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23 Replies Latest reply: Feb 19, 2009 3:09 PM by SBC Team RSS

Event: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay

SBC Team Master
Currently Being Moderated
Want to get your products in front of 84 million potential customers? Looking to gain new customers or creative ways to boost sales? Take your small business to the next level by learning the basics of buying and selling on an auction site!

eBay was born over Labor Day weekend in 1995, when Pierre Omidyar, a computer programmer, wrote the code for an auction website that he ran from his home computer.

With a presence in 39 markets, including the U.S., and approximately 84 million active users worldwide, eBay has changed the face of Internet commerce. In 2007, the total value of sold items on eBay's trading platforms was nearly $60 billion. This means that eBay users worldwide trade more than $1,900 worth of goods on the site every second.

 

Jim Griffith, aka "Griff," has been an enthusiastic eBay buyer and selling since Monday, May 20th, 1996, at 10:18 am PST when he bid on his first eBay item, a PS/2 memory chip for his old IBM computer.

 

 

Currently serving as Dean of eBay Education, roving ambassador, eBay spokesperson, the host of eBay Radio and as the author of The Official eBay Bible, Griff spends nearly all his waking hours teaching others how to use eBay effectively, safely and profitably; leading classes at eBay University in order to help new eBay users learn the nuances of the site and its history; responding to customer e-mail; managing and hosting the popular weekly "eBay Radio" and "Ask Griff" radio shows, and spreading the word about eBay across print, radio and TV.

 

 

The SBOC Team is taking questions in advance for Griff. Post it here and then join us on February 19 at 2:00PM EST for Griff's response. You may ask Griff a question at any time during the event, just remember he may not get to all of them.
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    SBC Team Master
    Currently Being Moderated
    Community,

    Looking for creative ways to boost sales? Griff can not only tell you how to do it on eBay, but his tips can be applied to many other sales channels outside the auction site.

    Just ask him how!
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    Tori Novice
    Currently Being Moderated
    Griff, welcome back!

    Building or gaining trust from customers can translate into increase sales. How do you suggest small business owners build/improve the trust relationship with their customers?

    ~Tori
    • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
      Jim_Griffith Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Hi gang,

       


      It's good to be back here on the Small Business Online Chat. I look forward to your questions! And in between, I will share some tips for reducing operating costs for your business, both on eBay and off. Let's begin by answering the questions recently asked here.

       


      Hi Tori,

       


      Glad to be back! Many small businesses learn the importance of good customer relations and service from first hand experience with face-to-face customers in their off line venues. It's always easier to establish trust with new customers when they are standing right in front of you. Brick and Mortar business owners can rely on vocal tone, facial expressions and body language to convey their dedication to the customer.

       


      Unfortunately, these important cues are not readily available for online commerce. But, an online seller can substitute these important offline customer interaction tools by augementing the tools available for online selling. Start by never underestimating the persuasive power of professionalism in your photos, web page layout and your text. Take pointers from big retailers with excellent customer service reputations like Zappo's and L.L. Bean.com. There is absolutely no reason why a small business owner cannot provide the same level of professionalism as these and other bigger online retailers. A small business owner may have to hire a designer and copy writer to attain the same level of quality as the big boys, but it's money well invested. You'll be making a positive first impression on your potential customers and by doing so, laying the strong and secure foundation for building trust.

       


      As important as that intial first visual impression is to building trust, it is all for naught if you don't follow it up with clear, precise, friendly text to describe both the item and your terms of service. I still see too many eBay sellers who do not exceed in these two absolutely crucial areas. It really isn't possible to overdescribe an item for sale. Size, material, model number, color, etc: these are important item attributes to call out. And for used items, don't forget condition. In fact, feature all condition issues. Note every flaw and scratch (with text and extra photos). The goal while you are creating your online item page is to provide an experience for the buyer that is as close to an actual physical inspection as possible.

       


      Finally, the biggest worry for all online buyers is the "what if?" scenario, as in "what if I don't like the item? Can I return it?" A customer-focused return policy is critical to online business success. Without it, you cannot succeed. Make sure your return policy is easy to understand, at the very least, reasonable and provides the assurance your customers need regarding your comittment to their satisfaction.

       


      The above are important tools for gaining the trust of new customers. But it doesn't end there. Existing customers, (your most valuable business asset by the way), should not be left out. Treat every loyal customer as though you were still trying to gain their trust and loyalty. Many online business practice this strategy. I buy something once a year from a niche perfume company in France called Divine. In every purchase, they include gratis samples of their latest offerings. Many eBay sellers do this as well. I know that as a buyer, I greatly appreciate those extras and they are what keep me coming back to their online businesses, on and off eBay, every time I shop.

       


      Griff
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    simon07 Novice
    Currently Being Moderated
    I understand many eBay buysers and sellers rely heavily on reputation. So how does a new comer have a chance at establishing credibility with new customers? Is it too late to get started? How does a newcomer compete with the established sellers?
    • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
      Jim_Griffith Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Hi Simon07,

      On eBay, reputation is critical. Although it isn't impossible to realize some selling initial success as a brand new eBay member (with a feedback score of "0"), it is definitely an issue. Some tips:

      • Before you start to sell, purchase some things on eBay. Buyers can still receive feedback from sellers and even if you purchase only a few items and collect a few positives in the process, those positives look a lot better to new buyers than a zero. In fact, the biggest gap in feedback is between a zero score and your first 1.
      • Follow the tips in the previous response above. If your eBay appearance is professional and customer focused, buyers are more likely to discount your low feedback score, even if it is zero. If you are a new seller, talk it up. Let you buyers know that you are brand new to selling, excited to be selling and are willing to provide buyers with a great transaction experience. (And don't forget that crucial return policy!)
      • On eBay today, sellers are required to provide at least one online payment option. If you are registering on eBay as a new seller, you will need to open a PayPal account. PayPal is the most popular method of payment on eBay but it isn't the only one. If you have a merchant credit card account, you can also use that (as well as other approved payment methods as listed on eBay site.) One of the great benefits of having a PayPal account is that it lets buyers know that your identity has been verified by a trusted company like PayPal.
      • On eBay, there is access to another feature called "ID Verify." The ID Verify process will "badge" your User ID in your feedback profile with an icon that lets buyers know that you are who you say you are. To learn more, click the Help link on the top of any eBay page and type the words "id verify" into the "search help" box.

       

      Griff
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    BrickandMorter Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated

    I try to write my own copy for my ads and for product descriptions. Do you have any tips on creating powerful messages and headlines?
    • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
      Jim_Griffith Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Posted by BrickandMorter on Feb 19, 2009 10:34 AM

       

       


      I try to write my own copy for my ads and for product descriptions. Do you have any tips on creating powerful messages and headlines?

       


      Hi BricandMorter,

       


      My first response above contains some general pointers. When it comes to the actual graphic design and text, take your cues from the big boys. For graphics, keep them simple. Don't clutter your layout with too many boxes or photos. For text, be exhaustive in your description, but lay out the information in a way that is easy to read. A simple bullet list of item condition and attributes is the best way to list an item's condition. For your terms of service, use simple, clear language and always maintain a positive tone! Don't use threats or harsh conditions in your terms of service. For example, if one of your terms is restrictive, word it in a way that is positive. For example:

       


      "If you don't agree with the terms above, DON'T BID!"

       


      is better said as

       


      "If you have questions about the item or the terms of sale, please do email me before bidding or purchasing"

       


      Griff
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    Howard Novice
    Currently Being Moderated
    My wife enjoys making jewelry as a hobby and is thinking about starting to sell her items on eBay. As a first time seller is she able to select between setting up the "Buy It Now" option vs. the normal bidding? Is this option available to all sellers? If so, which option should she use and what are the pros and cons of each and any other tips?
    • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
      Jim_Griffith Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Posted by Howard on Feb 19, 2009 10:59 AM

       

      My wife enjoys making jewelry as a hobby and is thinking about starting to sell her items on eBay. As a first time seller is she able to select between setting up the "Buy It Now" option vs. the normal bidding? Is this option available to all sellers? If so, which option should she use and what are the pros and cons of each and any other tips? Report as inappropriate

      Buy It Now is only available to sellers with at least a "10" feedback score or sellers who have gone through the ID Verify process (described in a previous response above).

       

      As to which format is best, research will help provide some insight to the right answer. Any seller online line should be utilizing a good eBay research tool. eBay works directly with a third party research company called Terapeak (www.terapeak.com) for providing excellent data research for sellers (and buyers).

       

      When researching past sales on eBay, you can determine which formats have worked best for items similar to yours. For example, if the highest prices realized where mostly in the auction format, then that might be the best format to try first. If the highest prices are mostly in the Fixed Price (Buy It Now) format, then you might try that one instead. Research will also give a good window into other aspects of recent sales trends, for example, realized prices, best times of the day and week for ending a listing, and current demand.

       

      Griff
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    SBC Team Master
    Currently Being Moderated
    Hello Community

    The eBay event will occur on this very thread. You will need to refresh your browsers often to see the latest content during the event. If you are refreshing your browser and do not see new responses, be sure to check to see if the thread rolled over to the next page.

     

    What's your question on how to boost sales?
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    antiques4me Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated

    I own an antique furniture store and have noticed a drop in business. My business comes from foot traffic as people want to see, touch, and inspect the piece. With foot traffic dropping and my customers taking longer to make a purchase decision, I thought I would try to see if I can sell some of my inventory on eBay. I have purchased many items on eBay before but never large pieces of furniture & never antiques. I don't know if this is going to work. Will people actually buy antiques on an auction site, and from a new seller???? My inventory runs anywhere between $100 - $5000. Any advice on how to start selling high end items on eBay? And if you have any additional viewpoints or tips on antiques.
    • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
      Jim_Griffith Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Posted by antiques4me on Feb 19, 2009 1:03 PM

      I own an antique furniture store and have noticed a drop in business. My business comes from foot traffic as people want to see, touch, and inspect the piece. With foot traffic dropping and my customers taking longer to make a purchase decision, I thought I would try to see if I can sell some of my inventory on eBay. I have purchased many items on eBay before but never large pieces of furniture & never antiques. I don't know if this is going to work. Will people actually buy antiques on an auction site, and from a new seller???? My inventory runs anywhere between $100 - $5000. Any advice on how to start selling high end items on eBay? And if you have any additional viewpoints or tips on antiques.

      Everything I have posted so far is appropriate for an antiques seller on eBay (and yes, it is possible to sell high end antiques on eBay. Recently, a carnival glass plate brought around $9,000. Furniture also sells but it takes some shipping expertise in order to succeed in that area.)

      The biggest concerns regarding most antiques listed on eBay is shipping. A larger piece of furniture needs special packing and crating and often can only be sent via a freight carrier. If you plan on offering large items as a rule, you should locate a freight company in your area with whom you can work on a long term basis both in the actual crating and shipping but most importantly, in the providing of actual shipping rates in your listing. Currently, we do provide a freight calculator in the Sell Your Item form to help sellers give their potential buyers close shipping estimates for big or heavy items.

      Griff
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    SBC Team Master
    Currently Being Moderated
    Community,

    Please join us in welcoming Jim Griffith "Griff" to the SBOC. He will be posting as Jim_Griffith

    Griff, want to kick it off?
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    Vince Novice
    Currently Being Moderated
    Hi Griff, great topic! Very excited about the event!

    I noticed eBay offers three levels of the Stores program: basic, featured and anchor. Do members see higher sales with the anchor stores? Or can a member have just as much success with the basic? Are there different strategies for each?

    Vince
    • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
      Jim_Griffith Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Posted by Vince on Feb 19, 2009 2:17 PM

       


      Hi Griff, great topic! Very excited about the event!

       

       

      I noticed eBay offers three levels of the Stores program: basic, featured and anchor. Do members see higher sales with the anchor stores? Or can a member have just as much success with the basic? Are there different strategies for each?

       

      Vince

       


      Hi Vince,

      It's not so much that each Store level requires a different business strategy. Success is possible with all three Store subscription levels. Which level is ideal for a specific business depends of course on the needs and the size of the business.

       


      eBay Stores can be an important tool in a seller's strategy kit but the seller needs to fully understand how to make the Store work for their business. The Stores pages explain in good detail, exactly what features come with a Store and how the seller can use each of the features to boost business. So, for anyone just starting out, I definitely recommend the Basic Store level. In fact, it would be a mistake for a seller to jump in with the Premium or Anchor level right off. Once a seller understands how to use all of the features of a Basic Store (that is, he has been using them for a time and is comfortable with his command of the Store features), only then should he consider moving up to the next level. Many business discover that they are perfectly suited at the Basic level and they never move up. Others find that they need more in the way of exposure and marketing, and will opt to try a Premium or Anchor level. The good thing: If you do try a higher level and it is not quite working for you, you can always move back down a level or two to Premium or Basic.

      Griff
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    Interpreter Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated

    I want to set sales goals for myself. What sort of realistic goals should I set being a beginner on eBay?
    • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
      Jim_Griffith Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Posted by Interpreter on Feb 19, 2009 2:27 PM

       


      I want to set sales goals for myself. What sort of realistic goals should I set being a beginner on eBay?

       


      You are definitely starting out with the right question! In order to determine realistic goals, you need to consider three questions:

      1. What product or types of product are you going to listl?
      2. How big (or small) is your current operation?
      3. What does market research tell you about the market for your particular product or product line?

       

      Knowing what product you plan to offer is obviously important. You have to research the current markets for that product to determine current value, demand and if possible, any trends in demand.

       


      What is your current or intial operating capacity? Are you working alone? Do you plan on working this business from your home? How much storage does your location provide? Do you have room for product storage? Is there enough space to set up a fullfilment area? (for packing and shipping) If you are starting out in a very small space, then your goals should match the space. You cannot realistically expect to store, list, pack and ship beyond a reasonable amount determined by the size of the item and the time it takes to list the items and pack and ship them. Single product lines are easiest.

       


      For example, if you sell new digital camera batteries, you'll only need one photo and one description of each product saved as a relistable template. And storage of something small like batteries means you could, if well organized, keep a big supply on hand, ready to list and ship. And packing small items like batteries doesn't require a lot of materials (which have to be stored as well) or space for packing.

       

      However, if you plan on offering something slightly larger, for example, homemade candles, now your storage, listing and fullfilment requirements have increased.

       


      Each of the two examples require different amounts of time and resources. It would be easier to set a higher goal for the batteries than the candles.

       


      So what is the upshot? Easy. Start slow, start small. The worst mistake a new seller can make (ok, ONE of the worst; there are others) is to start out on eBay by listing several hundred items. If you haven't actually listed and sold items on eBay, you will underestimate that time it takes for each task, and if you start to sell at a good clip, you may not be able to handle the volume. Don't list more than a handful of items to start out with and only add others when you are certain you can handle them. Otherwise, if you are overwhelmed, your service levels (shipping, communication, etc) could slip and could affect your selling status on eBay.

       

      Griff
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    DC_Trade Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    Griff, are there opportunities to barter services/goods on eBay? Can you explain how? Or if you can't, can you think of a creative way to accomplish this?
    • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
      Jim_Griffith Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Posted by DC_Trade on Feb 19, 2009 2:38 PM

       


      Griff, are there opportunities to barter services/goods on eBay? Can you explain how? Or if you can't, can you think of a creative way to accomplish this?

      Yes, there are, though they are not well understood by all. First, there is a Specialy Services category where a seller can list their services at a bid or fixed price:

       

      http://services.ebay.com/_W0QQ_trksidZp3907Q2em21

       

      I
      n addition, we provide a selling format (for some categories) called Classified Ad.

       


      http://pages.ebay.com/help/sell/classified.html

       


      It is very different from the Auction Format or the Fixed Price Format. There is no "on eBay" transaction piece to a Classified Ad listing. The fees for listing a Classified Ad format are also different than the other formats.

       


      In a Classified Ad,

      • List your asking price. No bidding takes place.
      • Interested buyers fill out a contact form, and their information is sent to you.
      • List a phone number, and interested buyers can call you (optional).
      • List your item, service or property for a specific period of time.
      • Revise item-specific information at any time while the ad is active.

      Griff
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    Book_Lover Newbie
    Currently Being Moderated
    An online bookstore is nothing new. How do I get my online bookstore to stand out from the competition?
    • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
      Jim_Griffith Newbie
      Currently Being Moderated

      Posted by Book_Lover on Feb 19, 2009 2:47 PM

       


      An online bookstore is nothing new. How do I get my online bookstore to stand out from the competition?

       


      I like your realistic perspective but don't loose heart. It is possible to enter a category like "books" and stand out (though with so much competition, it won't be easy). As in any business, you should create a "look" and a brand that is unforgettable.

       

      Buyers in categories like "Books" tend to look for items on the basis of two criteria: rarity and value. You didn't say what type of books you plan on listing but if they are rare books (first editions, out of print, etc) pricing won't be as critical. But if you are offering books that can be purchased from other sellers, other venues or off line, then your price is critical. Research to make sure your prices are the lowest. Not just lower. The lowest.

       


      And if you are selling on eBay, with Books, you really do need to have an eBay Store. The Store format is ideal for large inventories (it the cheapest option for listing inventory on eBay). Also, with the eBay Store, you have access to marketing tools to keep your customers informed of any new stock you are about to list as well as sales for current stock.

       


      Finally, as in any situation, if you want to really stand out, take a look around at other book sellers, determine what it is they all seem to share in common when it comes to marketing and pricing, and avoid those things like the plague.

       


      Griff
  • Re: Event February 19: Creative ways to boost sales with eBay
    SBC Team Master
    Currently Being Moderated
    Griff, you've done it once again! On behalf of the Community, thank you for your thoughtful and professional responses.

    Community, we hope this was a great experience for you. Now go off and sell sell sell!

    For more information on Griff and eBay, visit http://www.ebay.com

    Have a wonderful day!

    The SBOC Team

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