The 10 Commandments of Online Selling

6 min. read
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It's Easter! And if there is one thing that you can rely on at Easter, it's that somewhere, and somehow, The Ten Commandments will be screening on free-to-air TV at midday on Easter Sunday. So in ode of this great movie, I thought I would theme today's blog biblically, and so I've come up with The 10 Commandments of Online Selling.

1.      Thou shall not forsake market research

Market research is a seller's best friend! Without it, how can you possibly know how much money you will make? It's amazing how many sellers leave this crucial step out. At the very least, market research should include researching how much an item sells for on eBay or your chosen selling platform, and looking into supply and demand. The easiest way to complete your market research is to use the SaleHoo Research Lab. It's fast and easy to use and is designed for hunting out hot, untapped markets. Click here to take the tour

2.      Thou shall not allow feedback scores to diminish

If there is one thing that all PowerSellers will agree on, it's that feedback is crucial to your selling success. More importantly, you can never acquire either Top Rated or PowerSeller status if you can't achieve and maintain a flawless feedback score (98% and DSR's of over 4.5 based on your previous 12 months of selling, to be exact). Remember that some buyers need to be reminded to place feedback. For a lot of buyers, the transaction is complete when they receive their item. So a simple email saying something like "please remember to place positive feedback when you receive the item, so that I know it arrived safely" is enough to remind them.

3.      Thou shall not sell clothing without including garment measurements

When selling clothing online, you biggest hurdle will always be getting buyers to overcome any worries about the clothing item not fitting them: it can mean a big waste of time and money if it doesn't. However, as with all items, the more comprehensive your item description, the greater the chance of them buying from you. After all, it would be very rare for someone to decide not to buy an item because there was too much information about it!

When you sell shirts or jackets, make sure you include measurements for shoulder width, sleeve length, length from collar to hemline, and chest width.   For jeans and trousers, include the waist measurement (if elastic waist, measure relaxed and fully stretched and include both measurements in your listing). Also include the hip width, rise from crotch to waistband, inseam from crotch to hem, and overall length from top to bottom.

I recommend taking these measurements as soon as your stock arrives; right before you pack it away. Keep the measurements on file so that you can simply copy and paste them into your listings.

4.      Thou shall not use redundant adjectives in item titles such as 'sexy', 'hot' or 'L@@K!'

This is a personal pet-hate of mine; I shiver when I see rookie sellers wasting their precious item title characters on such words. If you are guilty of this shocking offense, know this: The majority of purchases on eBay come from searches (not browsing) so it is vitally important to get your keywords right. Optimizing your keywords is the number one way of driving traffic to your listing, and obviously, the more people who find your item, the more bids you will get and the more money you will make!

eBay sellers get only 55 characters for their item title, so you must use them wisely. Buyers will rarely enter vague words like 'trendy' when they search for an item. Instead, use these characters to really describe the item you are selling. Include information such as size, color, the condition it is in, and its make and model. You can go crazy with the adjectives later in your listing description.

5.      Thou shall not fall victim to an online scam

We talk about scam prevention a lot, and this is something that all sellers should look into before they deal with any suppliers outside of our directory. Unfortunately, the internet is riddled with scams and con artists who make a good living by preying on unsuspecting new (and sometimes not-so-new) sellers.

Some say that your best defense when dealing with suppliers and other service providers is to adopt a 'trust no one until you can verify their authenticity' policy. However, I believe that common sense is the main thing: if a deal seems too good to be true, it almost certainly is. Likewise, if something doesn't seem right about a supplier, it most likely isn't.

Trusting your instincts is key, but for a more fool-proof method of avoiding being taken to the cleaners by scammers, check out this guide:

6.      Thou shall not use inferior product photos

Too often, I see sellers using substandard quality photos, and too often, I see those same sellers disappointed by their lack of sales. It is proven that good quality photos can increase your sales by up to 20%. Most marketplaces charge fees for product photos. So to make sure you get the most out of your money, take photos from multiple angles, ensure that your shots are crystal clear, and taken in the middle of the day when there is plenty of natural light.

7.      Thou shall not forsake all other selling platforms other than eBay

There are plenty of other options out there beyond eBay! And in fact, some sellers find that they are much more successful on these other platforms than they are on eBay. This is because you have a completely different audience, and because you will almost certainly have less competition.  One more reason why sellers find success on alternative platforms is because they often have much lower fees than eBay. In fact, some are even free! My top picks are Bonanzle and eCrater. It would be silly for most sellers to eliminate eBay altogether, so I recommend using these, or another boutique selling platform in addition to your existing ventures on eBay.

8.      Thou shall not accept suppliers advertised prices as gospel

If you make your decision to use, or not to use a supplier based solely on the prices they advertise on their site, your search for a supplier will be a long one. This is because the prices advertised on many suppliers sites are not wholesale prices! Often these quoted prices are what you will pay when you buy only a single unit. And as we all know, you need to buy in bulk to get the best prices. Email or phone the supplier to find out what they can offer you.

9.      Thou shall find one's own niche item

If you asked me the number one rule of online selling success, I would struggle to answer. But ultimately, I would say that finding a niche really is the key to long-term success for your business.

Selling a niche item has been proven time and time again as a way to make regular and consistent sales online. In online retail, when we talk about niches, we are referring to an item which appeals to a smaller and more specific market. Sometimes niches are items that do not get used in everyday life. For this reason, hobby-related and sporting items can make fantastic niches. Left-handed golf clubs, fencing attire, and scrapbooking kits are all good examples of potential niches that could sell like hot cakes.

While these might sound a little abstract, and as though there may not be much of a market for them, you must remember that when you sell them online, you open up to reach an audience of thousands of potential buyers.

Sure, if you were to set up a brick and mortar store that sold nothing but a single niche item, you might fail miserably because of the lack of sales. But that, my friend, is the beauty of the online selling world!

10.    Reader's Choice!

What would your 10th Commandment be? I came up with the first 9, now it's your turn: Leave a comment below and tell me what sellers should never do, or never forget to do, when selling online.

Happy Easter from all of us at SaleHoo! We hope you have a safe and joyful one!

About the author
Alice Delore

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  • Simon Slade 1st of April
    Great post Alice. Happy Easter to all our members, enjoy the long weekend and break :)
  • Simon Slade 1st of April
    Also remember to check out our Easter Special if you aren't already a SaleHoo Member:
  • Grace Harman 1st of April
    Love this post Alice! My choice for a 10th commandment would be "Thou Shalt Respond to All Emails From Buyers & Potential Customers Within 24 Hours"! Good communication really makes such a difference to your online business. Have a great weekend everyone.
  • vergini 3rd of April
    it's great. very interesting!
  • Stefaaan 6th of April
    My choice for a 10th commandment would be called "error handling". Especially if you do business through a drop shipper that shows the cutomer how important you business is to you.
  • haydarbas 6th of April
    it's a good site
  • Alice Delore 7th of April
    Nice one, Stefaan!

    Error handling is a great 'preemptive strike' against issues that can arise from drop shipping, that's for sure.
  • tattoo supplies 6th of January
    All not so is simple
  • Irene Vallejo 7th of January
    Hi tattoo supplies, please give us more feedback and clarification so that we can help you accordingly. Cheers!