With more than 162 million users, more than 800 million listed items, and with over £60 billion generated in sales in 2015 alone, eBay is one of the biggest channels for online selling.
Anyone can upload a product to eBay and generate a sale. But if you want to use eBay like a pro, you need to up your game. If you want to stand out and generate a profit on this crowded marketplace, you need to be savvy to all the tricks and techniques used by the expert multichannel sellers.
Take studio-standard photos
Your product photos have a lot of work to do! Not only do they have to present your product in the best possible light, they also have to stand out from every other listing in the search results.
We could spend all day talking about how to take good eBay pictures. So to save a bit of time, let’s briefly run through some of the things that make for bad eBay product photos:
• Poor lighting
• Our-of-focus items
• Messy, untidy, or cluttered backgrounds
• Dusty or dirty products
As a general rule of thumb, unless you’re a professional photographer with a fully-equipped photography studio, the best time to take pictures of your products is during the day, when you can take fully advantage of natural light. Plain backgrounds always work best.
When it comes to taking a picture of your object from the best possible angle, it really depends on the specific object you’re trying to sell. If you’re unsure, do a bit of research.
Say you’re selling homemade jewellery. Do a few eBay searches for the sort of things you sell; bracelets, earrings, brooches etc. Take a look at the images the sellers are using to sell their products. Which ones appeal to you?
Try to replicate these for your products, and don’t be afraid to experiment! If you can’t shift an item with one picture, try listing it again photographed from a different angle and in a different light.
Write titles and product descriptions that are impossible to ignore
This one goes hand in hand with the good images. In fact, your product description and your image should work together to create an irresistible sales pitch.
A good eBay product listing will give you a prominent ranking in the search results. At the same time, it will ensure that your listing stands out from the others while convincing interested buyers that yours is the one to choose!
On the other hand, a bad eBay product listing will get buried in the search results. And in the unlikely event that it’s found, you’d be very lucky indeed if anyone were to click on your listing.
The official eBay help section has a few helpful hints about writing good titles and descriptions. And while these are good, and while it’s an excellent idea to follow them to the letter, by no means is this a complete guide.
Keep on top of your eBay orders
When you’re just starting out, eBay’s native user interface is fine. But once your orders start to pile up, you might start to find it clunky and unwieldy. It can be all too easy to let an order deadline slip by, to dispatch an order to the wrong address, or even to send a customer a completely different product to the one they ordered.
When it comes to eBay, reputation is everything. And if you want to manage your reputation, you need to keep on top of your orders.
So as your customer base and your workload expands, you might consider investing in a cloud-based ERP system.
With some simple cost-effective software you can manage every aspect of your online business – from stock level to sales – from one single intuitive interface. So you’ll never fudge an order, you’ll always delight your customers, and you’ll quickly build up a reputation as one of the most trustworthy and reliable sellers on eBay.
But more importantly, a system like this will help you to automate some of your most menial processes. This will free up a lot of time that you can instead pour into building your brand.
Build your brand and nurture a fanbase
Take the time to engage with your customers. Give them a reason for caring about your products, and provide them with engaging content they can digest even when they’re not buying from you.
This means getting active on social media channels while hosting your own online presence. How this will look will depend on the specific items you’re selling, but let’s briefly return to the homemade jewellery example.
Tell your story. Start a blog that details your inspiration, your creative process, and the life behind the listings. Film your creative dabblings and upload the videos to YouTube. Share your sparkly creations on Pinterest, and start conversations on Facebook and Twitter.
Professional eBay sellers treat eBay as just one part of a wider online sales strategy. Kindle your community, tell your story, and you’ll give people a solid reason to buy your products over those of your competitors.
Make a few time-saving and productivity hacks
Making full use of eBay as a multichannel sales tool takes a lot of time and effort. Preparing and listing your products for eBay requires 100 per cent of your attention, which is to say nothing of just how time consuming it can be to build your brand on social media and beyond.
So you need to take steps to ensure that you can work free from distractions and interruptions.
Clear your desk of clutter. Get a potted plant or two. Turn off alerts and updates on your mobile, tablet, and mail clients. Establish an efficient workflow with clearly-defined steps along the way. Listen to music if that helps.
If you have any sites that you know are time sinks for you, then do all you can to prevent yourself from spending any time on these sites while you work.
Set aside a definite amount of time in which you’ll work and do nothing else. A bit of trial and error will show you what sort of time stretch works for you. And once that stretch is over, reward yourself with a well-earned break. Get some fresh air, or some exercise. Have a cup of tea, or coffee.
There’s a fantastic article on the My Resale Life blog about what to do when eBay sales are slow. ‘There is only one 100 per cent way not to sell an item [on eBay]’, it says, ‘and that is to not have it up for sale!
‘The more you have available, the better your chances of making a sale will be.’
So no matter what happens, don’t give up. If your business isn’t taking off like you thought it would, consider areas that you might improve. Do your product descriptions need rewriting? Could you perhaps take a better photo from a better angle? Maybe you’re targeting the wrong keywords?
There’s no single quick fix to boosting your sales, but perseverance almost always pays off.
Andy Richley is business development manager at Khaos Cloud.
Further reading on selling to customers
It is the final week of nominations for the British Small Business Awards! Make sure you nominate your company here! Sponsored by Vistaprint, the Sole Trader of the Year and Micro Business of the Year (2-7 staff) categories are open until July 29th. Nominate for these categories here, and also make sure you consider our Small Business of the Year (10-50 staff), Leader of the Year, Innovation of the Year, Website of the Year, and Campaign of the Year categories. Good luck and see you on October 20th at the Grand Connaught Rooms!