Hey eBay Sellers, here are some tips from a buyer to build the best listing you can! It's not just what you're selling, but the way you present your items and yourself that are important.
You can see from my feedback that I have bought a few items on eBay, but never sold any. Well, I'm an experienced retail shopper with a discerning and practiced eye. I have worked in retail stores and spent a lot of time (and money!) in them. I also do plenty of online shopping, as well as buying from catalogs. I shop everywhere, from the most upscale department stores and boutiques, to local markets and discount warehouses. If you trust me now, and you want solid advice from a buyer's perspective on how to draw them in and seal the deal, read on!
Put Yourself in My Shoes
Well, that might be a little difficult for some of you, if you don't wear a women's 6 and a half, but if you should be so lucky, you'll find yourself in a pair of lovely BCBG Max Azria suede slingbacks. Seriously, though; if you want to sell successfully you need to think about your audience, and think from their perspective. What kind of person is going to find him or herself looking at your listing? What does that person know about the product, and what does he or she want to know; what information do you have to provide to make that person bid? Put yourself in the shoes of someone browsing through eBay, and finding your listing. Let's use my BCBG heels as an example.
It might take a little time, a little elbow grease, but you'll find it very useful in the end! Find out as much as you can about the item you've got in front of you.
- Who: who made this item? Peek around all the labels, packaging, etc., until you figure out the brand name. Try an internet search to find that company's website, examples of their other products, what their style and image is like. For my shoes, I would simply look inside and see that they are BCBG Max Azria. A quick internet search leads me to their website, and I can see what the trends are like this season, and imagine what their customer is like.
- What: what exactly are you holding in your little paws there? Is it tin or steel? Regular size or miniature? First edition or reprint? Who are the authors or actors? Using the company's website, or a Google search for the name of the product, find out EVERYTHING you can about it, and write it down. I look inside my shoes and see that they are size 6.5 M, suede with patent leather trim. 6.5 M means medium width, which is also called B. Shoes tend to have model names, just like cars. By doing another internet search, using the brand name and the words "suede" and "patent," I can find out that my shoe has a nickname, such as "Belladonna." Clothing is sometimes like this, too. Many things, besides clothes and shoes, will come from a collection or sub-brand. Look for ads for the product and use your online resources to determine this information.
- When: when was this product made? For clothing, you can sometimes find an inside tag that reads "06/SPRING" or something similar. For antiques, there are books explaining trends and important dates. Use your detective skills, plus the amazing, fabulous internet, or even (gasp) the public library. I can't find out what season my shoes came from but I can guess, based on when I bought them, that they are from the Spring 2004 collection.
Now that you know your dear little item like the back of your hand, it's time to show off the information you've found.
- Categories: eBay has a fabulous system of categories so buyers can browse through and narrow things down to the kind of item they want. In some cases, they can even specify the size and color of the item. Make sure all this information is correctly entered. If you choose not to, then buyers who are searching using the eBay categories will never even know your item exists! My shoes would appear in the following category: Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories > Women's Shoes >Women's Shoes Finder> Style: Heels, Pumps > Slingbacks > US Size: 6.5 > Main Color: Ivory > Heel Height: Med (1 3/4" to 2 3/4").
- Photos: yes, the ever-important photo problem. First of all, you should absolutely set up your listing so that a photo appears next to your item description when buyers are browsing. When I get 200 results for a search, I scroll right down the line and if there is no photo, I won't even look at the description. Sorry, guys, but eBay buyers are very visual people! The photos in the listing itself should be sharp, well-lit, and useful. Don't bother showing me a photo of a dark blob on a hanger, laying on a table. Is it a navy blue ribbed sweater, or is it a black trash bag? I have no idea! The way to show an item varies so widely, but generally I advise you to please take the time to take a good photo of your item. Take close-up shots of any interesting details, too.
This is an example of a bad photo of my shoes. They are lovely shoes! This is just a terrible photo.
Oh, my, what beautiful shoes! This is the perfect shot to use as the main photo of a listing.
And here's the detail shot! I can see them from every angle and they are just right! I MUST BID ON THEM!
In all seriousness, I am not a professional photographer, and I took those pictures on the floor of my bedroom, with no natural light. In fact my camera kept readjusting itself cleverly so it was very difficult to get the bad photo to look bad enough. I uploaded the photos and used my camera software to crop them and "AutoFix" them so they are bright and clear. Five minutes total. No excuse for bad photos!
- Organization: look at this guide, for example. You can use titles, bold type, and bullets, which are very simple to use, and make it easy for buyers to find the information they are seeking in your listing. Start with the information about the product first; move on to your rules and regulations later. This is a very irritating problem for an eBay buyer: sellers who fill the top 2/3 of their listing with warnings about feedback and payments, and then give precious little attention to the actual subject of the listing: the item. Imagine walking into a store in the mall, and seeing a big empty room with posters all over the walls telling you about the store's return policy and warning you against shoplifting. Then you walk to the back of the store and there is a little cabinet with some products in it. This is what it feels like for an eBay buyer to see so much information about your rules of doing business, especially if you seem aggressive and angry. Be firm, but be polite, and leave this "fine print" info for the actual fine print.
- Fonts: be careful with your fonts. Do not ever, ever, print entire paragraphs in capital letters. It's unprofessional and hard to look at. Here's how big it should be. Please don't use crazy fonts except in titles, and don't mess around with the colors too much. Look at magazine ads for examples of effective, easy-to-read text.
Name of Your Item is the only thing that should be this big
Titles of paragraphs or lists, for example: Shipping Information
Text of your listing, for example: We ship by UPS Ground. Items are sent within 48 hours of receiving payment, etc.
The item description: this all-important phrase is the buyer's introduction to your item, and to you. Incorrect spelling is inexcusable, and ALL CAPS ARE JUST PLAIN ANNOYING!!!! ******LOOK!!!****** Calm down, sellers, I'm looking, I'm looking! Try to include the three or four most important facts about your product. Examples:
BCBG Max Azria Belladonna Slingbacks 6.5 (brand, nickname, style, size)
J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings 1977 (author, title, year)
<<L00K!>>NODRSTROM BLACK SHOE SHEOES PUMPS NR!!! Oops, that was one of the really bad, annoying ones. You get my point here, right?
Well, that concludes your trip through the buyer's brain. I hope at least a few of these tips will be useful for you, and I'm sure that other buyers will appreciate you cleaning up and beefing up your listings! The best advice I can give you is to look at successful people for examples. Study magazine ads or catalogs of companies you consider successful. See how their photos and organization present the item, and how the words they choose affect the buyer's thoughts about the product. Look through the listings of some top eBay Power Sellers for ideas. AND DON'T EVER EVER WRITE IN ALL CAPS!!!!
May I have my shoes back, please? Thank you! I'm off to the shops!