Ask a dozen different veterans of the eBay auction site and they'll tell you dozens of different ways to increase your sales.
Due to the vast differences in items sold on eBay and the vast differences between stay-at-home sellers and larger businesses that sell goods at auctions, there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution. The best answer for finding what works is to experiment with various sales methods to see which techniques drive the most traffic to your website, get noticed by auction shoppers, and ratchet up your sales.
Making a business out of selling on eBay means that you're not just looking to unload some old clothes or record albums. Here are some tips on how to turn eBay auctions into a cash cow:
Timing is Everything
Some sellers believe you have to have short auctions to get the most buck for your bang. Other sellers will tell you to go long to give items a chance to go higher. "End on a Sunday night," might be the recommended advice from one; ending on a Friday from another. It really comes down to experimenting, and seeing what works best with the items you're selling.
Much of it revolves around common sense, says Tom Buck, a long-time eBay salesman. If you're listing baseball cards, for example, don't run auctions that will close in the middle of the fifth game of the World Series. Consider your audience, and also think nationally, even internationally. If you're in California, it might seem ideal to have an auction end at 11 p.m. But that's 2 a.m. on the East Coast. That could work. It might not.
Stagger Listing Times
"A good way that I have found to increase my online sales is to stagger the listing times for each of the major time zones," says Buck. He often has one item close when it is 8 p.m. on the East Coast, but the next close at 8 p.m. in the Central Standard Time zone. He adds that the listing can be cross-referenced by potential buyers in the "seller's other items" link, so that if a potential buyer misses an item at 8 p.m., he or she can try for another item an hour later. "Another way is to employ the same technique, but space the listings one day apart on a seven-day auction," says Buck. "If you time it properly, it will give your listings 14 days of collective coverage."
Describe Your Items Accurately
All sellers will agree that there are numerous things you should always do. These include a good, solid description of the item for sale. And be sure to address any flaws or defects -- otherwise, you might have an unhappy buyer who looks for you to refund the money. Unhappy buyers are bad for your business in the real world, but even worse on eBay, which allows customers to rate you for the quality of your goods and your professionalism in their dealings with you.
Pictures Speak More than a Thousand Words
Some eBay buyers will never make a purchase without seeing the merchandise first. A photo can clinch a sale, so try to include at least one with your offering. If you don't have a good digital camera, buy one.
Avoid Negative Feedback
Remember that communication is key. Don't start an auction and then go on a three-week vacation. At the same time, potential buyers need not be threatened with a hostile tone demanding unreasonably fast payment. You want to avoid having buyers leave negative feedback about you, the seller. Make sure to spell out return conditions, how you'll ship the item, and payment terms. eBay, like many other auction sites, doesn't allow bank transfers or money wires. So don't even offer these, as they could make potential buyers think you're running a scam. Be prompt in leaving positive feedback, too. Buyers will hopefully reciprocate and leave positive feedback for you, too.
Set Your Opening Bid Price Just Right
One other point that many eBay sellers also debate is the starting bid. Start an item out too high and you might not get anyone to bite. Starting it too low means an item could sell for far less than its value. You don't want to lose money on an item and that's why setting a reserve price for the auction might be a good option. If the reserve isn't met during bidding, then no transaction is completed. "When you start something off very low, people are more apt to get into bidding wars," Buck, the veteran, says. "Pride or ego takes over and a bidder will sometimes pay much more than an item is worth."