Tuesday, August 24, 2010

10 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 Spears’ 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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."
  4. PowerSellers have all but been replaced by Top-rated sellers who must meet even higher standards to carry the designation.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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. eBay offers Daily Deals now. There's even a separate website for these one-day only items. Shipping on these is free .
  8. You can design your own diamond ring on eBay with its new Diamond Ring Designer.
  9. 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.
  10. eBay is one of the largest retailers of clothing/shoes/accessories on the web and even has a special "fashion portal."