I have been paying attention, finally. I'm glad I have. My observations have greatly increased my customer count and sales.
In the past I was an eBay seller that might list items a couple of times a month. This year it became more of a weekly thing, but then I paid attention.
The counter on your eBay listing is important. Have you noticed people look at items within the first 24 hours of the auction and the last 24 hours of the auction? I have. This is a key to your success.
Timing is next. When do most people put in bids? In the USA, this is normally after 9pm and before 1am. So, try to list your items so they end about 9pm on the West Coast or 1am on the East Coast. Start your auctions to hit these peak bidding hours. If you start a 7 day auction at 9pm Pacific, it ends at 9pm Pacific 7 days later.
Add auctions EVERY DAY. Why? You want EVERYONE on eBay to see your auctions? Daily Auctions being added makes sure you reach the maximum number of people. Remember, most people look at auctions in their first and last 24 hours.
You have to be careful about what your list. Every day you list items, they should target the biggest cross section of your typical buyers. For me it is token, paper, silver, Lord of the Ring/Hobbit coins and fantasy coins. Listing one from each of these five is essential to me because I reach my whole universe of potential customers.
Going crazy on listings will cost you. Don't list 10 of the same item on the same day. For types (fantasy, wood tokens, paper, etc. for me), it means not listing all 12 denominations of Excelsior paper notes at once...I go one or two a day so buyers do not have to choose. I sell them this way.
Give a detailed description. Too much is better than too little. Take a good scan or picture. A lousy picture or no picture sets you up for a no bid auction.
I offer free shipping via first class mail. Why? People tend to like the idea that there is nothing added to the price. I decided to do this because eBay now charges 10% on postage. If postage is $2.00, eBay charges you 20 cents.
To be a top rated seller and obtain a 20% discount on your final value fees at the end of the month, you must purchase tracking on everything. Top rated sellers get better search results as well, so being a top rated seller should be your goal. You must jump through all the hoops eBay sets for you and tracking on everything is one such hoop. Here's the issue I have: free shipping is the way to go and preferred by eBay. If you sell and mail with a postage stamp and can put it in a regular envelope requiring 46 cents postage, you had better calculate the price on $1.69 in postage. Why? In the infinite wisdom of the United States Postal Service, tracking is NOT offered on a first class letter (you must buy the costlier certified mail). eBay's electronic postage does not offer anything less than a thick envelope (ie: padded envelope) as an option. With tracking that is $1.69. So, you MUST add this into the cost. If not, you cannot provide tracking and can lose the 20% discount mentioned. Proof once more that the deals on eBay are really not deals because of all the fees and now postage. Why on earth the economically strapped US Postal Service will not add tracking as an option on first class letter rates is beyond me. Why refuse income? If they'd offer this, I'm confident the option would appear on eBay's postage options.
Calculate your price for the eBay listing fee and the 9% final value fee. Remember, you get to add those listings that did not sell. For example, is you have 10 items at $5, your listing fee is 25 cents per items. If 2 sell, you still have 8 that don't. That's $2 you must recover from your 'sold' listings. Adding $1 is too easy because you get to pay 10% to eBay from that dollar, so adding $1.12 is a better idea.
Add the cost: He's a breakout: Auction for $5 on eBay sells. One in 3 sells. It costs 25 cents per item, so you are faced with 75 cents in listing fees, leaving $4.25. You will pay 10% Final Value Fee on the $5 so deduct 50 cents. You are now at $3.75. Let's say postage is 1.69, so you charge $2. You now break even on postage as eBay takes 10% Final Value Fee on your postage as well. So, you should be able to make your profit target on $3.75. Remember if you offer free postage in the USA, add $2.
Next, add customer service. Prove you care about your customers. A thank you for the purchase note is nice. Acknowledge payment. Send a note when you mail the item (make sure it is on the next mail day or earlier). Offer good feedback quickly.
Be ready to give a refund. Look at the long run, not the single purchase. Some will buy but be underwhelmed or think they bought something other than you were selling. Go ahead and cheerfully refund them. The way to success is bonding people to you, not driving them from you. They might not like your item but they will appreciate you, especially when you make what they thought would be a problem a pleasant experience.
A FEW THINGS:
eBay Stores for me have no urgency. I just paid and paid with few if any sales.
Buy It Now is not worth it for me. Again, no urgency. I just paid extra for fewer sales. If you do a Buy It Now with 10 items and you're like my buyers, you won't see many, if any sales. When you list 10 there is no urgency.
Auctions have urgency because it is one item and it will end at a specific time. Your potential customer needs to be drawn to action by the deadline of an auction.
Multiple same item auctions rule: If you list two of the same thing via 2 separate auctions under the ANY classification, you violate eBay rules. I found the loophole by listing under a different category and altering the title of the auction.
You now must set a handling time and return policy. If you choose correctly, you get some advantages. You must list a tracking number on everything or at least 90% of the time or you lose a discount and search priority if I understand things right. So, now it is more important to have a certain policy than overall performance. Unfortunately things are getting so restrictive and cumbersome selling on eBay is about like reading legal documents where it takes two pages of scenarios to explain a rule. I guess they have to spend some of that double digit profit on something. How about those of us you are milking in fee after fee?
As for eBay's Customer Service, I have had only exceptional experiences. They have been friendly, acted concerned, seemed to have time to explain and took suggestions to 'escalate' to the next level.
One great thing eBay offers is a FREE CONSULTATION with a real marketing person who can take a look at what you're doing and suggest ways to be more successful. This is a BIG plus for eBay. It is a win-win. They help you be successful and eBay's success will follow. It seems a no-brainer to be but you'd be amazed how rare such thinking is. Everybody in business should be helping their customers get the most out of the product they are buying from your company. I really applaud eBay on this.
Another good thing is eBay runs free listing days (I think they all should be free listings if they collect a 9% final value fee). At least this can save a good amount of money for you but be sure to list your lowest priced items on days when you pay for the listing because the listing fee is based on your starting price. Higher priced items cost more to list.
And, NO, I don't work for eBay, get any compensation for this, etc. I just wish I had known this when I began selling on eBay. This is why this is here. If I can help you, great. My deal with eBay is I love them and I hate them. I wish they had REAL competition but they are so far advanced over competitors I can't see a deep pocket competitor taking them on in a serious fight. In my opinion their challengers had been deeply flawed in some way. I am an eBay customer and a PayPal customer.