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How to Auction Successfully Online using eBay (some of this applies to Flippa as well)

Choose your starting price carefully Before you list your item, decide upon a minimum figure for whi

Choose your starting price carefully

Before you list your item, decide upon a minimum figure for which it can be sold. A low starting price will attract more frequent bids which increases activity on your auction which is a good thing as word travels fast and may trigger bidding wars. Obviously a £0.99 opening price will attract the most bidders within the first few hours since a low price for a good item that will win is like a light bulb to a moth at night. It encourages viewers to 'watch' your item on eBay which is important as watchers and bidders are notified toward the end of the auction to increase their bid. Users are more interested in auctions which already have winning bids, a low green number is essentially an item going for a song and will attract more attention and the more early bidders you can generate stimulates a mad rush toward the end of your auction. Many high value items are sold with a low starting price, especially by established Power Sellers - 99% of the time the auction will conclude with hundreds of bids yielding a better price. These tactics apply equally well to any other auction online.

 

Don't Bother with a Reserve Price

A reserve price is one which unless it is met by your sellers you are not obliged to sell the item. For example, if you have a reserve price of £20, and your item sells for £19.00 then you would not have to complete the sale and transfer ownership of the domain or item. Auction reserves are interest killers. No one is going to bid early on something if they are continually being told that they have not met the reserve price, it just isn't sexy. Although many sellers do still place reserve prices on their auctions, don't.  If it were me buying I would just look for an alternative item without a reserve price. The reason you get lots of interest early is that they feel the excitement of getting a bargain and the reserve price feature kills that excitement. Embrace that excitement - this is what marketing is all about!

 

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Post high definition images of your item and allow prospective buyers to clearly see the condition including any damage or unusual features or aspects. eBay allow you to include twelve photos free of charge. If you wish, you can use you’re an external hosting service to include as many photos as necessary to display your item clearly. Many Power Sellers use up to twenty pictures per item to ensure that the percentage of returns arising from unexpected marks or damage is decreased. How many images may be necessary for your auction? Consider using the enhanced gallery option for increased image visibility if the item is of reasonable value or is chiefly sold on its aesthetics.

 

Have a Clearly Advertised and Fair Returns Policy and Address Concerns Quickly

Although eBay now offer refunds internally on all sales (perhaps this explains why they have hiked up their rates so much) but still nothing gives a buyer greater confidence than knowing that they can return a product if it's not for them. Make sure your returns policy is on your auction or items sale template and that you have filled in the returns part of the auction/sale form as requested. Do you accept returns? What if the item is faulty? How long is the return policy valid for from the date of sale?

Although it is a risk to offer a returns policy – you will have to incur a cost relisting and reshipping items – but if you address concerns quickly and give reasonable and sensible advice regarding your products, only a very small amount of users will return the items. Some may hold out for the odd freebie but in the main good customer service allays the desire to return items.

 

The Power of Feedback and the Importance of Accuracy

Feedback is an indelible record of your customer service history and should be your primary concern above all others. Any negative feedback is dangerous for your future sales figures and so you must do everything you can to avoid negative feeling amongst those who have purchased goods. All goods must be clearly and concisely described with every possible flaw detailed in advance. Accuracy is everything in your adverts as an over-negative advert will hurt prices and an over-positive advert will generate ill-feeling and negative feedback.

As an aside, it is important also to leave feedback for any winning bidder as soon as the money is in the bank. Positive dealings encourage positive feedback and positive feedback is exactly what you need as a seller. Be good to them as what goes around, comes around.

 

Inter-Auction Linking and Promotion

Some items will attract more viewers than others due to pricing and availability etc. You can use this to your advantage as well. You may want to start a certain item at £0.99 to create a buzz and use that item to link to other auctions of the same item but for a fixed price. This can work if you wish to sell multiple items at a good price by using the first item as a generator of excitement and getting people to buy at a fixed price once the first auction has finished. People who missed the end of the auction are inclined to buy more often in order to not feel that they have missed out on a bargain.

Cross-auction linking is allowed in addition to the already provided link to "View other sellers’ items" feature.

 

Advertise Yourself or your Business

Sell yourself or your business on your listings. Come up with a template in order to use every time you post an item or auction. This should include your logo and general website theme and list all of your terms and conditions for returns and postage etc. This is a sure fire way of not getting caught out by missing something on a listing and provides trust to prospective buyers following cross-auction links or adverts. These listings are an opportunity to establish credibility for your business and your returns policy etc. Without credibility people may fail to buy from you online and so every little effort is important. Include details about you and your business such as where you are situated, how long have you been registered on eBay and what you specialize in? Have a look at what the competition are doing and go from there if you need help.

 

Keep your Shipping Prices Realistic

Experienced buyers always check the shipping costs early as they have probably posted sales on eBay themselves. Do not be tempted to exaggerate the price of your shipping to increase profit. It will not fool anyone and it raises alarm bells that a seller is being disingenuous.  Moreover, inflating shipping costs is against eBay policy and can get you black marked or banned which may hurt your prospects selling online across the board. If you are offering digital goods such as eBooks or PDFs make sure you include a percentage to cover your administration costs within your standard price. No one is interested in paying shipping on a download or email so do not be tempted to add an administration fee as it makes buyers bitter and unlikely to return. The last thing anyone wants is to find there are unexpected costs associated with a purchase.

 

Should I Open an eBay Store?

Opening an eBay Store is a step that should be considered by any medium sized seller on eBay.

You benefit from cheaper and longer listings within your store and you can also cross-promote your products more easily. You have other advantages such as the ability to send out newsletters and establish a trusted brand by using templates so that all the listings in your store retain a consistent theme. You will also enjoy greater coverage (and hopefully attract more bids) for your listings by appearing in the eBay store directory where more prospective buyers are directed.

 

Write Good Copy!

The normal rules of a website still apply. Incoming links, good, exciting copywriting, exciting pictures, accurate information - sound familiar? Remember that Google will see your listing and that eBay will be checking how well your listing sits (albeit automatically within their own algorithmic crawler-spiders etc.) in any searches against your auction categories and the like. Be sure you are excited about your product and that you have done everything that can be done to ensure its quality and value before you post. If it is an auction then the system will define its value but either way the buyer must not be disappointed. Many buyers will approach you externally to eBay to find replica items for the same price rather than risk paying more a second time so quality sales are important as they ensure more sales in the future!