it costs me ($9 instead of $11), but I am willing to eat that $2 (out of the profit I make of the item price) to interest a buyer in my item.  But I set the item's price accordingly.

10. Ship right away.  This is easier than you think!!  I used to go the post office to ship my things - then I was stressed out when things sold.  Now I print shipping labels right off ebay and put packages in my mailbox for pickup.  All US Postal Service shipping is a discounted rate when purchased through ebay, plus you get proof of delivery insurance for free.  Choose first class mail for anything 13 ounces or less - that is the best deal and usually arrives in 2-3 days.  Just put it right in your mailbox for pickup - no scheduling needed!  Priority mail works for things over 13 ounces, plus you can schedule a pick-up at your house as soon as the next day (there’s a link to USPS site right in ebay shipping) so no post office trip!!  Just keep a selection of flat-rate priority boxes at your house - they'll even deliver them if you put in an order online! Plus, when you use ebay shipping, the address label prints right along with the postage, so there is no chance you mix up which package goes where, and the status “shipped” and tracking information is automatically added and updated for the buyer.

11.  Know what ISN’T good to sell on ebay.  I steer clear of heavy items that would be difficult to ship, and just resell those via Craigslist or my work’s online classified ads for employees.  That’s how I sold my child backpack carrier (the bulky external frame kind), kid's riding toys, golf clubs, etc.  Again, just my feeling, I’m lazy when it comes to shipping.  You may get more money selling via ebay than a local sale, you just have to know how you plan to ship a larger item and how much you should charge for shipping.

12.  Post good pictures.  Take photos from various sides, in good lighting and get close ups, especially of any issues.  It will add to the buyer's confidence in bidding.  I don't bid on the listings with one faraway cell phone photo of a wrinkled mess laid out on the floor.  Also, make sure you smooth out the wrinkles before taking the photo and make it look as nice as possible.  For clothing, take at least 3 pictures: front, back and tag (see opening photos of the shorts for this post).  For shoes, get all angles: front, back, side views, interior and soles (Don't you hate the shoe listings with one single photo where you can't even tell if it's a wedge or heel?)  You can add up to 12 photos for free - use as many as you need!  

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