When it comes to web sales, the ever-growing eBay takes 20% of the pie
By Bill Siwicki:
Since 1997, the first year it reported financial data, eBay Inc.’s gross merchandise sales-the total value of all closed listings on eBay’s trading platforms-has grown 466 times. In 2005 gross merchandise sales rose 30% over 2004 to $44.3 billion. That’s up from $95 million just eight years ago. “We saw accelerating growth and momentum across the board” CEO Meg Whitman says.
What’s more, business at the online auctioneer, which launched in 1995, shows no signs of slowing down. The company says it now has 383,000 online stores worldwide operating within eBay.com, including 212,000 based in the USA . For 2005 eBay reported a 39% increase in listings to 1.9 Billion as its number of active users reached a record 71.8 million.
In 2005 gross merchandise sales rose 30% to 44.3 billion from $34 billion in 2004. Consolidated net income last year rose 39% to 1.08 billion, up from 2004’s $778.2 million; net revenue rose 39.2% to $4.55 billion from $3.27 billion. The company reported total payment volume initiated through its PayPal system (excluding its gateway business) amounted to $27.5 billion in 2005, upto 45% from $18.9 billion the previous year.
A big piece of pie
In the grand scheme of things, the Census bureau of the U.S. department of Commerce reported that overall online retail sales in 2005 grew 24.6% over 2004, reaching $86.3 billion. However, the Commerce Department excludes eBay and other auction sales. So including eBay’s 2005 gross merchandise sales of $44.3 billion minus eBay’s automobile sale of an estimated $13 billion, and assuming that two thirds of remaining eBay sales could equate to retail sales (as opposed to people simply getting rid of stuff) total online sales in 2005 shot up to $107 billion. And eBay’s $21 billion-per the above calculation-accounted for 19.6% of 2005 total web sales.
“eBay turned 10 last year yet still continues to re-invent itself organically, as well as by acquiring rapidly growing businesses like Skype.com and Shopping.com.” Says Scot Wingo, President and CEO of Channel Adviser Corp., an online auction and marketplace management software and services firm. Wingo wrote the book eBay Strategies: 10 proven methods to maximize your eBay Business. “The lesson to be learned from eBay is that the industry is in a very dynamic environment. As such, constant change and innovation is required to stay ahead of the pack”.
In 2005 the auctioneer used acquisitions as one strategy to stay ahead. It purchased: Shopping.com, the well known shopping portal; Skype.com which offers free web-based phone calls; Rent.com, a rental property search service. “The company’s acquisitions are being driven by the fact that eBay’s core business is maturing and it is looking for new areas of growth.” Wingo contends.
On top of the acquisitions, eBay earlier this year launched eBay Express. This new shopping site enables shoppers to buy new, name brand and hard-to-find products from myriad merchants.
“Think of eBay Express as the ‘Amazonification’ of eBay.” Says Sucharita Mulpuru, senior retail analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “Looking Ahead”, it will be very interesting to see if this move puts eBay in more direct competition with seasoned retail venues.
The Leading Shopping portals
A TO Z ABOUT SELLING ON EBAY
(The materials presented below have been collected from ebay source)
STEP-1:HOW TO REGISTER
Registration is free and only takes a few minutes.
To begin selling on eBay, you need to register and then create a seller's account. You will be asked to provide credit or debit card information and your checking account details. If you don't have a credit card or would rather not provide this information, become ID Verified. To register, click on the Sell tab at the top of any eBay page.
There are three types of fees charged when selling on eBay:
Insertion Fee - A non-refundable fee will be charged to your account when you list your item on eBay. This generally ranges between $0.30 and $4.80. If your listing ends without a winning buyer or results in a non-paying buyer, you may qualify for a credit by relisting the item. Learn More
Additional Option Fee - only charged if you choose optional seller features such as: Buy It Now, Gallery, Featured Item, etc.
Final Value Fee - based upon the final sale price of your item and only applicable if the listing closes successfully - that is, if there is a winning bidder declared. It is generally a small percentage of the final value of the item Visit eBay's Selling Fees page for a more detailed explanation of how these fees work
STEP-2: HOW TO TAKE PHOTOS
The saying that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' really applies to eBay listings. No matter how well you describe your item, most buyers want to see a picture before they make a purchase. So before you sit down at the computer to list your item, the first step should be to take great photos and then transfer them onto your computer. With eBay Picture Services it's easy to add photos during the listing process.
There are 3 ways to capture photos and save them 'digitally' on to your computer:
A digital camera is just like a regular camera, except that it does not use the conventional film. Instead, images are stored digitally in its memory. Once you take a picture, you can connect your camera to your computer and save the photo to your computer in a .gif or .jpg format. Remember to make note of where you saved the file. Digital cameras are the easiest way to capture and transfer digital photos to your computer.
Regular camera with Flatbed Scanner
Take a picture with your regular camera, get the film developed, and use a scanner to convert the photograph to a digital image. The scanner will then ask you to choose a location and file name to save the image. If the item you are selling is small and flat (like baseball cards or stamps), you can just put them directly on the scanner. Remember that you must save the photograph in either a .gif or .jpg format in order to use it on eBay.
Regular camera and Digital Film Processor
There are a couple of methods that you can use to transfer images from regular film to your computer.
You can ask your local digital film processor to scan copies of your photographs onto a computer disk (CD) to take home and transfer to your computer, or... You can ask your film processing service if they use a web service that can digitally post copies of your photographs to a website. You can then copy these from the website to your computer to use whenever you like.
Each digital camera and scanner has its own procedure for transferring image files to a computer. Some use cables; others use removable memory chips. Follow the instructions in your camera or scanner's manual.
Create a great photo
*Use natural light whenever possible.
*Use a plain background to make your item stand out, however don't use a white background as it tends to wash away colors and makes too much of a contrast.
*Consider taking a close-up of a section and multiple views (front, back, side, top) so potential buyers can see the actual condition of the item.
Edit your Photo
Once your photo is on your computer hard drive, you can often improve it with photo editing software, which may have come with your digital camera or scanner. Better yet, use eBay Picture Services for basic editing.
Crop your photos to remove any unnecessary background.
*Balance the contrast and brightness.
*The Rotate or Flip command will turn your picture right side up (if necessary).
*Resize your image files to approximately 330 pixels tall by 440 pixels wide.
*Save your edited picture as a .gif or .jpg file.
Your photos are stored on eBay Picture Services only while your listing is running on eBay. It's a good idea to keep a photo on your computer if you want to use it again in the future.
STEP-3: SELL YOUR ITEM FORM
The easy to follow Sell Your Item form guides you through the steps to a successful item listing. This is the place to enter all the important details about your item, including price, payment methods, shipping costs, and photos.
Important listing tips
Select a Category - Doing some research before you list your item can help you choose the most successful category for your item. Think creatively about your item. For example, maybe the item you first thought belonged in Decorative Art is better suited for Home D*cor. Category selection is important because you want your item to be listed where other similar items can be found.
*Search for items on eBay that are similar to yours, and notice which categories they are listed in. Try several different keyword searches and see if you find particularly active categories.
*Look at the page-view counters and numbers of bids on similar items in different categories. Select categories where others are having successful listings.
*Reach more buyers by listing in two categories.
*If you need help deciding which category fits your item - use the 'Find Suggested Category' feature.
Pre-filled Item Information
If you are selling Books or Entertainment category items such as CD's, video games, or DVD's, you may have the option of creating your listing using the pre-filled item information. Simply enter the title, author, director, artist, ISBN number or UPC code and the title, item specifics, and a stock photo are automatically added to your listing. You may customize the item information further with additional item details or use a photo of your own. Of course, you can always choose to skip this time saving feature and enter item details manually.
Write an Effective Title
Make the most of your title by carefully choosing keywords a buyer might use when doing a search on eBay. When searching on eBay, the system looks within all item titles to find a match. This is why your selection of keywords is so important.
*Use descriptive keywords, no punctuation. You can use up to 55 characters to describe your item, so make the most of them. For example, if you were selling a sport coat, you would want to make sure to include the brand name, the size, color, fabric, if the item is new, etc. Some categories offer the opportunity to provide details (Item Specifics) about your item, like color, size or speed. These details are displayed to buyers on category search results pages which help them more easily locate the items they wish to purchase.
*Avoid using words like 'rare', 'beautiful', 'unusual', or 'L@@K'. No one uses these words when they are searching on eBay. State exactly what your item is, even if it repeats the Category name.
*Browse similar items' closed listings to see which titles drew high prices in the past.
Describe your Item
Use as much information as possible to write a complete description of your item.
*Include all item attributes. For example, model number, year the item was made, color, dimensions, and most importantly the current condition of the item.
*Don't be afraid to emphasize the positive things about your item a little or even include a story about the item; just make sure that you are truthful. *Include your payment and shipping information, and information about your refund or return policy.
*Use the HTML text editor to help format your description.
*Use a friendly and inviting tone to attract buyers.
Determine Your Price
Before entering a starting price, you might want to see what similar items sold for on eBay. You can do this by searching Completed Items, which can be accessed by clicking on Search at the top of any eBay page, and then clicking the Advanced Search tab. Once you have determined a suitable price for your item, it's time to adopt a pricing strategy. A successful strategy depends on: the starting price you set for your item, whether or not you set a reserve price, and whether you choose to use a fixed price format.
*Starting Price - The price at which you would like to start the bidding at in an auction listing.
*Reserve Price - If necessary, a reserve price can be set to safeguard against selling the item for less than you're willing to accept. But it's important to keep in mind that a reserve price may discourage bidding
*Buy It Now Price - Include a Buy It Now (BIN) price in your auction listing to give your buyers the option of buying the item right away at a fixed price. This BIN price is displayed in the item listing as long as there are NO bids. Once a bid is placed, the Buy It Now option goes away and the auction proceeds as normal.
*Fixed Price format - To use the Fixed Price format, indicate the price at which you'd like to sell your item(s) and buyers can purchase from your listings immediately at this price. No bidding.
eBay Picture Services is the quickest and easiest way to add photos to your listings. It's important to note that when saving photos to your computer they must be in either a .gif or .jpg format.
To add photos with eBay Picture Services, click in a box to select a picture (see Enhanced service below) or click on the 'browse' button and navigate to the folder on your computer containing your photos. (see Basic service below). A window will then open showing a directory of your computer. Find the location in which you saved the photo and select the one you would like to add. We recommend using the Enhanced version of eBay Picture Services because it allows you to preview your photos, crop or rotate them, and is much faster than the Basic service. In order to use the Enhanced version, you will be prompted to install software on your computer. If you would like to add additional photos to your listing, just click another box or browse button again. The first picture is free, and each additional picture is .15 cents. If on the other hand you plan to use your own image hosting service, click on the 'Your Own Web Hosting' tab. Once you have selected a photo hosting service, your photo image files can be added to your listing.
Since digital photos are often large, eBay Picture Services will automatically resize large photos to 300 pixels high by 400 pixels wide (3 x 4 inches on most monitors). Resizing the photo will make it download faster for potential bidders. If photos take too long to download, buyers could lose interest and move on to someone else's listing!
Select Payment methods
Consider using PayPal when selecting the payment methods that you will accept from winning bidders. PayPal allows sellers to accept credit card or bank account payments for eBay purchases, and is the safe and easy way for buyers to purchase their items. If you use PayPal, you will be paid immediately at the close of the listing. In addition, PayPal protects sellers with the Seller Protection Policy. By following specific guidelines, you'll be protected from charge backs due to fraud. Make sure to turn on the Immediate Payment feature if you would like to receive payment immediately with PayPal for your Buy It Now items. With Immediate Payment the item listing remains open until the buyer completes the payment process. Until payment is complete, another eBay user may purchase the item. To require Immediate Payment you need to provide shipping costs in your listing and have a PayPal Premier or Business account.
Provide Shipping Costs & Payment Instructions
Providing this information ahead of time serves to reduce the number of emails back and forth between you and your buyers to arrange payment and shipping, and speeds up the time it takes to finalize the sale. Consider providing a flat fee shipping rate or include the eBay Shipping Calculator in your item listing so prospective buyers can determine ahead of time how much the shipping will be based on your zip code and method of delivery. *You are more likely to receive payment quicker if you offer PayPal as your preferred payment option.
*Even if you use a 3rd party service to manage the payment of your auctions, you can still make it easier for your buyers by providing this information.
Payment Instructions & Return Policy
By providing your buyers with clear payment instructions and return policy information ahead of time, your buyers will know exactly how payment is expected, when the item will be shipped, and how returns are handled. Our research shows that buyers are more comfortable shopping from sellers who offer return policies, and yet only a small percentage of items are actually returned.
*The Checkout process helps you facilitate the sale of your item. When your buyers click on the Pay Now button, they are told how much to pay, including payment and shipping, and where to send payment. You in turn receive an email with the buyer's shipping address and selected payment method.
*If you do not want to use Checkout on your listings, simply go to My eBay and click on the Preferences tab. In the Seller Preferences section click on the link 'Update my Payment Preferences'. From here you can turn off the Checkout feature. The Shipping Costs and Payment Instructions you provided when setting up the listing will still appear in your item listing.
STEP-4: MONITOR YOUR LISTINGS
The easiest way to keep track of all your eBay activity is with the My eBay page. eBay members have a private My eBay page that keeps track of all their activity on eBay. This page is particularly helpful if you have more than one item for sale or if you are selling and bidding on several items.
From this page, buying and selling reminders help you stay on top of all your current bidding, buying and selling activities, along with the most recent eBay Announcements to keep you informed.
B. All Buying
This section displays all the items you are bidding on, won, lost, or are watching. Items in green mean that you are currently the highest bidder, or have purchased using Buy It Now, while items in red mean that someone has outbid you. The Watching section is a great way to keep a close eye on items of interest so you don't miss out on any last minute bidding!
C. All Selling
My eBay is a great way to track all your selling activity on eBay. Items listed in green mean there is a winning bidder, while items listed in red mean there currently is no winning bidder. From here you can send invoices to your buyers, send payment reminders, leave feedback about your buyers, and even re-list unsold items. Review your recent sales and keep track of where you are in the transaction process.
D. All Favorites
This is a great feature that lets you bookmark your favorite categories, sellers, and searches so you can access them quickly and easily.
E. My Account
From this page you have access to all your eBay and PayPal account information. Sign up here to start using PayPal, or link directly to your PayPal account. Update personal and financial information, customize your eBay experience, and leave feedback for others to review or review feedback left for you!
When tracking last minute bids from My eBay, you'll need to refresh your screen by clicking on the refresh button on the top of your browser window to view the most recent bidding activity.
STEP-5: PAYMENTS AND SHIPPING
At the end of a successful listing, both you and your buyer will receive an email notification. Depending on your payment instructions, the information you receive in this email will include your buyer's shipping address and payment method. Once you have confirmation of payment from PayPal, receive the money order, or the check has cleared, you may ship the item.
Respond to Buyer Emails
Many new buyers are confused as to what to do after the sale. You can help your buyers by emailing them an invoice and standing by for questions. When communicating with your buyers it's important to always be polite and professional.
Once you receive payment from your buyer send an email to 1) acknowledge receipt of payment and 2) to notify the buyer that you will be shipping the item. It's also a good idea to leave feedback for your buyer at this point.
Just as building your reputation is important, so is it for the buyer. Make sure to leave feedback for your buyers after you receive payment. In difficult situations, try and work things out first with your buyers before leaving negative feedback. Remember, feedback is permanent.
Packing like a Pro
Nothing makes a better impression on your buyer than receiving their item in professional and secure packing. Double-box any fragile items. Use clean and appropriate packing materials (Bubble-wrap, peanuts, etc.)
eBay buyers expect their items shipped immediately after payment has been received. Do not delay in shipping. If you must, make sure to make your shipping schedule clear in your item description. If there is an unforeseen delay, email the buyer.
When you choose PayPal as a payment method for your eBay item, you're providing your buyers with a fast and secure way to pay on eBay. They can simply click the Pay Now button on the item page, the end of auction email or the My eBay page. It's so simple, secure and totally free for buyers.
STEP-6: TRADE SAFETY
eBay is committed to providing tools and services that enable you to build buyer confidence and trade safely on eBay. eBay's programs are designed to teach people eBay 'trading sense' so that you can be successful and safe. Visit the Security Center to learn how you can trade safely on eBay.
Feedback is your reputation on eBay. Buyers look at the Feedback score of a seller during their purchase decision. We encourage all sellers to ensure successful transactions with their buyers so that they can build their reputation and improve their Feedback score.
Accepting Payments with Paypal
It's easy to sell on eBay when you use PayPal to process your online payments. PayPal lets you receive and send online payments using a credit card or bank account. As a seller, you can also take advantage of the PayPal Seller Protection Policy to protect yourself against charge backs. Learn More
Ensuring Payment - Minimizing Unpaid Items
In most cases, transactions are completed successfully. There are, however, a few things that you can do to ensure that buyers pay so that you minimize Unpaid Items.
1.Use Checkout - this offers a consistent payment experience for eBay buyers so they know the transaction 'sequence of events'.
2.Offer PayPal - it's a fast and easy way to collect payment.
3.Consider using Immediate Payment for all your Buy It Now items. With Immediate Payment, buyers must pay immediately with PayPal. Until the buyer completes the purchase from PayPal, the item listing remains open for other eBay users to buy.
4.Include detailed shipping cost information in your listing.
5.Use the Non Paying Buyer Alert process.
If you have an Unpaid Item and want to get a refund for your listing fee follow these 5 steps. Should you have an Unpaid Item, take advantage of the 2nd Chance Offer to make your item available to the next highest bidder at the price they bid. Learn More
It is rare that something will go wrong with a transaction, but if it does contact the seller to try and work things out. If that doesn't correct the situation, consider using an online dispute resolution service, such as Square Trade, to resolve the situation. Learn More
Protect Your Account
Some eBay members have received deceptive emails claiming to come from eBay or PayPal. Those who send these emails hope that recipients will reply or click on a link contained in the email and then provide personal and financial information. We refer to these emails as "Spoof Emails." We encourage you to be cautious when responding to any email request for personal information. If you are ever asked to provide personal or financial information to eBay, do not respond via email. Instead, open a new browser, type www.ebay.com, sign in, and go to My eBay to update or review your information. Learn More
You can find more information about selling safely by visiting the eBay Security Center.
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