Wednesday, January 03, 2007

eBay - The Perfect Destination for Your Unwanted Gifts

I've been meaning to do a post about selling things on ebay for a while, as the holidays always make me realize just how much "stuff" I have and how nice it would be to get rid of what I don't need. But my experience buying and selling things on ebay is somewhat limited, so I decided to call in the expert: my boyfriend Andrew, who has made a second career out of eBay sales. I initially thought this was a dorky habit of penny-pinching types, but I've since realized how much potential cash is available to anyone willing to list the stuff they don't want. And that doesn't include the fabulous steals you can find on the site, particularly with accessories, home furnishings and cosmetics (dying for Chanel's sold-out limited edition Black Satin polish? eBay's got it!). Without further ado, here are Andrew's tips for successfully selling on eBay.

Around this time each year, many of us tend to have a number of gifts that we don't plan to keep- clothes that don't fit well, unwanted accessories, or that pair of Uggs you're too embarrassed to wear outside. There are plenty of things to do with all this "stuff"- returns (if you have a receipt), donating to charity, or even regifting. However, each year many gifts will just end up taking up space. A great option for dealing with the clutter is eBay, where you can often sell certain brand new items for a large share of their retail price. I figure it's pretty safe to assume that my readers are familiar with eBay, so I'm just going to give some tips for people who might be a bit new to selling on eBay.


Don't start too high. A lot of new sellers make the mistake of listing their item with too high an opening bid. Doing this will often result in your item not selling at all, and at the very worst, it'll ensure that your item doesn't generate much interest. By setting a lower opening bid, you'll encourage more people to bid early and become emotionally involved in winning your auction, and can often get a far higher price than if you had started your bid higher in the first place. Also, you can save money, as eBay charges less in listing fees if you start bidding lower.

A good rule of thumb is- if you're selling an item that might generate interest with only a small number of bidders, list it at the lowest price you'd be happy selling it for. If it's an item that is very popular (like an iPod or a DVD set), you can even easily start it at 1 cent.

Do your homework. It's important to do research on what your item normally sells for so that you know what kind of price to expect. The perfect way to do this is to use the eBay Completed Items search, where you can search for recent sales of your item on eBay.

Know what to expect. Certain types of items tend to sell extremely well on eBay, often selling for retail price, or even at a small premium. Typically, electronics, sealed new DVD's, video games, cosmetics and many accessories (such as reasonably priced but good quality bags) do very well. On the other hand, clothes tend to sell a lot more poorly, often because there is a huge supply of clothing for sale, and because of the prevalence of counterfeit items (especially by designer brands). You might be surprised at how poorly lots of clothes sell on eBay, and so you might want to try to return or donate clothes that you would otherwise try to sell.

Know the features. Certain eBay features, such as Featured Listing, Bold Item title, and many others are rather expensive and don't seem to make a huge difference in ending price. On the other hand, certain features like Buy it Now can often help your items sell faster, and even for a higher price than you'd get otherwise. By adding a Buy it Now price to your auction, you create a price at which a bidder can immediately buy your item (duh). Often, by appealing to a buyer's desire for instant gratification, you can get a bit more for your item than you'd otherwise get.

Feedback is key. Feedback (aka the little number in parentheses after an eBay username) is the way eBay users rate each other. Studies have shown that higher feedback directly translates to higher ending prices, so if you have very low or very poor feedback, you may want to consider having a friend sell the item for you. In the long run, you want to maximize your positive feedback by communicating well with buyers and sellers and paying/shipping promptly.

I hope some of this advice has been useful- eBay is a great place to find buyers for your unwanted items, and can be a great way to turn gifts that would otherwise become clutter into cash. If you have any questions about buying/selling on eBay, feel free to comment on this thread and I will respond as soon as I can.

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