Everyone I know that sells on eBay ultimately does it for the same reason – to make money. Whether you do it to declutter your house and help you pay rent (us a year ago) or pay for a trip to Costa Rica (us now), profit is the ultimate goal. There are dozens of how-to’s explaining how to source things, how to ship things, how to deal with returns etc.; but these things are only dreams to some people because their items just won’t sell! So let’s talk about 6 things that we’ve learned we need to do to hear that “cha-ching” daily!
1. LIST, LIST, LIST….DAILY
Whether or not things sell is largely dictated by Cassini, eBay’s search engine. Cassini decides what page things are on when people search for them. Obviously you’re going to have many more sales if you show up on page 1 or 2 instead of page 19. eBay heavily favors active sellers, and listing new items is one of the best ways to show that you’re active! Our personal goal when we’re just maintaining consistent sales is to list 30 items per day. We often list something early in the morning and then spread out the rest throughout the day. If we have an incredibly productive eBay day where we’re able to get 50 items’ listings ready to post, we will never list them all in one day. We’ll save them in drafts and use them for a boost during the week for the days we aren’t able to list as much. So whether it’s a lot or little, list daily!
2. SHIP ON TIME
It you ship something late, it will hurt your sales for days, possibly even until the late item is delivered. Many times, we have dropped packages off at the post office and sold multiple items within minutes of our packages being scanned through, after a day-long drought of sales. Offer the shortest handling time you can realistically maintain and then make it a priority! We offer 1 day handling on all of our packages and ship first thing every morning. It’s worth losing a half hour of sleep in the morning to keep the sales coming in all day.
3. OFFER A LONGER RETURN WINDOW
With 30 days being the eBay standard for the TRS (Top Rated Seller) discount, having anything shorter can hurt your listing in search results. The fact of the matter is, you accept returns whether you want to or not. Under eBay’s money back guarantee, if a person is not content with their item, they can return it – and eBay can force you to refund them. You will have much better results long-term if you simply offer great customer service and take returns for any reason (even if you think it’s unfair or it doesn’t make sense, which will unfortunately happen more often than you might like). We accept returns for 30 days for any reason and our return rate is 1-2% depending on the season. Dealing with returns is just a fact of life when it comes to running an eBay business.
Contrary to popular belief, offering a longer return window usually decreases the number of returns you get. If someone is going to return something (either honestly or dishonestly), they’ll do it right when they receive the item. Most of our customers who return their items message us and request a return within an hour of their receiving the package. We have tons of return requests that the customer never bothers to follow through with. So remember, you’re running a business and customer satisfaction is your goal! If they don’t like it, take it back and sell it again! If you’re scared of scammers, write a careful return policy and remember that eBay protects your right to refuse to refund if they return an item in damaged condition, worn condition, etc.
4. OFFER MULTIPLE SHIPPING OPTIONS/FREE SHIPPING
Free shipping is another great way to get a boost in search results. eBay loves it when you offer free shipping just as much as your customers do! Now we don’t recommend providing free shipping on everything, or your profit margins will be razor thin. We usually offer free shipping on anything that we know can be shipped either media mail or first class. A small decrease in sale-to-sale profits increases our profits over time as we have more sales and happier customers!
5. REFRESH RSS FEED
The longer your listings stay on eBay, the further they’re pushed down in search results. People want fresh new items and eBay is of the opinion that if your item doesn’t sell for months, it’s because no one wants it – so they don’t show it to anyone! Refreshing your RSS feed is a way to force eBay to re-index your last 50 listings and make them look freshly listed. To learn exactly how to refresh your feed, check out our guide HERE. (Note that you have to have a store to have an RSS feed.)
6. TREAT YOUR EBAY STORE LIKE A BUSINESS
If you don’t treat your eBay store like a serious business, how in the world could you expect your customers to? If you treat eBay like a mysterious part-time income which is beyond your understanding, then that’s all it will ever be. eBay rewards solid business practices with solid sales. If you want to grow your business:
- Communicate Well – Answer every message even if it doesn’t result in a sale! Delay in someone’s order? Message them. Problem with the item? Message them. Anything at all? Message them. They may not even respond, but they’ll be happy to be kept in the loop. Or, worst case scenario, you’ll have evidence of your excellent business practices to show eBay if you have a grumpy customer.
- Leave Feedback Promptly – A couple of times a week, you should be leaving glowing feedback for all of your customers you’ve had no problems with. If we have problem customers, we simply leave no feedback whatsoever, as we don’t want to prompt them to leave hateful feedback for us. Leaving feedback prompts good customers to do the same for you, and eBay loves sellers with great feedback!
- Pay Fees – Keep your fees paid, and in a timely manner. This keeps them from building up and can possibly give you a small boost in eBay’s mind. It’s our way of saying “Hey we’re still here! Have some of our money!”
- Undersell and Overpicture – A lot of our feedback says something along the lines of, “Item was in much better condition than I expected!” This makes for happy customers! We avoid phrases that could mean different things to different people, and try to objectively describe exactly what we see in an item. Never hide or minimize a flaw. Whatever the condition, someone will want it.
- Ship Professionally – The responsibility for a package is yours even after you drop it off at the post office. Until it is in the customer’s hands, it is your responsibility. Something breaks during shipping? Your fault. The Post Office loses your package? Your fault. So, package things well and provide tracking. Your customers and your bank account with thank you for it.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, ENJOY WHAT YOU DO!
What we don’t enjoy, we either won’t do long or we won’t do well. When I find myself hating eBay, I take a break. If I am ornery or bitter, I get out of it exactly what I’m putting into it. Whatever it takes to get you in the mood to work is worth the time spent. So if you need to wake up and go for a run, or read for 2 hours in order to be in a productive head-space…DO IT! You won’t regret the time lost, and the time you do spend on eBay will be far more efficient and satisfying. Remember, keep working hard but find joy in the journey! The reason for money is to give us life and opportunity…but don’t let it control your life and opportunity. So what are you waiting for? Get happy and get listing!