Everyone and their brother has written a book about how to sell on online auctions…tips and advice from the experienced and professional. I have been selling on eBay, Amazon, and Yahoo auctions for almost 20 years, and honestly, I have not read any of these books. However, I am sure that they have a number of great tips and helps. I, on the other hand, simply did the one thing that can give you all the hands-on training you could ask for…I did LOTS of shopping on these sites. After spending hundreds of dollars, I realized that I had things sitting around the house that people might want. And they did! Then, I started scouring yard and estate sales for treasures to sell. That lead to selling items for businesses to clear out parts and inventory that were not moving. Which lead to teaching auction selling classes at the local community college. Now, I am just back to shopping. I still do some selling, but it is infrequent, as I simply do not have the time to invest anymore.
Online auctions still amaze me. If I list a group of items, the sell through rate is consistently 90%…no matter the category of item. Obviously, some types of items sell better than others, but it is still amazing to think that someone somewhere wants that 70’s wool coat, and is willing to pay $75 for it! I considered finding a niche of items that I personally have trouble finding online, because if I cannot find it, chances are there are others that also cannot find it…if they do not have a Wal-Mart down the street. (I live in a rural area, so if I cannot find it online, I cannot get it.)
Back to my previous statement though, if you are considering using online auctions to get rid of excess inventory or parts, the best teaching tool is to buy items off these sites. Besides building up your feedback, which is extremely important for high-ticket items, you will also see how other sellers operate. By finding out what you like and do not like, you know how to better treat your customers. Even though it is an online auction, many sellers do not treat the buyers like customers…they seem to think the rules of business do not apply. Based on my own buying experiences, here are some of the things I do NOT do when I sell on auction sites:
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive lesson on how to sell on online auctions, but it lets you know some of the key ideas of what not to do. Thankfully, eBay has automated a number of tasks I used to have to do manually, such as sending congratulation emails, creating packing lists and purchasing postage. So, it is even easier to sell on online auctions than when I started over 15 years ago.
I encourage students in the online auction classes to spend lots of time on the sites to research items similar to what they plan to sell. Look closely at which ones sold at the highest prices. What is the title? What was the starting bid? What does the ad look like? What are they charging for shipping? Spend a little time in research and you will be sure to reap the rewards in a higher selling price. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Until next issue…Best wishes in your endeavors!
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