Designing a Fine eBay Listing

Looking for the inside scoop on putting together the "perfect" listing for your online auctions? You're in the right place with this lot of sure-fire design ideas.

Writing a detailed description

Write the description for your listings as if there were no pictures. Describe your merchandise in detail, noting the size of the item, the color of the item, any flaws it may have — and don't forget to include its uses and benefits. If you write the description as if the pictures were not present, you probably won't leave out any important details — such as whether the box is included, or the actual dimensions of the item.

Taking sufficient pictures

The task of taking multiple pictures from many different angles takes on more importance when your merchandise is an antique or collectible item. The condition of the item has a significant effect on the final selling price, and though your description plays an important part in conveying the condition of an item, multiple pictures can do the majority of the job for you.

Using color only to enhance

Color can provide a soothing break from the stark black and white of an unenhanced listing description. But avoid overuse of color. When new sellers first learn to change the color of their text with HTML commands, they often go wild and change colors every sentence. Severely contrasting colors are the biggest problem, distraction, and (ultimately) turn-off — so make sure that your colors blend smoothly subtly enough that they're almost not noticeable.

Keeping your customer informed

One big mistake new sellers make in their item descriptions is not including all the information a customer needs. In addition to every significant detail about the item you have for sale, each listing should include exact shipping costs. When viewing your item, the customer should know right up front what the final cost of the item will be, including shipping.

Although offering to provide a shipping quote is admirable, there is an inherent danger in doing so. Many buyers simply move on to another listing where all of the information is provided for them, rather than spend time haggling about shipping and waiting for a response from the seller. Even if some buyers do e-mail for a shipping quote, more often than not they continue to shop in the meantime — which increases the likelihood that they'll purchase from another seller who specifies the shipping costs.

Be sure to include other important information for your customers, including

  • What payment methods you accept
  • When they can expect their item to be shipped
  • What guarantees you provide
  • Your return policy

Establishing your brand identity

After you determine a listing layout you like — one that works for virtually all your merchandise — use it consistently for all your listings. Doing so helps establish a brand identity for you and the items you sell. It's a proven technique; chain stores use the same look and layout for the items they sell. The idea is to make return customers comfortable so they know where to go to find exactly what they're looking for with minimum effort. Creating a standard layout for your online listings provides the same kind of comfort for your return customers.

Avoiding unnecessary complexity

A common mistake new sellers make is to include animated figures they've run across that they think are cute — or include a sound file that repeats their favorite song as long as a customer is viewing the listing. Remember the KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid! — principle and don't plaster your listings with unneeded gewgaws.

Encouraging multiple purchases

If selling one item is a good thing, selling more than one to the same customer is even better. Here are some advantages for you when a customer makes multiple purchases:

  • You can send a single, combined invoice.
  • You have to prepare just one package for shipment
  • You clear out more inventory with less effort.

Including links to your other listings is a good way of encouraging a customer to make a multiple item purchase. If you have an eBay Store, a built-in cross-promotion feature automatically displays other items available for purchase in your eBay Store. Which items are displayed is defined by the seller, and using this feature wisely will also encourage your customers to consider purchasing more than one item before leaving your store.

Keeping an eye on the competition

Be sure to set time aside in your busy schedule to browse around the eBay site and view other sellers' listings. Call it research; you not only find out what your competition is doing, but you also get ideas about what works (and doesn't work) in their listing descriptions.

Don't copy another seller's listings, or any part of them, word for word. This sort of thing is against eBay's rules.

Review your competition's feedback; are there comments about poor packaging or slow shipment? If your packages can withstand a fall down a flight of stairs, make sure to state that in your description. What words do your competitors use in their titles? Are your listings showing up at the same time as their listings when customers search for items to purchase?

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