By guest Author Ryan Elich
If you’re looking for ways to increase sales on eBay, it helps to gain a better understanding of a change made back in 2013 that would forever affect the eBay buyer-seller relationship.
Customers had begun to look beyond feedback and seller ratings and started trusting their own discernment, basing their decisions on the value they perceived in their chosen products. With this shift, eBay recognized the need for an overhaul in their operation, and in 2013 introduced Cassini, its new search engine. Voyager, its previous search engine, was primarily predicated on sellers, who could rake up product views and sales by posting multiple listings of the same product. With Cassini, however, the focus shifted firmly and unequivocally to the customer. It became about providing a targeted shopping experience to the customer through:
- Relevant content in the listings including the title, product description, images and item specifics.
- Improved customer experience and value for buyers with increased accuracy in search listings.
- Best sales from the top-rated, most-trusted sellers on the website.
After Cassini’s initial launch, many sellers saw a loss in their rankings and a dip in their sales because old-school tactics no longer registered and tactics like multiple listings and keyword stuffing were penalized.
Today, if sellers want to rank high on eBay’s Cassini, they need to optimize product listings, and here’s exactly how to do that.
Sell to Your Customers by Listening to Them
In today’s e-commerce landscape, the customer holds the power. Sellers who listen and anticipate customers’ needs while preparing their product listings effectively will hold an edge.
Read and analyze every message and inquiry that existing and potential customers leave on your product page. Then go back to your product listing and assess whether the information you’ve provided in the title, description and image address any concern they have expressed.
If you’re selling a branded product like sunglasses or apparel and customers leave questions like “Is this the authentic product?” or “Does this product come with a warranty from the brand?” make sure to add this information to your product listings.
Competitor Feedback and Reviews
In addition to listening to your own customers, you should keep a pulse on competitor activity. The key is your ability to stand out from competitors who have established similar lines on eBay. Keep an eye on brands who have higher rankings and engagement with their customers, and take note of:
- The range of products they’re selling and the channels they’re selling them through. Are they selling exclusively through eBay or do they also have their own websites?
- Customer feedback on their products. Do your own listings meet the demands of your competitors’ customers?
- Product listings, paying special attention to descriptions, images and pricing.
- Customer engagement. Assess how often the sellers respond to their customers, and how quickly they respond.
- How long your competitors list their products for, and if they automatically relist their products after the listing duration. This can help you take advantage of times when a competitor listing is down and draw buyers to your listing.
Maintain Control of Your Pricing
Since eBay allows customers to bid and pay the best price for the products, the profit margins for drop-shippers will vary, since the wholesale prices remain constant. On top of that, you also have to take eBay’s listing fees into account, which means you can end up with a very small profit at the end of each sale. To prevent this, you can:
- Set a fixed “Buy It Now” price, which ensures you pull in a fixed profit.
- Set a reserve price, which is the lowest possible bid you are willing to take for your product to ensure you still pull in a certain profit. The only disadvantage to this is that the reserve price is not visible to customers. This can put them off if they’re unable to enter a bidding price lower than your reserve.
- Set a high starting bid which factors in costs due to your supplier (like shipping) and eBay’s listing fees.
- Set a competitive pricing strategy during competitor analysis. Take note of pricing and listing durations, and based on that, select a pricing that’s close or better than the competition.
Picture Perfect Listings
A surefire way to boost sales is to include relevant images that detail exactly what you’re selling, and eBay allows you to add up to 12 images for each listing. Here’s how to get the most out your photos:
- Use a high-quality digital camera to take your photos. Use appropriate lighting and a plain backdrop for your images.
- Use high-resolution images, with sizes between 500 to 1600 pixels on the longest side to effectively use the zoom feature.
- Take images from different angles, if you can. The more details your buyers can see, the more they’re apt to buy your product. Since buyers can’t feel or touch the objects they’re buying, images are the next best thing.
- Provide value in each image by highlighting features and operational specifics, wherever applicable.
- If you’re selling used/pre-owned products, be upfront about the condition of the product. Use photos to provide an accurate view of the product and any potential flaws or defects. Don’t use a stock image to cover anything up.
In order to stay competitive, you need to structure your pricing strategy in a way that appeals to customers and helps them perceive a higher value in your product than your competitors. You can do this in several ways including:
- Offering free shipping on domestic listings, which will give you a boost in eBay’s search listings.
- Providing customers with multiple shipping options like express shipping, local pickup and international shipping.
- A generous return policy, which can help build a buyer’s trust and satisfaction in your customer service, and thereby, boost your conversions. It’s worth noting that eBay requires you to provide customers with a 30-day return policy (in addition to a same-day or one-day handling time) if you want to be eligible for Top Rated Plus Seller status.
Kick Unreliable Product Sources to the Curb
Finally, if you opt for drop-shipping or product sourcing, you need to ensure that your source is reliable when it comes to fulfilling your orders on time and keeping you in the loop about their order statuses and inventory level.
This means you need to ensure that:
- Your suppliers’ inventory is stocked and capable of handling incoming orders. Keep a close watch on products that are likely to leave suppliers’ stores due to low demand, and de-list those products from your eBay account.
- Your suppliers send you daily reports of their order fulfillment and inventory statuses, and any potential delays and issues, to allow you to respond effectively to customers’ demands.
Remember, if your supplier/product source falls behind on their orders or delivers poor quality service to your customers, it is the seller that will take the heat, and potentially suffer a drop in your rankings due to poor ratings and feedback.
About the author:
Ryan Elich is the director of sales at Jazva, a unified multi-channel e-commerce solution that manages orders, listings, inventory and shipping, all through one platform. Ryan has been in the e-commerce industry for over 6 years, and his passion is selling baby potty training products online. Outside of work, he enjoys time with family, fantasy sports and Disneyland.