Friday, February 10, 2006

Welcome to Uncle Tris's dodgy lockup

I’m picking the kids up tonight and looking forward to a weekend of Lego, Yu-Gi-Oh, ponies and (the current favourite) Star Wars Monopoly. Both of my children are obsessed with money – primarily the acquisition of it. Therefore Monopoly is their ideal game. I often wonder how they ended up like that. Obviously I blame their mother, but in more honest moments I realise that I too am money-fixated. I think this is partly due to growing up in a very poor household, where it was a struggle to pay the bills and put food on the table every week. The thought of going back to that kind of misery frightens the life out of me.

The new Steptoe
I think this obsession is reflected in my love of eBay. I’m hardly a Powerseller, but I primarily sell stuff on eBay, rather than buy it. It’s a great way of de-cluttering and the extra money is always useful. I think rag and bone men had died out before eBay (as a child in Manchester, I remember the cart going past), but that site has now made us all into Steptoe and Son – recycling the detritus of our lives.

Selling on eBay – my tips for budding entrepreneurs
So what have I learned about selling on eBay? Here are my handy hints…

1. Always start with a really low price
People are unlikely to bid on something that doesn’t seem like an absolute bargain. I always start items at the price that will cover the eBay charges for the listing. Everything finds its proper market value on eBay (almost proving the Thatcherite edict about the market always being correct), so you don’t need to worry about underselling your item. Starting low just builds momentum amongst buyers and, psychologically, once there are a few bidders, more bidders feel secure in bidding themselves.

2. Put the title of your listing in capitals
It’s a free way of getting your item some attention. I wouldn’t bother with subheaders and putting it in bold – they cost you fees and make a negligible difference.

3. Include search keywords in your title
It helps to include as many of these as possible – if something can be abbreviated, for instance, like the game Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (GTA: San Andreas), include the abbreviation and the full name. Most of the Great British public appear to be illiterate, so includes misspellings can sometimes be a good idea.

4. Use the ‘gallery’ option
This puts a picture next to your item when it’s listed in a search. People’s eyes seem to automatically filter out items without pictures.

5. Use a bit of style in your item description
I suppose this is easy for a copywriter to say, but writing a witty, concise and descriptive write-up for your item will help sell it. It’ll help save you time in the long run too, as people will ask you loads of questions if you don’t cover the important stuff. As well as being illiterate, the British eBay buyer is also extremely suspicious (not unreasonably).

6. Be accurate in your postal charges
People are starting to give negative feedback for postal overcharging. It also puts people off if the charge is too high. Connected to this is the need to always state what the postal charges will be. I forgot once and it led to all sorts of bewildering haggling on the part of potential buyers.

7. Use PayPal, but remember it costs you money
PayPal is, frankly, a crap service – massively unintuitive and expensive if you’re a seller. PayPal will charge you for EVERYTHING – including taking money out, putting money in and looking at it in a funny way. However, after a few bounced cheques from buyers, I can see its benefits. At least you know it’s a secure way of receiving payment quickly.

8. Set aside time for postal stuff
You may be able to charm the receptionists into giving you jiffy bags, but you still have to queue in the Post Office and email buyers to let them know that the item is on its way. I always sell a few items at a time because otherwise posting the stuff becomes a logistical nightmare when you’re busy with work (your real work that is).

1 comment:

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