5 eBay Selling Mistakes

In: Selling Tips

3 Mar 2009

Mistake #1: List in the Wrong Category

You have to put your item where people will expect to see it. The problem is that eBay has all those categoriesalmost too many of them, especially if you’re not sure just what it is you’re selling.

If you list your item in the wrong category, many people looking for that type of item simply won’t see it. Take the time to search for similar items currently on auction, and see what category they’re listed in. Go where the others goand, if you’re still not sure, use the second category option to list in two different categories!

Mistake #2: Set Too High a Starting Price

I know that you want to get as high a price as possible for the item you’re selling. But if you try to start the bidding at too high a level, you’ll scare off potential biddersespecially if your idea of a fair price is higher than the going market price. It’s better to start with a lower starting price and let the bidding take the price to its natural level. Or, if you honest-to-goodness don’t want to sell at too low a price, use the reserve price option to protect yourself if the bidding doesn’t go high enough.

Mistake #3: Don’t Adequately Describe the Item

Let’s face it. People shopping on eBay are bidding on items more or less sight unseenso you have to help them feel comfortable about what they’re bidding on. That means describing the item in words, to the best of your abilities. The better you describe the item, the more comfortable potential bidders will feel about itand the more likely you’ll be to sell the thing.

And describing the item also means describing its faults. If you’re selling a used or distressed item, you better let potential bidders know about all the dings and dents. You most certainly don’t want to misrepresent what you’re sellingso be up-front about every little thing.

Mistake #4: Don’t Include a Picture

It’s a fact. Auction listings with pictures are more likely to sell than those without. Don’t include a picture, and you start the auction with two strikes against you. Don’t make this all-too-common mistake; get out your digital camera and start snappingbefore you create your item listing!

Mistake #5: Don’t Charge Enough Shipping and Handling

Oh, how many times I’ve been burned by not charging enough shipping and handling! This is probably the most common seller mistake. You want to include a flat shipping and handling charge in your item listing, so you do a little homework, weigh the item, look up the shipping rate on the postal service site, and enter a number. But when you take the item to the post office, you find your guestimate to be off by a buck or two, and you end up eating that additional shipping cost. The difference might even be big enough that you end up losing money on the transaction.

How do you avoid this problem? First, be sure to weigh the item ahead of timedon’t just guess at the weight. And don’t stop at weighing just the item; you also have to weight the box you’ll ship it in, and all the packing materials. (And that includes those Styrofoam peanuts or shredded newspapers you pack inside the box.) Then be sure to pick the appropriate shipping method (don’t change your mind after you’ve placed the listing!) and the correct distance.

Ah, the correct distancenow there’s a problem! You know your ZIP Code, but you don’t know the buyer’s ZIP Codebecause you don’t know who the buyer will be. This is one very good reason to use eBay’s Shipping Calculator.  The Shipping Calculator does the distance calculation for you, so you don’t have to guess at a flat shipping and handling charge.

The lesson here? When it comes to shipping and handling charges, don’t guess! Or if you absolutely, positively have to guess, guess high. The best answer, though, is to figure out the weight ahead of time, and then use the eBay Shipping Calculator.

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