We all make mistakes. It's a part of life, but if you are trying to establish yourself as a credible and successful seller on eBay then some mistakes could be detrimental to your bottom line or even fatal to your business!
No matter what you sell here are some of the most serious mistakes that you should take all possible steps to avoid:
1. SPELLING MISTAKES! I make $100s every week by reselling brand name products that careless sellers have listed with spelling mistakes in the title. Most people using eBay don't browse the categories, they use the search function and type in a keyword - for example, 'ralph lauren'. If you misspell the brand name or in some cases the description then your listing won't show up in the majority of searches and you will get fewer customers and hence fewer bids. This is really going to hurt your bottom line AND your reputation. If you are not careful enough to check your spelling then you might not be careful enough to post my item on time and safely... (I sure hope I haven't made any spelling mistakes in the article after saying that!)
2. LISTING AT THE WRONG TIME OF DAY. You need to list your items so that they end at the time that your market is most likely to be on the computer or able to access the computer. Most bidding occurs in the last few hours and minutes of the auction and if you can time things right then most of the people interested in your auction could be bidding at once creating a bidding war that can push prices sky high. Avoid day time listings in almost all cases and stick to evening listings between 7:30pm & 10pm and you will be safe in most cases. Also, avoid Friday nights and Saturdays if you are unsure that this is going to be a time that your target market is at home on the computer by themselves. This is an active social time for most people and you are likely to get more action on other days.
3. LOUSY PICTURES OR INSUFFICIENT DESCRIPTIVE DETAIL. Remember one thing and you will become a great seller very fast - you can see, touch, taste and smell the item that you are listing but your customers CAN'T! Don't be lazy. Put yourself on the other side of the screen and think about what you would want to see or know about your item if you were thinking of buying it. Also, imagine that you are looking at the item in a store. What would you look at? What would you read? What questions would you ask the store clerk? In most cases I think that you should include at least 3 pictures of the item: 1. an eye catcher for the listing, 2. a general view of the whole product, 3. a close-up view of the features (and depending on how many features the product has you may have to put a lot more pictures). Pictures are gold in a listing because most sellers don't bother to take many or take really bad ones and when it comes down to a choice between you and your competition you will be at a great advantage if you have taken a bit of effort here. If you haven't already, subscribe to eBay's picture services NOW. It is only a couple of bucks a week and if you are listing even 5 items a week then you will be getting value for money because you can list as many pictures as you like for the same fee. In your description list everything that you can think of about the item. It doesn't take long and will save you having to answer questions later.
4. PRICING YOUR ITEM TOO CHEAPLY. You should really know your market well before you decide to list your item. Has something identical sold before on eBay? Use the 'completed listings' search tool to find out what prices your item and similar items have sold for in the past and also have a look at how many people were bidding on it. If you have an item that gets 20+ bids then starting at $0.99 is almost always a great idea because you can encourage bidding wars and get your prices up. If your item has a very small or specialized market you should be very careful. If you start your auction at $0.99 you might sell it for that price even if it is worth $1000s because only one person looked at it in that 7 day period. Be willing to list your item for the price that you want for it and let it go for several weeks until it sells. The relist fees will only be a few dollars and will save you a lot of heartache if you have to sell your beloved widget for next to nothing to a shrewd buyer. eBay bidding wars don't happen automatically!
5. SELLING FAKES. I've done it - I admit. I bought a lot of 25 Ralph Lauren Polo shirts because I just wanted to see them for myself. I didn't think that they would be authentic even though my supplier insisted that they were and honestly I can't say to this day if they were - they looked good, but something just didn't ring right about them. I ended up selling them for what I paid for them just to get rid of them and didn't take any profit. I also didn't say on my listing that they were authentic and when a few people asked I told them straight that I didn't know even though I had been told they were and I offered a complete money back policy. Avoid buying bulk designer goods from anyone who claims they get their supply directly from the manufacturer. It just doesn't happen for multi-million dollar brand name companies. They protect their brands ruthlessly and the only way you can get them authentic is from an authorized distributor (and you will have to be a retail store to do this) or from a retail store.
Beware. eBay can suspend you or cancel your registration if you get caught.
6. TRYING TO HIDE DEFECTS IN YOUR ITEM. Don't lie about what you are selling. Disclose all defects and take pictures of them. Your reputation on eBay is worth a lot of money to you in the long term and any negative feedback that shows that you were less than honest will stop sales dead. In most cases people will still pay good prices for quality products with slight defects. If in doubt, spell it out.
7. CHARGING TOO MUCH FOR POSTAGE. Most buyers on eBay understand that you are trying to run a business and want to make some money to cover the time that you spend packing products and standing in line waiting at the post office. But some are complete postage psychopaths and will not forgive you for charging even $0.50 over the rate that they see on the stamp when they receive the item at their end. They don't even realize that the box or envelope costs money and will insist that you refund the extra postage that you charged them or worse still just go straight ahead and hit you with negative feedback. eBay's rule allow you to charge a reasonable amount for packing and handling, but my experience is that you should charge no more than the minimum cost to you to post the item and buy an envelope or box to send it in. If you stick to that formula then if someone hits you with a negative then you have recourse to request eBay remove the feedback from your listing. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you consider the nefarious practice of charging a large postage amount and low listing price to avoid eBay fees. One complaint and your account will be suspended pronto.
8. INSUFFICIENT PACKAGING. It's true that any problems with postage 'should' be the responsibility of the buyer, but if you bought a new iPod on eBay and when it arrived it was in pieced because it was packed so badly do you think that you are going to leave it at that and give the seller a positive? N.O. You are going to hit them with a harsh negative and send the item back covered in anthrax. Do the right thing. Get a big roll of bubble wrap and apply liberally to the outside of everything that you sell that could even remotely be broken. I even bubble wrap teddy bears! You want to ensure that no matter what happens in the post you have covered yourself. Sometimes even bubble wrap is not enough and you should insist the buyer pays insurance if you are sending something worth more than $100. If is is broken, no harm. Otherwise somebody is going to be out of pocket or reading negatives! Protect your feedback no matter what you do.
9. NOT OFFERING PAYPAL. When eBay put its fees up earlier this financial year heaps of sellers took off because they felt that eBay was making it impossible for them to profit. I was puzzled by this and really wondered whether they should be selling on eBay at all. Don't you realize that if you are selling something for $1 profit then you are only making $1 to cover you for all the time and effort that you put into that listing. I work on a formula that each unique item, where I have to make a new listing page, is allocated from between 30min to 1hr of my time. I wouldn't therefore sell anything unless I was going to make between $10 and $20 at a minimum to cover me for the fact that if I was working at a J.O.B. for that hour I would be getting paid a minimum guaranteed amount for the same hour of my time. Would you accept a job if it only paid $2/hr? I wouldn't! I also consider my time to be worth more because I work full-time and sell on eBay part-time after hours and so that time is time that I could be spending with my family or on my other interests (even getting sleep sometimes!). If you don't offer Paypal because they charge you a few dollars for the privilege then I have to question whether you are selling the right items or whether you are selling them at the right price. Get some goods that you can make a good profit on and then offer paypal to get your money today!
10. NOT LEAVING FEEDBACK. I don't even have to go into this do it. Do it!
11. NOT AUTOMATING THEIR EBAY PROCESSES. I won't go back into the diatribe that I started at 9. but if your business can't afford to subscribe to eBay's Selling Manager tools, or if you are not running a store because you can't afford $15 a month then you shouldn't be in business. Automating your emails, feedback and sales processes will save you VALUABLE TIME and a lot of effort. Why write emails again and again when you can write one out once, and let eBay send it out once, twice, one hundred times without ever having to look at it again.
12. NOT DOING ANY MARKETING. Again, eBay has a gazillion marketing products that you can use for free or for very small fees! Don't just rely on the daily traffic that your listings can get from customer searches. Start sending out emails that direct traffic to your new listings and capture newsletter subscribers so that you can keep them notified of your sales and special items. Which leads me to #13...
13. NOT USING LISTING ENHANCEMENTS. Most people searching on eBay will be faced with choices and that means you have competition. Investing a few dollars in featuring your products or highlighting your listings means more people will look at YOUR item as opposed to your competition. If you are complaining that you can't afford $3 to highlight your item then please go back and read #9! Get some better sources and make some more money! Spend a few dollars on highlighting your listings because in the long run you will have more people save you as a favorite seller or visit your store and you will capture that $3 back many times over. In some cases a gallery featured product or even a home page featured product could bring you THOUSANDS OR EVEN HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of visitors a month who will buy your other items now or later - guaranteed. It's a wise investment from your advertising and marketing budget.
14. NOT OFFERING A REFUND. Let's go back to eBay 101. What is the most important asset that you have as a successful seller...? Did you say, 'credibility'? You're absolutely right. Don't forget that your customers don't know you and can't test your product out. I have offered a full refund on every product that I have ever sold and have never had a customer return something that I couldn't just resell. In fact I have only had one return that I can think of! People won't be sending stuff back to you if you are being honest and including good information and pictures in your listing because they will know what they are getting, BUT the fact that you are offering it means that they will be more comfortable taking a risk on you in the first place. I don't think that you have to offer a 30 day full refund in most cases - 7 days should be enough. After that time you can refuse if you absolutely have to and if you think that the customer is really ripping you off. Try it and see.
15. NOT BUYING ON EBAY FIRST. I didn't really know what to put for this last mistake, but I think that this is a really important one and one that I made myself when I started out on eBay. My very first listing on eBay was to sell a $1800 Sony Vaio notebook that I was hoping to have dropshipped from a supplier that I found on the net. I can't believe how stupid I was! First of all the first action that I got on my listing was from someone trying to rip me off and I would have been in big trouble if it wasn't for the fact that eBay suspended me on suspicion that I was in fact trying to commit fraud. I got into a lot of trouble because I didn't realise that selling something that I didn't actually have in my possession when I had no feedback was sounding deafening alarm bells to potential fraudsters and eBay editors alike. Buy first - sell later. Get to know eBay and the feedback system. Find out what it feels like to be in a bidding war and go through the process of waiting fingers crossed for your package to arrive safe and sound. If you don't know what this feels like then how are you ever going to appreciate the way that your customers feel when they buy from you and give them the service that they want and expect. Also buying gets you some feedback and opens up a whole world of credibility to you!
I hope that these ideas have been helpful to you. I have made my fair share of these mistakes but I have also been HYPERCAREFUL to protect my feedback and so I am now a very successful seller. Guard your feedback with your life! Good luck.