CEO of Me, Inc is excited to introduce this 4 part series on the Secrets to Successful Selling on eBay by our guest blogger Christy Silkaitis from The Shoppers Apprentice! Click Here to view the previous posts from this series.
So you’ve found merchandise to sell and have written up your first auction. The auction has started and now you’re wondering what comes next.
The duration of most auctions over on eBay is 7 days. During this time you may receive several questions about your item. These may pertain to condition, size, or shipping. You may even get messages from buyers offering you a specific price if you end your auction early. Under eBay guidelines, you are not supposed to do this (but many sellers do). The risk is on the buyer, since transactions completed under the eBbay umbrella come with buyer protection. If something goes wrong during the transaction and the auction was settled privately, the buyer has very little recourse. Usually when I get requests to end an auction early it is because the item is underpriced and the buyer is trying to get a bargain. For example, I once listed a pottery bowl for $9.99 (I start most of my auctions at this price, figuring the market will set the right price). I knew very little about it, and received a message just a few hours after posting the auction asking if I would end the auction early and take $75.00 + shipping for the bowl. I decided to let the auction run its course, and in the end the bowl sold for over $150. It turned out to be a rare piece of railroad china (and I paid just $2 for it at a garage sale!). Be prepared to answer questions as they come in, and realize that the decision about whether to make the question (and answer) public is up to you.
Don’t be surprised if there are few or no bids on your item until even a few hours before the end of the auction. Many bidders wait until the last-minute! This is particularly true of collector’s items. You have the option to cancel your auctions up to 12 hours before the end of the auction, even if the item has received bids. You will need to provide a reason for the cancellation. Within the 12 hour time-frame before the auction ends, you cannot end the auction.
Soon enough, your auction is over and your item sold. Now what? Go to your “my eBay” page and click on “sold” items on the left-hand side. You should see a detailed account of everything that you have sold. Click on the “send invoice” button and send your buyers an invoice, then wait for payment. When the buyer pays, you will receive notification via email from PayPal. I always send a courtesy email to the bidder to let them know that payment has been received, and to let them know when their package will ship. I usually ship within 24 hrs of the end of the auction, and after the package is shipped I send another courtesy email to notify the buyer that their package is on its way. In this second email, I ask the buyer to take a few moments to post feedback for me.
The feedback system is a way for buyers to rate sellers. It used to be that sellers could also rate buyers, but eBay eliminated that option years ago. Having good feedback ratings is important – feedback ratings are often how buyers determine if they want to purchase from you. The higher your feedback rating, the more confidence a buyer will have in purchasing from you. Feedback is broken down into four categories: Item as Described, Communication, Shipping Time, and Shipping and Handling Charges. You can get up to five stars in each category, and transactions within the past year are used to compute the final rating. International auctions do not count toward your ratings. I have worked hard to maintain a perfect feedback rating (100% positive with 4704 feedback ratings) by writing up my items accurately, showing detailed pictures, setting fair shipping charges, sending extra messages beyond what is required, and shipping in a timely manner. Still, there will always be people who are dissatisfied, and how you handle the disgruntled buyer is important. I have had to refund the full purchase price on more than one occasion to keep my feedback score perfect. For me, it has been worth it, but not every seller feels that way.
One bad feedback rating affects your overall score. A good score can lead to seller fee discounts, increased sales, and a better sense of satisfaction for a job well done. A positive feedback results in +1 feedback score, a neutral feedback results in no change, and a negative feedback results in a -1 feedback score (you want to avoid these!).
Congratulations! You are now ready to begin your journey selling on eBay.