In my years using eBay, I have sold everything from a cup and saucer to a canoe, and bought everything from soap to a sofa, and since having children I have used it like never before, children grow at a shocking rate and buying and selling barely used items is a huge industry, savvy parents realising they can not only buy great value items for their sprogs, but also resell on the ones they bought only a few months ago!
Since its humble beginnings in 1999, eBay has become for millions of people the first port of call when looking for pretty much anything (the UK site alone attracts over 17 million visitors a month, having over 60 million listings to tempt them – that's as many visitors as London's Oxford Street)! There is no doubt whatsoever you can pick up a bargain, but you have to be clever, and if you are trying to save money, do a little homework and research – for instance, the above mentioned canoe was sold on an auction for about £50 more than I bought it for new. Had the buyer done a little homework he would have found a brand new canoe exactly the same widely available cheaper, rather than the well used canoe he got!
In our family, my mother is the expert eBay'er, she is one of those snipers who sit there until there are just 5 seconds left and whacks in her highest bid in the hope of flummoxing those just going up in smaller increments and 95% of the time she is successful (for those of you without the lightning reflexes or time needed – there are sites which will offer to do this for you – HammerSnipe is one of them http://hammersnipe.auctionstealer.com (I haven't tried this out myself, so cannot verify how good it is)). For me, I am way too impatient, and if I cant' find what I want on an auction ending within the next hour, it's straight to the Buy It Now! So truth be told, I probably don’t always save as much money as I could (there are actually more fixed price 'Buy It Now listings than there are auctions – fixed price globally accounting for 65% of all items sold)!
But what really sells on eBay? Just because you pop an item on, do great pictures, and an informative description, it doesn’t mean you will sell your item. Now I am not talking here about those folks who make their livings selling on eBay, and there are many many of them. Nope this is directed towards those of us who hope to make a few quid selling some stuff we genuinely don’t want or need anymore!
The first thing that always puts me off buying an item is when it's obvious the seller is trying to bump up their profits by over inflating the post and packing charges. What is the point in buying an item worth £8.00 for £4.00 if the p&p is £5.00!! eBay offer an easy to use postage estimator, whereby you can either guess or add the weight of your items, making for a far more accurate and therefore fair way to estimate the p&p; but adding on an extra £3.00 for packing, and then wrapping the item in a jiffy bag that has been used more times than you can count will again not endear you to buyers!
So what really does sell on eBay? The answer to that I think is really pretty much anything! But as with selling anything it all depends on having someone there at the same time wanting to buy what you have to sell. So selling more popular items means you have more chance of finding that buyer, and there are tools to help you with this. One I came across is called Terapeak (terapeak.co.uk for the UK site), this is realistically more geared towards those who really want to make a living on eBay, it offers market research, statistics on what sells, finding out what a product is really worth on eBay and other useful tools, like working out the best day to list your items. They offer a free 7-day trial, and the sign up and log-in via your eBay account is really very easy BUT if you are just going to be a casual seller the subscription cost of $19.95 (USD) a month will probably outweigh the benefits. But there is nothing to lose by signing up for the 7-day free trial and doing some intensive research!
There are also plenty of companies happy to sell your items for you if you don't want to be bothered (or can't) put them up on eBay yourself – they will take a cut of course, but they are a good place to do a little research into what sells well on eBay as they only really want to take items which sell well on eBay– WeSellYourItems is a UK based company offering this service, (http://wesellyouritems.co.uk) along with StuffUSell (http://www.stuffusell.co.uk) and there are many others. I haven’t myself ever availed myself of their services so I cannot tell you how good they may or may not be!
eBay itself also offer some tools to help you in your quest for that perfect sale, and top rated sellers helpfully offer guides for those new to eBay or those just looking to increase the potential for selling and making a little dosh; one of the best I found was – http://reviews.ebay.co.uk/10-TOP-SELLING-TIPS-SOME-QUICK-TIPS-FOR-EBAY-SELLERS?ugid=10000000001906780 – its easy to read and offers some helpful tips!
eBay did used to have a service called eBay Pulse, which was invaluable to eBay sellers, it offered product trends and the most poplar selling items etc., however eBay have scrapped Pulse, saying it was not used by the vast majority of sellers. But you can still take a look at their popular items pages to get a good idea of the popular items currently selling – http://popular.ebay.co.uk/. It will give you an idea of what is very popular and how much these items are selling for, and also very crucially an idea of how to list and label your items, for example 'Men's Trainers, size 8, not worn' is not going to garner anywhere near as many hits and interest as 'Nike Men's Trainers, size 8, not worn', and using eBay's popular items pages will help you find the best way to name your goods so they come up in the right searches.
When looking to make a few extra quid selling your unwanted items on eBay, its not really about 'what sells on eBay', because quite frankly it seems the answer to that question is pretty much anything, but 'how much will my item sell for on eBay?' The best way to find that out is to very simply find similar listings to the items you want to sell and watch how much they are selling for, and price your goods accordingly. If you price too high your items will be ignored, price your items too low and you risk selling for way below what you are hoping for.
If, like me, you are a casual eBay seller, someone who now and again has a cupboard clear out, or the odd larger item to sell, investing too much time and money into research is probably a waste of that time and money. If I could give one tip to sellers it would be “be honest”, it will garner you good feedback, repeat buyers and no hassle with eBay's dispute resolution (hopefully – nothing can be done about the odd dishonest buyer using dispute resolution as a way to get money back). Forget car boot sale mentality when selling on eBay, sold as seen is all very well when you are getting in your car and heading anonymously off into the sunset, but sell a dud on eBay, and you are very likely to end up refunding money and getting bad feedback!