Friday, May 22, 2009

Our eBay Business - philosphies (or....just some thoughts)

Some scattered thoughts about our eBay experience.  If one paragraph bores you, please skip to the next, cause these are not in any particular order.

eBay functions on trust.   Customers send us money, and trust us to send them the item they purchased, quickly and safely.  As sellers, we trust that when someone bids on an item or wins an item, they intend to pay.   The vast majority of the time, everything works fine.  

If you're the type who assumes the world is out to cheat you, you'll struggle with eBay or online selling in general.

It's better to keep listings simple & to the point.  I put a lot of "policy" type stuff on the "About Me" page.   I've seen some sellers all but threaten their buyers in their listings, and I don't understand that at all.  

Pictures are important - make sure they are good.  Include as many as needed, better 1 too many than 1 too few.  Make sure your background is plain, and include as little of it as possible.  I take two pictures of each postcard we list - front & back.  My background is a solid colored blue cloth.  The pictures include the corners & edges, which means it also includes a slice of the background - but I try to minimize it.    For the various kinds photographic images we list, I'll take the same pictures as I do with postcards, but I also crop it to show details.   A good picture is as much, if not more, of a selling tool than your written description.  A bad picture can cost a sell, especially if the person who might be buying is undecided.

When I receive money for an item, in my mind that item now belongs to the person who sent the money.  It's my responsibility to ship it as quickly and safely as possible.  As a result, we gather up the dog and head to the post office every day.

Communication helps tremendously.   This is my level of communication:  when an items sells, I'll send an invoice (unless the buyer pays very quickly).  The invoice has the full price and other payment information on it.  When I receive payment, I send an email acknowledging that I received it, and letting them know when I will send it, and as a verification, the address where it's going. Once I ship it, I send another email letting them know it's on the way.   I don't know if that is overkill or not, but I like people to feel warm and fuzzy.  Then after I ship it, I go ahead and leave feedback.

eBay's feedback system is a whole other post.

Included in every shipment is a paper copy of the invoice.  This invoice includes the store logo, and a simple web address that takes people directly to the store.  That web address is

Don't click it unless you want to go there.

I've learned the correct way to package things up over the years.  I think.  

This eBay stuff takes a lot more time than you'd imagine.  It's not a full time job, but still, we spend hours on it every day, and a lot of it is tedious.     

It is very hard to get the pictures exactly right.  I have photo editing software, and at the very least I use it to crop out background and straighten the picture.   However, I've learned that things look different on different monitors sometimes, no matter what you do.   Sometimes the lighting can change the appearance of the item slightly, and nothing I know how to do can get it exactly right.  (especially with the chrome postcards).  So......I do the best I can.   If I think it's a big enough issue, I either won't post it, or I'll mention it in the listing.  

It's a rush when something sells.   

If you have a curiosity about things, that helps.  Postcards cause us to look up a lot of things, to seek out a bit more information about it's subject.   I now know more about Winona Lake, Indiana than I ever thought I would.  I've never been there, and have no plans to go, but I know it's history and what it has been famous for down through the years.  And the only reason I looked it up was because we listed a series of cards from 1908, sent by a person in Plymouth, Ohio, to a person who was spending the summer (or at least a long time) at Winona Lake, Indiana.

Before you list an item, make your peace with the world.

It is better to sell an item for a little less, than to not sell it for a little more. 

On the other hand, you'll never get what you don't ask for.  

An item will never sell if you don't list it.

I've found that eBay de-values certain things.  People buy items by the box full at estate auctions, and turn around and re-sell them for a quick profit.  They have no emotional attachment to them, they just want to get their money back and hopefully a bit more.  I know this for a fact, because I've been a part of it.   Its like a thief steals a $10,000 necklace, then pawns it for $50. To the thief,  it's $50 profit.   Well eBay sellers are not thieves, as a rule, but it's a similar emotion.  You may end up with an item worth $200, but if you only paid $5.00 for it, you'd gladly take $40 for it now, instead of trying to wait for the $200 that may never come.  

If you stay with eBay long enough, you'll have moments where you get a lot of money for an item you didn't pay much for.  

If you stay with eBay long enough, you'll sell an item to someone who will turn around and re-sell it for MUCH more than what you sold it for.  Most of the time you'll never know.  But it happens. 

The staff at our eBay store has experienced both situations. 

If you buy an item for $200 & sell it for $225, you make more money than if you buy an item for 10 cents and sell it for $10.   The point is, sometimes you do better if you risk a bit of money.

Packaging material is expensive.  Recycle & reuse any type of boxes or packaging material you receive.  

Tape doesn't weigh much.

I think a logo for your store helps.  Also, spend the few bucks for a simple domain name that takes people directly to your store, and figure out some way to let people know about it.

Oh, you should have an eBay store if you're gonna sell stuff on eBay.  Not required, and it does cost a bit, but its worth it.

eBay is not cheap.

These are are the thoughts I can think of right now.   & this will be my last eBay post for awhile, maybe.

1 comment:

Patti Anne said...

I'd buy from you after reading all these carefully written blogs. Can you post links to your blog on eBay?

Very, very good body of work!