It pays to sell on eBay, if you do it right, that is. Choosing the eBay as the marketplace to sell your products online is a good start. We have created this guide to help eBay sellers to generate more sales online. From our experience with selling on eBay, the fundamental difference between regular sellers and pro sellers is marketing. In this guide, we will talk about various on-eBay and off-eBay promotional strategies and optimizations that may help you in boosting your conversions and sales. Please proceed with an open mind as each business is different. Some strategies may work for you but not others.
Let's start with on-eBay strategies and optimization tips. If you are confident that your store and your listings are fully optimized, you can skip down to off-eBay strategies and tips.
Disclaimer: We try our best to promote accurate content. All of the content and references were accurate at the time of creation. If you notice any inaccuracies or broken references, please contact us immediately.
On-eBay tip #1 - Optimize your listing titles
One of the major advantages of listing on eBay is that your eBay listings will be discovered, indexed, and ready to receive eBay user search traffic immediately, and organic search traffic from major search engines in days. Search traffic often yields the highest conversion rates. But in order for you to obtain search traffic, either from eBay platform or search engines, you need to think about how users will search, such as what types of keywords they will type.
Most likely, users will search for the brand, model number, and perhaps condition of your products. And a great title should follow a format like this:
[CONDITION IF NEW] [BRAND] [MODEL] [SPECS IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE] [PRODUCT TYPE]
So if you are selling a LG TV, your listing title could be:
NEW LG UJ6300 49IN 4K UHD LED (BLACK) SMART TV
Specs: 49in, 4K, UHD, LED, Black
Product Type: Smart TV
Based on the above title, you can also spice it up a little to attract more attention from your audience. This is different for different audience. For example, some audience may not like everything in caps, and then your title would be:
New LG UJ6300 49in 4K UHD LED (Black) Smart TV
Some audience may like the word "Brand New" instead of "New", and then your title would be:
Brand New LG UJ6300 49in 4K UHD LED (Black) Smart TV
Or you may want to emphasize the "brand new" text, like this:
BRAND NEW! LG UJ6300 49in 4K UHD LED (Black) Smart TV
If your listing is an auction-style listing, and you have no reserve on your listing for maximum participation, then you can do:
BRAND NEW! LG UJ6300 49in 4K UHD LED (Black) Smart TV - NO RESERVE
The key factor in creating a successful product listing title (which can be applied outside of eBay as well, on any ecommerce platform) is to be concise with key information. People have short attention span and you need to catch their attention immediately with all of the key information. Search engines understand that too, which is why they are trimming the page title to 60-70 characters on search results.
Additional reference: Writing a good title and description
On-eBay tip #2 - Optimize your listing photos
We are not going to talk about how to take good photos (but here is a great guide on how to take the perfect product photos). But having large and clear photos do work better as they get indexed by search engines as well, such as Google Image Search. The better your photos are, the more impressions they will receive on image search, and more image search traffic. However, image search traffic has much less conversions compared to keyword search traffic or pay per click (PPC) / banner ad traffic.
You should have an overall front-view of your product as the first and/or gallery photo. This is the photo that's going to be displayed in the search results on eBay search. If you have the resources to do some simple image editing, having some sharp text on key features as an overlay on the image will sometimes improve the click through rates of your listings.
On-eBay tip #3 - Be competitive and reasonable on your listing price
We get this all the time. Why aren't my products selling? And quite often, we find the products over-priced. Even if you bought a product for $100 and need to sell it for $150 to make a profit, it will not sell if no one in the market is going to spend more than $125 to buy it. In short, your product listing price should not be based on what you need to sell it for, but on what the market is willing to buy it for.
You need to understand the marketplace. eBay started as an auction platform and became one of the world's biggest marketplace for used products and equipment. Because of this, eBay users are more used/exposed to used products and pricings. In fact, if you list the same product on Amazon, you can probably sell it for a higher price.
We recommend eBay sellers to do a quick search on the marketplace for the same product before deciding on the listing price. Keep in mind that the location of the item also plays an important role on the listing price. If there's an item listed for $100 but it's from Asia, buyers in North America may be willing to spend $130 for the same product coming from the United States. If there's an item listed for $100 in the United States, people in Canada may be willing to spend $150 to avoid border imposed charges and shipping for the same item.
On-eBay tip #4 - Use responsive eBay store and listing templates
It is still quite surprising that many of the sellers on eBay still don't pay attention to tablet and mobile users who may potentially land on their listings and purchase their goods. First of all, if your store and product listings are not catered to tablet and mobile users, search engines like Google will send less tablet and mobile traffic to your listings. In contrast, stores and listings that are responsive and cater to the browsing/user experience of tablet and mobile users will have higher search engine rankings and receive more organic search traffic. In fact, if your store and product listings are not optimized for mobile browsing, you are already losing out on at least 20-30% of the sales.
While we are on the topic of eBay store and listing templates, you can dramatically increase your sales by improving the design of your store and listings. Here are a few examples of what's possible with eBay store and listing templates:
On-eBay tip #5 - Make your listing title and description unique and different from your own ecommerce website
This is only applicable to sellers who have their own ecommerce website.
When you list products for sale on eBay, you are exposing your products to both buyers on eBay and buyers search for products on search engines. If you have the same content (product title, description, and details) on your website and on your eBay store, when search engines such as Google index both products, one of them may be treated as duplicate content.
From user experience perspective, it doesn't make sense to see identical products in the search engine results page, especially from the same seller. Shoppers like to see as many options as possible to make informed buying decisions. Google understands that. Therefore, Google will most likely display one product, and will most likely pick the one that's hosted on a more established and trusted domain. eBay is a well-established marketplace and is trusted and used by many shoppers and your product listed on eBay is probably going to outrank the same listing listed on your website.
In addition to tweaking the product title, description, and details, some of the sellers we have worked with have found having lower product prices on their own ecommerce websites result in higher sales overall. Sellers have to pay selling fees to sell on marketplaces like eBay. If buyers can come to your website and buy the same products at a lower price (e.g. 2.5% lower), you will create more value for shoppers to come to your website to purchase instead of buying on eBay, without losing out on revenue.
On-eBay tip #6 - Enable the features that the shoppers are looking for
Enable free shipping
If you are able to offer free shipping on your products, please do so. Shoppers on eBay often sort products by Price + Shipping, Lowest to Highest. And they also have the option to search for products that have free shipping enabled. Shipping cost is often a deciding factor for buyers completing purchases online. If you can lift that concern for them and make it easy to buy, they will buy from you.
Offer combined shipping discounts
If you don't offer combined shipping discounts, customers who purchase multiple quantity of the same or different products from you will simply have the shipping rates from all of the products in the cart added as one sum. This will often deter customers from checking out and placing the order.
eBay shipping rules allow you to achieve this with several approaches. You can setup flat shipping rules to charge the customer for shipping the item with the highest shipping amount, and add an additional flat rate cost (or free shipping) for each additional item. Or you can apply discount for each additional item based on the shipping cost of the items. Flat shipping discounts can also be applied to carriers.
Alternatively, you can also setup your eBay store to calculate shipping on the sum of the weight of all the products, which is often cheaper than calculating shipping on individual weight then sum up the cost.
If you are not going to offer combined shipping discounts, you should then consider creating shipping promotions such as free shipping when customers spend a set minimal amount. You can also set a maximum amount of shipping cost per order and advertise a promotion such as "Buy as many as you want and pay no more than $100 on shipping."
We always recommend sellers to enable returns on their products. When you don't allow returns, you give your potential customers the opportunity to doubt the quality and support of your products. We believe that you should always allow returns, even at a loss. If someone buys from you and is not able to return the product for whatever reason, he or she is left with no other options but to provide you with a negative feedback and comment. Seller ratings and buyer feedback are critical to the success of a seller on eBay; it is not worth the hassle to deal with negative ratings and feedback.
Offer fast and/or guaranteed delivery
Shoppers want to receive the products they purchase as soon as possible. If you are able to offer fast shipping options and/or guaranteed delivery service, you will attract the buyers, who can't wait to receive their purchases, from the sellers who can't offer fast shipping options. In addition, shoppers on eBay are able to filter products by guaranteed delivery options. They can specifically search for products that can be delivered in a day, 2 days, 3 days...etc. And these filters are being promoted and displayed above all the other filters.
Use Promotion Boxes
In addition to having a great looking store and listing template, you can also create and use promotion boxes to feature on-sale items and promotions. You can also utilize this to highlight browsing options within your store.
Consider using eBay Promoted Listings and Markdown Manager
eBay allows you to promote your listings on eBay. By activating this, your store and products will gain additional exposure to eBay users. Think about this as "featured" products on eBay that will appear across relevant eBay categories and user searches. You don't pay for impressions or clicks; you only pay when sales are generated. Depending on the type of product category, you may be charged between 3% to 12%, and no more than 20% of the purchase price. Therefore, depending on your profit margin, you may or may not be able to utilize this strategy to increase sales.
In addition to featuring your products, you can also utilize the Markdown Manager in the seller tools to put products on sale. All listed items can have 5% to 60% of discount applied. This can be applied to a group of products such as all products in a certain category. The items that have discounts applied through Markdown Manager will be displayed with the calculated discount as well as a strikethrough on the listed price.
Please note you will not be able to apply discounts on auction-style listings.
Off-eBay tip #1 - Have your own ecommerce website and automate the listing process
Having your own website will improve your brand's awareness on the Internet. Quite often, especially with larger purchases, consumers will take some time to perform a quick search on your brand before committing to buy. Sometimes being found and having a clean/professional website can be the deciding factor for you to win the sale.
Also, you are paying a premium to list and sell your products on eBay. In addition to insertion fees and optional listing upgrade/supplemental service fees, eBay will take a cut (known as the "final value fee") for every sale you generate on eBay. This means if you have the same product on your website at the same price, you will generate more profit if consumers purchase from your website instead of eBay.
This also means you can sell the same product on your website at discounted price to generate the same profit. Experienced and smart buyers understand this and will often check see if the seller is selling the same product cheaper outside of eBay. If your eBay listing price is the same as other sellers selling the same product, and other sellers are selling the product at discounted price outside of eBay, you will miss out on the sale.
The key to success to sell on multiple marketplaces (your own ecommerce website and eBay are both considered, and should be treated, as individual marketplaces) is automation, especially when you carry a large amount of inventory. Inventory synchronization becomes more and more critical as you participate and sell on more platforms. When a product is sold on eBay, the quantity should be reduced accordingly on your own ecommerce website, and other marketplaces that you are involved in. Overselling can result in receiving negative feedbacks from buyers. The good news is, reputable marketplaces such as eBay understand this and often have API services available for sellers to automate their listing, selling, and fulfillment processes.
Off-eBay tip #2 - Expand to as many marketplaces as you can
Some people prefer to spend money on eBay, some feel more comfortable checking out on Amazon, and some only default to specific marketplaces/platforms for specific types of goods.
In order for you to capture all the customers with different shopping preferences, you need to have exposure and expand on these marketplaces. In addition to eBay, you should also look into places such as Amazon, AliExpress, Etsy, Bonanza, Craigslist, eBid...etc. Some platforms specialize in certain niches. For example, if you sell goods in the arts and crafts category, Etsy should be a no-brainer to join.
Be mindful of search engine optimization (SEO) impacts when you participate in multiple marketplaces. As mentioned above in on-eBay tip #5, it is best for you to take the time to customize the product description as much as you can for each of the platforms you sell on.
Off-eBay tip #3 - Increase the exposure of your listings on third party websites
One of the main reasons why you should customize your product description when selling on eBay is that as soon as you list a product on eBay, the product will be syndicated to many other websites on the Internet, including shopping comparison websites and Google Shopping.
Both picclick.com and whohou.com were created to provide a better shopping/browsing experience for consumers, and there are plenty of people use these types of websites to shop and find your eBay listings outside of eBay. Whohou.com allows you to unlock features such as full & exclusive offerings, search, social sharing, ads and maintenance free for your listings on their platform for a small fee. You should definitely consider and look into this.
Off-eBay tip #4 - Cross promote and embed your eBay listings on your websites
If you have your own website but do not yet have the technical capability to develop full ecommerce features with inventory synchronization and automation in mind (as mentioned above in off-eBay tip #1), or if you operate other relevant/related websites in addition to your own company website, you should consider promoting your eBay listings on these websites.
AuctionNudge.com came to light first. However, we have actually found StoreWebsitePro.com to be the better option due to better support, technology, and features. With StoreWebsitePro.com, in addition to its rich features, it's a complete white label solution.
In addition, StoreWebsitePro.com has an affiliate program allowing you to spread the word and earn referral commissions while doing so. So if you have also found StoreWebsitePro.com useful and you know someone else who also sells on eBay, you can earn recurring commissions by recommending the service to them.
More information: AuctionNudge and StoreWebsitePro Comparison and Review
Off-eBay tip #5 - Promote and advertise your auction with online auction classifieds
eBay started off as an online auction platform and many auctioneers still find using auctions as a good and fast way to liquidate assets. If you are in the auction industry and list your equipment and products on eBay, you should consider advertising your auctions and equipment on other online auction classifieds and websites.
While there are many websites out there allowing you to create auction listings for free, we find many of them a waste of time. The major problem with these websites is that they are usually a lot less managed; they are targeted by spammers for being free. Therefore a lot of content is either outdated, inaccurate, or complete false, which imposes a significant threat to bidders who are actually trying to find auctions and buy equipment.
There are many affordable ways you can advertise your sale. Platforms such as AuctionZIP.com and AuctionAds.com are both well managed, allowing auctioneers to create auction listings for a low listing fee. We recommend you list your auction and equipment on both AuctionZIP.com and AuctionAds.com; However, AuctionZIP.com is much older and bigger/established in the auction industry. Craigslist is also a good option to attract local buyers through local classifieds.
Reference: Advertise on AuctionAds.com and Why
Depending on your marketing budget, you can also look into email advertising services offered by AuctionZIP. In the past, we have found their list to be highly responsive and our email campaigns with them have mostly yielded positive return on investment.