One of the first ever ecommerce sites is still, to this day, one of the biggest. Back in 1995, eBay pioneered the idea of buying-and-selling online, and has since evolved with the trends to remain a serious rival to Amazon. But two-and-a-half decades of eBay best practices and sales strategies are a lot to take in, especially for new sellers (but even experienced sellers slip up every now and then). To help you improve your eBay sales, below we list the 5 most common eBay seller mistakes, along with how to avoid them.
1. Not Following Up
Like most other ecommerce sites, your customer reviews can make or break your business. And while dodging bad reviews is a good start, to truly succeed you also need positive reviews. That usually requires following up with customers after the purchase.
Some sellers consider the transaction over once the product has been delivered, an idea carried over from brick-and-mortar retail. But for ecommerce, reviews are a flat-out necessity. Because most customers don’t willingly return to a site after the purchase to leave a review, it falls on the seller to follow up and request a review.
You can send buyers a personal message to both thank them for the purchase and politely request a review. First, go to My eBay > Selling > Sold. Find the item they bought and click Contact Buyer (sometimes it’s listed under More Actions). Try to time your message for immediately after the delivery arrives — that’s when they’ll be most excited about the item.
2. Interchanging Auctions and Fixed Prices
When it first came out, eBay was famous for its auction style of bidding, and smart merchants could often sell items above market value. But with the rise of more online markets, not the least of which was Amazon, eBay had to adopt a fixed price model to stay competitive. The thing is, they never got rid of their auction pricing — they offer both options.
Selling with auctions or fixed prices are two wildly different approaches, each with their own pros and cons. But if you use them interchangeably, not knowing the difference, you’re missing out on optimizing your sales strategies and limiting your profits.
Basically, auctions are best for one-of-a-kind items: collectibles, rare goods, autographed merchandise, art, and antiques. For everything else — everyday items and manufactured goods — a fixed price is best. No one wants to get in a bidding war over a toothbrush.
3. TYPING WITH ALL CAPS!!!!
A rookie internet mistake, but sadly common enough to call out in this list. You may think writing your headlines or descriptions in all caps is good for getting attention — and you’d be right, but it’s the wrong kind of attention. All caps gets your listing noticed, sure, but it also annoys shoppers in the same way someone shouting outside of a shop would annoy them. It does more harm than good.
All caps is also the preferred typography for scammers, of which there are plenty on eBay. You don’t want shoppers to associate you with them, so it’s best to avoid the same tactics they use.
Rather, stick with the proper name of your item, including other details like colors or sizes. That’s best for SEO of shoppers that already know what they want. In the eBay Best Practices Guide, they list out both requirements and recommendations for product titles.
4. Using Generic Product Photos
The biggest problem with ecommerce is shoppers can’t interact with the products they want to buy. In a brick-and-mortar store, they can pick it up, try it on, give it a spin, etc. But online shoppers are forced to draw conclusions based on what little information they have, namely product photos.
By that logic, the better your product photos, the more likely your shoppers are to buy. High quality photos, particularly HD, give customers a better understanding of aspects like texture and allow them to more easily imagine what the product is like.
If you’re using generic product photos, you’re lowering your chances of a sale. Avoid using stock photos or photos taken from the manufacturer’s site, advertisements, or other product listings. If you can, take your own original product photos — maybe you have a photographer friend or know someone with an HD camera. You don’t need to be a professional to take good product photos — just read our guide for Cheap & Easy Ecommerce Product Photography Hacks.
5. Not Updating Listings
Every time you make a sale, you need to update the stock levels on your listing. Managing your eBay inventory is crucial in this step of the process. The alternative is overselling, where someone buys an item that you don’t actually have anymore. Overselling leads to more than just a missed sale — it’s likely you’ve lost that customer forever, they’ll probably leave a bad review, and in some cases you can even have your seller account suspended.
So the best practice for eBay and all ecommerce is to promptly update your listings. The trouble is, in the days of multichannel ecommerce, chances are eBay isn’t your only sales channel. If you’ve got the same product listed on different channels like Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy, every time you make a sale on one, you have to update the listings on them all.
Not only is that tedious, at a certain point it becomes unsustainable. Because this is one of the most common problems in all ecommerce, Ecomdash software automatically updates your stock levels on every listing for every channel, every time you make a sale. Automation seems the appropriate solution for this issue, as it’s a menial task and doing it “by hand” takes up time that could be better spent elsewhere.
Of course, if you’re in a pinch, you can always update your eBay listings manually whenever you make a sale. As long as you’re diligent, you don’t have to worry about overselling.
Even if you’re a seasoned online seller, eBay operates a little differently than the other popular marketplaces. You may need to change up some of your favorite sales strategies, or at least learn more about how eBay works. This is especially true if you want to become an eBay Top Seller. Feel free to brush up on some of the basics with our guide, The Dos and Don’ts for Listing Products on eBay. Or, if you want more advanced advice on inventory management, read our Tips for eBay Product Sourcing.