10 eBay Selling Tips from Crazily Successful Sellers

tips for selling on ebay

With 1.2 billion listings on eBay, sellers have a lot to compete with when vying for the attention of eBay’s 182 million active buyers. But some eBay sellers aren’t only skilled at getting their listings in front of potential purchasers, completing sales and garnering positive feedback — they’re also incredibly successful at it.

These sellers have years of online retail experience and countless eBay sales under their belts, so naturally, they have plenty of advice to share. Read on for 10 must-try eBay selling tips from the pros that’ll help you increase both your eBay sales and your profits.

1. Consult completed eBay listings for pricing guidance.

Price is one of the most important factors buyers consider on eBay. Setting a competitive price not only impacts buyers’ willingness to pay, but it also affects how visible the item is in eBay’s search results.

When you’re listing a new item or wondering how to price a particular product, first take a look at completed listings for the item you’re selling. Analyzing these successful sales will not only help you determine a fair price for your item, but they’ll also provide guidance on whether to use “buy it now” or employ the auction-style selling method.

“When I can’t sell something quickly enough, I often look back at similar items on eBay that have recently sold,” said Daniella Flores, creator of iliketodabble.com, an online guide to earning extra income through side hustles. “The average price of the items brought up on this particular search will tell me if I need to rework my prices based on how others are currently doing with those products.”

How to find completed listings

To see how much a particular item sold for, first use the search bar at the top of any eBay page to search for the product you’re interested in. Then scroll down the left-hand panel on the search results page until you reach the Preferences section. Under “Show only,” click the box for “Completed Items.”

ebay completed listing

Listings with a green price are for items that were purchased, while listings with a red price are items that went unsold.

Take a look at the prices for completed items, and consider how pricing could’ve affected whether a sale was successfully made or not. For example, were unsold listings priced much higher, or could another factor, such as expensive shipping costs, have played a role in preventing a sell?

2. Optimize item descriptions for SEO.

One of the most important eBay selling tips you’ll hear again and again is to optimize your item descriptions. All of these should describe your product in great detail and feature every word or search term a shopper may enter to find your item. “If you’re selling a pair of Nike Air Jordans, for example, you’ll want to include the model, size, color, and year,” said seller John Linden. “But you’ll also want to include broader keywords like sneakers and basketball shoes. That way, you’ll expand your audience beyond those who came looking for Jordans.”

To start, compile a list of keywords to use in your description. For example, if you’re selling a Yeti SB4.5 mountain bike, your keyword list may look like this: mountain bike, Yeti, full suspension. You can also check out similar sold items to see what keywords competitors used to sell the same item.

In addition to using the proper terms to make your item description SEO-friendly, you should front-load your descriptions with the most important keywords. It’s also important to lead with the most important details about your item because customers tend to pay more attention to what’s at the top of a listing.

When you write your item description, the copy should also answer any questions a buyer may have about the item (size, dimensions, specifications, etc.). For example, in the description for the Yeti SB4.5 mountain bike, you’d also want to include the bike’s size, its color, and any special features it may have.

Check out this article for more tips on how to create a top-selling eBay listing.

3. Take quality photos to attract buyers.

Customers want to see what they’re buying, so it’s important that each of your listings includes high-quality, original photography. “Good quality images are crucial in a generation when people are addicted to visuals on everything from Instagram to Facebook,” says award-winning eBay seller Max Godin.

You don’t have to have a high-end camera or a studio to take the kind of photos that will attract buyers — all you need is a smartphone. Read on for other ways to ensure you take the best possible pictures.

Tips for taking eBay product photos

  • Don’t use stock images. While these photos may present a product well, they can also be a red flag to potential buyers because it’s obvious that the image isn’t of the specific item you’re selling. Instead of relying on stock photos or product images taken directly from a company website, use original photography and snap pictures of the specific product you have for sale.
  • Photograph your product in front of a neutral background. Shooting a product in a cluttered room or against a busy background can be distracting, so opt for something simple in a well-lit area. Hang clothing on a white wall to photograph it, or drape a neutral-colored sheet over a table to create your own simple background.
  • Consider using ‘Instagram-style’ photos. In addition to featuring your item on a neutral background, you may also want to include what are known as Instagram-style photos. These are more like lifestyle photos shot outside of a studio that often feature the product in use. A 2014 study found that these types of shots have click-through rates as high as 8 percent, compared with 2.4 percent for stock photos and studio pictures. According to Curalate, Instagram-style photos perform better because consumers value transparency.
  • Take photos from multiple angles. Showing a product from every angle provides the buyer with a complete picture of how an item looks.
  • Show any item flaws. If a product is cracked, torn or damaged in any way, include a photograph that illustrates this, so buyers know exactly what they’re purchasing. In addition to being transparent, this will also lessen the likelihood that a customer will return the item.
  • Show scale. A photo of an item by itself can often make it difficult to determine the item’s scale. Depending on the item you’re selling, it may be helpful to photograph it next to something else that will give buyers a clear idea of the item’s size. For example, if you’re selling a smartphone, take a picture of the phone in your hand or beside a ruler.
  • Upload photos with proper dimensions. Minimum and maximum image dimensions for product photos are 500×500 pixels and 9000×9000 pixels, but eBay recommends using images that are 1600×1600 pixels.

4. List items daily instead of all at once.

Marcia Layton Turner of RochesterClothingBargains is a firm believer in creating new eBay listings as often as possible, and she strives to add new items to her shop daily. “Because of how the eBay algorithm works, listing one item a day for seven days straight is better than listing seven items on a single day,” she said. Updating your inventory regularly will also ensure that visitors to your store will discover new items every time they visit, and it’ll help you keep your unlisted inventory to a minimum.

Of course, making a quality eBay listing takes time, especially if you’re just getting started selling in the online marketplace. eBay’s quick listing tool can help, though, by providing guidance on how to price and ship products based on previous sales.

To begin listing your item with the quick listing tool, simply enter words that describe your item in the search bar. eBay will automatically provide listing suggestions based on similar items that have already sold. For example, if you’re selling a Patagonia duffel bag, the quick listing tool will start populating information for you, as illustrated below.

ebay what item are you selling

If you see the item you’re selling, click “select” as illustrated in the screenshot below.

select product for ebay listing

This will populate your eBay listing with information from the selected listing.

ebay listing details

You can then edit any fields to customize your particular product. For example, if the Patagonia duffel bag you’re selling has all the same measurements and features but is blue, you can update the color in the description and upload new photos of the product.

5. Establish trust at every point of a sale.

There’s no shortage of scams and untrustworthy sellers on the Internet, so when it comes to eBay selling tips, Godin says it’s important to take steps to establish “trust signals.” These are small things you can do that make both you and your eBay store appear more legitimate. “At the end of the day, every client wants to be sure they are making a purchase from a trustworthy merchant who will supply a good quality product in a timely manner,” Godin said. “If a person does not have enough faith in your product and/or brand, he or she will skip your listing.”

You can start establishing trust in your product or brand on eBay by simply filling out information about yourself, your store and your policies. Be sure to include a photo of yourself — potential buyers appreciate seeing the face behind your store. You can also display reviews, customer testimonials and other positive buyer feedback in your listings to showcase how you’ve satisfied buyers in the past.

To establish trust in your listings, be upfront about any scratches, tears or defects an item may have. And include product photos or videos that completely and accurately showcase the product you have for sale.

Establishing and maintaining a positive seller reputation can also help you establish trust among buyers. One way to do this is through feedback. Each time you complete an eBay transaction — whether you’re buying or selling — you can leave feedback about your experience. Feedback consists of a positive, negative or neutral rating, and it also allows the buyer or seller to leave a brief comment about their experience. This feedback is important because it appears in eBay members’ profiles and can clue a potential buyer or seller into what it’s like to do business with you.

You can also develop a positive seller reputation and, in turn, give people more reason to provide you with positive feedback by doing the following:

  • Offer competitive pricing and shipping
  • Answer any buyer questions quickly and politely
  • Keep track of inventory to avoid canceling sales
  • Track shipped items and provide customers with delivery dates
  • Promptly report any issues you have with a buyer to eBay

6. Price items low when you first launch your store.

If you’re listing a new item for sale in your store, particularly if it’s in a saturated category, Godin suggests pricing the item lower than your competitors. Potential buyers pay close attention to price and may even opt to display search results from lowest to most expensive, so having a lower-priced item can ensure you show up high in results.

“By doing this, you may at first have little to no profit margin, but the more sales you generate, the higher you will climb in eBay’s default organic search results,” Godin says. “If you keep a close eye on this, once you are at the top or at least close enough, you can then start raising prices and reaping the rewards of patience and strategy.”

While pricing items low will limit your profit margin, there’s a strategy at work here. Lower-priced items tend to sell more quickly, and the more sales you generate, the higher your listings will be placed in eBay’s search results. Over time, as you establish yourself as an eBay seller, you can gradually increase your prices while maintaining optimal search placement.

7. Offer free 30-day returns.

Giving customers the option to return items for free for up to 30 days not only benefits your customers, but it also makes your listings more appealing and more likely to appear in eBay’s search results. “I’ve found that if you believe the best in people, make your business decisions out of courage and not fear, and treat your buyers with compassion above all, Free 30-Day Returns is an easy lever to pull,” said Audrey Morris of Mommy Enlightened.

If you offer free 30-day returns, you will also be eligible for eBay’s Top Rated program, which gives you access to a Top Rated seal that displays prominently in both search results and your listing. Participation in the program also gives you access to exclusive benefits, such as a 10 percent discount on final value fees.

To qualify as an eBay Top seller, you must have an active account for more than 90 days, 100 or more transactions and $1,000 in sales during the past year and a defect rate of less than or equal to 0.5 percent.

8. Provide free shipping.

Author Casey Bell said he was having difficulty selling on eBay at first and often had to relist items several times before they got any traction, but then he made one change: He offered free shipping. Suddenly, he had no problem making sales.

With the popularity of Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping, many online shoppers have come to expect convenient and affordable shipping options, so offering free shipping is a great way to make your listing more appealing to buyers.

Free shipping can also simplify the selling experience for you because you won’t have to calculate shipping costs for every item you list. “There’s less headache,” Justin Dube — who offers free shipping on all his items — told eBay. “I’m never wrong and never surprised by some fees or by a mistake that I might have made otherwise. For me, free shipping makes things so much easier.”

Of course, you may not be able to offer free shipping on all of your items. Fragile items, heavy ones or items that need to be shipped internationally may cost much more to ship and will eat it into your profits. But as you make your listings, keep in mind that providing free shipping is one of the top eBay selling tips for a reason.

9. Request feedback from customers.

Receiving positive feedback from satisfied buyers doesn’t only establish you as a trusted seller and increase your credibility, but it can also improve your appearance in eBay’s search results. And a little positive feedback can go a long way. In fact, according to Godin, “Research shows that you need as little as 20 people to provide you with feedback in order to learn 90 percent of what you need to know in order to improve.”

Not every seller will think to review their purchase, so follow up with every customer to ensure they’re happy with their purchase and ask them to provide you with feedback.

10. Share your listings on social media.

eBay seller angelgirl327 suggests that eBay sellers increase their reach by sharing their listings on social media, which you can do directly from your listing.

Sharing your eBay listing on Facebook, Twitter or another social site is a great way to get more eyes on the items you have for sale, and you don’t necessarily need a large following. Your followers may also be more likely to purchase from you if they’re friends, family or even someone who’s gotten to know you through social and has already established a relationship with you.

eBay selling tips: Take the first step to increasing your sales

If you’re new to selling on eBay, you may not be able to implement all of these strategies immediately. For example, it may take time for you to gather enough inventory to make new listings daily or even weekly.

However, even if you’re only ready to list your very first item for sale, it’s clear there are numerous steps you can take to ensure you create successful listings, establish an excellent seller reputation and start making profits. After all, if these methods work for eBay’s top sellers, they’re bound to work for you as well.

Michael Ugino Michael Ugino is the co-founder & CMO of Sellbrite. A former IR 300 merchant and Fortune 500 product marketer, Michael now helps small to medium sized brands and retailers build a successful online marketplace strategy. He'd be delighted for you to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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