eBay Business Startup Guide
Interested in starting an eBay business? eBay has changed the way the world shops. Here's your chance to get in on this retail phenomenon--and it's simple and inexpensive to get started.
You read a story in the newspaper recently about a woman who started selling things on eBay and got so successful at it that she was able to quit her job. Or, perhaps you know a few people who set up eBay auctions instead of garage sales when they want to clean out their basements or garages. And they've been pretty successful. Yet when you've tried to sell on eBay, your auctions were duds. What happened? Why are other people making money hand over fist on eBay, when you can't get anyone to part with a measly $20 to buy something you want to sell?
Well, the good news is you don't have bad breath. (Fortunately the Internet doesn't come with smells yet.) But if your auctions aren't performing, you may be committing one of these 7 deadly sins:
1. Starting price too high. Nobody wants to pay too much for an item they are bidding on. If you are selling an something that normally goes for $15 and you start the bidding at $14, you're probably losing bidders to auctions with lower starting prices. Let the bidders run the price up. Start the bidding low – $1 or even less, depending on the value of what you're selling – so it gets lots of attention, traffic and, most importantly, bids. The excitement generated from early, frequent bidding will likely drive the price at least as high as the average selling price.
2. Reserve Price Auction. Reserve pricing gives sellers a sense of security. If bidding doesn't reach the seller's reserve price, the auction ends without a winner. The seller gets to keep his item and not feel like he let it go for too little money. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, most bidders hate reserve price auctions. They don't know if their bid is going to be anywhere close to the reserve price, which is only known by the seller, and don't want to waste their time on an auction they may have no chance of winning. If given the choice of bidding in a reserve price auction or for the same or similar item in a regular auction, most buyers are going to head straight for the regular auction.
3. No pictures or poor pictures. Let's face it, it's hard enough selling an item that your customers can't examine in person. Without at least a picture or two in your auction, your ending price is probably going to be low, and you may not even get a single bidder. Providing good photos of your item, from multiple angles if appropriate, can make a tremendous difference in your auction's ending price. But if your photos are dark or out of focus, they won't be much use to bidders, so be sure your camera and photo editing software are working properly. Another photo mistake some sellers make: having a cluttered, dirty, or otherwise unappealing background in their photos.
4. Poor feedback rating. Doing business on eBay is dependent on trust between buyers and sellers. Your feedback rating is a key factor buyers use to determine whether you are trustworthy of their business. If your feedback rating is too low or contains many negatives, your auctions will suffer from too few bids. If you're new to eBay, you should first spend time as a buyer. Not only will this help you develop a solid feedback rating, but it will also help you learn the ins and outs of eBay before donning your seller's hat.
5. Shipping charges that are too high. Some eBay sellers try to make up for a low profit margin through inflated shipping costs. And while your listings may get some traffic, the winning bidder may be unhappily surprised if she didn't read your shipping policies well enough before bidding. Most people, though, will simply pass on the auction and look to a seller with more reasonable shipping charges. There's nothing wrong with covering your expenses (postage and packing supplies), but shipping fees are not the place to pad your profits.
6. Overly strict auction terms. Have you ever come across an auction where the terms read something like "I only ship on Mondays! If your payment arrives on Tuesday morning, your item will not go out till the following Monday. No exceptions!!" Very strict or unusual auction terms are a sure-fire way to send buyers to your competitor's auctions. Be sure your terms for bidding, paying, and shipping are clear in your listing. And take care before placing restrictions on bidders that are out of the ordinary. The easier you are to do business with, the more bidders your auctions will see.
7. Not accepting PayPal. Buyers love PayPal. It makes paying for auctions easy, buyers can pay with their credit card if they choose, and PayPal's Buyer Protection program gives them up to $1000 coverage for qualified eBay purchases. And though PayPal transaction fees can eat into your profits, the added business you'll get by accepting PayPal will more than make up for it.
Copyright 2005 Attard Communications Inc.