Brad and Deb Schepp

Writers, Speakers, and Consultants

Things you Didn't Know About eBay

eBay has changed a lot since the days when anything listed would sell (yes, there was such a time), and the media prowled the site for listings involving Brittney Spearsí gum, grilled cheese sandwiches with messages from above, and kids selling their foreheads as advertising space.

Here are some surprising things (I think, anyway) about eBay nowadays:

Fixed price listings (where the price is set and non-negotiable) are more prevalent than ever, and are overtaking auction-style listings. eBay is starting to resemble Amazon in some ways.

You can list items for sale FOR FREE along as you use an auction-style listing and the starting price is less than a dollar. However, the "final value fee" (what you pay eBay if the item sells) is higher than it used to be.

Smart sellers know they can list desirable items for .99 or so and they're still likely to sell the item at a reasonable price once the bidding is over. It's a scary premise, but it works. It's referred to as "Price it Low and Let it Go."

PowerSellers have all but been replaced by Top-rated sellers who must meet even higher standards to carry the designation. But buyers can sort search results by Top-rated sellers only, to reduce their risk of dealing with unprofessional sellers.

You need to carefully read listings that seem too good to be true. Not long ago, it wasn't unusual for some sellers to list items at ridiculous prices (say used cell phones for a dollar) and then charge very high prices for shipping (like $50). This allowed them to save money on the fees they paid eBay, as they're based on an item's final selling price. eBay is policing the site more closely now for this sort of thing but it still happens.

While you can readily start a business on eBay there's more competition than ever. Still, lots of people do it. The key, as always, is great customer service and fast shipping.

eBay offers Daily Deals now. There's even a separate website for these one-day only items. Shipping on these is free .

You can design your own diamond ring on eBay with its new Diamond Ring Designer.

When you search for something on eBay your results are presented according to an algorithm known as "Best Match." eBay has been less than forthcoming about what goes into this algorithm, but it has to do with the seller's feedback rating, proximity to where you live, etc. But most buyers expect to see the results sorted to when listings are ending (soonest first). While you can still sort results that way it's not the default--Best Match is.

eBay is one of the largest retailers of clothing/​shoes/​accessories on the web and even has a special "fashion portal."


A PowerSeller's Tips for Making Money on Amazon


Gary Richardson is a true e-commerce pioneer. A long-time eBay PowerSeller, he was one of the first PowerSellers to also become a top 5 category seller on Amazon. Here Gary shares some of his impressions of selling on Amazon versus selling on eBay.

Gary, you've sold on eBay for 3 years under the ID Harleyglasses, building a thriving business selling sunglasses, goggles, and reading glasses. But now, from what we've seen you're having a lot of success on Amazon with your store GogglesandGlasses.

What are Amazon customers like compared to eBay customers?

AhÖ man worlds apart. I really donít know much about my Amazon customers. I hardly ever hear from them, they donít ask questions, they seem to be very confident and trusting in their purchases. On eBay we frequently get questions like ďAre the new sunglasses really newĒ and ďdid this really shipĒ? Our Amazon, customers seem to be willing to pay for service and product, while our eBay shoppers are looking for the lowest price only. Shoppers definitely trust Amazon.com.

I have noticed in the returns department that Amazon customers seem to return items in better condition than eBay customers, thatís just my micro observation. But we do have more returns from Amazon customers.



Does Amazonís famous A-Z protection policy make your life better or worse?

I think it makes it better. I have had two claims as a seller, one won and one lost. I tend to enjoy the trust that buyers so confidently give to Amazon 3rd party sellers in their purchases--they buy freely because of that A-Z safety net. I can tell you itís real, it works, and customers keep coming back and recommending Amazon to their circle because of it.

Weíve been poking around and it seems youíve become the go-to guy for insider info on Amazon selling. What do you see as the keys to successful Amazon selling as a third-party merchant?

A toll free phone number and email for customers to contact you at any point in the sale. While they usually donít use it, itís good to have it available should any problems arise, it will save your feedback.

An easy returns process. If customers find it difficult to return items they may skip the process and go directly to leaving you negative feedback. Endicia has a great return label feature. We can email, fax, or snail mail a return label to a customer passing our great postage rates on to them.

Excellent feedback. Your feedback on Amazon is a one-way process and buyers donít hold back when things go wrong. Amazon can remove sellers from the platform for excessive negative and neutral feedback. My advice is to do whatever you can to maintain perfect feedback, attempt to truly resolve every problem, and if the buyer is agreeable, try to remove the bad feedback. Buyers donít look at how many feedbacks you have, they look at how good it is by the percentage.

Positive Reviews on your products. Reviews are everything. A good review can shoot your product to the top, a bad review can send it flaming to the bottom of the basement. A good place to garner reviews is your own good feedback. You might tactfully ask your buyer who left positive feedback if they would be willing to write a review of your product. Some of Amazonís top reviewers will review media or products if you send them a sample.



What do you think the future holds for eBay and Amazon?

I see a big future in new fixed-price commerce. I feel most barn and attic finds have been found and I actually think there is a limit to auction fever. I think the Amazon Pay-Per-Sale (PPS) model will become more prevalent in the future and Iím not sure if eBay can make the leap to PPS without destroying auctions. I see increased competition for eBay in the fixed-price market with players like Neweggmall jumping into the action soon. eBay may become smaller as fixed-price commodity sellers flee to platforms with better pricing structures and fewer hoops to jump through to continue selling.

I donít see a revival of Amazon auctions. Amazon needs better tools for sellers and better communication from the alliance department (Trust and Safety). I think Jeff Bezos has a long-term vision for Amazon, and it looks like itís about to pay off. You can see it all coming together at once.

Amazon is forcing eBay to rethink its marketplace fees. This is good for sellers and also buyers--lower seller fees mean lower prices!


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