Category Archives: Pricing

How to create a successful Auction Listing on Ebay

Recently, we reviewed a bunch of completed auctions to look for some keys to success, to improve our listings. Special thanks to the fine folks at the Thrifting With The Boys Facebook group for posting up some of their great success stories. This is what we found, if it helps you then let us know!

There are a few areas where you can make your auction stand out. Take a little time and effort to separate yourself from the people that don’t care.

First and most importantly, PICTURES! I cannot stress enough how important it is to take well lit, sharp, clear pictures. Let the customer know exactly what they are getting, good and bad. Any trademarks, watermarks, tags, defects, special features, unique characteristics, EVERYTHING! You can upload the pictures to a photo sharing site like Picasa to save room.

Starting Price – If you are doing an auction style bidding, starting the price low will encourage competition. People dislike losing even more than they like winning, which is in your favor when it comes to bidders competing in an auction. A low starting price also lowers your fees, so it is a win-win!

Keywords – Use them often, use them a lot. Make sure you search for completed auctions for similar type items. What words did they use in their titles? Are their acronyms or misspellings that people look for often? The completed sold listings are the best place to look for information.

Shipping options – Offering Free Shipping is a huge draw. Customers will often not calculate the difference, and you can just raise the cost of the product to cover your shipping cost. Which sounds better, 9.99 with free shipping, or 4.00 with 5.99 shipping? Give your customers the easy choice. One other benefit is if you offer free shipping, you automatically are given 5 stars for the shipping and handling.

Another option is to provide a choice of three shipping options, and let the customer choose. I know that offering different options makes it more complicated, but some people like the option to pay a little less and get it later, or pay a little more to get it now. One more note on shipping. Always offer confirmation. Even on the free shipping. It is normally .85, but if you have an account with Stamps.com or an alternative, then the confirmation is free. Pass that along to your customers. It is all about them having piece of mind.

Auction times – If you start your auctions on a Thursday and run them for 10 days, you get two full bidding weekends in. Time the auction to end between 7pm and 10pm on Sunday. This is the time when the most people are relaxing at home and checking online. You can schedule your auction to start at a later time than when you type it up. This allows for you to choose when your listing is available for viewing, and also can give you time to edit the posting if required.

Guarantees – Always offer a money back guarantee. It comes down to making people feel safe and comfortable with the fact that if they are unhappy, they are not going to lost anything. Think about the reason so many companies offer money back guarantees and 30 day trials. Once your item is in a customers hand, it takes a significant effort for them to return it. They need to make calls or send emails, package it, and return it to someplace to shop it. Let your paranoid fantasies of all your products being returned lay to rest.

Another way to make your customers feel safe and cared for is to answer all questions that are asked. Even if the question is answered in the description, make sure that you answer them specifically. It shows that you care, and everyone wants to do business with people that care.

Advertising – Advertise your listings on Facebook, Twitter, Linked-in, or any other social media that you are a part of. Join the resale groups in your area, and put them there and offer free local pickup in your listing. It saves you time shipping, and can lower your outbound material costs.

Lastly, have fun with this! Your description doesn’t have to be a compiling of every small fact about the product. It doesn’t have to be professional hard selling material. There are people out there that want what you have. Use your own voice. Throw in a joke or two, a little humor. Talk to your customers as if you were talking to a good friend. Include little thank you notes with your items, and make sure that your customer knows they are appreciated. After all, without them, you wouldn’t make any money!

I hope that these tips help you out. Good luck with your listings, and you can contact us with any questions or recommendations.

If you could give someone one tip to get them on the road to being successful on Ebay, what would it be?

Shipping our first oversize item!

If you would just like the lessons learned, you can skip the personal story by clicking here.

We just got done with our very first oversize item shipment. It was a pretty good learning experience, so I thought that I would share. I became interested in oversized items after reading a post on the Facebook group “ScanPower”. They were discussing buying oversized toys, because not a lot of people want to deal with the hassle. I am always willing to go out there a little bit to see what can be accomplished, so I figured I would keep my eye out.

At a garage sale, I saw a Playskool Kota My Triceratops Dinosaur. He was selling for $60, and when I looked him up on Amazon, I saw that he was selling for $400-$1200. Bingo! I bought him, brought him home. To learn more about the toy, check out our other article here. I listed him for $425, and assumed that if he sold I could just take him to the UPS store. They offer wrapping and shipping, and I figured it was a one stop shop kind of thing. So wrong!

About 2 weeks later, he sold for an adjusted price of $399.99 with $22.19 shipping. I had figured a shipping price of about $75-80, based on reading some other peoples posts. I don’t know where I got that number, but I was way off. I work during the day, so Holly was stuck trying to actually get this thing taken care of.

She called me at work, saying that it looked like we were going to make about $4 on this sale. As you can imagine, I was very surprised! She had taken it to UPS, and called other companies from there. Here are the numbers that we got quoted.

Here are the measurements: 32x24x52 (estimated from UPS), unpacked weight 40.9lbs

USPS – won’t take it due to the size
UPS – $266.60 for shipping, and $27.34 for packing
FEDEX – more than UPS

Yikes! A lot more than I had expected. So I started searching for pack and ship companies in our area. I found a company called Freightquote.com, at 1-800-323-5441 and signed up with them. Special thanks to Sarah (Customer Serice) at x1102, and Anna Hanson (Senior Account Manager) x1213 for their help in understanding what I needed to do. Holly, after watching the UPS girl try to stand the dino on it’s tail (a big no-no with animatronics), decided to pack it herself, with some help for a friend. In the meantime, we had been in contact with the customer who was asking if they could get it by Christmas. In Texas. We are in Virginia.

Holly gets it all wrapped up, with final measurements of 45Lx24Wx35H. We can’t get the final weight because our shipping scale only goes to 25lbs, and we can’t read the numbers on the house scale with it balanced on top. So we estimated 75lbs, knowing we would be over. I learned it is way better to be under your weight than over, as the company can charge you a 30$ fee if you are over. After exploring several different companies, and a couple of phone calls, Anna found us a shipping company that said they could do it if we dropped it off, and the customer picked it up. We talked to the customer, who said picking it up was fine. I emailed him directions from Google Maps from his house to the shipping center.

Total cost was $166.86 for the shipping, and about $20 for the boxes and shipping material.

So final breakdown:
Purchase price: $399.99
Shipping Cutomer paid: $22.19
Cost of Item: -$60.00
Amazon Fees: -$63.33
Packing Material: -20.00
Shipping: -$166.86
Total Profit: $111.19

Lessons Learned:
-UPS pack and ship does not really help with oversize items. Between the employee not really knowing what she was doing, and no guarantee or insurance being offered, either find another company or do it yourself.
-Using a freight company was much better than trying a major carrier for the oversized item. I was happy with the service at Freightquote.com, they were friendly and knowledgeable.
-Insurance is something that we need to look into more, the guys at the freight company where we dropped it off had no idea about insurance.
-Shipping is very expensive, make sure you account for that in your initial buying expense and in your pricing strategy.
-If shipping on a deadline, dropping it off yourself and having the customer pick it up at the carriers location will save you 3-4 days of transit time.
-Ensure that if you are estimating weight, that you go over rather than under. The dimensions are as important as the weight or more. By paying the extra $3-4 dollars by overestimating, we eliminated the chance to receive $30-50 dollars in penalties.