Quick and easy ways to increase your takings on eBay…

Sometimes the shortest task can have the biggest and most profitable impact on a business and its profits – as, for example, where a high street retailer first takes his products online and benefits from an enormous marketplace that had previously gone unnoticed.

Or where an eBay seller adds a unique bonus to a heavily competitive product and finds himself suddenly garnering the majority of sales for the product: just short tasks, sometimes taking minutes or hours – days at most – to develop, and sometimes sending sales and profits soaring.

So what are some of those short tasks that might explode your own eBay earnings?

They include:

  • A free bonus product can sometimes prove more attractive to buyers than the main product and can increase sales significantly. But once rival sellers see their sales dropping and discover the reason why, your free bonus will be copied by all those other sellers and your sales and profits plummet.

That’s why, sometimes, it’s a good idea to trademark or patent your bonus products to reduce their chance of being copied. But protecting your goods this way can be expensive and best reserved for bonus items given with high-profit, high-turnover goods, rather than low-profit goods. Read about trademark and patent protection at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office.

  • Do not ignore messages from eBay telling you to consider revising your listing, or listings which have not attracted sales in the last 16 months. This is because if an item hasn’t sold after 16 months it’s probably not going to sell at all. eBay is trying to get you to change your listing to make it more appealing to visitors and more likely to sell. That’s what you should have done without eBay’s timely reminder. Also see the next tip…
  • Keep up to date with eBay rules and regulations, as well as changes to fees – not forgetting instances (lot of instances) where eBay announces a planned change that doesn’t go ahead. eBay will send you an email about most proposed changes but not about abandonment and U-turns.

That is why, recently, when eBay announced a surplus fee would be charged for each listing continued beyond 18 months, I promptly removed all of my listings bearing the 16 months reminder and have continued doing so for several weeks. Until today, in fact, when an eBay colleague told me plans to charge the surplus fee had been dropped soon after they were announced!

At http://sellerupdate.ebay.co.uk/spring2015/index eBay says: ‘In March, we announced that we’d introduce a fee for renewing a listing that hasn’t sold within 18 months. This was to improve the shopping experience by removing clutter on the site.’

We’ve listened to your feedback and have decided not to go ahead with this. However, we still encourage you to avoid outdated listings. We’ll keep working towards finding new ways to support you and help your listings succeed.’

  • List products other people need to run their own ventures on eBay, or other marketplace, especially those likely to generate repeat business and requiring regular replenishment. Examples: craftwork materials for people selling handmade jewellery on eBay; packaging materials and courier delivery services suitable for most sellers.

Once you’ve found a regular customer on eBay, you can continue dealing with that person outside of eBay, so cutting your selling costs. Just don’t let eBay see you using their site to arrange orders and payments that don’t add to the company’s coffers, or you and your customers risk being suspended or expelled from eBay.

Instead, make a careful note of email addresses belonging to first-time buyers paying you through PayPal, then communicate with those people outside of eBay.

  • Don’t delete failed auction listings for products you expected to sell but didn’t. Instead check how many people visited your listing and use what you find to make changes to help your listing succeed.

A lot of viewers but no watchers indicates an item a lot of people may have considered buying and then decided not to. One reason might be that spelling mistakes and defective images in your listing make you look unprofessional and led to doubts about you and your product. Or perhaps your starting price was too high, or your reserve put people off buying.

Either way, think about repeating your offer by relisting directly from the failed listing. If your item sells second time round, you will normally qualify for a refund on your second listing fee. Amend your listing to make your offer more attractive and increase its selling chances.

Try improving your images and descriptions – reduce your starting price, for example, and provide other incentives. But make changes to your original listing, because a fresh listing will not qualify for a refund if your item sells next time round.

  • Look beyond the obvious purpose of whatever you are selling. That’s because an item with an obvious purpose may have another altogether very different purpose and appeal to a very different type of buyer.

For example, an old newspaper isn’t just an old newspaper if it includes an article about Charlie Chaplin or a story about Walt Disney, or if it contains an obituary section for miners who lost their lives in a named location pit disaster. In such cases that newspaper also becomes, respectively:

– A neat piece of film memorabilia that should be listed as theatrical memorabilia as well as a newspaper.

– A common piece of ‘Disneyana’ in one country, but a possible rarity on another-country eBay site. Again the item can be listed as a piece of ‘Disneyana’ on eBay as well as a collectable newspaper.

– A piece of social history about a sad day for mining communities worldwide, but especially for people living where the accident happened. Something of this nature should be listed, not only under ‘newspapers’, but also in categories targeted at collectors of mining memorabilia and specific topographic locations.

How easy was that?

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here