1)Selling books on Amazon (the shipping killed me). I ended up canceling all of my listings & taking everything to the used bookstore.
2) Craigslist - great for heavy items with a low price point, or items that would be difficult to ship.
I'm admittedly a complete novice when it comes to Ebay (I've completed my initial round of auctions, & have ten more that are active right now), but here are a few Ebay tips and tricks I've picked up.
- The pictures really count. I had one very high value item (a pair of designer shoes) & took the time to have M set up a photo area (sheets as backdrop), got out the big camera, & spent 30 minutes or so setting things up for the right shot. I do not do this for smaller items, but for the shoes, it made a huge difference.
- Research the postage! Postage is a killer for me. On my first round of auctions, I tried hard to keep the postage costs reasonable to encourage bidding. What happened? I lost money on several of the auctions, because the postage ended up being substantially more than I expected. I'd prefer to have something not sell than lose money because of postage.
- Pre-package the items you have listed. See #2. Part of the reason that I underestimated the postage was that I didn't take the time to find appropriately sized packages/boxes before listing the items. Multiple items were light, but large (hats, for example) & required large boxes that were quite expensive to ship. If you take the time to pre-package your items, you can weigh them at home and get a very good estimate for the final shipping price.
- Fully describe all flaws. I typically don't sell anything that isn't new, new without tags, or in excellent condition, because it's hard to get the value out of those items. However, I do have a few purses that have minimal leather wear on the bottom, and describing that wear & taking multiple pictures allows the buyer to know exactly what they are getting. Many buyers will decide that minor wear on the bottom of the purse doesn't bother them, and they will bid anyway, but hiding/not fully disclosing a flaw in your original listing isn't going to do you any favors. What happens when the buyer receives your packages & finds flaws they weren't expecting? My goal is to have satisfied buyers at the end of each transaction, and while not always entirely possible, describing and photographing any and all flaws in detail goes a long way towards avoiding surprises.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. I'm still learning how listings work, but I've definitely had to pass up money because I didn't understand all of the rules. Once someone bids on an auction, you are limited in what you can change in the listing. Also, there will be buyers who don't follow through with their end of the purchase. I had an item in my last round (shoes, again :-)) that received 20+ bids, and the high bidder never paid. Rather than accepting the Second Chance offer, I chose to relist. I'm not sure if that was the right strategy, but will soon find out.
- Think about seasons. I had a bunch of expensive ski stuff to list, and realized that if I didn't get it listed last week, I needed to wait until next season. No one wants to bid on an item and put it in their closet until next year. I have a stack of Halloween items ready to go for next fall.
- Start small. I started with ten relatively small listings, and learned a bunch about the process. I gave myself a week off, because it was pretty time consuming, and now have another batch listed. In my experience, it's always best to give yourself time to learn the ropes before you fully commit with an enormous list of expensive items.
- It's a risk! You have to be prepared to sell an item for your minimum bid price. I start off all of my auctions at $.99 to encourage bidding. And, two of my items sold in the last round for under $3.00. Now, did I think they were worth more? Of course, or I wouldn't have gone through the trouble of listing them. Could I have thought of other ways to use the items if I knew how little I would make (or, in some cases, that I would lose money)? Yes again. But, with some items, it really is difficult to predict their value until you list them.
- Do your research. On the other hand, it's very helpful to research similar items and get a sense for what your listing might sell for. This is helpful for two reasons. 1) You may look at the sell price of similar items and determine that it's not worth listing. 2) If you receive a message for a buyer looking to buy it & end the auction, you'll know the appropriate value to charge.
- Communicate. I try to respond to each and every buyer question within a few hours (barring time zone issues). Even if I'm not interested in their offer, it's important to let them know that right away. I also invoice a buyer as soon as an auction closes, contact them as soon as I've shipped something, and leave them feedback. Doing this is important for your own selling reputation, but helps make the Ebay community work as well.
That's it so far. As I said, I'm truly a beginner at this, but thought I would share what I've learned so far.
What about you? Do you sell on Ebay? What tips & tricks have you learned along the way? Any big wins or success stories?