This is a guide for Sellers, thought out by myself, both a Seller & Buyer on eBay, after years of searching for items on eBay, and often giving up on bidding because of poor communication, and abusive terms of sale on some sellers' part. First of all, let me make clear that the pointers I'll be giving are mostly based on my search for vintage clothing and vinyl records, but most address any type of item for sale on eBay. My experience is based both on good listings I've come across, (resulting in my bidding, hence winning items, or at least hiking up the final price for the seller), and really bad ones, which have usually resulted in frustration from having to address sellers with obvious questions that should have been answered in the listing in the first place; waiting for answers that never came, and my eventual habit of not even considering senselessly incomplete listings.
First of all, when typing a listing, try to think of all relevant details a potential buyer might ask you. Even if you think some detail will not be important to most buyers, remember stating it will only cost you a couple of seconds to write, and could keep a potential buyer from passing; or, worse, returning your item after winning & recieving it.
SIZING: (In the case of Clothing)
A manufacturer's size means nothing. Just writing down: "For sale: a Such & Such shirt, size M" will probably only have the kind of bidders you don't want buying it, i.e. the type who'll return it after finding out it's too small or too short. You'll also probably have people reluctantly writing to ask for measurements, SO GO AHEAD AND POST THE MEASUREMENTS before anybody has to ask for them. Lack of actual measurements is probably the most frustrating thing you come across when hunting for clothes. Remember, Sizing norms are as diverse as brands, regions, and eras. So nothing beats actual measurements.
Also, learn to take correct measurements. For a shirt, a jacket, a coat, a teeshirt, or any top in general, you need to state the measured COLLAR size, the SHOULDER WIDTH (from shoulder stitch to shoulder stitch), the SLEEVE LENGTH (from tip of shoulder to end of cuff), the BODY LENGTH (from base of collar down the spine). This is where most sellers goof up. Measurements are useful to see how a garment will fit your body, and how it will sit with your other garments. Incorporating a collar measurement with the body length is really dumb, if you think about it. But it's done all the time. You can state the collar height as an extra piece of data, but the body length that will determine if the jacket/shirt/tee fits, and doesn't hang 3" above the buyer's belt is taken from the base of collar down, period!! NOT from the shoulder, or the front, or your granny's driveway. In the case of women's blouses, CHEST SIZE can be appropriate as well.
You also often see for sale, "pants, size 35". What's 35", the zipper length? State the measured Waist, Length, and if you really want to please the picky ones out there, state the Rise, and Leg opening. When you order tailor-made pants, those are determined when you you place your order, for a reason. You could end up with really skinny pants you need a shoehorn to fit into, or the opposite. If you think a well known brand always has the same cut, think again. Something as basic as a pair of Levi's 501s could be really baggy if made in the '50s, or skinny, if made after 1966, so DO bother to take and state the actual measurements...
If an item is New, say it (NWT: New With Tags, NWOT: New WithOut Tags, etc..). If it's Deadstock, in new, flawless condition, you can state NOS (New Old Stock). If it has stains, rips, writing, or any other defect that separates it from new, just say so, and add pictures (more on that later).
In the case of records and clothing, you can be selling real vintage, or reissues. State whichever it is. If it's 2 years old, it probably isn't vintage, so don't waste people's time saying it is. Vintage is usually at least a generation old, taken both ways. That means it's either over 20 years old, or of the type made before the current, in the case of most manufactured products that undergo facelifts or cosmetic changes every so often. In the case of the example taken above, vintage Levi's 501s would be anything made before 1984, when they changed the manufacturing process and materials to the current disposable stuff. Reissues would be currently-made LVC line items.
If the item is composed of several parts, e.g. record and cover for vinyl records, state conditions separately.
Showing numerous and clear pictures of an item, equals to selling it, avoiding buyers' questions on condition of item, exact color, etc... , and avoiding potential RETURNS!!! There's many free means of providing clear pictures that can be blown-up, so don't skimp!! You can either add lots of pictures in the listing, but that costs you, and eBay-hosted pictures usually can't be blown up. You could also host you hi-res pics on an image hosting site, and post the links in your listing, or better still, use independent free Auction software that will provide free templates, host free expandable pictures, and provide other perks such as free listing scheduling, etc... I've seen listings with links to Youtube videos (usually for cars), but the idea is good for any type of item. Moving views of the item you're selling give a much better overall view of the item (obviously), but also of its volume. Again, better info on your item, and it's free.
It's hard to believe how many seemingly decent listings turn out to be rip-offs, when Shipping terms are considered. Shipping should be limited to: Cost of Shipping. That's it. Period.
Here's what I recently found in a listing, explaining the high shipping fee: (brace yourself, true story here)
Okay, so let's break this down: 1 is the only legitimate thing to pay extra for, IF it's no more than the price USPS/UPS/FedEx charges the seller. 2 & 3 are the same thing, and are to be considered when deciding on the BIN price, or the starting bid, NOT added to shipping, although I understand others think differently. 4= WTF??? 5 is totally and clearly against PayPal rules. Any bidder could have this guy banned or at least reprimanded for trying this. 6= I first thought was a joke, until I read 7. 8=I think every imaginable, unbeleivable charge you could conceive has already been mentioned, so what "other costs" could there be?
Although the above justification for overpricing shipping fees is extreme in its preposterousness, the philosophy behind it is quite common. The added miscellaneous costs of your sale, except for the Postal charge for shipping, should be added to the minimum price you want for your item, constituting your Starting Bid. Think about what the sale and shipping of your item will cost you (eBay + PayPal fees, packing materials, gas, stop at Carl's Jr. on the way to the PO, etc...), make that part of your Starting Bid, and keep the Shipping fee actual. Overpriced shipping fees spell Rip-off. Not only does it make buyers unhappy (nobody likes being taken for a ride, on their time), it also makes them suspicious. If anything else goes wrong, like the package never arrives, or you made a mistake packing, you'll invariably face less leniency and tolerance on the buyer's part. It's easier to trust someone who's charging you exact shipping costs, communicating & shipping promptly, clearly offering a refund if anything goes wrong, and leaving immediate feedback; than those offering inflated shipping fees, and that seem too busy to answer emails.
Also, if you ship internationally, find out what it costs in advance, and list the prices. You most probably have competitors out there; and foreign bidders will tend to stick with the item with a listing complete with local shipping, so they don't have to go around asking. I know I do. Once you know the weight of your package, it takes a few minutes to figure out shipping fees worldwide, and list them. Remember you need to cater to buyers, not to expect them to be desperate enough to stalk you for answers.
Conversely, give buyers what they pay for. If they ask for tracking, or, moreover, if YOU impose that means of shipping, provide the tracking number as soon as you have it. If your customer is paying for a service, he should be able to enjoy (and use) it.
If a potential buyer bothers to contact you to ask questions about your item, consider that it might be because that person wants to buy your item. Be educated, ANSWER, and quickly. You're not alone on the marketplace, and other sellers might have items just as interesting, and better listed. Your time may be precious, but buyers' as well, and YOU're the one with something you need to sell, not them. If you don't answer in a timely manner, your prospect will go buy from someone who will. As Redd Foxx put it in a different context: "Show me a husband who won't, and I'll show you a neighbor who will"...
Also, avoid blunt, incomplete, to-the-point-only answers. Like:
"_Question: Hi. Could you please let me know if you ship to Europe, and how much it would cost, EMS, to England? Also, please let me know if this is an original, or a reissue. Thanks in advance, Fred. /
Not only is the answer impolite, but it shows the seller didn't even bother to read the question to the end. Chances are, that seller will show as little care whilst packing the item, and even less if the package is undelivered. That seller will likely be avoided, as the careless loser he appears to be.
As a seller, I know I want people to pay for their items as soon as possible after they've won them, if only to be sure I'm not dealing with deadbeats, as most of us have at least once. Many sellers have a policy with time constraints for payment. But many, once payment has been made, are suddenly much less in a hurry to ship out the items. Make sure you can deliver shortly after the auction, especially with people who post a payment in the minutes following the auction. Those are most likely in a hurry to get their item, as you were to get your payment. Build a good reputation, and earn buyers' respect, by shipping items out at least within 48 hours of an auction's ending.
Most topics treated here are a mere matter of common sense. It may sometimes take a few more minutes to complete a listing with what you might consider superfluous details, but your best interest is to address all buyers' questions and concerns before they look elsewhere. Each one who focuses on a better thought-out listing than yours amounts to unsold items, or lower final bids. In this case as in many, Time is Money... If you often sell the same type of items, you can keep the same pattern for each listing, and change the variables when needed for new listings...