| What is
In brief, Ebay is an auction house
with a few quirks, and thousands upon thousands of items for
sale. Everything is for sale on ebay. Timeshares,
tools, Laura Ashley quilts, cashmere sweaters, knitting yarns,
new home designs and plans, cars... you name it, and unless
it is illegal, or alive, it is going to appear on ebay.
does this mean to you? It means you can move
excess inventory, be that inventory a hotel room or cases
of whiggits, through ebay. You can list property for sale,
your car, your boat... clothes you've never really worn, and
art you never really liked. You can also buy on
ebay. Need to redo a room? Designer fabrics and furnishings
are on ebay, cheap. Need a set of those expensive wrenches?
There's a good bet someone else doesn't need theirs, and has
thrown them up on ebay to get rid of them.
with how an auction works, the auctioneer raises the bids
until nobody wants to go any higher... how is Ebay different?
Under the Ebay system, there is
no auctioneer. Bidders raise each other until the auction
expires. Not for lack of bidders, the auctions are timed.
So you run out of time to bid, even though you might have
gone up on the item.
this change my bidding strategy?
You can win
an auction the "Ebay way" or you can employ a service
called a "sniper."
Ebay you place your bid at
the maximum amount you are willing to pay for an item.
Ebay will enter your bid at the lowest possible
amount it will take to make you the high bidder, holding the
rest of your bid in proxy against another bid. If someone
raises the bid, Ebay will automatically enter your proxy bid
against it, until your competition either gives up... or outbids
You can also
nibble at a bid to see how high (and serious) someone else
is about buying an item. Nibbling raises the item by the lowest
possible amount, which may land you with the high bid, or
it may just push the bid up.
As you can
imagine, the "Ebay way" has some disadvantages.
While you may be willing to pay $10 for an item, you
want to pay less. Opening your bid with a proxy of
$10 gives another bidder the opportunity to either nibble
away at your bid until they've outbid you, or simply nibble
your bid higher, forcing you to pay more for an item simply
because they are curious to see if your bid is proxied, and
push the item up a dollar or two to find out.
the "sniper" system
you use a service to place your highest bid at the last possible
moment... effectively entering your proxy bid so late in the
game nobody has time to respond to it. Generally, with a snipe,
you pay less for an item, and you win auctions. If you decide
to open an Ebay account, either drop us an email, or follow
this link to sign up for a sniper service and get three free
snipes so you can try the service: Auction
Sniper. Sellers, by the way, have a love/hate relationship
with snipers. But the fact is that a snipe is the high
bid... so they do realize more for their item when the item
up for Ebay
by opening the sign-in page: Ebay's
Sign In Page Click on the "Register Now" link.
There are the usual, name, address, etc. You do need to fill
in your birthday so they know you're not under age 18.
you'll need to choose an Ebay handle and a password. The password,
obviously, should be something you can remember. The handle
however can be anything you want.
If you are
expecting to sell items on Ebay, try and make your
handle descriptive "vt_antiques" for example, or
"stowe_vt_inn." You'll notice some people simply
use their email addresses. I think you should probably not
use an email address. Ebay offers you protection from spamming
(unsolicited email) and while it will forward a message from
another seller, or Ebay user, to you, Ebay will hide your
email address from the sender. So if you don't want to reply
to them, you don't have to.
be sending you an email, and you'll either be able to click
on the link in the email to confirm your account, or have
to highlight the link and paste it into your browser to confirm
the account. And... you're done!
IBM, DELL and Victoria's Secret have in common? They
all dump their overstocks (and in the case of the computer
manufacturers reconditioned units) through Ebay. As do a number
of other manufacturers.
sells their customer returns and overstocks to individuals,
who sort them, then pump them out on Ebay. They may also,
of course, have brick and mortar stores where they sell these
items as well, but if you're looking for a Victoria's Secret
overall for $20 instead of the catalog price of $42, you've
come to the right place.
Spend some time plugging the zaniest
things you can think of into the search engine to get a feel
for Ebay. You'll quickly
learn that "Laura Ashley" will bring up hundreds
of unsorted listings. On the left side you'll see a list of
the categories the listings are from, and a number which indicates
how many of the listings are in that category. This helps
to narrow things down a bit. You can also narrow your search
by adding a limit to the generic "Laura Ashley"
as in "Laura Ashley King" which will pull up all
the king sized sheets by Laura Ashley currently being offered
on Ebay. It is probably useful to know that NWT means New
With Tags, and CR means Customer Return.
Want to see it live? This is
a look at "today on ebay," the search was "Camilla
Blue" under china:
those numbers after the buyers' and sellers' handles?
Ebay allows buyers and sellers to rate each other at the end
of every transaction. Positive ratings are good, neutral ratings
make people nervous, bad ratings and you probably shouldn't
be doing business with this person.
out at zero, and with dark glasses, because you are new, with
no transactions in your history.
This is going to make being a seller a little tricky. But
before you sell anything on Ebay, you probably want to purchase
at least 5 (a completely arbitrary number) or more items,
and bid on at least 15 items, to get a feel for how the system
items on Ebay is a matter of attracting buyers to your item.
Out of the
thousands of items available, it is part science, part art,
and some luck. If you don't have your own web site, and are
simply going to be paring down that collection of antique
flow blue pottery (or excess lodging inventory) by selling
bits of it off on Ebay, you'll get a real feel for how to
do it simply by observing what works, and what doesn't, for
other sellers. Keywords are the key to attracting
buyers. So if you're selling a Vermont landscape, your title
should include "Vermont, watercolor, Blodgett, farm scene,
rural landscape." Your item should be well photographed
and documented, and you should be prepared to answer any email
about it promptly.
have the postage pre-calculated, or listed at a fixed price,
get better bids than items that do not. But the real key to
successful selling (or listinging in the Real Estate section)
is a professional presentation, a prompt response to all questions,
and an immediate delivery of the goods upon payment. From
this is built your feedback score, and good feedback breeds
can draw additional attention to your ebay auction through
links on your own website.
This is particularly valuable if you want to have a modest
ecommerce presence, or blow some excess inventory out the
door, but don't want to maintain a store online. For seven
days you can be a store. Then the auction is over, you ship
the merchandise (or take the room reservations) and its over.
You can alert your regular customers to this one time opportunity
through your newsletter, or a simple email announcement...
with a link directly to your auction on ebay.
new to ebay, find something to bid on that you'll be happy
you've won... and get competitive (within reason). One day
you'll check an auction and discover... you won! Now what?
you took the time to check the shipping charges before you
placed that last bid? Good. When pricing an auction item,
always factor in shipping, just like you do for a catalog
site. Most smaller items are shipped USPS priority mail, because
the boxes are free and it is convenient for the sellers.
need to pay for your item.
After an auction you'll usually receive an email from Ebay
saying "Congratulations You Won!" and another from
the seller stipulating how they'd like to be paid. Most
sellers do not use the Ebay payment system, but use PayPal
instead. However many sellers accept checks, money orders,
billpay (another online service) and electronic checks. The
information will be either in the auction, or in the email.
Click on the button of the money transfer service they prefer
and follow the directions. Most prefer PayPal because it is
the cheapest and fastest method of transferring money, and
once you've established a PayPal account you'll discover you
can pay a fair number of your bills with a click of a mouse.
No more stamps!
receive a receipt for payment...and
often a note from the seller telling you the item has shipped.
here... and I hate it. It isn't what I expected AT ALL.
this has happened to us only once in all the auctions we've
won, and it happened because I wasn't sure if I was a medium
in Victoria's Secret overalls, or a large. As it happens,
I'm a medium. But I bid on a large, and won. Oh woe! So what
did I do? Why, I sold them on Ebay, of course. For more than
I paid for them too.
say you bid on and won a piece of that flow blue pottery you
love, and the auction claimed the piece was "perfect,
in like new condition." When it arrives you discover
it is, in fact, badly cracked.
did it happen in shipping, and did you insure the item? For
most fragile items, the dollar or two of insurance tacked
onto the shipping is well worth the peace of mind.
If it did
not happen in shipping, but was obviously damaged before shipping,
contact the seller immediately and ask to return the item
for the auction amount, and both shipping (make sure you insure
the item going back!). Ebay is based on trust and I personally
have had no cause to complain, even when there has been an
error in the shipping. Occasionally you'll win something,
and they'll accidentally ship someone else's order. She may
have had two flow blue pieces up for sale, and mixed up the
tags. Chances are she'll be horrified and make it right.
But if she
doesn't you have not one, not two, but 3 lines of defense.
Ebay's complaint department, PayPal's complaint department,
and your credit card's fraud division. While there have been
a couple of scandals in which real fraud artists managed to
con people out of money on Ebay, the fact is that if you're
being sensible, and pay for things with a credit card, you
will, eventually, get your money back.
NEVER purchase something from someone who contacts you outside
of the Ebay system. If you
buy something privately, Ebay's security systems do not apply.
Which is how the last con artist managed to steal thousands
and thousands of dollars, by contacting potential buyers and
arranging private sales (of, as it happened, merchandise he
had no intention of delivering).
Question... what are your favorite Ebay searches or categories?
Where are the real bargains?
will bring up antique and
modern persians, read your foundation and pile yarn contents
and watch your KPI. Oriental Rug will bring up another
raft of these things, simply listed differently. Think you
can't afford the real deal? Think again. I've paved my house
in these carpets for a fraction of the cost of either refinishing
the floor (husband's first choice before the carpets started
going down over the worst spots) or cheap orlon wall to wall.
Watch your shipping fees on these though. The carpet may go
for $50, but the shipping will likely add another $30-50.
Still... when have you seen an Oriental carpet at a dealer
a tough category to wade through. We've narrowed art down
by artists we like, styles we like, and limited ourselves
to oils or watercolors. All of which narrows the field considerably.
You can also narrow the search down by limiting yourself to
artists (or paintings) from certain periods. "Hudson
River School" searched in both titles and descriptions
will pull up a manageable couple of pages of Hudson River
School art. Some will be simply awful, some will be very expensive
from recognized artists, some will be affordable. Try searching
on topics as well. "Vermont" brings up art by Vermont
artists, and art featuring Vermont. "Barn" brings
up rural scenes. "Seascape" brings up clipper ships.
Lodging will bring up vacation
packages or rooms for auction on Ebay.
anything Ebay won't sell?!?
sell live animals, or anything illegal. They do sell "virtual"
items, which means that people who play online games can buy
"swords" or "points" which they need to
get to the next level of the game, instead of spending their
time "earning" them. Apparently there is quite a
hot market in these virtual toys. Ebay will not knowingly
allow someone to fence stolen merchandise, nor engage in other
anything you would NOT buy through Ebay?
We had a
guest last week who bought an engagement ring on Ebay, but
that is a little out of my comfort zone.
I would not
buy anything on Ebay before checking to see what that same
item retails for new. My husband frequently finds people bidding
up router bits or other woodworking tools above and beyond
what they could get them for new. When we were in the market
for a piece of exercise equipment, we found a unit on Ebay
bid up well beyond what the same unit, brand new, would have
cost if ordered off the manufacturers web site. So... know
your stuff, don't bid completely blind.
said, before we make any retail purchase these days, including,
I should add, a car, we go and check Ebay. Last month we bought
a 1957 Dodge truck on ebay... we'll buy pretty big ticket
items on ebay because we have a good idea of what we're looking
at, and we know a bargain when we see one. Always wanted a
weathervane? There is someone who sells custom made ones very
(very!) reasonably through Ebay. Motorized cat toy? Well,
of course it is there!
I have a
friend who bought her dining room table at an Ebay auction,
and followed it up a month or so later by winning a set of
mahogany chairs to go with it. A goodly amount of time is
spent on Ebay thinking "who on earth would bid on this...?"
only to discover at your next PTA meeting that at least someone
you know did, in fact, bid on that!
But I am
not comfortable with jewlery and my husband is less than comfortable
with reconditioned power tools after several buyers began
reporting that "reconditioned" was beginning to
mean "used and abused." Beyond that, I'd pretty
much bid on anything I wanted.
art and collectibles?
don't buy art or collectibles for resale. I buy it because
I intend to use it. This goes for carpets as well. I don't
expect to resell a carpet, so all I ask is that it is as advertised,
or at least so close to it that I won't care. If I cared,
I'd go to our carpet dealer and plunk down $2500 for a carpet
with a providence. Likewise "art." If I like the
piece, I like the frame, I intend to put it on the wall, and
I'm paying less than $100 for an original piece... do I care
that the artist is an unknown?
No, I don't.
A framed piece of original art from an unknown local artist
will run $500. I'm not collecting art, I'm hanging pretty
pictures on the wall. If you collect art, there are gallery
sponsored pieces on Ebay which run to the $10,000 and up range,
which will give you plenty of bragging rights!
again, know your market. Antiques dealers HATE Ebay. It is
tearing the guts out of the Antiques market, dropping prices
for some items as much as 30%. If you love the piece, simply
have to have that flow blue plate, have at it. If you are
buying with an expectation of holding the item for resale,
I'm trying to sell my collection?
How you present
your pieces, how you group them, when you offer them, and
how you structure the auction (with a reserve, with a "buy
it now") will have a lot to do with what you will get
for the pieces. Spend some time in the category you expect
to list in exploring what others are doing and get a feel
for how to set up a professional page.
If you have
a substantial collection for sale, contact us and we may be
able to work with you to feature the auction on one of the
Your Product, Their Servers:
Selling with PayPal
Let Someone Else Do the Work!
Affiliate Marketing for fun and profit
Ecommerce: The Powerful Hosting Retail Store: full ecommerce
at a bargain price (soon!)