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Computing With Bifocals
by Nancy Carroll Gravley

A column for people who remember what
the world was like before there was color.....

Hints & Strategies For Selling On eBay
November 1st, 2002

Here is an equation for you:

When you list items to sell be aware that they will close at that exact time 3, 5, or 9 days later, depending on how many days you choose.


Lots of savvy shoppers will wait until an item is closing and then zap in a bid, knowing that they will probably get what they want without having to enter into a bidding war.


Even if you are a night owl, at your peak at 3 a.m., that is not the best time to list your items for sale unless you are selling something that only other night owls would want. (Feathers?)

You may be saying to yourself, "what IS she talking about?"

Hints and Strategies for selling on eBay

Someone, knowing that I have been selling things on eBay for several years asked for hints for selling without loosing your shirt. Along with the hint at the beginning of this column I shared the following as well. These are all things I learned from doing.

Decide what to sell. In my opinion the hardest element of selling on eBay is deciding what to sell. If you are lucky you have wholesale access to something that a lot of people use. I only have one piece of advice about this. Research. If you have an idea see if others are selling it and for how much. Search the internet for wholesale purchases, but be wary: Just because something is advertised as wholesale doesn't mean it really is. Get a tax ID number from your state so that you can purchase wholesale. Be aware that most wholesale operations require you to purchase things in lots. 100 pieces of the same toy may work in a retail store, but it can take you a long, long time to sell them one at a time on eBay.

Identify the audience. If you are selling things that new mothers might be interested in, think about what times of day or night they might most logically have time to actually sit down at a computer and shop. If you are selling things that someone might want in their office it might be best to make sure the auction closes after traditional work hours.

Think about the difference in the time zones. I have the best luck if I calculate things based on the Central time zone. That way I can catch people from both coasts as well. Consider a strategy you might use to sell Vermont syrup. My guess would be that you would have more potential customers the greater distances from Vermont where it is not readily available. So time your auction closing for people living on the west coast or the deep south or in other countries. Don't hesitate to start auctions at several different times if you have multiple alike items to sell.

Do some research. Check to see what things are selling for before you purchase. Go into eBay and do a search for the kinds of items you want to sell. See what like items are selling for, whether or not they are selling, and how much competition you might have.

Understand the importance of eBay's rating system. It is extremely important. Your rating of positive and negative points is the only way you have to assure potential buyers that you are honest and reliable. If someone gives you a negative rating don't respond to it while you are angry. There comments and your response will be there forever. I once gave someone a negative because they did not pay despite numerous requests. The buyer then gave me a negative, noting that I only gave him a month to pay. I didn't have to respond to that comment. He did himself in because all eBayers know that payment is to be received within 10 days of the close of an auction. Anyone can go into your record and read every comment that has been written from the day you started buying or selling. A couple of negatives like the one above are not going to hurt your rating in the long run and non payers need to get negative ratings because the seller has to pay the eBay fees even if the sale doesn't go through. However, it is in your best interest to make sure you have made every effort to collect. Sometimes things get lost, people forget or get sick, and sometimes houses burn down.

Also important to the rating system is the need to be very careful that you give an accurate description of any item you are selling, including listing any flaws that might exist. If you are selling an expensive, brand name, handbag it is very important that you check the inside tag to see if it has been clipped or not. Clipping means the item is a second and it will not sell for as much as an item with in intact tag. If you don't include that information, you will probably earn a bad reputation. If you are unsure about what is, or is not, important read other ads for similar items and see what information reoccurs from ad to ad.

Don't list multiples at the same time in the same category. Savvy shoppers will always check to see if there is more than one listing, and, savvy shoppers frequently shop by item name. For instance, I might run a search for Macintosh memory. No matter what category the seller has chosen for the listing, if it has the words macintosh and memory in the title it will show up in my request list. It would not take me more than a few minutes to discover that seller A has 6 listings for the exact same kind of memory. If the first 3 have bids already in place, I will go to one of the last 3 listings, hoping that no one will bid against me, raising the price. If you are selling something that you can reasonably expect bidders to fight over, wait until one sells before listing another.

How much does it weigh? Before you choose to sell something on eBay consider how much it will cost to ship it to the buyer. Buyers almost always pay shipping so shipping fees are important as they decide whether to bid or not. If I can get a good deal on a new Mac I probably won't mind spending $60 to have it shipped to me. However, I am not going to bid on an item if the shipping will be more than the item is worth. I will be much more inclined to purchase what I need at a local store.

Include Brand names. You might be surprised how many people shop by brand name. If you don't believe me do a search for Pottery Barn. At any given time you will find more than 1,000 items listed, all of which include the Pottery Barn name in the title. Also, where relevant, include sizes in the title. Many shoppers, looking for clothes, search by size because otherwise the listings are overwhelming.

Wow, I am going to have to continue this in my next column. At the same time, I will include hints for successfully bidding and purchasing on eBay.

Copies of Nancy's book Tips, Hints, and Solutions for Seasoned Beginners Using Apple Macintosh Computers With OS X are available in PDF download versions  for US$9.57 and in print version for $18.15 plus $4.00 shipping.   To view sample pages and get ordering information visit the September 14, 2004 column.

Post your comments below.
Check out Nancy's complete index of all her columns for the most complete list of tips anywhere. The list is categorized and is a great reference when you are looking for help!

A Capacious Catalog Of Computer Tips

Talking to a generation that remembers what the world was like before there was color, covers issues for people who don't care how their computer works, but rather what their computer and the internet can do for them.

Nancy has a Master's degree in Human Services Administration and prior to her retirement she worked for almost 30 years in field of mental health and mental retardation. She has been a Mac user for 11 years, and has recently developed an avocation of teaching basic computer skills in both group and one-to-one settings.

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