20 Free Ebay PowerSeller Secrets
Do you sell on Ebay? If so, this may your opportunity to take your business to the next level: to increase sales and operate more efficiently. This advice comes direct from Ebay PowerSellers, the best in the business. Avoid their mistakes and adopt these twenty tips into your Ebay business; you'll be glad you did.
1. Raise your shipping fee. Make sure you don't just charge for the shipping postage, but for your 'handling' fees as well. This may include packaging materials such as labels, envelopes, and bubble wrap, as well as your time to prepare and drop the package off at the post office. Make sure your minimum shipping & handling is $1 beyond your actual shipping, and hopefully a few bucks more than that.
2. Use stealth postage.Print your shipping labels without showing any shipping costs. Labels printed from PayPal and other services will do this for you. If a customer ever complains about your profits from shipping, simply respond and explain your S&H fee includes both shipping AND handling. The handling includes the cost of packaging materials and time. If all your Ebay listings have this basic shipping & handling disclaimer, then you should never get a complaint.
3. Don't waste money on ad embellishments.Don't pay extra for featured, bold, or any other flair. Gallery is the only option that may be useful in some cases, depending on what items you sell. Most people find your listings by keyword searches. Embellishments generally do not seem to increase traffic. Remember that the 'add ons' are where most companies make their profit. You want to use this strategy when selling to your customers, but not when buying listings from Ebay.
4. Lower your PayPal rate.If you receive more than $3,000 per month in PayPal funds you can qualify for a lower merchant % rate. Rates are subject to change, but it may take you from 3.1% to 2.7%. https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_fees-rate-about
5. Set your minimum selling price.Anything you list on Ebay has a certain overhead and below a certain price, selling is no longer worth it to you. This should take everything into consideration- your time, utility costs, office equipment, software, ISP fees, workspace rent, and more. Some sellers set a general, all-items minimum selling price at $5, $10, or $20. Figure out your minimum price and stick to it. It is also important to calculate your monthly sales break even point. You want to make sure your business is worthwhile and meets your basic minimum goals, especially if put a lot of energy into it.
6. Use bundles.Using low priced items bundled together is an effective strategy to pass savings on to a customer, yet maintain your minimum selling price. This bundling strategy occurs frequently in retail stores - like 8 pairs of socks - and in grocery stores - 10 hotdogs - and big box stores, like Costco: 2 packs of cereal. Selling these items individually would not be worth it. However, bundling allows you to sell for a higher price while giving a customer a feeling of savings through the bulk purchase- even though they are probably buying more than the customer really needs.
7. Save money on packaging supplies.If you're creative, you can find cheap or free sources of packaging materials. For instance, packing peanuts can be found for free if you ask around industrial places or furniture stores. If you are a UPS member, you can get free shipping tape. You can often get unmarked boxes for free if you ask around stores in malls or office supply stores. Some Ebay sellers use the free USPS priority mail boxes and turn them inside out in order to ship via another service. Not only does this look unprofessional and take extra time, but it's illegal, according to USPS. Look around and you will find either free or affordable solutions.
8. Take good digital photos of your items.You don't have to have an expensive camera to take good digital photos, but just a basic knowledge of photography. Do a Google search and you will find a quick list. This usually includes using a tripod, making sure the lighting is good (bright and diffused - no harsh shadows, such as natural light), and making sure the background is white or solid- with no distracting objects in the frame. If you photograph small items, you may consider buying a cheap light box or light tent for $100 or less. You can find these on Ebay, of course.
9. Lure people to your Ebay store.Listing fees in your store is a fraction of the cost as a regular listing. So, if you place links or banners in your regular listings that encourage viewing your store items then that could help increase store sales.
10. Use automated feedback.Sellers used to spend hours keeping track of feedback. If you use Selling Manager Pro, you can use automated feedback in bulk. After a quick setup, you may never have to spend time leaving feedback again. It can either be set so you automatically leave positive feedback after each auction or only when you receive positive feedback. If you ever get neutral or negative feedback, you have an option to deal with it manually.
11. Automate email messages to customers.When a customer makes an order you can have emails automatically sent from you to them. Services like Ebay's Selling Manager Pro do this. The email can either be an invoice for them to pay, or, if already paid, it can just acknowledge their order and offer additional products, encouraging repeat business. Automating these emails is a great time saver and an effective marketing tool.
12. Promote repeat business. Repeat business is the best. It's far more efficient to sell more products to the same customers than to seek out new ones. Even if you have to alter your business practice to create 'add-on' products specifically to sell to your existing customers, then do so! No one is more likely to buy from you than your existing happy customer.
13. Offer bulk purchase incentives. People like getting discounts. In reality, they may be paying an arm and a leg but if they 'feel' like they're saving, then they're happy. And if your customer is happy, then you're happy. By offering price breaks on lots of items in the same order, it may encourage people to buy more to 'save more' and increase your sales. You can also offer free shipping or give a free gift after a customer buys a certain number of items.
14. Never miss a marketing opportunity. Every point of contact you have with a customer should promote your products. If you send an email, for example, always include your URL to view more products. When you ship a package, enclose a flier that shows more products and encourages visiting your store or website. To make it effective you have to give them a reason to buy. Try enclosing a coupon for 25% off their next purchase - expiring in 5 days, for example, to convey a feeling of urgency. People don't like missing opportunities, so if you propose a sale on additional items, always have a deadline. Try also stamping your URL on the outside of the packages or typing on the shipping label as part of your address. You never know- someone who handles the package may be curious to visit your site. Or, the package may sit in an office and someone may walk by it and later choose to visit your URL. There is no restriction for mailing a little 'advertisement' and a lot of hands carry and view that package.
15. Use flat rate priority shipping from USPS.Flat rate priority shipping is a pretty good deal for either domestic or flat rate global priority (for international orders). The flat rate envelopes (cheap) should not be confused with the regular priority envelopes (expensive).
16. Choose a store name that uses keywords.Your Ebay store pages will get indexed by search engines and if keyword optimized, you should get more search traffic to your store. So, when you choose your Ebay username and Ebay Store name, use a keyword or two as a part of your name. Then, use the same keyword within an H1 tag, in bold, in italic, and in your text description. Using the basic SEO principles for your Ebay store pages and about me page will help it get more traffic from search engines.
17. Schedule your listings to end at a peak time.The timing of your listing is important, because in the final few hours before its end, it becomes increasingly more visible and prominent to visitors. This narrow window of time is when your item is most likely to sell. It may take some research and experimentation to find the peak time for your auction to end. Tools like Turbo Lister allow you to easily control when each auction starts and ends. Even though it costs a few cents extra to schedule (postponing an auction's start), having a listing end at a peak time is definitely worth it. To help find an ideal time, we can first eliminate when you don't want your listing to end. Assuming the majority of your buyers will be in the U.S., we can first assume you don't want your auction to end anytime between 11am or 8am, since the majority of people will be asleep. Further, you might ask yourself if your type of item would be used for work or personal use only. If for personal, it might be worth considering that during a lunch break or near the end of a workday (5pm), or mid-evening may be an appropriate time to list such an item. For professional work-related items, perhaps it less likely that someone may search for these items in the evenings, but more during working hours. If you have a store, you may also view statistics to see what day of the week and what time of day most people visit your store. Experience as a Powerseller has shown that Sunday afternoon through Thursday are the best days. And 11am to 8pm PST tends to be the most effective time ranges. Avoid holiday mornings and afternoons, as many people sleep in and usually go shopping and are away from computers in the afternoon.
18. Fill your listing title with keywords.Use all the space allowed with meaningful keywords and avoid the use of empty words like 'awesome', having ALL CAPS, or using too many exclamation marks!!! Try adding misspellings in your title. It might increase traffic in some cases.
19. Use photos directly from the manufacturer. It saves time to copy and use a photo from the manufacturer's website and it looks professional. In most cases the manufacturer encourages use of their official photos as it helps their products get represented accurately and professionally. However, always be conscious of copyright laws and read any image use agreements posted. Taking images from other Ebay sellers is not recommended.
20. Put your website URL in your About Me page.Ebay rules allow you to link to a website from your About Me page as a way to provide more product or company information to the prospective buyer. Make the URL bold and prominent and you should see a slight increase in traffic to your website. The more you sell directly from your own website, the better. Even if all you have for ecommerce is the free PayPal checkout buttons, it is still preferred to selling through Ebay. You can save money by selling directly (fewer fees) and benefit by establishing a more direct relationship with the customer.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Trent Mueller is an internet marketing professional, SEO/SEM specialist, and former Ebay PowerSeller; he manages various websites, including http://www.turbophoto.com/, and resides in Portland, Oregon, USA.