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Old 07-23-2013, 10:07 PM   #1
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The EBAY thread

I've been meaning to write this for some time, because I truly believe EVERYONE should and can be an ebay seller. I'm certainly not the foremost ebay authority on DiaperSwappers. There are far more prolific and experienced sellers (5PrincessMommy and HandsAndFirePottery to name a couple) and hopefully they will chime in with their suggestions. And everyone else - feel free to post with your own ideas, questions, etc.

Note: Since I wrote the thread I've been getting many PMs asking Ebay questions. I'd really prefer to have the questions posted to this thread so the Q&A can be seen by others and I don't have to answer the same PMs again and again. Thanks!

I started selling on ebay casually a few years ago on a whim, and still consider myself a casual seller. I absolutely love it. It's super easy money, and it's fun. Dinnertime in my house usually starts off with me entertaining my husband with what complete piece of junk sold for an unbelievable price on eBay. ("Honey, you know that flask of Royal Scotch we finished last night? I just sold the drawstring pouch for $24.")

Below are some tips on selling. I will try and refine this post as time goes on.

If you're already familiar with selling and shipping on forums, ebay is hardly any different, and in fact easier. It has a very intuitive and sophisticated interface to list your items, upload/edit pics, create shipping labels, manage communication, leave feedback, resolve issues, etc. You can reach a much broader market, and sell items for way higher than you would on craigslist, Facebook, or forums (let alone garage sales and consignment).

Don't be intimidated. Once you get the hang of things, listing things for sale is a breeze. And yes, eBay does take 10% of your sale (see exceptions below), but it's really not that bad. You'll be making enough to make it worth it.


TIPS:

1) Minimize ebay fees
a) Never pay to insert listings. Every seller gets 50 free listings per month, and every month Ebay has promotional free listing days. I actually have two eBay accounts - this is perfectly legit - so I get 100 free insertions per month. And there seem to be at least 7 - 10 other free listing days each month.
b) Get a 20% final value fee discount by becoming a Top-Rated Plus seller. It's easier than you think. My second account became Top-Rated within 6 months of starting to sell. To qualify for the discount, in addition to stellar seller performance, your listings need to offer a 14-day return window and one-day handling.
c) Get a shipping discount by becoming a PowerSeller. This is a bit harder, since it requires you sell at a certain volume. But if you sell at least $3000 in a year, you get a bronze PowerSeller status, which gives you a pretty good shipping discount on priority mail packages.
d) If you are selling at a high volume each month, open an eBay store. This involves complex number crunching to see if it's worth it, since stores are charged monthly fees which depend on the tier of store. Ebay stores sellers get discounted final value fees that depend on the sale category, as well as more free listings each month.

2) Don't invest too much in buying stuff to sell on eBay. There's free stuff on the street, stuff that your acquaintances and friends just want you to take off their hands, and plenty of existing junk cluttering up your closets and garage. If you really need to obtain stuff to sell, shop thrift stores and garage sales... but have a discerning eye for what sells well on eBay. (See below.) There's no reason to outlay significant funds towards your sale items.

3) Know what sells well. Certain categories you're better off selling on craigslist or forums. I don't sell electronics (phones, computer-related, gaming, etc), non-rare books, and movies on eBay, because there's a ton of sellers selling the same thing so the price is driven down. The obvious exception is if it’s an item or part of a model that is no longer sold and hard to find – and only a search for the item in the Sold Items of Ebay would tell me whether that’s the case. Anything one-of-a-kind or rare sells well. Discontinued or vintage sells well. PARTS PARTS PARTS (please see a later tip for more details on this). Baby stuff generally sells well. Name brand clothing that's in good condition. Anything that's OEM (genuine) for which there are knock-offs or generic replacements on the market - those will sell well.

Last week at a thrift store, my kids begged for a $1.50 grab bag filled with "junk" small toys. I bought it, then came home and did a bit of research, and found that a few of those toys were vintage DC comics action figures. I made about $75 by selling some of them.

4) Describe any issues or flaws VERY VERY WELL in your listing. I highlight, boldface, and increase the font size to like 24-point, for any significant flaws in my description, and I also put that in the "condition" that shows up at the top of the page, and if the flaw is serious enough I'll include it in the title. Don't underestimate the buyers' tendency to gloss over things and miss your flaw disclosure. You literally need to hit them over the head with this, so as not to have Item-Not-As-Described cases opened against you, and negative feedback.

Leave no room for the buyer to make the wrong assumption about something. Say clearly what your listing does and does not include. Take a ton of photos in different lighting and from every angle, especially of flaws. For things like clothing and purses, buyers often get upset if the color is not what they expected from the photos, so if any of your listing photos have misrepresented the true color, then point that out.

5) Do not overcharge for shipping. This leaves a bad taste in the buyer's mouth, and will get you low detailed seller ratings on shipping (which will affect your top-rated seller status if applicable). If you find that shipping is less than you thought, refund the buyer, with a nice note. They will REALLY appreciate that and will reflect it in your feedback.

6) Don't sell yourself short. i.e. Price high. Listing my items Buy It Now with a Best-Offer option has worked better for me than auction style listings. (If you care more about quick turnover and are doing this to earn real money than just casual pocket money, this may not work for you.) Many buyers restrict their search to only Buy-It-Now listings because they don't want to go through the hassle of getting outbid or waiting for an auction to end.

An important side benefit of pricing high is that you're less likely to sell to a bad buyer. By pricing items higher, you'll probably end up selling to someone who seriously wants the item and doesn't mind paying a lot for it, instead of a cheapskate who likes to open cases or wrangle partial refunds for no good reason.

I will do auction-style listings only when there's a promotion for free auction-style listing insertions. When listing auction-style, I will go with a fairly high starting price, and then add a Buy-It-Now option which is 30% higher (which is the minimum for BIN). I don't start any of my auctions at 0.01 or 0.99. I start them at the price I want to sell them at.

This does mean that the vast majority of my items won't sell before the listing duration expires. But I don't care, since I'm doing this as a hobby. I will just relist them the next time I can relist for free. I'd rather sell for the price I want, than just clear out. Again, this may not be the case for you.

7) Sell internationally. This is a valuable market you don't want to miss out on. Foreigners will buy your super-highly-priced items because there are many things they can't get in their own country. (Example: a British buyer bought a 36-ct box of Tommee Tippee breastmilk storage bags for $28 including shipping.) Selling overseas isn't as risky as it sounds, you can minimize your risk by including insurance on higher value items, and excluding problematic countries. I find that foreign buyers are much nicer to deal with, in general. Canada, Europe, and Australia are home to some of my favorite buyers.


8) Sell things for parts. I cannot emphasize this enough.

You can always make TONS more by selling an item for parts than as a whole. Have an item that's broken, a set missing some components, or anything otherwise imperfect? Break it down into parts and accessories and sell. This holds for toys, games, electronics, small appliances that come with accessories, etc. If you sold your Graco Pack and Play but later found the attachments in the garage, you're sitting on a gold mine. Heck, I've even sold the BOXES for things! I've sold boxes for Ergo inserts, cameras, Ralph Lauren clothing, etc for between $10 to $20 plus shipping. And the current going rate for a Samsung Galaxy S4 box is around $25!! Those manuals and software disks from products... you never use them, and those will ALL sell. The older the model the better.

Some examples:

An unexpired Graco car seat and base I had listed on craigslist wouldn't sell for over a month. Finally, I sold the base separately on craigslist for $15. Sold the car seat cover on eBay for $25+shipping (there are always people hunting for a particular print). Sold the straps separately for $9 including shipping. Sold the crotch buckle for $10. Sold the chest buckle for $10. Made WAY more than I could have selling the whole car seat.

And if your car seat is expired, before donating it to Babies R Us during their trade-in event, strip it of all sellable parts, as mentioned above.

Another example: I wanted to sell a Braun hand blender (the stick/immersion type) that was in near new condition, purchased for almost $50 from BBB originally. Listed for $25 on craigslist and kept getting lowball offers. Finally I listed it for parts on eBay. Sold the whisk attachment for $18 including shipping. The chopper attachment for $20. The tiny wall mount for $15. The mixing beaker for $13. The beaker lid for $7. The non-slip beaker base for $6. And the main unit sold today for $42 with shipping!

A third: Once we had a Fisher Price Ocean Wonders aquarium swing that died. I broke it all down and sold each individual part - tray, seat belt, seat cover, mobile arm, mobile toys, legs, battery cover, stand, etc... and made over $260.


9) It never hurts to make a "sales call".

What do I mean? If you have a buyer who has purchased from you in the past, and you now want to list the same or similar item(s) again, try contacting them to see if they want to buy again, before you list. You have a good relationship and it's pretty much guaranteed to be a headache-free transaction.

(Note: You do have their paypal email so no one can stop you from contacting them directly and proposing a sale through paypal... although this might go against your or the buyer's ethics. Policy-wise, since you're not contacting them via ebay, they probably cannot go after you for it. If you're top-rated or have a store, ebay fees will be low enough that it's better just to sell through ebay. It will up your performance scores.)

Another very useful suggestion. If a buyer has just bid, made an offer, or done BIN on one of your items, and you have something similar to it (either listed or unlisted), try messaging them to ask if they might be interested in the other things as well, to add to your ebay invoice before you ship. Offer a discount for buying a lot. I've sold a LOT of big bundles this way. For example, if they bought some bottles and you have accessories for those bottles. Or if they bought certain clothing and you have a lot more in that size/style.

Just this morning (8/14), a buyer made offers on two different Kitchenaid lids for stainless steel cookware. I messaged him to see if he might be interested in 3 more random lids I found in the cupboard - all different brands and sizes. He actually agreed to buy them ALL. I sent one combined invoice for $50. A great way to clean out!

10) Protect your seller ratings and eBay performance.

I’ve written a separate thread concerning this, because handling transaction issues wisely and maintaining good feedback and ratings is the most important factor in your success. Here’s the

Transaction thread:
http://www.diaperswappers.com/forum/....php?t=1598046

To recap briefly, Ebay rates your performance every month to determine your eligibility for top-rated seller status and certain discounts. And your feedback is what will attract or scare buyers to/from your listings.

Answer questions from buyers quickly. Ship quickly.

When faced with an unhappy buyer and an opened case, which is every seller's nightmare, your choice of words to the buyer really matters. Be courteous and professional, never accuse them of lying (even if they are). Do your utmost to resolve the case before it is escalated to eBay, as eBay tends to favor the buyer, and even for cases where Ebay issues a courtesy refund to the buyer without finding the seller at fault, they now count that as a defect for the seller.
At the same time, from many experiences with opened cases, I know I can trust eBay to be fair. If you're not at fault and you can prove it, they will not hold you responsible.

11) Make your eBay titles as long and specific as possible. Fill it with every possible word related to the product, so your item will be caught in various searches. For example, don't say

"Girls Blue jeans size 4"

but say

"Old Navy girls kids navy blue jeans denim pants 4/4t adjustable waist boot cut"

Don't say

"Polly Pockets lunch bag"

Say

"Polly Pockets carrying storage case (soft tote lunch bag with handle) pink & green"

Get my gist? People will be using all different kinds of words to search for the item they want, and the default eBay search mode is to only search for the words in the TITLES (not the description).



12) Ship smart. You will save a ton by doing so. I've written a separate thread dedicated to shipping, which is stickied in Off Topic Discussion below:
http://www.diaperswappers.com/forum/....php?t=1454378

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Last edited by Agla; 10-25-2014 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 07-24-2013, 04:45 AM   #2
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Another very helpful thread!


I had no idea about the parts market until I was trying to sell my exersaucer. Someone paid me $25 for some of the toys that attach.
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Old 07-24-2013, 07:16 AM   #3
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Re: The EBAY thread

Posting a pertinent remark that was just added to another related thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by 5PrincessMommy View Post
I agree with all this except the electronics part. Electronics sell for a lot and sell quickly-even broken electronics. It doesn't matter that thousands of other people are selling them because just as many are buying them. The key to electronics IMO it to find your exact item in same condition (including color and any other specifics) and beat the lowest BIN price by like a buck. It has worked for me every single time. Unless the lowest price is ridiculously low, in which case beat the "what the item is worth" lowest price.

Also offer free shipping. eBay gives preference in best match to listings that offer free shipping. Just figure in the shipping into your BIN price.
When I recommend against selling electronics on eBay, it's for two reasons. (A) You can always make more selling it on craigslist. If it's hot on eBay it's very hot on craigslist and there's less supply there so you can demand more. Especially phones. For extremely state-of-the-art phones you might get a good price on eBay, but after the fees, you'll do worse than craigslist - from my own observation.
Things like chargers, batteries, tablet cases, video games - these are SO cheap on eBay you'll end up making pennies, but on craigslist people will pay $10 for these.
Same is true for tablets and laptops - you can get more on craigslist.

(B) Also, electronics are fragile, and third-party insurance companies don't cover things like phones and laptops. It's risky to ship, plus it seems they are prone to buyer dissatisfaction and opened cases (and the more expensive, the higher risk of buyer scam/chargeback).

The only time I've done well with electronics is if it's an accessory or part to a specific model (such as an adaptor for an old monitor no longer made, etc.)

Here's Natasha's followup, posted on the other thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by 5PrincessMommy View Post
I live a bit in the boonies so Craigslist sucks lol. But if I were still in OC, yeah Craigslist is a good alternative.

I also was referring to actual electronics, not electronics accessories.

Also meant to say that I beat the lowest price of international sellers. Lots of people don't sell electronics internationally, so to best the lowest price of international sellers isn't actually the lowest price available. Chances are it won't sell to a domestic buyer bc it's priced higher, but will sell internationally.

Besides the one crazy iPhone Russian buyer I've never had any issues selling electronics.

I still recommend selling electronics on eBay, though.
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Last edited by expaik; 07-25-2013 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 07-24-2013, 07:19 AM   #4
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Re: The EBAY thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agla View Post
Another very helpful thread!


I had no idea about the parts market until I was trying to sell my exersaucer. Someone paid me $25 for some of the toys that attach.
Exactly! Had you sold those toys individually instead of as a lot, you could easily have made $10 per toy. Attachments, accessories, or individual parts to baby items (such as play mats, crib sets, bath tubs, playpens, etc.) sell very well, since they are always going missing.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:33 AM   #5
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Re: The EBAY thread

Thanks for all this info! I have only sold 2 thing on ebay, and have a few other things I have been tempted to list, but have made 25 purchases with 100% feedback... Going to look around here and see what if anything I have that I could list- One item I sold I did a "BIN" but my husband says ebay takes a bigger percentage that way?

What is the cheapest way to list things besides the "free listing"?
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:42 AM   #6
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Re: The EBAY thread

Lots of great info-

I think one of the most helpful tips is one that I read in a thread about tips for WAHM's on DS a few years ago. Basically the gist of it was to run an honest and ethical business and treat your customers as you would want to be treated. Communicate openly and honestly and politely. Use courtesy and admit when you screw up and try to do your best to fix it. Work hard and it can go pretty well.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:52 AM   #7
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Re: The EBAY thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by weareborgswife View Post
Thanks for all this info! I have only sold 2 thing on ebay, and have a few other things I have been tempted to list, but have made 25 purchases with 100% feedback... Going to look around here and see what if anything I have that I could list- One item I sold I did a "BIN" but my husband says ebay takes a bigger percentage that way?

What is the cheapest way to list things besides the "free listing"?
Buy It Now used to have a higher final value fee than auctions but a few months ago Ebay changed their policy so the FVF is now 10% across the board regardless of category or listing format. It's simpler now.

I have NEVER paid anything to list - I don't want my eBay selling to require any initial monetary investment from me. The only way to minimize listing expenses is to either open a store (but that entails a monthly fee starting at $16 or something), or else just make your listings bare-bones, without any of the upgraded features like subtitle, large photos, multiple categories, etc.

But unless you're a serious volume seller, I don't think it makes sense to pay for any listings. Especially if you're just starting out. Think of how frustrating it would be to pay 0.50 to list, for 100 items, and none of them sells.
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Old 07-24-2013, 10:46 AM   #8
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Re: The EBAY thread

Can you comment on the tax implications of ebay selling? Every time I float this by DH, he tells me about a coworker's wife who had tax nightmares because of selling to so many jurisdictions.
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:32 AM   #9
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Re: The EBAY thread

Thanks for this post! We had just started cleaning out our basement and I listed about 20 things, 1 sold within minutes(formula checks, I had no idea!).
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Old 07-24-2013, 12:18 PM   #10
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Re: The EBAY thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by aaiya View Post
Can you comment on the tax implications of ebay selling? Every time I float this by DH, he tells me about a coworker's wife who had tax nightmares because of selling to so many jurisdictions.
I am curious about this, too, thanks for bringing it up!
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