Friday, September 16, 2011

Quick Guide to Listing on eBay (Sept 2011)

My cousin asked for some information about listing on eBay. I just wrote up the following for him and thought that someone else out there may also find it useful. Of course, I'd love any feedback - not just to this entry but also to eBay listing, selling, buying, etc.

Listing an auction:

General thoughts. I do a large volume of sales so I tend to make my listings generic and then put the specific information in the title and with the picture/s of course. Then, when I list the next item I can choose "list a similar item" and all of my previous information is already saved. When I do a round of listing, then a few days later list more, I can either choose an active listing or a completed listing and select "sell a similar item" from that as well. That way I rarely have to re-enter all the following crap every time.

Auction vs fixed price. I generally like to list at a "fixed price" and then allow bidders to make an offer. I'm surprised at how many people simply buy out-right rather than make an offer first and try to save a buck or two. Oh well, works out for me. Auctions work better for very rare, very popular, or unique (custom) items. There's little to go on to form an idea of a good price for those items as they vary so wildly or there's no comparison available. With my fixed price listings, I can easily search completed items of the thing I'm selling, sort by Highest first, then use a dollar amount usually just under the highest completed auction. That's typically a good starting point for haggling. Haggling is a fine art and I'll let you figure out how do it so that it works for you, but if I have time I'll make some notes about it later on.

The listing itself:

Pick a category. You can pick an additional category, for an additional charge, but I never have. People that want what I'm selling know how to put an adequete search together.
If I'm listing something simple and popular - ie GI Joe, well it's not a problem to pick the right category. If I'm selling something not quite as popular, I'll search completed auctions for the same or similar item and see what they were listed under.

Title. We now have some extra characters available so we can be a little wordy, but I still find it best to clearly state the name/title of the item and the line it comes from in addition to keywords someone searching for it might use. Additionally, I put the item name itself in CAPS to draw attention.
Good: "GI Joe Pursuit of Cobra ROCK VIPER moc POC 25th"
Bad: "rock viper carded"
I don't recall a time that I've used a subtitle - same as additional category.

Condition. People actually use this, but I'm old-school and expect all information I need in the description. Anyway, I ran into some problems and learned - only use New if it is literally new in a box or on a card. Whenever in doubt, just put used as a default.

UPC. only use this if you're selling media - CDs, DVDs, books, etc.

Item Specifics. I don't use this. Some customers might, but with the number of auctions I list I'm not taking the time to change this setting for every listing.

Pictures. I typically post only one picture (free) for the vast majority of my items. I'll post a second picture (0.15) if I'm posting a custom or special item. Generally, for me, that first picture is a very bare-bones picture. It shows the item with all accessories, cardback, box, whatever that it will come with. I usually through in a ruler or tape measure so that idiots don't constantly ask me how fucking tall it is! (sorry, I used to get that question all the damn time). Anyway - the second picture shows the item in comparison to other, similar items. So if I'm selling a custom GI Joe, I'll put him in an action pose with normal figures so the buyer can get a feel of how it will look in their displays. NOTE: it's very important to state in the auction description what is included/not included. Even with that I've had idiots buy a custom thinking they were getting the five figures AND the custom figure in the first picture. Still happens once in a while.

Item description.

This is an example from one of mine:
This auction is for the DC Direct figure shown here. The figure is in good, non-played with condition.

This figure is fits in with other DC Direct 6 inch figures as well as Mattel's DC Superhero Classics and DC Universe Classics figures.

Shipping for this auction is $8.00. I will combine shipping - please wait for invoice.

NOTE: I will take a dollar off of shipping if you don't want the card shipped, just let me know after purchase and I'll send out an updated invoice.

Payment is due in 3 days of auction's end. Note: in accordance with new eBay rules I can only accept Paypal for payment. Only US bidders please - no international bids. If you have any questions, please ask and be sure to check out my other auctions for more action figures!
I occasionally get people asking if they can pay with cashier's checks or money orders because it's not actually against the rules to accept them, but it messes with my business process so I don't. You can if you're cool with that, but it takes more time and opens you up to potential fraud.
I do a general one- or two-line description of the batch of figures I'm listing. I imagine you'll want to be more descript with your stuff. It's up to you. Certainly with a custom you'll want to describe it quite a bit.
Listing the shipping charge is redundant, but I like to do it anyway. Mention that you'll combine shipping and so on.
In this batch I had loose figures that I saved the cardbacks for and was including it by default. If the buyer didn't want it I'd charge less shipping because it is easier and often slightly cheaper to ship without the cardback.
According to eBay you can file a "non-paying bidder alert" 4 days after payment hasn't been received. Do this as soon as you can. If the deadbeat hasn't paid right away, this MIGHT get them to make good sooner. I don't accept non-US bidders because frankly it's a huge pain in the ass to get international shipping done right and estimated correctly. I get flak for this, but it's my business and I try to make it as easy to run as possible.

Listing Designer. I ignore that flashy stuff, but if you want to play with it, I don't think it hurts your listings... much.

"Choose how you'd like to sell your item"
This is where you select auction vs fixed price and time periods. I'm a power-seller and top-rated seller so I get a few discounts in different ways. You'll have to find a good mix of settings and starting prices that meet your comfort level and yet still are profitable.
Like I said I do about 80% fixed price and allow best offers. I don't typically put in automatic thresholds for accepting/denying.

Duration. Go for as long as possible. for fixed, do 30 days, auctions, do 7 if you can. I think that auctions ending on a weekend do better than those on a week day so you can do 5 or 7 based on when you list so that the end falls on a weekend. for the fixed it doesn't matter when it ends because people can just buy it any time. I think there's an extra fee for 10 days so I don't do that. I just list it 3 days later. I'll occasionally use a scheduled start time but mostly just as a place-holder for an auction. If I have time to write up an auction on Friday, I'll put in a scheduled start time of late sunday, then when I have a moment Sunday morning or Saturday afternoon or whatever, I edit the "pending" auction for an immediate start and don't get charged the scheduling fee. It's a little trick to save an auction for later and not pay for it. At least I think this still works.

Payment. I accept paypal only. You click the box and put in your paypal email address. I don't currently use the "immediate payment required" for the buy it now, but with all the deadbeat bidders/buyers I've been thinking about it. I'm not sure the best way to go about combined shipping discounts then, but oh well - it's in-development for me for now.

Shipping details. This is where you set up the shipping rates. If you can give a sure-fire weight then you can use this to estimate exact shipping fees. I like to just put a flat shipping rate out there. Sometimes I pay more, some less, but it usually works out in the end. Be sure to put a handling time in. I put two days, but I'm experienced and know I have all the materials I could possibly need to ship an item readily at hand. I suggest you put down 4 days probably until you get the hang of it. Oh, you can put in rules for shipping discounts, but I always do that manually. It might help get a little more business if I did it automatically as the customers can see exactly what will happen, but my customers seem happy enough without it.

International shipping
. I put "none" and recommend you do too, at least at first until you get the hang of the whole process.

Buyer requirements.
I put the most restrictive stuff on there as possible as far as buyers with unpaid item strikes, negative feedback, and countries that I don't ship to.

Return Policy. Put what you're comfortable with in here. Be aware that people are awfully creative with returns though. I sold a mint comic, guy returned another comic of lesser condition in its place but I couldn't prove it and had to refund the original amount. I don't refund the original shipping charge unless it's my mistake and I don't pay for return shipping.

Additional Checkout instructions. This gets sent with the invoice so I put in the whole "Payment is due within three days of auction's end." and Paypal only stuff.

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