November 23, 2009
If you find that your Auctions, Store or Fixed Price items fail to attract bidders or buyers, you might want totake a look at the following issues:
- eBay is a market based way to sell. You get what people are willing to pay for a particular item on a particular day. Ask yourself if your auction starting price too high? Buyers often don’t bid before someone else has already done so. If you start high, that first bid is unlikely to come early in the auction cycle, if at all. So, start your auctions low (the minimum you will sell your item for) and let the bidders bid your item up to (or beyond if there is a great deal of interest) the current market value.
- Is the fixed price or “Buy It Now” price too high? Remember, it costs you money to use a “Buy it Now (BIN)” option. If your BIN price is outrageous, that expense is completely wasted unless you find a rare and very desperate buyer. The BIN price should not exceed the highest value the item has sold for in the past. Did you check out what similar items have recently sold for to find a good starting or reserve price? If not, research what worked before and use it as a good "Buy It Now" price for your listing. Your items will not sell if they’re too expensive. If you begin with a well researched bidding start price and they still don’t sell -- try reducing the start bid price. Sometimes, if it doesn't sell even slightly below it's currently known sale value, it pays to put the item aside and re-list it a few weeks or months later.
- Do you have a picture in the ad? Most buyers are reluctant to bid without pictures. The first picture is now free and digital cameras (even cheap ones) work well for the web. A picture is necessary and this is especially true for high-end items. The better the picture, the more customer interest you will have. I favor natural daylight as the best light to photograph in. If the item is fabric or an usual color more than one picture may be necessary. If there is damage, try to include a photo of it so the buyer can be crystal clear about what he or she is bidding on. I am the world's worst photographer, but I found that daylight and an outdoor setting work great for providing suffient detail for buyers to see the items clearly on eBay. I also did a guide on simple ways to make your pictures better for eBay -- check it out for some additional tips and tricks you can use. If you are a good photographer, light your piece well and fill the photo frame with your item to capture as much detail as possible for the best effect. If you would like more information on photography, I have recently added a simple how to guide for eBay photography also.
- Do you have a reserve price on your items? Reserve prices definitely turn bargain hunters off and many other eBayers too. I am one of them. Be very selective about when and on what you use a reserve price. If you are genuinely worried your item will sell for below the absolutely lowest price you will accept, make that your start price instead, and forget putting in a reserve. Reserve prices are best kept for very high end items including cars, real estate, jewelery, art, and antiques, etc.
- Check through your ads. Are your item details consistent throughout the ad and with the picture? (i.e., is the clothing size in the title consistent with item details and the ad text?) When sellers use templates and are in a hurry, errors often get overlooked and mistakes are made. Many buyers are often too busy to drop you a line to ask you about any inconsistency. If they do advise you, be sure to fix the ad as soon as possible. A quick check of the counter will show you how many folks viewed the item and passed it up.
- Look carefully at your title (the primary way your customer finds your ad). Is your title complete and the spelling correct? Be sure the title includes keywords that include manufacturer, item name, size, condition, color, and as many other descriptive words that someone is likely to search with as will fit in the 55 character space provided. Get rid of punctuation -- it isn't necessary and uses up space for keywords. Are your descriptions readable? Do they give enough detail? Time consuming as it is, if you are not a great speller, it is best to run your ad text through a spelling and grammar checker (copy and paste into Word (or a similar word processing program), run the checks and paste the corrected result back into the ad before you put it up on eBay).
- Did you charge too much for shipping? This is a pet peeve of many eBayers. In the past, some sellers used unreasonably high postage to “hide” the sale profit from eBay and to avoid eBay’s higher listing and final value fees. There is a new eBay policy designed to stop that, but it doesn't seem to be working particularly well (especially with the drop off shops). However, the eBay market place tends to self correct these things with lower bids and sales when sellers do this. So, if loading the profit into the shipping costs has been your practice in the past – no better time to stop it than now. Seasoned eBayers are on to it and won’t buy. New eBayers will get caught by it once, resent your trickery, and often leave Negative Feedback. Worst of all, upset customers avoid your sales in future. If your mailing costs are truly high because of expensive packing materials, check out eBay guides that provide “How To’s” on getting your packing and shipping materials FREE. Study how to cut your shipping costs otherwise (i.e., First Class or Media Mail, when approriate, instead of Priority on light items; and Flat Rate shipping boxes are three notable opportunities avalable to cut actual shipping costs).
- Do you have few feedbacks or a low freedback rating resulting from a lot of Negative feedback (i.e. are you less than 95%)? If you have recent negative feedback, expect things to slow down for awhile. What little new eBayers know coming into the process, they know to avoid sellers with negative feedback. So, get your feedback back into shape by making many small purchases as fast as possible (we all live and learn). Also, list and sell as much as possible to correct and move beyond the negatives. You can purchase some recipes and/or e-books of interest really cheaply to get more feedback too.
- Try offering "Satisfaction Guaranteed" return policy to assure your customers will get in touch if disappointed BEFORE leaving negative feedback. Leave feedback for your customers only AFTER they leave it for you, to guard against feedback spoilers who give it just for fun (YES there really are such things as feedback spoilers who buy cheap items just to wreck your feedback!). Try buying and selling more inexpensive things for a while to get your feedback account back in good standing faster. If your problem is having too few feedback – build your numbers by buying what you need on eBay as often as possible, and by buying recipes or ebooks on eBay whenever practical.
- Do you have a “mean spirited” ad? Have you used demanding language and/or threats anywhere in your ad or terms of sale? Customers have a choice in where they buy whatever it is you are selling. So, treat them as you would a beloved guest in your home. Avoid demanding language like “Payment due in 3 days.” Instead try, “Please get in touch within three days concerning payment.” Rather than “I will only accept returns in PERFECT condition,” state a clear but convivial return policy such as “Returns for full refund cheerfully accepted within 7 days…” There is no need for phrases like, “Serious bidders only, NO timewasters!!” Such demands do no good and Ebay policy makes it clear that bidding and purchasing is a contract. eBay provides ways (within the system) to deal with non-payers, too. So, such language and negativity are not necessary and are counterproductive! In fact, strong and demanding language is redundant, ineffective and makes you (and by inference your auctions) difficult to deal with. For more details on this, please see my guide "Who Wants to Buy From a Sourpuss."
- Do you accept all methods of payment? I realize that, for sellers on a small profit margin, the use of PayPal cuts into an already narrow band of profit. However, it is critically important to understand that many buyers simply avoid any sellers who don’t accept PayPal. PayPal offers buyer protections (and, after all, sellers are unknowns the first time we deal with them). Customers often just won’t be bothered with fetching money orders or are uncomfortable (wisely) with sending personal checks. After considering all that, there is the delay in receiving items waiting for checks to clear. Most eBayers are anxious to get their items. So, regardless of your feelings about PayPal, you should just advise of your preference for checks or money orders, but accept any legitimate form of payment if you want to grow a business on eBay. I also recommend shipping items worth $25.00 or less immediately when the check arrives if the buyer has a sufficient number of positive feedback (25 or more). They will love you for it and your risk that the check will not clear is very small.
- Are you selling items that were once in high demand and have now gone the way of the “Singing Bass” and “Beanie Babies?” The real success on Ebay is in finding the product on its way up as your niche – not the one that is past it’s prime. However, there are some commodities that will always be in demand too (like antiques, books, music, collectibles, clothing, etc.). Having said that, there are some things that there is just no real demand for in the market place today and the reason might be illusive. So, if you have been trying to sell something and it just isn’t moving, research it on Ebay. See if someone else is selling it successfully. If so, read that person’s ads, look at the pricing, check out the pictures and the terms of sale to see what lessons you can learn. Use what you learn in your own sales pitch. You can learn from others so well this way -- after all, we all stand on the shoulders of giants when we succeed!
- There is also the "Best Offer" alternative you can put on your store merchandise. This is when prospective customers can find an item they want, and make you an offer on it that works for them. You can accept or decline it, but the bottom line is that every offer is a potential sale you did not have before! I have great success with this option and it is free to add to your store sales. I highly recommend it! However, sometimes, you still have a merchandise "dud" – and the item just will not sell. This is the place where you must limit the expense you take on attempting to sell it. In this case, call it a loss, drop it off at the Salvation Army for a tax break and move on to something new -- taking the lesson on what doesn't sell as just one more "cost of doing business."
I do hope you have found this advice helpful. Please drop by my store (The Write Place), where YOU can name your price everyday on every item, or my auctions (Pepper120851)! It is always a pleasure to meet new folks on the blogs and in my sales and to hear your perspective!
Kind Regards & Happy EBaying! Pepper