Ebay and other auction sites have a staggering number of items for sale. Both individuals and businesses operate on these sites and it takes work for a business owner to make their items stand out in the on-line auction market that has often been dubbed the world’s garage sale. There are however some very simple ways that a seller can streamline their auction listings and set them apart from the glut of secondhand items, and all of them are free. Some of these are simply common sense tips that are easy for seller’s to implement in their listings. Others are utilization of services provided by third party companies that are funded by ad revenue and donations so will not require payment. These services will require the seller to invest a couple hours of their time (possibly a few more for the technologically challenged) to learn how to use. The results are worth the efforts as ordinary listings will be changed into attractive, professional looking listings that attract buyers and promote the seller’s business.
The first thing a seller should do when revamping their auction listings is examine their item title and description. The title should be easily searchable. In this case it is very helpful for the seller to imagine that they are a buyer and note the search terms that a buyer would use to find items. These terms should be incorporated in to the auction title and in the items description. The seller should take care not to keyword spam by only including keywords that are relevant to the item listed. Most auctions sites will cancel a listing that is believed to be keyword spamming, and possibly restrict the seller’s account.
The seller should again think like a buyer while they are examining their description. What would a buyer like to know about the item and the business selling it? The usual specifications such as brand, make, model, color, and size apply but the seller should also list anything that makes that item unique or uncommon. This information is crucial but isn’t enough to inspire consumer confidence in a seller’s business. Buyers also want to know the businesses policies on shipping, shipping discounts, returns, guarantees, payment methods accepted and their commitment to customer service. The seller should make sure that they include everything the buyer would need to make an informed purchase; if the buyer does not have the required information they will most likely move on to another listing rather than email a query. Sellers should avoid exaggerated descriptions these make a seller appear dishonest. It is also better to undersell an item just a little bit so the customer feels that they received more than they paid for when they receive their item.
The tone of the listing is also crucial to attracting buyers. Ebay, in particular though it is an issue on nearly all auction sites, has a large number of listings that contain blistering lectures from the seller directed at non-paying and sometimes slow paying bidders. “If you do not email me after buying to tell me when you will be sending payment, and do not make payment through paypal within 72 hours I will cancel your purchase, ban you from my shop forever, and notify ebay that you are a non-paying bidder. DO NOT BID IF YOU AREN’T PLANNING TO PAY!” The quote was taken from an actual ebay auction. This warning did little to scare away non-paying bidders conversely it probably attracted some pranksters since non-payment was obviously a way for teenagers with nothing better to do to really get under the seller’s skin. The tone along with very restrictive payment terms however probably did scare away potential buyers, since no one wishes to deal with a seller that appears intolerant and burned out. Despite the downward slide of customer service these days, most buyers expect the seller to find it a pleasure to serve them.
Perhaps the most important, but often ignored, component of professional listings is proper grammar and spelling. Errors such as these are quick and easy to fix with spell, grammar check, and a read through. Their presence in a listing suggests that the seller is careless and sloppy. Misspelled words can change the meaning of an entire sentence and cause confusion and miscommunication. Certain typos can also cause embarrassment, an example of this would be the word “public” with the L mistakenly left out. Buyer sympathy for the seller’s humiliating mistake is not the emotion a successful seller wishes to instill in buyers.
Once a seller has used all of the common sense tips for listing more professional looking auction items they should look in to third party companies that provide free image hosting. Free image hosting has a number of advantages, one being that the seller can store all of their pictures on-line rather than on their computer’s hard drive freeing up space. It is also possible for the seller to use HTML (free auction listing editors can help with this) to embed pictures in their listings. They can use this function to place as many pictures as they would like in the listing without having to pay the extra fees ebay and other auction sites charge for hosting additional pictures. HTML ( free auction editors can also help with this) can also be used to generate click-able picture galleries that lead to the sellers other auctions. One excellent provider of free image hosting is the Image Shack. The image shack allows users to upload an unlimited number of pictures, provided they are not: porn, illegal, harassing,spam, or infringement of copyright. The service generates several different HTML links to make it easy for users to post the pictures on blogs,websites,message boards and auctions. The service appears to be supported by ad revenue and is 100% free.
Pictures are only part of a professional looking listing, and many sellers lack the knowledge required to build picture galleries or embed pictures in their listings. Third party auction editors are an excellent way for sellers to immediately give their listings a face lift. They generally offer templates in a variety of designs that make it easy for the seller to simply plug in their item information and generate HTML to copy and paste into their auction site’s listing form. One free site that offers excellent auction editor software is Rob’s Help. The site is supported by donations, and does not require payment. The company offers various services. It allows sellers to use the simple version by choosing from a list of pre-made templates to add their information to, but also allows sellers to use advanced options such as frame builders so the seller can customize their background with their choice of colors and pictures. The add picture function makes it easy for seller’s to embed extra pictures in their auction listing description; the seller can also use the software to easily build a picture gallery with click-able pictures leading to their other items. In order to use pictures with the software they must be hosted on-line and not on the users computer. The software also allows users to create accounts so they can save their templates complete with static things such as the seller’s shipping, return and payment policies. This feature can save the seller quite a bit of time on creating, and listing auction items.
Auction editors, such as the one provided by robs help, give sellers the ability to use optional add-ons in their listings such as extravagant graphics, and music. These types of add-ons, while pretty, are not very practical since they slow down how quickly the item page loads. Despite the popularity of high speed Internet, many surfers are still using dial-up and most lack the patience to wait several minutes for an auction page to load. If the item that they are looking at takes too long to load, they will most likely hit their browser’s back button causing the seller to lose a potential customer. Sellers would benefit from limiting graphics to basic backgrounds, pictures, and perhaps a company logo. A seller can easily determine if their auction is taking too long to load by attempting to view their listings with a dial-up connection.
These tips will make quite the difference. Use of these tips will help turn ordinary listings into sleek, professional listings that not only get attention but truly showcase the seller’s business.