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Tips and tricks to scale your business from the experts in eCommerce

5: Hardships in Being an eBay Seller

Posted by Emilie Fritsch on Sep 24, 2014

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This is part five in an informational series on eBay. We'll cover everything from becoming a seller, listing your first product, daily deal sellers, PowerSellers, improving your feedback ratings, and more! Today's topic: hardships eBay sellers need to overcome.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” eBay is a platform that allows users to turn the clutter around their house into spending cash. It also allows businesses a way to sell their products online, catering to a much wider audience than they might typically draw to their businesses' online shops. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, and prospective sellers on eBay can run into problems on their way to becoming an eBay Powerseller. Being aware of some of the hardships that eBay sellers face can help you to overcome them and thrive on the platform.

eBay Fees

Listing an item on eBay is riddled with fees. You’re only credited with 150 free insertions on the basic eBay store. After this, you’re charged an insertion fee. A final value fee is charged after a buyer commits to buy a product, even if the transaction is not completed. To make your listing stand out, there are even more fees. You can pay to bold your listing in search results, for more character spaces in the listing title, and to display a larger picture. All of these are optional, but without them it can sometimes be difficult to sell. If you're just starting out on eBay, my advice would be to use your 150 free credits wisely, and to experiment with what works best for your business while you're able to use the free insertions. When you become a more experienced seller, and making your listings stand out is a viable option for you or your company financially, then I would recommend testing out the effects that the optional listing enhancements have on your sales. For example, if it costs $.79 to add a few extra keywords to your listing title, but the item only goes for $.81 more than usual, it might not be worth the extra effort.

Buyer Seller Relationship

Many of the problems that arise for sellers come from the buyer seller relationship. The buying process is relatively easy: search, bid, and pay. This attracts many buyers, some who don’t understand the process from the seller’s side. This can cause frustrations for both buyers and sellers.

Feedback

The primary indicator for a reputable seller is their feedback rating. Buyers can leave negative feedback for inappropriate reasons or no reason at all. For example, some buyers don’t understand that shipping costs can be incorporated into their payment. They might leave negative feedback on the seller’s profile because they paid more than expected.

Similarly, there is an attitude that buying something on eBay is cheaper than buying something at physical retail stores. This may be true for some products, but it is not a universal truth. The product may only be slightly cheaper, or even the same price. Buyers may just give in and buy the product, but follow it up by unfairly leaving negative feedback.

Feedback can also be left without the buyer ever reaching out to the seller for help. There are lots of different kinds of bad feedback, and you can handle them in a few ways. If the buyer didn’t state a reason, there is unfortunately very little that can be done - but that's where the helplessness ends. eBay can sometimes help if the buyer is blatantly misusing the feedback system; we have a whole blog post on improving your eBay feedback & dealing with negative feedback.

Payment

Online payments have evolved to protect buyers from scams. Unfortunately, with this buyer-focused protection, legitimate sellers are often hurt. After purchasing a product, a buyer can raise a dispute stating they never received the product or that the product is not what they ordered. In reality, the product is exactly as intended, but in some cases the buyer will win the dispute, receiving a full refund and the product. This leaves the seller out on all fees for listing, shipping costs, and their item.

It is also possible for buyers to outright not pay for products. This can happen for a number of reasons, but your auction is over without payment. If you can’t get in contact with the buyer you then go through an inconvenient and time consuming process of filing an unpaid item case in the Resolution Center. eBay contacts them asking for payment, but does not offer mediation services beyond that. If you follow the process you will be credited final value fees, but will have to relist your item or give it to the second highest bidder.

While you obviously can't account for every situation, these concerns can be mitigated to a certain extent. You can minimize payment issues by only using approved eBay payment methods. Providing tracking for your packages lessens the possibility of someone claiming they haven't received the product. Utilizing an inventory management system's quality control features helps to reduce errors caused by mis-picks and mis-ships. We have a few articles that delve into just that:

Conclusion

Establishing initial positive feedback amidst a buyer-focused market makes it hard to start out. Fees popping up throughout the process makes it even more difficult. If you’re looking to become an eBay seller, be prepared to set aside time and money getting your foot in the door. Frustration is inevitable, but millions of people have succeeded in this kind of business, and you can too. eBay is an amazing platform - you just need to go into it understanding & preparing for some of the hardships you might face.

This has been part five in an informational series on eBay! If you enjoyed it, consider checking out:

Part 1: How to start selling on eBay
Part 2: How to optimize your eBay listings
Part 3: How to become a Daily Deal seller on eBay
Part 4: eBay policies everyone should know

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Topics: eBay, eCommerce, Marketplaces