Proven eBay Tips, Secrets and Hacks

For music retailers, eBay presents another online selling opportunity. At the 2018 NAMM Show, Matthew Stoecker of Quinn the Eskimo shared the basics of selling on eBay and expert tips that helped him grow into a $6 million e-commerce business — in large part because of the platform.

During his session, Stoecker shared that the majority of active eBay buyers (168 million individuals) generally know what they want, and it’s up to you to offer it to them. And with new lower rates for guitars and basses, it can be easier to sell these items.

There are two types of eBay accounts: Personal accounts are subject to low monthly sales limits that will increase over time; business accounts have a higher initial sales limit and require additional verification. The benefit of a business account is that you can start by selling more product. eBay also requires you to have a PayPal account. It takes a few days for eBay to process your registration and verify your bank account.

• Auction format is the classic listing. You can use the Buy It Now option for auctions, as well. Stoecker mentioned that this is a great option for stale inventory that you want to blow out.

• Set Price listing can work well for regular inventory to augment your sales, according to Stoecker.

• Category. When you create your listing, you need to choose the appropriate category for your items. Stoecker showed examples of top-level categories for musical instruments and gear, noting that as you drill down, you’ll find more specific categories.

• Condition. eBay requires you to choose a condition in your listing.

• Item specifics. Stoecker encouraged retailers to fill this in. You can skip it, but it helps with your search engine optimization.

• Photographs. A picture is worth a thousand dollars. You always want to add photographs. eBay will host 12 photographs for free. Stoecker advised investing in good camera. Use good lighting—natural sun or high-intensity white lighting. Choose your background, and make sure it’s clean and not busy. And finally, focus!

You want to talk about everything you know about the item or instrument. Stoecker insisted: “Don’t lie! Be completely honest.” Give details about the condition: damage, repairs, refinishing and so forth. Include anything notable (e.g., if the instrument was owned by a famous musician). Also, include a serial number—it gives credibility.

Do not include extraneous content. Just a few examples of unnecessary content include your phone number, email address, links to your own website or external sites, “Like Me on Facebook”, video and other active content. eBay will not allow contact information that lets someone contact you outside of eBay.

During the listing, you want to manage customer communication. Customers want to hear from you soon, so respond ASAP. Don’t attempt to use eBay to create a sale outside of eBay. You’ll get shut down. If you’ve made a mistake in your description or want to add to it, you can revise it but not once there’s a bid or offer on your item. Double check your descriptions and make sure they’re accurate the first time. You can’t end your item in the last 12 hours of an auction or listing.

• Insertion fees. There’s a fee just to put your ad on eBay. It’s free for the first 50 listings per month. After that, it’s 30 cents per listing, except in Guitars and Basses, where there’s no limit on free listings. If you have an eBay store, you can list 250–10,000 per month with no fee.

• Add-on fees. Enhancing your visibility with subheads, larger fonts and so forth costs more. These can add up, so know what the value is.

• Final Value fees. This is eBay’s bread and butter. It’s 10-percent off the top to a maximum of $750, except for Guitars and Basses, which is lowered to 3.5 percent and capped at $350 per sale. With an eBay Store, the FVF is capped at $250 and the FVF are: Guitars and Basses, 3.5 percent; Pro Audio and DJ equipment, 6.15 percent; and all other musical instruments, 7.15 percent.

• PayPal fees. You’re required to accept PayPal as a form of payment, although you’re not required to use PayPal. There’s a 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction PayPal fee. It can be lower if you’re a high-volume seller.

• Promoted listings. Make sure you know these ahead of time.

Once you create sales, you still need to manage customer expectations and service.

• Feedback. Always leave positive feedback for your buyers.

• Be nice to your customers. Their feedback impacts your ability to sell.

• Ship promptly with tracking and signature confirmation (especially for valuable items). eBay will side with clients if they claim they never received items.

• Handling problems. eBay notes you’re handling time to ship an order. Be prompt.

• Return policy. Create one, even though eBay doesn’t require you to do so. eBay does require you to accept a return, pay for the return shipping and offer your client a full refund, if the client says the item was not as described. It’s best to have a generous return policy that makes your clients feel better.

Stoecker had these last recommendations:

• eBay store. Saves on fees if you’re a high-volume seller.

• eBay Top Rated Plus. Saves you a discount on your fees as a top-rated seller. There are several requirements to maintain a good sales volume, including good customer feedback, rapid shipping, a 30-day return policy and same or one-day handling time.