51 Secrets to eBay Success
By Gisela M. Pedroza
Sell like a pro, even if you're just starting out! These eBay experts share their top power-selling
Whether you're about to start a business on eBay or are ready to take your existing business to
the next level, we've put together 51 tips for successful selling on eBay from a panel of experts:
· Marsha Collier (eBay User ID: marsha_c), PowerSeller, eBay University instructor and author
of eBay for Dummies, now in its fourth edition
· David Early (eBay User ID: 66cvette), PowerSeller and creator of MarketPlacePro, software
that enables individuals to sell products and manage their businesses online
· Jim "Griff" Griffith, dean of eBay Education, author of The Official eBay Bible and host of eBay
· Steve Lindhorst (eBay User ID: listingrover), instructor at eBay University, owner of a small
business on eBay, and dealer assistant who helps car dealerships list inventory on eBay
· Christopher Spencer (eBay User ID: borntodeal), Gold Power-Seller and president of The
Spencer Company, which has listed more than 80,000 items on eBay
Here are their secrets to eBay sales success.
Do Your Homework
1. Set aside a day to browse the entire eBay site. Use the eBay Navigation Bar as your
anchor--it's located on the top of every eBay page. Make a note of the pages you'll need in the
future, such as the "Services" page, which contains a treasure trove of tools and services. -J.G.
2. Get step-by-step guidance. Visit www.ebay.com/education. It teaches everything you need to
know to sell on eBay and offers interactive audio tours that show you exactly how to create a
What to Sell?
3. Sell what you know first. If you're into fashion, sell that; if you're into golf, sell golf equipment,
and so on. -M.C.
4. Be observant. Watch for opportunities to obtain items (in quantity if possible) at a low price
for resale. Often, they're right under your nose, such as merchandise your local retailer would
liquidate. Make an offer to clear out the retailer's old or damaged stock. -S.L.
5. Don't start out with just one product or product line. An effective way to build a customer base
on eBay is to offer at least two separate types of items, between which you can cross promote
and drive customers from one to the other. -J.G.
6. Spend time on eBay browsing outside your normal categories. Find out what's hot at
7. Become a Trading Assistant and sell other people's items for a commission. As a Trading
Assistant, you won't have the expense of building inventory, and you can build your business on
eBay very quickly without having to spend a lot of capital. -C.S.
8. Take some calculated risks. Being too careful can cost you. Do a little research on eBay, and
trust your gut when you find potentially salable items. -S.L.
9. If you're not familiar with the product you're trying to sell, educate yourself before you write the
description. If you describe the item incorrectly, buyers may be leery of bidding. Even worse,
buyers could decide not to bid on any of your future items if they're under the impression that you
don't know what you're selling. The more correct information you have and use, the more
credible you'll become in the buyers' eyes. -D.E.
Getting Set Up
10. Become a verified member of eBay through their ID verification process. Getting verified will
help get you past a lot of the restrictions placed on new sellers. -C.S.
11. Choose your ebay user ID wisely. Pick a name that's descriptive, easy to remember and
instantly identifiable with your niche. Your user ID will become your business identification--the
name that people in the eBay universe will learn to search for when they want to buy your
12. Create a second user ID for your eBay business. As long as each user ID you create is sent
to a separate e-mail address, you can create as many user IDs as you want. So if you decide to
start selling car accessories in addition to Hummel figurines, you might choose another user ID
that would be more pertinent to your new product line, such as "Mustangsrock" or
13. Organize. If you're selling from home, set up a dedicated space with areas for inventory
storage, packing materials, photographing and, of course, a desk for your computer and printer.
The best businesses are orderly and organized. -J.G.
14. Set up a designated area within your business location used only for photography. You can
use household lighting and inexpensive cloth or paper backdrops. -J.G.
15. When taking pictures of the items you're selling, choose a camera with good macro-lens
and auto-focus features, and make sure it easily interfaces with your computer. Get great
lighting tips from eBay community boards. -C.S.
Create Your Listing
16. Listings formatted with HTML look more professional than plain, unformatted text. Use the
HTML editor built in to both eBay's "Sell Your Item" form and eBay's free Turbo Lister. With the
HTML editor, you can format description text quickly and easily. -J.G.
17. When you write your title, don't use all capital letters. Uppercase and lowercase letters are
easier to read and will help people quickly see what you're selling. -M.C.
18. When creating your listings, provide a complete and specific item description with as many
clear, detailed photos as possible. You cannot over-describe or overrepresent your item. Not
sure what information to include along with your item description? See the next tip. -J.G.
19. Clearly list your terms and conditions, as well as shipping, returns, warranty and guarantee
policies. You can use an existing template to help separate the terms and conditions into
sections and highlight them with bullet points, so people can read them easily. -C.S.
20. Develop a listing schedule. Before you place a listing, consider the best times for starting
and ending an auction for your particular product. For example, if you had American flags to sell,
you would probably want the listing to end several days before the Fourth of July, rather than just
after it--thus allowing you enough time to ship your product to your buyers in time for the holiday.
If you're working in a niche area, pay attention to the days and times your items do the best, and
start keeping a listing schedule. Then stick to it. Your clientele will learn when you list items, and
you will get much better results from your listings. -D.E.
21. For advanced users, use Seller's Assistant Pro. It will help you put your listings together
offline, then load them onto the site using its bulk-loading feature. There's a free trial, then the
service costs $24.99 per month. -C.S.
While You're Selling
22. Feed the frenzy. You can feed a bidding frenzy on your item by using a low opening bid price
and no reserve, which should attract more bidders at the outset. The more people bidding on
your listing, the more likely that two or more of them will get drawn into a personal bidding war.
At that point, winning the item becomes almost as important as the product they want to buy,
and these bidders might eventually pay more than they intended to pay to beat out the
competition. This can lead to you getting much more for your product than you expected. -D.E.
23. Don't get stuck in a rut. If an item isn't selling as well as it once did, take a look at your
photos, title and description to see if they can be freshened up. -S.L.
24. Just because you're moving merchandise on eBay doesn't mean you're making a profit. If
you can't sell an item with enough of a profit margin, it's probably not worth your time and effort
to sell that item. -M.C.
25. Once you are notified of a sold item, you should promptly respond using the eBay check-out
system. Give buyers an invoice with their total including shipping (which you can calculate using
eBay's shipping rate calculator). -C.S.
26. Once the buyer has paid, arrange for shipping as soon as possible. Make sure you pack the
item securely. For more tips on packing and shipping, check out eBay's packing and shipping
community help board. -C.S.
27. Be reasonable with shipping and handling costs. These costs often make the difference for
buyers choosing between your listing and the competition's. One sure way to get buyers to move
on to another listing is to bait them with a low price and then spring high shipping and handling
costs on them. -S.L.
28. Have a regular shipping day or days. State those dates in your listings so people know when
to expect their packages. -S.L.
29. Use the built-in postage service from PayPal, the eBay company that allows you to accept
online payments from credit cards or bank accounts. The service allows you to purchase
postage and print labels from both UPS and the USPS using your PayPal account; it's a big
30. Schedule courier pickups through the USPS website--it's free, and your regular mail carrier
will come to get your packages. All you have to do is pay the postage, and you won't have to
wait in long lines at the post office. You can even insure the packages without having to go
through a lot of hassles. -C.S.
31. Once the item is shipped out, track the package and make sure it has been delivered.
Follow up with a quick e-mail to the buyer, asking for feedback and whether the item was
32. Provide prompt, punctual and courteous responses to any questions your customers might
have. People will probably want to do business with you again if they receive a pleasant
response from you. -C.S.
33. Never forget that the customer is king. When in doubt, always think like a buyer. If you do,
you will be able to better anticipate what buyers want and plan your business accordingly. -J.G.
34. Treat your customers like you would treat guests in your home. Be kind and understanding.
Be willing to help them when there are problems. -S.L.
35. Eliminate the roadblocks to selling your products. If a buyer wants to use PayPal to buy your
product and you can't accept a PayPal payment, that's a problem. It's a roadblock to selling your
item, making a profit and moving on to the next sale. Take down the roadblocks! This is my
golden rule of retail: Make sure customers who come in the door have a way to pay, and
customers who leave have a smile and a full shopping cart. The point is simple--sell your item,
collect the money, and ship the product. -D.E.
36. Communicate as soon as possible with all buyers who e-mail you. If you make a mistake
and something's not sent when it should have been, let the customer know the truth. Don't ignore
questions or complaints. -S.L.
37. Schedule time once a week for posting feedback--no more than 15 minutes. You have to do
it to be successful. Create a couple of generic feedback statements, such as "Great buyer,
quick payment, great trans," check the spelling, then cut and paste these generic statements
into your feedback submissions. People don't care what you say, as long as it's positive. -D.E.
38. Leave emotion out of feedback. Keep it strictly business. -S.L.
39. Use QuickBooks or other accounting software to help you keep your books in order for
yourself and for your tax specialist. QuickBooks allows you to input your inventory and gives you
reports telling you your average profit per item, as well as how many items you sell each week.
The program also gives you statistics, your markup and a lot of other helpful data. -M.C.
40. Open a premier or business PayPal account. Many buyers limit their eBay shopping to
those sellers who offer PayPal. Using PayPal makes tracking sales, invoicing and bookkeeping
much easier. -J.G.
41. Pennies count. Keep track of expenses. The difference in listing fees between starting an
item at $9.99 and at $10.00 is 25 cents. That adds up to $25 if you're listing 100 items per
week. Also pay attention to hidden costs like shipping supplies and postage. -S.L.
42. Once you've settled on regular inventory, use eBay keywords, a pay-per-click banner
advertising service, to draw people into your store. See
43. Watch your competition. Search them out on eBay. Follow their sales. Determine their best
business practices, and adopt them. For example, if your competition is offering goods similar
to yours at about the same price, consider driving customers to your items by offering free
shipping on some or all of them. -J.G.
44. Don't be afraid to put some items away and wait for your competition to sell out. Profits
definitely rise when you're the only source of a popular item. -S.L.
45. Cultivate your customer database--it's a gold mine. You can use it to market any of your new
items directly to qualified customers. For example, you could send a monthly newsletter to your
database to describe your new products or to give these customers discounts. But before you
proceed with any marketing campaign using your buyers' e-mail addresses, be sure you
understand and comply with the national spam laws. -D.E.
46. Cross-promote with your e-mail signature. It should read something like "If you need
additional products or services, please visit my Storefront at storefront.com." -D.E.
Growing Your Business
47. Don't open an eBay store until you've had a number of transactions on the site and you're
comfortable with the way eBay works. -M.C.
48. When you do open an eBay store, be sure you take advantage of eBay's cross-promotion
tools. These tools allow you to choose which merchandise is featured in your store, so you can
choose items that might be of interest to somebody already buying one of your listed items.
49. Once you become a PowerSeller, consider using a service like Endicia.com, which allows
you to print your own postage and delivery confirmations on one label and gives you a separate
expense line for your postage. -M.C.
50. Don't limit yourself to buyers in the United States. Many brands that are popular and easy to
come by in the United States are practically impossible to get elsewhere. For example, a friend
of mine bought some OshKosh B'Gosh baby clothes at a local garage sale and sold them on
eBay to an eager mother in Australia for a nice profit. And I bought model airplane engines that
are made in Germany at a local swap meet and was surprised to find my biggest demand for
these engines came from buyers in Germany. -D.E.
51. Remember this simple rule for non-U.S. buyers: Don't accept foreign currency; specify that
you'll accept U.S. dollars only. If a buyer sends you $20 Canadian and you were expecting $20
American, you just lost about $8, depending on the current rate of exchange. Always specify
"U.S. funds only." And consider the additional shipping charges that may apply before you
agree to ship the product outside of the country. -D.E.
Click here for more resources from
What are Sponsored Links?
Specializing in affordable small order & web fulfillment.
Internet Order Processing
Pick, Pack, Ship, C.C. Depositing B2B & B2C Solutions from RI
Complete C# & VB.NET shopping Source Included! No Monthly Fees
World class commerce system, 24x7x365 support, great pricing.
Web Offers & More:
Learn more about Web Offers | provided by a third party
· E Commerce - How to Build an E-Commerce Web Site Download the Free Guide Now
· Yahoo Shopping Solutions - New Yahoo customers to your Store 25% Off, PC Mag Award
· Ecommerce Solutions - Build Your Online Store and Start Selling Today Full 24/7 Tech
· e commerce - Real-time Web integration with your ERP - Free Webinar, and More!
· Ecommerce Software - Manage Your Entire Online Business with One System. Free Trial.
· e-Commerce Applications - Learn How BroadVision is Making eCommerce Easier &
· Merchant 5 Store included - E-Com Hosting incl. free storefront only $24.95 per month
· E-commerce - Easy To Build, Edit And Manage. Reviewed And Recommended By
· The Economist Magazine - Read in-depth articles about E-commerce.
· Build Your Online Store - In just 5 minutes you'll be online. So easy & under $25.
Hot eBay Sales Strategies
By Derek Gehl
Just starting out on eBay? Here's how to find a product that'll sell like hotcakes.
Selling a product on eBay can be as easy as looking around your house for something you're
not using anymore. Have the kids outgrown their clothes? Sell them on eBay! Nobody listening
to those old records anymore? Why not auction them on eBay!
When you're first starting out as an eBay seller, there's no reason to acquire a lot of new stock or
jump into the market with something you think will be a hot-selling item. We recommend you
start your eBay career by auctioning off whatever's in your basement, closets or attic. Choose
small, low-priced items: they'll be easy to ship, easy to sell, and you won't be risking a lot of cash.
Remember, these early auctions are mostly for you to gain some experience. If you make some
money, great! But it would be a shame for you to try to sell a family heirloom that's quite valuable
for much less than you expected. Wait until you have a better understanding of the auction
process before you branch off into selling more expensive or sentimental items.
Three types of common household items that typically have strong markets on eBay are:
· Clothing: Both new and used clothing sells very well on eBay. This doesn't mean you should try
to get rid of your old, moth-eaten t-shirts--no one's going to split with their hard-earned money for
totally worthless pieces of junk. But if you have some designer shoes that were only worn once
because they hurt your feet, there's no reason you can't auction them off for some decent cash.
· Collectibles: Collectors are the people on eBay who really do pay top-dollar for things that
seem like junk to you and I. It's actually quite common to post what you think is a mundane item,
only to have collectors suddenly go to war over it because it's somehow linked to something they
· Sports equipment: Look through your attic, closets and garage for sports equipment you no
longer use. Also check out eBay's Sporting Goods In Demand page for a better idea of what's
hot in that category.
Selling the odds and ends you have lying around the house is a terrific way to begin learning the
ins and outs of creating auction listings on eBay. And you may even make a little cash in the
Watch eBay's Promotional Calendar
eBay's Seller Central provides truckloads of valuable information for eBay sellers. One of the
most helpful areas to check out within this section--especially around the holidays--is eBay's
promotional calendar, which lets you know the featured categories of products that eBay is
going to promote on its homepage over the coming months.
If you have any products that fit into those categories, make sure you list them during those
dates--you should receive a lot more traffic than usual to your auctions.
Consider Using eBay's Gift Services Icon
Do you think the item you're selling would make a great gift? Then let buyers know by choosing
the "Gift Services" option while creating your listing. If your item really is a good gift idea and
you're offering some of the gift services people may be looking for, such as gift cards, express
shipping or wrapping, this 25-cent option may bring you swarms of eager bidders.
Sellers can choose to search eBay by gift items only, so this is an especially useful marketing
tactic during the Christmas season when your items have a good chance of going for a higher
price. However, if you don't plan on offering any of the gift services mentioned above, don't
bother choosing this option. It won't boost your price and it may get you negative feedback for
Whether you're new to eBay or an experienced seller, there are always a ton of new techniques
and strategies you can be experimenting with to boost your sales in this giant online
marketplace. And by tying your promotions in with eBay's special ads and promotions, you can
see a dramatic increase in your sales!
Derek Gehl is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has
helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses.
What are Sponsored Links?
Specializing in affordable small order & web fulfillment.
Online Order Processing
Pick, Pack, Ship, C.C. Depositing B2B & B2C 3PL Solutions from RI
Complete C# & VB.NET shopping Source Included! No Monthly Fees
World class commerce system, 24x7x365 support, great pricing.
Your eBay Inventory
By Jacquelyn Lynn and Charlene Davis
Inventory management can make or break your eBay biz. Stay successful with these inventory
storage and tracking tips.
Editor's note: This article is excerpted from Make Big Profits on eBay.
A strong appeal of selling on eBay and elsewhere online is the low cost and flexibility of
operating in a virtual world. But if you sell merchandise, whether or not you have a
brick-and-mortar retail operation, you need a place to store your merchandise and you'll need to
track your inventory.
Storing Your Inventory
Unless you use a drop-shipper, you need space to securely store your products. How much
space you need depends, of course, on what you're selling and the amount of inventory you
keep on hand. It's also helpful if your storage area is roomy enough to function as a packing and
shipping station. Your options include:
· Space in your home. If you are homebased and your merchandise doesn't take up a lot of
room, you may have adequate storage space in your home. Designate a large closet or a room
for your products. Many homebased eBay sellers work from their garages. For example, Karen
Kelley (eBay User ID: thepinkboutique) has turned her garage into a small warehouse that
accommodates thousands of pieces of merchandise. Seasonal items are kept in marked boxes
until it's time to bring them out; garments ready to be auctioned hang on racks.
· Self-storage facilities. You can rent space equivalent to anything from a large closet to an
extra garage at a self-storage facility. Many offer options ranging from air-conditioned space,
indoor access, loading docks, and more. Some operators will accept deliveries on your behalf if
you can't be there to sign for them yourself. Self-storage is a great option for a homebased
business that needs a little extra space or even a retailer who wants storage at a lower price
than at a commercial location. The self-storage industry is rapidly expanding and extremely
competitive, so shop around before you make a decision.
· Commercial warehouse space. If you maintain a sizeable inventory and your items tend to be
heavy, you may need a commercial warehouse facility with a shipping dock. You'll find this type
of commercial space in industrial (light and heavy) parks and mixed-use commercial areas.
Some offer only warehouse space; others have small offices and even showrooms adjacent to
the warehouse. Gary Neubert (eBay User ID: gatorpack) has a 5,000-square-foot warehouse
with a loading dock. After they closed their retail shop, Ron and Sheri Walker (eBay User ID:
beansantiques) turned their building into what they call an "eBay factory" with a computer room,
storage areas, and packing stations.
· Public (commercial) storage. A viable option to your own commercial space is a public
warehouse. Public warehousing companies can essentially function as your shipping
department. In addition to storage, their services include pick and pack operations, packaging,
and labeling, and they will arrange for shipping on the carrier you specify. Public warehousing
prices are based on usage--you only pay for the space and labor you use. Contract
warehousing is similar in terms of services, but you pay fees whether or not you use space and
services. Find public warehouse companies in your local telephone directory or through an
Remember that the more storage space you have, the easier it is to purchase off-season
inventory that you hold until the time is right to sell. However, always remember to calculate
storage costs into your cost of selling those items.
Whatever space you have designated for storage needs to be properly equipped and functional.
You'll likely need sturdy shelves for boxes or bins, rods for hanging items, and a table to use for
packing and labeling. Assign specific areas for items "to be listed," "listed," "sold, waiting for
payment," and "ready to pack and ship."
Your storage facility's environment should be appropriate for your products. If your merchandise
is temperature sensitive, make sure you use an air-conditioned facility. It should be dry, free of
insects and other pests, and free of household odors such as cigarette smoke and pets.
Tracking Your Inventory
Do you know how Sam Walton became the world's most successful retailer? It wasn't because
of a clever name, snazzy logo, creative ads, sharp frontline people, or even low prices--it was
because of the company's superior inventory management. Business students in colleges and
universities around the world study Wal-Mart's system, and smart companies copy it. Your own
inventory management system doesn't have to be as high-tech or complex, but it does have to
be as serious.
At any given moment, you need to know what you have on hand, what you've purchased that's on
the way, what you need to buy, what's up for auction, what's available in your eBay store and on
your website, what's been sold, and what's been shipped.
For small, low-volume sellers, a simple index card system or spreadsheet will be sufficient.
Serious eBay sellers track this information electronically. Most auction management software
packages include inventory tracking.
In addition to keeping track of the information, you also need to consider the physical flow of
your inventory. At eBay drop-off franchise QuikDrop, items move systematically through the
store. After an item is accepted at the front counter, it goes to the photo area. Once it's
photographed and the listing is written, it's moved to the area designated for items currently up
for auction. When the auction closes, it's moved to the sold rack (or to the return-to-customer
area if it didn't sell) until payment is received; then it goes to the shipping rack for packing and
Set up a system that works for the type of merchandise you're selling and that will allow you to
be as efficient as possible.
Your inventory tracking system should tell you what's selling well--and what isn't. When items
have overstayed their welcome in your warehouse, be creative about moving them out, even if
you take a loss. For example, if Kathy Logan (eBay User ID: rosie_peachstate), who sells craft
supply products, has a product that isn't selling well, she will make something with it, and include
a photo of that item in her auction listing to give potential buyers a better idea of what they can
do with it. You can also put together groups of items and sell them in a single lot with a low
starting bid, or offer a free bonus to the winning bidder. If you can't manage to sell it, donate it to
charity--do whatever you have to do to free up your storage space and your cash for more
products, even if it sometimes means taking a loss.
Click here for more resources from
If you're ready to jump into franchising, Entrepreneur magazine's 27th annual comprehensive
ranking of franchises worldwide is a great place to start your search.
Top Homebased Franchises
Looking for a homebased business? Check out this list of the world's top-ranked franchises that
can be run from home.
Best of the Best: Category Leaders from the Franchise 500
No matter what type of franchise you're interested in, you'll want to take a look at the best
franchises for 2006 as based on Entrepreneur's 2006 Franchise 500® rankings.
Top Global Franchises
Interested in buying a U.S. franchise? These top 200 U.S. franchisors are more than happy to
offer international opportunities to entrepreneurs worldwide.
Got a need for speed? Then take a look at the 100 franchises that grew the fastest over the past
year, as based on Entrepreneur's 2006 Franchise 500® rankings.
Top New Franchises
The top 50 new franchises, which all started franchising since 2001, are redefining franchise
Top Low Cost Franchises
Explore this variety of franchises you can buy for less than $50,000.
Entrepreneur and PriceWaterhouseCoopers' 11th Annual Hot 100 list of the fastest-growing
new entrepreneurial companies in America
a d v e r t i s e m e n t