In the second quarter of 2018, eBay reached 172 million active users. 

While this figure sounds paltry compared to Amazon’s 310 million, it’s interesting to note that the average visit duration on eBay is reportedly 50% longer than on Amazon.

This, combined with greater control over branding and lower fees, means that eBay can be a viable option for sellers hoping to hook in potential customers. 

Econsultancy’s Best Practice Guide, Third-Party Marketplaces for Retailers, delves into this topic in much more depth, but in the meantime, here are some tips for maximising sales on eBay.

Tap into a niche 

Retailers tend to choose to sell on eBay because a particular product aligns with the site’s target audience. This is usually because - having started as an auction site - its users are more open and willing to buy second-hand or used goods as opposed to those looking on Amazon.

Sellers with niche or hard-to-find products also typically do well, as do commercial sellers that ship globally. Take MusicMagpie.co.uk, for example, which resells entertainment and electronics in over 140 countries. MaxGear is another – a retailer that sells clearance cycling stock on eBay.

Both offer shoppers a unique service, as well as products that might be hard to find at the same price point elsewhere. 

Choose the appropriate sell

eBay is no longer an auction-only site, and the introduction of the ‘buy now’ button means a large number of retailers now sell at fixed price. 

There are pros and cons of each format, with auction-style selling typically working for unique or in-demand items (when the seller really wants to create a buzz). 

In this case, as auction items tend to appear at the top of search results closer to the end time, sellers should plan this according to when people are most likely to be browsing.

If using 'buy now', fixed prices should be as competitive as possible. It's helpful to monitor sellers with similar items to gauge how low or high you should go. 

Consider an eBay shop

In comparison to Amazon, eBay sellers have greater control over merchandising options.

eBay shops allow sellers to organise all their listings in one place (along with a unique URL) for a small monthly fee. Similarly, the 'Shop Designer' feature allows sellers to fully customise the look of their ‘shop window’, which includes overall visual design as well as functional features like pop-ups.

In this context, eBay could be a potentially fruitful investment for retailers who care more about branding and the overall look of their ecommerce presence. The benefits are largely to do with consumer trust, as branded eBay shops can appear more professional and perhaps more trustworthy.

This type of customisation does come at a price, however, so it’s important to consider whether investment will result in a worthwhile return.

Communicate customer service

While eBay offers greater flexibility, this also means that sellers need to do more to combat doubts about ‘bad sellers’, which has somewhat dented the site’s reputation in the past. 

To stand out as a reliable seller, it is important to provide detailed, business-specific information within each listing page. 

Likewise, it is just as important to be transparent about shipping costs and times, payment options, and any potential fees involved in product returns. 

Sellers that do this are far likelier to build trust (and prompt purchases), as well as encourage buyers to return again in future.

Subscribers can download Econsultancy's 'Third-Party Marketplaces for Retailers' Best Practice Guide

Nikki Gilliland

Published 24 July, 2018 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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