There are still plenty of reasons to set up your online shop on eBay - perhaps the biggest being that eBay's Australian site gets a reported 7.3 million visitors a month.
But while setting up shop on eBay means you don't have to setup payment gateways and a web site yourself, the clever sellers will still do their homework.
From getting placed higher in the listings, to earning the trust of your customers so they'll sing your praises, there are all sorts of things you can do to make more sales if you run an eBay Store.
A big thanks to the various eBay users who have shared tips with us below. We were interested to find out what tips some experienced eBay sellers and people who specialise in advising on eBay strategies would suggest. Each has their own theories about what works and what doesn't. You can also visit their sites (links are provided below). Here are their tips:
1. Bring more buyers to your eBay store using search engine keywords
Carefully choosing specific keywords related to the products you sell on eBay can result in a prominent position within Google’s natural search results meaning more potential buyers direct to your eBay store.
Once you’ve subscribed to an eBay store, click My eBay at the top of any eBay page, then in the left hand navigation click Marketing Tools. Next, click Manage My Store then click Search Engine Keywords.
Use Google Analytics to choose the best keywords for your products, and try to choose words that are not too generic as you’ll be competing with too many other sites for these. Within a few weeks, you should find your eBay Store referenced in search results and an increase in traffic. You can measure traffic by utilising Stores’ Traffic Reports - click the link in the Manage My Store section of My eBay.
2. Your eBay sales success depends on your visibility in eBay’s search algorithm, known as Best Match
The best visibility is given to those listings which attract the most buyer interest (clicks, watches and purchases) per number of impressions. To maximise your buyer engagement, consolidate your products into multi-quantity long duration fixed price listings (10 or 30 days). Where available, also use multi-variant (allows you to list the same dress in different colours and sizes, for example). Do not use keywords only loosely associated with your products as you will receive impressions for them, but are unlikely to score well on buyer engagement. The object is to receive impressions only when buyers are most likely to view your item.
Always use eBay’s item specifics when you list your item as these help the search technology identify whether your item is relevant for a buyer’s search.
Todd Alexander has been working for eBay for over 11 years and is currently Director of Onsite Search. He has written three books about using eBay. His latest book is The New eBay, the first comprehensive full colour guide featuring the most up to date eBay technology. It is now available in bookstores, online and via download. Visit Todd's site here and follow him on Twitter here.
3. Offer free shipping to improve your best match ranking
Offering free delivery to buyers not only makes your product listing more attractive to them, but it also improves your Best Match search result ranking on eBay. In fact, buyers will often pick a higher-priced product just because it has free delivery, even if the net cost of another product plus shipping fee ends up being the same. We recommend that sellers consider a trial period offering free shipping to test the results.
Before you offer free delivery, you must ensure that you have a robust refund policy. If you do offer refunds for damage and/or change of mind, you should clearly state in your product listing that the buyer must pay for the return postage should they wish to receive a full price refund on the item. Simple steps like these could go a long way in preventing any confusion or shopper dissatisfaction, and help cement you as a reliable and trusted seller.
4. Lengthen your titles to improve your search ranking
Title optimisation is a great, and simple, way to improve your search rankings and results on eBay. We’ve also found that many sellers never lengthened their titles when eBay extended the title character limit from 55 to 80 characters. There are several free tools to help sellers uncover applicable and popular keywords:
The BayEstimate tool - developed by the eBay Research Labs – allows you to input whatever title keyword you are using (for example “jeans”), and then lets you know how popular that word is, offers additional keyword suggestions and shares the most popular category click-paths.
The Google Keyword Tool is another good solution to use to determine the most popular keywords being searched by shoppers. Typing in a keyword here will show you the competition, global monthly searches and local monthly searches (on Google of course, not eBay, but it is a good indicator).
Don’t try to trick the system though. eBay will demote results that have words in the title that are irrelevant to the shopper’s search needs - for example, calling the item “New” in the title instead of selecting “New” in the Condition field and using keywords of other related products to get more search hits. When you focus on an appropriate and properly optimised title for your product you’re going to get the best overall results.
5. Populate Item Specifics to improve Browse visibility
Item Specifics is a useful feature for sellers like yourself to easily provide more ways for shoppers to find your products. It is the backbone of the Browse navigation feature on eBay, and is great for shoppers that like to drill down and refine the listing results shown - for example, filtering a shoe search to only show those results that are in a particular shoe size.
It’s also important to check which Item Specifics are available in your category from time to time, as it’s likely that they would’ve been changed/updated. If you aren’t sure which Item Specifics are available in your category, you can use eBay’s Item Specifics Lookup Tool (you’ll need to create a login for this tool to join). We definitely recommend investing some time to build out the data for Item Specifics available in the categories you sell in to make your listing(s) more visible to more buyers.
Mark Gray is the APAC Managing Director at ChannelAdvisor, a leading provider of cloud-based e-commerce solutions that enable retailers and manufacturers to integrate, manage and optimize their merchandise sales across hundreds of online channels including Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook and more.
6. It’s All In The Timing
The ending day and time of an ebay auction is crucial to achieving the best possible results for your auction. You need the auction to be ending at a time when many people are online and ready to purchase, and in particular, those that are going to be interested in purchasing your item. As you are probably aware, the auctions that are nearing the end also show up higher in the search results.
The known times for the highest amount of traffic include Sunday nights from 5.00pm to 10.00pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 10.00am to 2.00pm. However, also do some research into your previous auctions. Take a look at the ending days/times and see what attracted the most interest in the closing hours. This will give you a good idea of the timing that is best for your products.
As your auction is nearing the closing time you will find that bidding wars can occur, which is what every ebay seller wants.
7. Show Credibility
Customer service should be your number one priority. Be 100% honest in all your descriptions and communication. Have your About section completed so that potential customers can learn more about you and your business. Give a detailed description of the product by being completely open and forthcoming. Don’t exaggerate or provide inaccurate descriptions on your listings.
Money-back guarantees are also a good option to show that you completely stand behind what you are selling.
Highlight your positive feedback and comments by pasting a few of them into your listings to give proof of your fabulous service and quality product. Most buyers will purchase from someone that they can trust, if they have the choice.
Jayne Day is an online marketing specialist offering services and consulting to small business owners through her SEO and social media agency Webonize. Services include website design, search engine optimisation, video marketing and social media.
8. Identify the market before deciding what to sell
The big three areas where there are an abundance of buyers and limitless problems to be solved are health, wealth and wellbeing. If you can solve a problem a couple of niches down in any of those broad markets then you are well on your way to a very successful business.
Say your passion lies in wellbeing - you might look for a niche and search using Google's keyword tool to identify that a lot of people search for the exact phrase "meditation". That market is still too broad, so you niche down one more level and focus specifically on meditation products for women. You become the expert in that field and the go-to seller with the best reputation in the game.
9. Benefits sell products
Make a long list of bullet points for your products including every single feature you can think of. Then turn every feature into a benefit to the buyer, using the words ‘so’ and ‘because’ after each feature. for example:
Worming tablets for your dog - so it lives a happy healthy life and gives all the joy a person could want from their best friend.
20kg dumbbell set - so you can work out anytime you choose, rain hail or shine, and feel a million dollars knowing you didn’t have to come up with an excuse not to go to the gym.
Non-stick frying pan - Teflon surface tough and made to last. Because who has the time to clean a stainless steel pan these days?
Pick your best bullet point and use that as your headline.
Pick your second best bullet point and use that as your last bullet. People skim the page - if they are interested in your headline they will read your first bullet; if they’re interested in your first bullet they will read the last bullet; if they’re interested in the last bullet, then they should read the whole page and you should make a sale...
Justin Bohlmann started out on eBay in 2003 while he was still in the Army and by 2005 had his first full-time eBay business. He worked on the eBay Seller Development team for 12 months helping businesses and professional sellers to scale their online sales and integrate offline processes and he is on the board of PeSA Australia. He currently owns and manages a number of online businesses and consults to eCommerce start-ups providing business, marketing and strategy advice. You can download a free copy of Justin's “What the Hell Should I Sell” here.
10. Understanding Best Match (part 2)
It seems obvious, but as an eBay seller you need to understand the search algorithm that eBay use to present items. The main reason this is so important is that if you are able to successfully achieve a listing in the top three of search results you can actually increase your price - often between 5-7%, compared to listings that are lower in search results. If eBay users find your listings earlier, they typically won't continue their search. Hence you can charge more than you would otherwise, because you are found first. Missing out on this revenue by not understanding best match can hurt your business.
11. Try video
All sellers on eBay should remember that they are part of the retail industry. As such, many aspects of retail still apply. Your eBay listing needs to replicate the in-store experience. By increasing your engagement with the eBay buyer you will also increase your conversion.
Many people talk about the importance of pictures. The next step is video content - actually trying to replicate the experience of being in a store and holding the item.
12. Making the most of your Australian location
Australian retail associations are increasing worried about an international invasion. Statistics show that consumer prefer to buy locally, so remind them of where you are. Showing a phone number on your listing gives the consumer confidence you are local and you are an actual person.
Reminding the consumer of your delivery options and showing the partners you use helps the buyer feel confident that they can trust you. Reminding the buyer that if they pay via a certain time thenyou will ship that day adds to the convenience factor. If you have physical shop presence then list it and mention that you allow pick ups. By showing you are part of the local retail industry you will increase conversion.
Chris Morley is the general manager of Online Market Experts, industry experts focused on improving the eCommerce landscape by offering independent consulting in all aspects of eCommerce, website marketing and construction. Visit their web site here.
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