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The eBay Seller’s Survival Guide

Thrown into a spin by eBay’s recent announcement? Read our eBay Seller’s Survival Guide for some tips on how to ride the waves and prosper post August 2008.

Choose Your Product Wisely

Some categories are more high-risk than others because of (a) the number of competing sellers and (b) the clientele they attract. You’re guaranteed to have more problems with listing visibility and negative feedback if you sell in Electronics, so think carefully about what you sell before going ahead.

Also: it’s hard to profit on low dollar items. Remember that approximately 20% of the sale price goes to eBay, so an item selling for $10 better not have cost you more than $1 to acquire.

Brand New Has Less Risk Than Used

Selling brand new items in pristine condition is a much smoother ride than selling liquidation or second-hand. Consider having separate accounts for new and used products so that you can tailor your About Me page and profile around the quality of the product you are selling and the associated questions/problems customers might have.

Be Pro-active About DSRs

Lots of buyers don’t actually realize how much damage they do when they give you anything less than a 5. Take this example from the eBay forum:

“I got a '3' recently for 'free shipping' because the buyer thought it meant "does not apply" (labels says neither good or bad)”.

The best solution is to take buyer’s education into your own hands. Some sellers set up an automated email to go out following payment that thanks the buyer for their purchase and also contains a simple and neutral explanation of the DSR system and the fact that eBay treats a 4 as an unsatisfactory experience.

A Reminder of Some Basics...

  • Good quality, generously sized photos are very, very important. The more the better.
  • Don’t waste money on upgrades – they ain’t worth it.
  • Ship the moment the buyer pays.
  • Send an automated email once the item is shipped letting the customer know the item is on its way. This is also a great opportunity to say: “If you have any problems or questions, please contact me ASAP and I will do everything I possibly can to sort it out, or spend the rest of my life in sackcloth and ashes making amends.”
  • Most important of all: keep simple records and use them.

eBay Isn’t Everything

It’s 2008 not 1998! It’s dumb to rely on eBay for your entire livelihood when there are so many other great places to sell. You should certainly keep some listings on eBay for the amazing traffic value, but nothing prevents you from listing on a few other places at the same time or setting up your own website.

See our post Top Six Places to Sell Online for ideas.

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