How to Sell Successfully on eBay
With a marketplace featuring 1.1 billion live listings and an over expanding customer base, it pays to be on eBay. But if you already have your own offsite ecommerce store, managing two online stores at once can be consuming and costly. In this section, we’ll look at how you can optimise and streamline your eBay storefront to make the most of your products and ease the burden of cross-listing.
Taking Quality Listing Photos
A picture speaks a thousand words, and no truer is this than in ecommerce. When your customer has no direct way of seeing or handling the product, high quality pictures become an integral component of the shopping process. Surprisingly, some 40 percent of those who list on eBay quit the process when it’s time to add pictures. Thankfully, you can use this to your advantage: by taking your own pictures, you can gain the edge over those who don't bother, or those who simply use low quality stock photos.
These five tips to promote your products using sharp high resolution pictures:
Light it up
As a general rule in photography, natural light is better than artificial light, particularly for products with highly reflective surfaces. Assuming you are shooting indoors, adjust your shades or blinds to let in as much sunlight as possible and, if necessary, turn on additional lamps in the house to increase the available light.
Beware though: shooting into direct sunlight can desaturate colours and create glare. Always shoot with the sun coming in from behind or sideways on. For increased visibility, eBay recommends shooting on a neutral solid background. As in professional studio photography, colours like white or light grey work best.
Prepare the Shot
In photography, composition is everything. Take as much time as you can, therefore, framing the shot. To begin with, if you are using a smartphone (e.g. iPhone) hold your camera horizontally rather than vertically: this is the preferred aspect ratio online, so it’ll be what your customers will expect when looking on your site.
Lastly, if you’re using an iPhone or DSLR, always use the grid view: this will enable you to line up your shot properly; enabling you to fit the product(s) within its parameters. Another thing you can do is to use other objects in the room to help compose your shot: by lining up the grid with a wall or piece of furniture; i.e table or chair.
Cover all the Angles
Your listing should tell a complete story: try to photograph each item from as many sides as possible. Since your customer can’t see the object first-hand, you need to cover as many angles as possible to replicate moving around the object. By photographing the product in this way, you also assure the customer of its condition: you are not trying to disguise any of its ‘unsightly’ or ‘unflattering’ angles — it is fully on display.
Emphasise the Details
Related to the previous topic, if your customer can’t move around the item, they can’t see it close up: try therefore to photograph the item in as much detail as possible. While it’s a good idea to add close-ups, taking high resolution images is even better. In this way, the customer should be able to zoom in and out of the product; altering the level of magnification as they see fit.
Please note, however, to do this you will almost certainly require a high spec camera like a DSLR or 4/3rds camera. Only these pro, or prosumers, cameras are likely to be capable of taking high resolution images.
Creating your eBay listing: Research and Promotion
While many sellers new to eBay are adept at taking well-composed, high-resolution images, sellers can quickly become unstuck when producing their listing. In this section of the article, we’ll look at the 7 essential factors in producing a successful listing, covering: keywords, returns, promotion and pricing. By the end, you should have a listing full optimised to maximise your reach.
Search for Similar Products on eBay
If you find something isn’t selling as quickly as you’d expect, one shortcut to quick sales is to look back at similar items on eBay that have recently sold. You can do this by going to the search bar, typing in the keywords for your item and filtering by ‘sold items’. The aim here is to focus on pricing: if you can see that the same product has sold for a price lower than your own, than you can price match your own product accordingly.
Offer Free 30-Day Returns
Along with Amazon, eBay are now geared towards offering no-questions-asked, money-back guarantees. Their 30-day free returns mandate means customers are now more likely than ever to shop on their portal. The success of this policy speaks for itself: its availability is now expected as standard. Vendors who do not offer it on at least some of their products run the risk of being left behind by larger rival vendors who do.
However, if it turns out that a full refund isn’t possible in some cases (or all) you can also offer a partial refund: this provides a compromise in certain situations; e.g. where an item arrives back to the warehouse damaged or in used condition.
Maintain your Stock Levels
This may sound obvious: keep your inventory well stocked; avoid lost business as a result of not being able to fulfil your orders. But, on eBay, not keeping your products sufficiently stocked can have ramifications in ways you might not expect: If it so happens your stock runs out, you lose your watchers and, crucially, the history of the product and how many products sold. Because buyers don’t like to be the first to buy an item, this can have a negative impact on sales. This holds even if you are out of stocks for only a couple of days. If for some reason you run out of stock (for instance, the stock is on back order) increase the price so high that no one will buy it.
Use Keywords in your Listings
As with search engines like Google, customers tend to search for very specific sets of keywords on eBay. There are numerous ways to find these keywords: you can type a word into the eBay search engine and see what word combinations it suggests for complete the search, alternatively, you can use third-party programs to track and analyse keywords. Whichever method you go with, make sure you use them consistently across your store description, custom categories, page titles, meta tags, image alt tags, and so on.
However, make sure to avoid keyword spamming (i.e. overusing keywords or using words unrelated to your listing). This violates eBay policy and could result in your products being de-listed.
Promote, Promote, Promote
From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, voucher codes to bank holiday deals, shoppers expect deals. Now, with eBay’s Promotions Manager, you can offer these promotions quickly and easily. You can improve your listings’ visibility and encourage consumers to spend more in your store. For example, you can offer free shipping when someone spends over a certain amount, set minimum order-size discounts like BOGO deals, or cut prices on designated categories.
Pricing can be tricky, but there are a number of rules you can follow to stay ahead. First and foremost, you should check on the ‘completed listings’ section of the website to see what the products you are selling have sold for in the past. This way you can adjust your prices accordingly. Additionally, although some sellers overlook it, where running and auction-style listing, it often pays to set a reserve price. This is the price which sets the threshold below which you are not willing to sell. Where you think buyers are unlikely to bid above this price, you can alternatively set up a Buy It Now; this allows customers to buy your item at the exact price listed.
Build Positive Feedback
Positive feedback is crucial for effective selling on eBay. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut for getting good seller feedback, but there are known methods for attaining it as a buyer: if you’re just starting out, you can quickly accrue feedback by purchasing small cost items from large sellers – sellers like these will usually have feedback set automatically, so you should receive positive feedback shortly after the payment processes. If you want to build up positive feedback quickly in the same way as a buyer, you can, to begin with, focus on selling lots of small cost items. But remember: you will still have to earn your feedback score. There is no substitute for speedy delivery and A+ customer service.
Promotions Manager: Delving in More Detail
As one of the key components of selling on eBay, the Promotions Manager is worth going into in more detail. By making full use of its functions, you can undercut your competitors, or push a product that hasn’t been selling. Perhaps the most useful feature of eBay promotions is that eBay lets sellers create item promotions for free. There is no fee incurred by implementing promotions, nor is there any fee incurred by selling items that are part of a promotion.
What Does a Promoted Listing Look Like?
A promoted listings ad contains information automatically taken from your listing. Featuring your primary photo, listing title, price, and format, once posed, it will instantly improve your visibility on eBay. For ease of use, any changes you make to your listing will automatically appear in your ad. You don’t need to update the ad itself if something is incorrect or you just want to change it.
It should look like this:
To find the list of eligible categories you can list, click here From there, scroll down to “Who can use promoted listings?”
What are the Different Types of Promotion You can Apply?
There are two promotion types you can configure using Promotions Manager:
Item price markdown promotions – sometimes known as "markdown promotions," these easy-to-implement promotions enable sellers to "markdown" the price of an item either as a percentage or by a set amount in your designated currency.
Item price threshold promotions – otherwise known as "threshold promotions," these promotions can be specified more than the former: these promotions only kick in when a pre-determined "threshold" is reached. With threshold promotions, you can creates offers like: Buy 1 Get 1 Free or Spend £80, Get 20% off.
As before, promotional discounts can be deducted either a percentage of the total cost, or specified as a currency value. Discounts can apply to an item, a set of items, or an entire order.
Markdown Promotions: How to Set Them Up
Call createItemPriceMarkdown Promotion and key in the required fields. This will generate a new markdown promotion, including:
The marketplace on which the promotion runs
The item(s) to be included in the promotion
The discount to be placed on the promotion
The start and end dates for the promotion
From there, you can customise promotions by adding labels, images, as well as how they relate to other active promotions. Once you've created a promotion, you can then manage and update it using the markdown promotion methods in the Marketing API.
Threshold Promotions: How to Set Them Up
Call createItemPromotion and specify the following required fields to create a new threshold promotion:
The marketplace on which the promotion runs
The item(s) to include in the promotion
The discount associated with the promotion
The discount threshold, or when the discount "triggers"
The start and end dates for the promotion
From there, you can customise promotions by adding labels, images, as well as how they relate to other active promotions. Once you've created a promotion, you can then manage and update it using the item promotion methods in the Marketing API.
Shared Methods: Setting up Threshold and Markdown Promotions
There are a number of ways you can set both markdown promotions and threshold promotions. With key-based and rule-based methods you can pause and restart promotions, or even setup promotion reports.
You can specify the products to include in a promotion in the following two ways:
Key-based promotions: select items using the listing IDs or inventory reference IDs of the items you want to promote.
Rule-based promotions: select items using a list of eBay category IDs or seller Store category IDs. You can further constrain the item selection by implementing minimum and maximum prices, brands, and item conditions.
Please note, all promotions set up withing Promotions Manager are site-specific. Also be aware that you can add an item to a promotion if the item is already listed on the site where the promotion is running.
Merchandise and Cross-promote Seller Items
Cross-promote items by featuring them in a related-items module on the promoted item's page. This works best when you highlight other eligible items that are related to, or complement, the other items in the promotion. While a Buy 2 or Spend £50 discount encourages interest in the items you list, being able to view related items in your inventory encourages positive buyer behaviour. Even if a buyer doesn't purchase the discounted item, seeing related items has its own appeal and it’s a great way to encourage buyers to explore what else you have on offer.
Promotions Manager via the Marketing API
If you're creating sets of promotions, it makes sense to interface the Promotions Manager with the Marketing API: in this way you can automate the creation and management of all your seller promotions. The Marketing API is available for the 247 CloudHub developer team (see the Marketing API Overview for details) and connects to items that have been listed in your eBay inventory. Via the Inventory API, it works with listings created with the Trading API. All such calls are made from CloudHub, thus eliminating the need of creating them within eBay itself.