How to sell on eBay

Posted on 20/08/2015 by Marketing

Perhaps you’ve been selling for a while, or perhaps you’re new to online sales – whatever your situation, our selling tips will help you make the most of the world’s best known online marketplace. man with parcel

Deliver the goods

Online shoppers are savvier than ever when it comes to cost, and most will factor in the delivery charge when comparing your prices to those of your rivals. If customers see an expensive delivery charge at the checkout, they will quickly go elsewhere, so before you list, carry out some research on what other sellers are charging for delivery of similar goods, and think about bringing down your own charges (or better still, do away with them altogether) where possible.

Free shipping is a big draw for customers, but what’s in it for you? The rewards are certainly worth considering, and many sellers find that the increased sales generated as a result of removing the delivery charge is enough to offset the cost to them. eBay also looks on sellers offering free shipping more favourably, and in some cases offers special discounts to those who waive the delivery charge. Your listing is also more likely to appear as a ‘featured’ item on the homepage or in other prominent places around the site if you offer free shipping. So, can you afford to subsidise the delivery to a certain extent in order to make more sales?

If you absolutely can’t afford to subsidise your delivery charges, being upfront about the cost and delivery speed you are able to offer will make customers feel better disposed to you from the start of the process, as they won’t feel they are being ‘tricked’. So be honest about your charges and don’t present them as a last-minute ‘nasty surprise’ at the checkout.

Make the most of free listings weekends and other promotions

Another way to claw back a little of what you might concede in delivery costs – or to trial the impact of offering free shipping – is take full advantage of eBay’s free listings weekends and other events when the usual fees are waived for all sellers for a limited period. Free listings are offered on a semi-regular basis and if you keep your ear to the ground by signing up with sellers’ communities, you’ll be pre-warned every time you have the opportunity list free of charge.

Accurately describe your item(s)

Buyers are looking for honest, accurate descriptions of the items you’re selling, so be as specific as possible. Use bullet points to help buyers find the information they need quickly, and include details such as:

  • Product dimensions (with clothing sizes it can be helpful to specify waist/hip/chest measurements so the buyer feels confident items will fit)
  • Accurate information on the item’s condition, e.g. ‘BNWT’.
  • Additional detail on the quality of the fit, e.g. ‘true to size’ or ‘runs narrow’ for a pair of shoes; ‘petite length’ or ‘loose fit’ for clothing.
  • Date and country of manufacture, if relevant
  • Any markings, dents or repairs to used items
  • If accessories such as power cables are included and details of manufacturer’s packaging if you still have it.
  • Having a returns policy also helps with sales and is looked on favourably by eBay.


Create a descriptive and SEO-friendly title for your listing

Your eBay listing is no place to get clever with puns or fun headlines: this copy needs to be as useful to search engines as it is for humans, so use those 80 characters wisely. This means including as much information on the product as you can which is not limited to just the manufacturer or brand name, but all relevant details about size, colour, material and condition (new, used or refurbished). Acronyms such as ‘BNWT’ (brand new with tags) are common currency across most online platforms, so make the most of the opportunity they offer for imparting as much information on your item as possible.

There’s a comprehensive list of seller acronyms held on eBay to help you perfect your listing, so take a look before you post:  you should find something here to help guide buyers to your item – whether it’s HTF (hard to find) or GU (gently used). Many platforms offer keyword suggestions to help your item catch the attention of users – so make use of these to ensure your listings stand out. Finally, take care with your spelling when listing items on eBay. Misspelt listings are often bargains for buyers as not as many people find them to bid on.

Don’t hide defects

No self-respecting seller would knowingly try to pass off a damaged item as mint, but the more open you are about your item’s condition, the more interest you’re likely to receive from buyers. As with all aspects of online selling you can never be too honest or too transparent in your approach to merchandising. So don’t just mention that the item is ‘damaged’ or ‘worn’ in the copy of your ad: take a close-up photograph of the defect so you can be as sure as it’s possible to be from a distance that the item is subsequently sold as seen. Even if the product is in good condition throughout it always helps to take as many good-quality photos as possible. This helps to keep the buyer informed, and if all else fails you can use this ‘photo evidence’ to protect yourself in possible disputes.

Make full use of your photo allowance

For the reasons described above and more, eBay encourages its users to share as many images of their item(s) as possible, so don’t waste this opportunity to promote your goods. You are allowed to post up to twelve photos free of charge, we recommend that you use your full allowance when listing, show your product from as many angles as possible and make sure you snap it in good lighting conditions. Posting higher-quality images will also allow viewers to zoom in, giving them additional insight and extra peace of mind.

Focus on your photography

It’s not necessary for your items to be photographed using professional kit, but it is essential to have clear photographs taken in good light – daylight is often best as artificial light can cause images to have a yellow tone and a flash can wash out the whole image. Use a plain background – a white wall, large sheet of paper or clean piece of fabric will show off most items well. Clothes are best shown worn by a model (or willing friend) or on a tailor’s dummy – invest in a mannequin if you plan to sell a lot of clothes.

With all images, make sure your photographs are in focus and avoid over-processing with Instagram-type filters; images that don’t look real can be off=-putting to buyers. In your image gallery, include a wide-angle shot of the whole item and close-ups of any important details. You might like to show the item in use (clothes being worn or computers switched on) as well as in its resting state.

Get the timing right

vintage clock

Like any marketplace, eBay has an established rhythm that reflects its users’ behaviour and online habits. It makes sense for sellers to respond to existing patterns of activity – such as the tendency for buyers to come online on a Sunday evening, and to expect delivery of their items as soon as possible in the week that follows.

For this reason we recommend starting 7-day listings on a Sunday evening or – better still – start a 10-day listing on a Thursday evening. Starting it on a Thursday gives you the advantage of having your listing visible for two full weekends – as well as having it close during that crucial Sunday evening period. And if you’re too busy to list at either of these times during the week, you can use eBay’s scheduling tool to automate the process.

Using CollectPlus for your eBay sales

The CollectPlus send service is a convenient way to send out your items no matter what time your auctions finish. When you have received payment from your buyer, simply buy a label from our website, download and print it, then drop off your parcel at any one of our 5,800+ local stores and let us do the rest. Stores are open late so you won’t have to rush to the Post Office to make the last collection, and prices are up to 25% cheaper than Parcelforce deliveries – perfect if you have a lot of heavy parcels to send. If you’re sending an item valued at £50 or less, we offer compensation cover at no additional charge to you, , so in the unlikely event of your item being lost or damaged, we’ll refund you £50 or the value of the item (whichever is the lesser) in compensation.

For items valued above £50 and up to £150 you can purchase compensation cover for an extra £3, and £5 buys you up to £300 of cover. For extra peace of mind, you can also choose our proof of delivery option. This comes as standard when you purchase compensation cover for items valued above £50 and up to £300, but you can add for just £1 to items valued under up to £50. This is a ‘signed for’ service, and requires a signature from your buyer. Finally, all parcels are tracked online so both you and your customers know where items are at any time – and you’ll also be covered by eBay’s seller protection rules. Find out more at  

Posted in eBay