It s easy to place a listing on an Internet auction. Anyone can do it. Selling at online auctions is like fishing, it's fun and sometimes addictive but only when you are catching something. Below are just a few of the many tips to assist sellers in having the best auction experience.
1. Listing Lessons
Category selection - Take care when selecting categories. Go though the auction site and make a list of categories that best suit your product and situation. Narrow these down to one and its appropriate subcategories. Some auction sites allow two category listings for an additional fee. Avoid listing in categories that have less than 1000 listings, typically, these categories don t get as much traffic. Aim for categories with 4,000 to 5,000 listings.
Research - Take great pains to research the auction site s terms and agreements and similar products on the website. See how much the starting price is and how much they are selling for. Start as low as possible. Products with low starting prices are more likely to be bid on first. Also, avoid reserve prices. People become wary of a product they are blindly bidding on; however, reserves are usually expected for high ticket items like computers and televisions.
It s all in the timing - Carefully choose closing times and days. It s best to close an auction during peak hours of the day, usually when people are at home and willing to spend money. Some higher traffic days are Sunday and Monday nights from about 5 to 10 PM or Saturday and Sunday mornings between 10 AM and 2 PM.
Find a niche - Many major companies and department stores are flooding the online market and making it difficult for individual sellers to sell common goods like clothes and appliances. However, finding your niche in the auction world will benefit the buyer and seller. Focus on objects that department stores don t usually carry like products from joke shops, magic shops or rare baseball cards.
Be up front and honest - Always disclose shipping and handling arrangements and payment options. Don t become overzealous in the shipping department. Be honest about how much the product really costs to ship. If someone buys an item for two dollars, they will not be willing to pay eight dollars for shipping and handling. Overcharging for shipping is considered price gauging and seriously frowned upon and can sometimes result in being kicked off the auction site.
The more payment options the seller is willing to accepted the more likely the item will be bid on; however, make it very clear to the buyer that if paying by check or money order, the product will not be shipped until the check clears. Most people feel safe using third party payment companies like PayPal and many auction sites highly recommend using these services.
2. Visually Speaking
A picture is worth a 1000 words - Always include one or more photos of the product. Buyers feel more comfortable bidding on products they have seen. No matter how descriptive the details are about the item, always include a photograph of the item in the gallery page and on the details page.
Bold and Highlight - Most auction sites offer additional listing upgrades; these often include bolding or highlighting item titles in the gallery or in features. These upgrades usually cost a little extra; however, they will help make your product stand out in the crowd. Remember, if the item is listed in two categories the fees will be double.
Include background - Spice things up a little with background watermarks or textures. This gives the seller the opportunity to subtly show personality. However, be careful when choosing a background. Don t choose flashy designs that will irritate the eyes of the person browsing the page or distract from the product being sold.
3. Choose Words Wisely
Headlines are advertisements - The goal is to sell the item, therefore use words that make the item sound special without lying. This is a tricky business and professional advertisers are paid millions of dollars to think of interesting ways to sell products. Use power words like designer, new, rare, unique, easy to use, money saving, etc.
Included with choosing power words is creating a strong search - 65 percent of eBay users find products through the search feature, including specific search terms like designer names and product manufacturers will greatly increase traffic. Power words are words that get people s attention without taking up too much space. Use a combination of attention getting words with short detailed descriptions of what the product is in the title. Also, avoid strange characters like @@, $$$ or !!! These symbols are distracting and unprofessional. Remember lying about a product is illegal. Don t advertise an item as rare if any Larry, Curly or Moe can get the same item at Wal mart.
Detailed descriptions - The item descriptions section is the product s place to shine. This is where the seller should include every detail they can think of about the item, important or otherwise.
Include the product s history, any defects, why it s being sold and stories - Again, people like to know what they are buying. Be honest about cracks, bends, rips and imperfections. Additionally, if the item has a story attached to it, tell the story. This gives the item a personal touch and allows the buyer to know a little something about the seller. People are more likely to buy products from those they feel a connection with rather than strangers.
4. Community Awareness
Always participate in the feedback program - Buy a few small items before posting your own. This allows sellers to get their feet wet with positive feedback. Auction communities rely heavily on other s remarks. Feedback helps build a reputation and creditability.
Additionally, respond to emails and questions quickly and courteously. Auction sellers depend on good customer service for good feedback. Remember this is a business transaction and needs to be handled in a professional manner.
Create an About Me page - If given the option, take a few moments to create an About Me page. Secrecy can be a seller's worst enemy. Buyers are more likely to trust people that are willing to disclose a little more information about themselves. This establishes a sense of stability and trust between the buyer and seller.
Unfortunately, not all products listed at auction sell. Just like any business, placing items on an auction site needs to be taken with just as much care as if it were being sold in a regular store. For a positive selling experience many considerations and cautions need to be taken into account when listing products on auctions like eBay, Overstock.com and Yahoo! Auctions.
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Microsoft Corporation. (2006). 5 tips for selling goods through eBay. Retrieved August 31, 2006, from http://www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/resources/technology/ecommerce/5_tips_for_selling_goods_through_ebay.mspx
McGrath, S. (2006). 99 Tips for Buying and Selling on eBay. Vision. Retrieved August 31, 2006, from http://www.skipmcgrath.com/auction_sr/99tips.shtml
Ward, S. (2006). 7 Tips For Selling On eBay - eBay Selling Tips to Help You Sell on eBay Successfully. About, Inc., A part of. Retrieved August 31, 2006, from http://sbinfocanada.about.com/cs/onlinebusiness/a/ebaysellingtips.htm