Last Updated: October 12, 2015 75

Selling on eBay for the Novice Seller

Found In: Sell things online

The internet has transformed the retail marketplace. No longer are shoppers limited to local stores and catalog orders. Online shopping has expanded access to millions of items for both buyers and sellers. One of the most prolific online shopping sites is eBay, where individual sellers and retail dealers, can sell an unlimited variety of items.

For an individual seller, eBay offers an opportunity to make occasional extra money for unwanted items or to generate an income from a systematic selling endeavor. The novice seller should start with small value items in order to learn the best ways to price and describe items.

A novice seller should set up an account and experience eBay first as a buyer. This is important for two reasons. First, a seller will want to understand the transaction from the buyer’s point of view. Pricing, descriptions, shipping time and communication are all important factors in maintaining a good performance score on eBay. Second, buying small purchases is a great way to build a feedback score, which is critical in earning the trust of other eBayers. Buyers rarely buy items from sellers with very few feedback comments.

Once the novice seller has experience as a buyer, he should list a few small value items. Older generation electronics, collectible knick-knacks or childhood toys are great starting items. Thoroughly research the item to write a comprehensive description and get a fair market price. The more information a seller includes about an item, the more confidence a buyer will have in bidding on the auction. Starting prices should be reasonably set within the range of the fair market value. A seller shouldn’t set an auction starting price below what he or she is willing to accept as a final value, including eBay or payment fees. Clear and detailed pictures will also help raise the value of the auction. Sellers should not rely on stock photos, especially for unique and collectible items. A seller should also clearly communicate about any defects in the item – missing pieces, cracks or chips, faded paint, etc. Sellers will maintain good feedback by being honest about the condition of item and portraying it accurately, rather than trying to be deceptive. Descriptive, honest feedback is particularly important if the seller does not accept returns. Once the sale is complete, a good seller will communicate clearly with the buyer about shipping.

As a seller becomes more confident with the selling process, he may want to expand the items he offers on eBay beyond unwanted household items. For the novice seller, it can be fun to try to find items of value in thrift stores and yard sales. Scouring these places may result in huge profits. For example, finding a new Swiss Army knife still in the box for $1.00 at a yard sale can turn into a $40.00 auction on eBay. The savvy seller will know what items are worth before heading out for a day of yard sales. Checking completed auctions on eBay on a smartphone onsite at the yard sale or thrift store is a great way to see if the purchase will result in a profit.

Novice sellers can make supplemental income from selling items on eBay! Sellers should remember to thoroughly research an item’s value, calculate reasonable and accurate shipping costs, and be honest and complete in the description of the item. With time and experience, eBay can be as lucrative as a part-time job!