Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki)



  • As an inauguration for this new site I’d like to contribute in a dedicated thread to everything I know about eBay, as a seller. Ask me any questions that you think aren’t widely available, if I don’t know hopefully someone can comment and fill in the blank or I’ll try to find out.

    I’ll start out with my first tip, never refuse a return, it’s easier to deal with a claim with USPS then from a customer and USPS doesn’t affect your feedback. I’ve had a 100% pay out from USPS claims you just need to make sure that you upload proof of value from the PayPal classic detail page (Print screen save as jpeg). There’s no need to ask for pictures from the buyer for proof of damage. Anytime you ship priority mail you automatically get $50 worth of insurance.

    • I source boxes from Gordon Food Service (GFS), they have them up front in bins and they’re free. I Used To Source from Binney’s till I found out you aren’t supposed to ship with boxes that reference alcohol in any way.

    • I use the eBay app to list, much faster to list pictures with your phone camera. I search the item I’m selling and go to completed sales, hit the button sell similar and it will auto populate the title, category, and item specifics (which you may need to change).

    • When selling clothing I focus on men’s size large and up, smaller size do not sell as well or for as much.

    • I have lately had good luck with sunglasses and baseball bats (composite and wood) . Quick rule of thumb, sunglasses if it’s made in Italy and in decent condition it’s probably worth something. Stay away from anything that says made in china (with the exception of some cheaper Ray Bans). Baseball bats, look for bats 30" and up with no cracks! Use your hands to feel for cracks. Stay away from little league stuff. I ship exclusively with those priority mailers you can get from USPS for free (you must order on the the site, it’s free) USPS tube The price is reasonable and many flippers stay away from bulky things because they think shipping will be high.

    • Order of precedence for shipping (you should always be shipping via eBay labels for commercial base pricing). Ship 1st class for item under 16oz(13 is the highest at the post office, If you buy labels online you can go up to 15.9oz technically). Ship priority via flat rate envelope (Currently $5.95) pro-tip, if its fragile put it in a flat rate box then in the flat rate mailer, you can also order padded mailers from USPS for free padded mailer then fit it in the flat rate envelope for cheaper shipping sometimes (Warning, this may cross an ethical boundary for some) . next size up is a Legal flat rate envelope Legal Flat Rate Envelope This is not much more, it’s still flat rate, and it’s longer but you won’t find them at the post office, you have to order them (free). In general if it’s only a few states away priority will be the best value, if it’s far away and won’t fit into a flat rate you are typically better off with FedEx ground or smartpost (which you can still drop off at the USPS post office).

    • 99.9% of buyers are honest, unless you are selling virtual merchandise (gift cards and coupon codes) I have many problems with those categories on eBay so I avoid them.

    • I always list buy it now or best offer, auctions are almost never a good idea unless demand is higher than supply(hot Christmas toys), even then you have to wait till the end of the auction. Best sales day would be Sunday night, and remember listing are like real estate, new listing get more attention than old listings.

    • You can normally net a couple more bucks buy lowering the price and charging shipping vs free shipping (caveat, if all your competition is doing free shipping you should probably do so as well) supposedly eBay analytics favor free shipping in search results but I’ve never noticed a difference.

    • Cowboy hats (larger sizes) sell well and can normally be gotten for a few dollars. Make sure they are a good brand, larger size, wool/felt, made in the USA or Mexico (no china hats)

    • Pier One Imports typically have open dumpsters and have lots of bubble wrap and Styrofoam for free.

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  • Banned

    Can you list your qualifications (ie: number of feedback, years in business on eBay, perhaps an average annual dollar amount of sales, etc)? This may be useful for some folks to compare and contrast their strategies to yours, since eBay has the tiered store level and that kind of thing. Not everyone’s got the same “benefits” available to them and some folks don’t even bother with a store.



  • I have 2 accounts, one is a basic store to save on fees, the other is not a store but I use it for the occasional promos for selling that ebay sends out to non store owners. My non-store account has 364 feedback with one neutral feedback, my store account has 746 with one neutral feedback. I started working a couple hours a week when I was in the military a few years ago and now it’s a part time gap filler job between construction gigs. Between the two stores I make about $35k in sales plus about another $5k off eBay through direct correspondence via paypal emails (ebay can’t monitor private emails and there is almost always an email address when the pay via paypal) I source 75% from my local Goodwill 15% dhgate, 10% local or slickdeals.



  • This is a great thread idea!

    I’d like your input on my situation. I’ve had an ebay account for many years. Some time back my wife kind of took it over selling her yarn goods. She has done great with it over the years maintaining 100% feedback from 4893 users to date. She knows how to deal with people in this matter. But yarn is something that can’t break or something that possibly won’t work when the buyer receives it.

    I’ve been in this situation in the past and now again. I have an iPod Touch that I want to sell. In the past it was quite a bit of higher end camera equipment. I am so afraid to sell it on eBay and have the possibility of a disgruntled buyer ruining her 100% feedback. The item in question is just like new and hardly used. But I’ve read about the horror stories where a buyer receives an electronic item like this and even though the unit is fine will say that it doesn’t work and demand a refund etc.

    I usually end up sending stuff like this to an electronics buyer similar to Gazelle.

    Any advise here?



  • @prosperity said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller:

    This is a great thread idea!

    I’d like your input on my situation. I’ve had an ebay account for many years. Some time back my wife kind of took it over selling her yarn goods. She has done great with it over the years maintaining 100% feedback from 4893 users to date. She knows how to deal with people in this matter. But yarn is something that can’t break or something that possibly won’t work when the buyer receives it.

    I’ve been in this situation in the past and now again. I have an iPod Touch that I want to sell. In the past it was quite a bit of higher end camera equipment. I am so afraid to sell it on eBay and have the possibility of a disgruntled buyer ruining her 100% feedback. The item in question is just like new and hardly used. But I’ve read about the horror stories where a buyer receives an electronic item like this and even though the unit is fine will say that it doesn’t work and demand a refund etc.

    I usually end up sending stuff like this to an electronics buyer similar to Gazelle.

    Any advise here?

    I sell tons of electronics I wouldn’t sweat it. Pack it securely, if there’s a problem issue refund, ship it Priority Mail worst case you can get some money back from USPS if they claim it’s damaged. People don’t normally leave negative feedback for no reason and 99% of buyers are reasonable. I would pack it in a small flat rate box and put it inside a flat rate envelope for the most efficient option.


  • Banned

    @prosperity just be careful about USPS and batteries. If they ask if there are batteries, you may be obligated to say yes, otherwise the insurance could be void. I know they specifically ask about Lithium batteries, and I’m not sure if that includes Lithium Ion, which is probably in the iPod touch you have. Also, I am not sure if there is a certain capacity that is exempt, such as in small electronics. Just wanted to toss this out there so you don’t get burned.



  • @jaytrader said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller:

    @prosperity just be careful about USPS and batteries. If they ask if there are batteries, you may be obligated to say yes, otherwise the insurance could be void. I know they specifically ask about Lithium batteries, and I’m not sure if that includes Lithium Ion, which is probably in the iPod touch you have. Also, I am not sure if there is a certain capacity that is exempt, such as in small electronics. Just wanted to toss this out there so you don’t get burned.

    I believe if it’s installed in a device or in original packaging it’s okay. I’ve never had a problem and I have sold batteries for tools many times.



  • Unrelated for sellers but for buyers, I have seen some data points for why eBay may not send out promos (eBay bucks or coupons) to some buyers, too many returns. (Even if you signed up for them) (Unwritten soft ban)


  • Global Moderator

    Pardon a question from a buyer only (non-seller) but I’ve always been curious how those eBay coupons and bucks offers ($15 off $75, 10% bucks, etc.) effect seller’s profit margin, if at all.

    TIA


  • Banned

    @fivetalents not one bit in my experience.



  • Timing matters a lot. The best time to list is 6PM pacific on Sunday with a 7-day listing. This way you get the Sunday peak twice. Both the Beginning and END times matter quite a bit for auctions.

    For Buy-it-now, the START time matters the most.

    Your feedback will mostly depend on shipping times.



  • I love the USPS Priority padded envelopes - can fit items in them that might not fit in the cardboard flat rate envelopes.
    I list items from around the house. I have a stack of clothes that I need to list, I hate taking pictures and doing descriptions.

    There’s been a couple of times I swear the buyer was trying to do something underhanded. I had a women file a claim because the insoles of a pair of athletic shoes weren’t glued down and she spent $6 on glue (WTF?). Guy bought a Xbox external hard drive, used it for a month and then decided it wrecked his xbox and filed a claim to return it. Overall buyers are decent, then every once in awhile you get a jerk.


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    why is there no auction category like on FW? I’ll wait for someone to chime in, when I try to do something, nobody likes it. @fivetalents @mikk1 @dangeRuss


  • administrators

    @frugalfreak said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki):

    why is there no auction category like on FW? I’ll wait for someone to chime in, when I try to do something, nobody likes it. @fivetalents @mikk1 @dangeRuss

    I don’t know, does the community think we need one?


  • Global Moderator

    @dangeruss said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki):

    @frugalfreak said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki):

    why is there no auction category like on FW? I’ll wait for someone to chime in, when I try to do something, nobody likes it. @fivetalents @mikk1 @dangeRuss

    I don’t know, does the community think we need one?

    There’s only 14 threads in that forum over the last 3 months. Maybe an “online auction” tag is sufficient?


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    think there were more, but FW has been killing pages, several posts you can’t even view beyond one page even if there were 6, cause FW has done deleted them. only way you can see them if you click on text version.


  • 1000 Club

    better view, but hard to see beyond that page as archive doesn’t have next page archived. It was many before ebates/rak got their hands on it


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    was active, Used to search through them to see if similar issues i was going through


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    @Shellypie were you tlaxson on FW? tlaxson used to be auction lady on FW, we will ask her.



  • I have a mixed account [b&s] 100% around 200 sales. I HATE HATE HATE selling cell phones on eBay. I have Android phones I could have sold for $50 but I held on to them. Probably worth $10 now. Besides having to find them all first I’ll probably sell them in lots of 3 or 4 for parts whether they work or not. I gotten the stupidest buyers when I sell cell phones. In comparison all my other buyer are geniuses.



  • @zapjb said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki):

    Probably worth $10 now. Besides having to find them all first I’ll probably sell them in lots of 3 or 4 for parts whether they work or not. I gotten the stupidest buyers when I sell cell phones. In comparison all my other buyer are geniuses.

    Please elaborate. I sell almost exclusively cell phones on ebay–so far so good.



  • If I knew what I was doing I wouldn’t had these problems. Seriously you know what you’re doing. So in humility I ask you to elaborate.


  • Global Moderator

    @dangeruss said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki):

    @frugalfreak said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki):

    why is there no auction category like on FW? I’ll wait for someone to chime in, when I try to do something, nobody likes it. @fivetalents @mikk1 @dangeRuss

    I don’t know, does the community think we need one?

    What is the status of this @dangeRuss? There is still an open request in the support forum for a credit sub-forum as well.



  • @frugalfreak No I was also Shellypie on FW


  • 1000 Club

    ok thanks @Shellypie, she had same avatar.



  • I don’t buy on eBay often, but I always cringe when my purchase arrives in a recycled box. I once had a purchase shipped to me in a Froot Loops box - seriously. First impressions count, be professional.


  • 1000 Club

    @ganda exactly, not hard to go get a box out of dumpster somewhere LOL



  • @ganda said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki):

    I don’t buy on eBay often, but I always cringe when my purchase arrives in a recycled box. I once had a purchase shipped to me in a Froot Loops box - seriously. First impressions count, be professional.

    It’s easy enough to get a plain brown box, with all my amazon packages I normally just use those. On the plus side Amazon boxes typically weigh less than any other box of the same size.



  • I’ve been using Swappa for cell phones and such. Opinions?


  • 1000 Club



  • great idea for a thread! thanks mastroadam.
    I want to make and sell glass minimalist vases.
    I’m just learning ebay by selling household stuff and was thinking of adding these vases to my listings.
    I have parts for about 400 vases and was considering ebay, etsy or my own website.
    Does anyone with experience want to list the pros and cons of each?
    I already have an unlimited hosting account on godaddy and making a wordpress blog isn’t THAT much work. I just wonder which would be most lucrative and what are some marketing tips for each type of store.



  • @orangespot Personally, I would go the ebay route, maybe etsy.
    If it’s easy enough to set up website, do it - but it’s so hard to direct traffic there that I would just consider it a “making your business official looking” website.



  • @mom2jel thanks. It seems that directing traffic to your sale items is the stumbling block no matter what.
    In my previous websites, it seems like I could direct traffic to them by blogging with people who would be interesting in buying. I sold unique puzzles for a friend a few years ago. With Etsy and Ebay, I have no idea what I can do to direct traffic. I feel helpless. The only things that ebay offers, cost money and there is no guarantee of increased traffic.
    Does anyone know what to do to increase interest in your listings on ebay or etsy?


  • Global Moderator

    @orangespot said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki):

    @mom2jel thanks. It seems that directing traffic to your sale items is the stumbling block no matter what.
    In my previous websites, it seems like I could direct traffic to them by blogging with people who would be interesting in buying. I sold unique puzzles for a friend a few years ago. With Etsy and Ebay, I have no idea what I can do to direct traffic. I feel helpless. The only things that ebay offers, cost money and there is no guarantee of increased traffic.
    Does anyone know what to do to increase interest in your listings on ebay or etsy?

    Social media is the key. Continue blogging, set up a youtube page, facebook, etc. On all of those sites, provide links to your storefront on ebay, etsy, amazon, etc. Ask your users to provide reviews, feedback, etc., on your products and profiles. Consider offering referral discounts on your blog/social media too if the person they refer does something like reply to their order confirmation email with the referral code.



  • Thanks for the informative post! Any tips for an absolute beginner who has access to new precious metal and gemstone jewelry?



  • @christmas could be a tough sell if it’s a new account with no feedback. i’ve used escrow.com before, pretty straightforward and wasn’t too expensive. perhaps sell it wholesale to another ebay seller. or try calling pawn stars.

    now i’m curious, what do you have? i’m low on gold coins.



  • @fivetalents Excellent suggestions. Those are things I’ve never done. Facebook confuses me, but there seems to be no way around it for traffic referrals. Even on my abandoned blog from several years ago, I still get facebook traffic from other people posting my site.



  • I have found that the USPS regional boxes can be cheaper than priority. Also, FedEx shipping through Ebay can save a ton over USPS priority. I use flat rate envelopes often. I’ll slip a box into them or pad them with bubble wrap. I don’t sell cell phones or computers. I have over 5,500 transactions on Ebay since 2008 and used to sell mostly international. That changed when USPS tripled the cost of the flat rate envelopes (but they do have tracking now).



  • @christmas if you’re a newbie going to sell precious metals and jewelry on ebay or anywhere online, make sure to take a picture of what you’re selling before you package it, take note of the weight of the item and post details in description of the item so that when a scammer tries to scam you and return a different item (there are many cases reported scammers returned rocks!), you can provide proof that it’s a fraudulent return. ebay often sides with the buyers in most cases that’s why you need to protect yourself as seller.



  • sellers who sell fragile items MUST make sure they are wrapped and protected in a bunch of bubble wrap. You can take pics of these before you put them in a box/ USPS priority envie.

    I bought 14K gold jewelry and it was just wrapped in tissue and sent via first class mail; the item was mangled when it arrived, I took pics and filed a dispute on ebay immediately. seller refused to admit she did not pack it securely but ebay took my side. I was expecting ebay to tell me to send it back which I was willing to do if they gave me a free shipping code. ebay told me to keep item and gave me full refund.



  • I have about 30 household items listed. Some are multiple qtys. I used to list for 7 days, but then I started getting listing fees because it went over my limit of (50?) per month.
    So I started listing for 30 days but now I seem to sell less. My items are not “new” each week, so I don’t go to the top, I guess.
    I’d rather list each week. Does anyone have any ideas for getting around the quantity limit? I think I go over because I’m listing multiples in some of the listings. I thought that would SAVE me listing fees but seems to work against me.

    Yes, I did call ebay to have them explain, but they either lie or the CSR’s don’t know because I keep getting different answers.



  • @zapjb Interesting post. My only bad experience as an eBay seller was for a used Lumia 640 cellphone, which the buyer claimed had a “very scratched screen” (it was not), and requested a return. I suspect the real reason was that the buyer didn’t bother to read the listing before clicking “Buy Now”, which clearly stated the phone was locked to AT&T, i.e. not unlocked. So my sale for only $40 including free shipping got blown up, and I ended up offering a $10 partial refund to close the matter–I guess the buyer figured that could go towards paying for an unlock. After my shipping cost and the eBay fees, I probably would have come out close just holding on to it until it was worth the same as your unsold Android phones.

    As a somewhat occasional eBay seller, I was surprised to find out that eBay feedback is a one-way street; only buyers can leave feedback! An unreasonable buyer can really hold you hostage, including YOU paying for return postage on any return–regardless if you stated in your listing that buyers pay for return postage.



  • @ukedog said in Tips and tricks from an eBay seller (edit: will update original post till we get a wiki):

    @zapjb Interesting post. My only bad experience as an eBay seller was for a used Lumia 640 cellphone, which the buyer claimed had a “very scratched screen” (it was not), and requested a return. I suspect the real reason was that the buyer didn’t bother to read the listing before clicking “Buy Now”, which clearly stated the phone was locked to AT&T, i.e. not unlocked. So my sale for only $40 including free shipping got blown up, and I ended up offering a $10 partial refund to close the matter–I guess the buyer figured that could go towards paying for an unlock. After my shipping cost and the eBay fees, I probably would have come out close just holding on to it until it was worth the same as your unsold Android phones.

    As a somewhat occasional eBay seller, I was surprised to find out that eBay feedback is a one-way street; only buyers can leave feedback! An unreasonable buyer can really hold you hostage, including YOU paying for return postage on any return–regardless if you stated in your listing that buyers pay for return postage.

    Absolutely true, buyers have all the leverage over sellers on both Ebay and Amazon. Ebay changed many of their policies to become more competitive with Amazon. Sellers can leave feedback but only positive feedback. As a seller, I have had very few problems with bad buyers but I also don’t sell high value items. At least 99% of my listings are “buy it now” with fixed price and I my listings are private where the details of the sale are not divulged. The private listing is good to hide the prices that items sold which is useful for sales of multiple listings of the same item.



  • @bobbybore sellers can only leave positive feedback now?.. that’s not fair. if it was like that both ways then in time, everyone would have 100% high feedback.

    many moons ago (2003-2004) i was an ebay seller. back then some people just mailed cash or money orders. it was a different marketplace. but paypal usually favored the buyer (i won at least once or twice as a seller).

    now i’m just a buyer on ebay. ebay was my first business, i guess i have a soft spot for garage operations. kinda my way of giving back.



  • Ebay has changed a lot since 2004. Buyers can leave negative feedback but sellers cannot. This is why seller feedback is meaningless. I just leave positive (no choice) and a generic remark.



  • @bobbybore when ebay began, it was like a comics/collectibles show, where everyone was both a buyer and seller. now it’s more like a shopping center where there are established sellers and most others are shoppers.

    i love ebay though, made some decent cash that one year i was a seller (sold bags/purses, hats, shoes). and have found some serious treasures as a buyer.



  • @louis-redfoot Thanks, Louis. I have access to well over a hundred thousand dollars worth of new, mostly 14k jewelry, often including gems. The owner is no longer active in the trade, and the items are available to me on relatively short notice (a few business days). Because they are new items, almost all with tags, I am interested in selling below normal discounted retail (which is 3X melt plus stones), but don’t want to leave tons of money on the table. Basically, I’d like to sell the items giving a good deal to customers while making a modest profit, but if I price items too low, potential customers will likely doubt the quality of the products (which is actually quite good).
    As for gold coins, I have none to sell. Thanks again for your thoughts.



  • @christmas you remind me of the guy i bought my rolex from (had a great holiday season selling the bags/hats/shoes and spoiled myself). found a watch guy on ebay, decided to deal direct on escrow.com. he sold me a great watch, i still wear it. pre-owned (his name was on the title) but unworn (all tags/stickers). msrp today is 12k, i got it for less than half that.

    not sure how he got his stuff, i never asked. i’m guessing he went to switzerland and picked them up himself.



  • @ma-barker Hello, Ma, thanks for the tip. I am indeed a newbie insofar as selling precious metals and gems online. In fact, I have never sold anything online, but now have access to an older fellow’s residual stock of fine jewelry following his retirement. He is well off financially, thus in no particular hurry to liquidate. If I were to receive an order, it would take me up to three business days to ship, due to the mechanics of retrieving the item. I am concerned about fraudsters as I was once victimized as a buyer. Your advice is greatly appreciated.



  • @christmas you gotta chalk up!! holiday season is everything on ebay! sellers make as much these three months than the rest of the year.


 

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