Seventeen Best Practices For eBay Selling Success
By R. Steve McCollum

Seventeen best practices for long term eBay selling success:

1. Do Not Start Blind. Before you begin selling, memorize all the rules and regulations backwards and forwards, and then follow them to the letter. Do not let one small infraction spoil your future with eBay.

2. Online Marketing Network. Also, before you begin selling, plan how you want to identify yourself and your product. Keep in mind that you may ultimately want the names you choose to help facilitate the growth of a long term online marketing network. Your goal, then, might be to create identities across multiple selling platforms and selling channels that are all linked, and all mutually helpful in search results.

3. Go With The Flow. Realize and accept that eBay is evolving in response to changing buyer preferences and to become more profitable. So, get ready for quarterly changes in fee structures, seller perqs, selling formats, and on and on. Responding to the near constant flow of changes can be very time consuming. And, very annoying. Just take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and go with the flow. Despite the frustration, eBay is still one of the largest marketplaces.

4. Start Small. You do not want to get overwhelmed. So, start small, learn the process, then grow. Do not jump in too big or grow too fast. That is how mistakes can occur. Such as, receiving too many orders to ship them in a timely manner.

5. Start With Safe Items. Make absolutely certain that your first sales are slam dunk positive feedback guaranteed. Again, you do not want a small mistake in the beginning to spoil your future.

6. Solicit Feedback. If you must, get on your hands and knees and beg for that first positive feedback. Seriously, you can follow up with a buyer after a sale to request positive feedback.

7. Selling Used Items. If you sell used merchandise, such as antiques and collectibles, then you must be triply cautious. The overall objective is that the buyer receive full disclosure of the item’s condition. To accomplish this, the item description must be accurate, the item photo(s) must be fully revealing, and the item’s packing for shipment must be as safe as possible.

8. An eBay Store. Growth on eBay means having larger and larger quantities of items listed, and possibly at higher prices, too. There are listing quantity thresholds, where it makes economic sense to open an eBay store. Keep this is mind when you are planning your eBay identity. You will likely want your eBay store name to compliment your network marketing strategy.

9. Full Disclosure. When writing your item description, avoid the hype. Even though it might hurt, you must describe the item completely and accurately – all the good, together with all the bad and all the ugly. It is by far better to exceed a buyer’s expectations, or at least match a buyer’s expectations, than the other way around. In other words, the key is to over-deliver (in the buyer’s eyes), rather than under-deliver.

10. Free Shipping. If at all economically feasible, offer free shipping all the time for all of your items. If not feasible, you might consider free shipping for seasonal and special promotions. Why? Because, not only will you attract more buyers, but eBay will reward you with a number perqs. Not to mention, that you will also ace one of your DSR feedback scores.

11. Buyer First Impressions. First impressions are very important. The first visual impression a buyer receives is of the item search listing – the title, price and photo. The first physical impression a buyer receives is when unpacking the item. Meaning that you should spend as much attention to creating impressive packing as you do to selecting an item’s title, photo and price. Whenever possible, use all new packing materials – labels, boxes, envelopes, messages, and padding.

Both impressions are equally important. The visual one influences a buyer’s interest. While the physical one influences your feedback score.

12. Item Title. Writing an item’s title is not, at least at first, an intuitive process. On eBay, only keywords matter, nothing else. So, for example, your item is not “A Rare Beautiful Well Cared For Wooden Antique Chair.” Instead, it is more likely a “Chippendale Antique Slat Back Chair ca. 1700’s IVFC.” Your job is to discover every word a buyer might use (even including misspelled words) to search for your item. Then, incorporate those words into the item’s listing title.

Think of the title as a utility comprised of perhaps unrelated and misspelled words, not as sales copy. The title merely functions to get your item listing found in search. The search photo confirms the find. And, it is the listing description that closes the sale.

13. Writing A Description. Some item descriptions are so poorly written, so inaccurate and so haphazard, they leave me wondering how those sellers stay in business. Needless to say, sloppy is not my recommendation. Instead, I have developed a standard format that I follow for every listing. In this way, every listing is complete, detailed, and easy to read or scan.

14. Photos. Photos are a component of the buyer’s first visual impression; so, a good photo(s) must be included in every listing and done right. This means you will need to invest in a good digital camera, tripods, lighting equipment, background materials, and photo software.

15. Shipping Timeliness. If you offer 2 day shipping, and you should; then, ship every item every time on time. If you encounter delays, notify your buyer. Then, reward your buyer’s patience with expedited delivery service, or some other gift.

16. Take A Vacation. Running an eBay business is one of the most demanding enterprises around. There is constant pressure to perform – from customers, from eBay, and from yourself. You do not want to let yourself burn out or perform poorly, and consequently suffer bad feedback. So, if you get tired or need a break, take a vacation. Just be sure to turn on your store ‘on vacation’ setting.

17. Protect Your Reputation. Do whatever you have to do to satisfy an unhappy customer, and thus protect your feedback score. Here is an example. I shipped a 300 lb. arcade video game to a customer in California. It was intended to be a Christmas present, but the freight carrier lost the game. Rather than wait on a claim to be processed, I immediately shipped my customer a replacement game that was more expensive than the one they had originally purchased.

When it comes to successfully selling on eBay, I am just a very small fish in a very large pond. Nonetheless, I am an eBay veteran with several years experience, 100% positive feedback, and one who has attained Power Seller status and Top-Rated Seller recognition. I hope that the above best practices will serve you as well as they have me.

Visit R. Steve McCollum at for more eCommerce information, tips, and strategies.

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