Researching your market
There are market research tools available on the eBay sellers pages, so that you can search a year’s worth of closed auction data, and find out the average sale price for the type of product, and evaluate your competition. Usually this is a paid for service, but at the time of writing there is a 7 day free trial available for this service with Terapeak. You can use this to determine your expected profits before you invest too much in stock, and also identify potential companion products to sell.
Photographs for Selling on eBay
Having several great photographs of various aspects of your product will really make a difference to your chances. According to statistics from eBay, more people bid on items with photographs, than ones without, which is not really surprising. People like to see what they are buying, so spend time getting some really good shots of your product from different angles, detail shots and whole product shots. If you are selling the same product repeatedly, this is time invested up front that will benefit all your future listings.
It is really worth taking some care over constructing your product title and description. You want it to be appealing and engaging, and also to assist people searching for your product. Think about what your potential customers would be searching for, and try to ensure you have the major search terms covered in your title as most searches cover the title only, and try to make your description appealing, detailed and helpful to your potential buyers.
Length of Auction
If you decide to sell via auction, you can choose from 3 day, 7 day and 10 day auctions. A longer auction time gives people more time to find your product and add it to their watch list, and with luck they will join in the bidding. The more serious watchers you have the better your chances of making a good price for your product. I would recommend 7 or 10 day auctions, and try to ensure the period covers a Sunday, which is when the highest volume of people are searching on eBay for products to buy.
Timing the End of your Auction
One of the most important considerations for listing an Auction is the auction end time. Often a lot of the bidding activity will occur within the last few minutes of an auction, so you want your auction to end at a time when most people are going to be available to bid. Statistics from eBay show that Sunday and Monday evenings are the best for this. You can get good results most evenings except Friday and Saturdays, depending on your product and target market. For the UK market, the best times generally to end an auction seems to be between 6pm and 9pm.
There is a Scheduled Listing feature that is worth using if you are not available to list your item at the right time for your desired end time. There is a small fee payable for this, at the time of writing 6p, but it is worth it to ensure your auction ends at a good time.
Understanding Fees for Selling on eBay
There is a fairly complex fee structure for selling on eBay, which falls loosely into 3 categories:
- Insertion fees, payable whether your item sells or not.
- Final Value fees, payable only when your item sells
- Paypal fees, payable on the payment to you, if the Buyer chooses to pay via Paypal.
I should mention that eBay owns Paypal, and if you are selling on eBay you must accept this payment method as an option for your buyers, so I am including Paypal as an eBay fee for the purposes of this article. If you are considering selling on eBay then it is worth understanding these fees so that you can factor them into your business plan.
Insertion fees depend on your Auction type. A ‘Buy It Now’ auction currently costs £0.40, and Auction listings range from £0 to £3 per £100 for an ordinary listing depending on the starting price. Additional fees are then added if you add extra listing features to make your eBay listing more attractive or easier to find, such as additional listing categories, subheadings, and better photo listing features.
Final Value fees are charged as a percentage on the final sale value. This excludes the shipping costs currently. The percentage starts at 10%, but can reduce depending on your sales volume.
Paypal Fees are charged on the Paypal transaction if your buyer chooses this payment method. This is a percentage of the total payment so it does include any shipping fees you include in your listing. Currently this works out at 3.4% + £0.20.
To give you a general idea of the costs of selling on eBay, here is a fictional worked example. Consider a product listing sold as an Auction, with subtitle, picture pack and scheduled listing options, with a Reserve price of £60 and a final selling price of £100 and a £10 shipping cost included in the sale, where the buyer chooses to pay via Paypal:
Example eBay Listing
Auction Starting Price - £0.99
Reserve Price - £60.00
Selling Price - £100.00
Shipping Costs - £10.00
Insertion Fee: - £3.31
Final Value Fee - £10.00
Paypal Fee - £3.94
So, in this example you could expect to pay around £17.25 in fees for Selling on eBay for a £100 product.
N.B. This is a worked example based on current fees published on the eBay website at the time of writing, and is just a general example to give you an idea. If you are considering selling on eBay for your small business then you'll obviously need to look into it in more depth for your specific circumstances.