Selling online can provide a significant boost for any business, as it opens up another potential route to make money.

Of course, selling isn’t always that straight-forward, as a seller will require a means of carrying out the process – a platform capable of e-commerce activity.

And that’s where eBay comes in. The site where it’s possible to buy and sell items and keep an eye on competitor activity.

But what do you need to know about selling on the site?

Getting started

It’s best to start with getting an idea of how it all works. Essentially the user or business lists items on the site, either to purchase at a set price (most businesses will do this) or to encourage bids. In the case of the latter, a base price can be set to ensure that a minimum bid is required before sale.

Users are allowed to bid and browse through items for free, as fees are levied on sellers on the site.

These include an insertion fee which is non-refundable and charged when an item is listed – normally at a flat rate of 35p per item. 

Mind those fees

Other listing options can also bring about fees – using promotional material such as images can add to the costs for example. A Final Value fee is also charged when a sale is completed at 10% of the fee achieved. It is capped at £250 though, meaning you pay 10% on items up to the value of £2,500.

eBay manages the process and notifies buyers and sellers via email when a deal is completed. After a transaction there is the chance to rate aspects of the business and its service, meaning customers can refer good business and report bad. This helps to sort the good traders from the bad and building a reputation on the site is essential.

Building up a good feedback rating is vital on the site as people are much less likely to purchase from those with zero feedback.

Keyword central

The words used in listings also play a part, according to a University of Birmingham study. After looking at some 68,000 keywords, the researchers found perfumes featuring the word ‘authentic’ in the description sold for an average of £34, while ‘genuine’ went for just £21.

A similar disparity was found between the words ‘sneaker’ and ‘trainer’ with the latter selling for £21, compared to £32.

Likewise, listings with the word ‘thong’ say an average sale of £41, while ‘knickers’ went fir only £10.

Simply put, consider your language when selling as it could make a huge difference.

Seller’s rules

Some items cannot be sold on the site so it’s helpful to know what they are. A failure to comply could see buying restrictions or even your account getting suspended.

Policies are based on the laws governing the UK, while others are based on eBay’s own guidelines – such as the sale of offensive items. International trading restrictions can also come in, if items are illegal in another country for example.

Jargon busting

eBay is also awash with plenty of wonderful jargon and it can really help to know what it means. Here’s a few of the most common bits…

  • BN - Brand new
  • BNWT - Brand new with tags
  • BNIB - Brand new in box
  • VGC - Very good condition
  • HTF - Hard to find
  • VTG - Vintage
  • NWOT - New without tags
  • NWOB - New without box

Get describing

People will want to know what you’re selling so make it abundantly clear with good descriptions that are packed full of key words. Believe it or not, but poor listings can see value of bids drop, so it’s imperative you get it right.

You’ll want info such as brand name, condition, specification, size, style and colour as a starting point. Beyond that, you can be as expansive or as succinct as you wish. The key is accuracy though – if the description isn’t like the product, your feedback will drop as a result, and in some cases, individuals may demand their money back.

Business traders are covered by the Consumer Rights Act, regardless of if they use the ‘buy it now’ function. Simply put, goods must be of satisfactory quality, as described, and fit for purpose. As a result, traders need to be more careful than regular sellers.

Timing is everything

Sell summer items in summer and Christmas items at Christmas. As obvious as it sounds, if you target people at the wrong time you’ll probably miss out on sales. Aim for high season and make sure you’re on the bandwagon when it pays to be.

Selling air con units during a heat wave probably means you can pump up the price, for example.

Hopefully, you’ve now got a bit of an idea about how to go about things…happy selling!

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