When this happens, the game is one. Given one bidder, there will be one purchase and thus, only one winner. Naturally, it should be you. So when push comes to shove, how do you go about winning the battle for the bid? Here are some small things you can do to help you win the fight:
- Grow your feedback score. That number and star next to your member ID earns bids, even if not all buyers know what it means. Always ask your buyers for positive feedback and drive that number higher.
- Keep percentage and detailed seller ratings (DSR) high. Now that there are stars next to every active seller’s name, buyers have a set of visual clues to work from, no matter what sellers think of them. More DSR stars? More bids. Same goes for percentage. Excellent customer service and explicit email requests for five-star ratings and positive feedback can help keep you in the game here.
- Raise your shipping costs—or lower them! Price matters. Use psychology to your advantage, depending on the listing type. For a fixed price listing, if your shipping costs are lower than everyone else’s, increase them enough to lower your buy it now price and undercut competitors. “Cheapest on eBay” equals more bids for you. For auction listings, or if your shipping prices start to affect your DSR, list your item with free shipping instead and raise your price slightly. Buyers see this as a discount and will often choose the free shipping auction over others so long as the price increase isn’t obviously excessive.
- Include real photos, more photos, and better photos. No credit for stock photos, sorry; consumers can see they’re more hype than happening. Use actual photos, give multiple angles or views, and make sure they’re well done and in focus, because nothing loses you a bid faster than a yellowed, unfocused image that makes your product look undesirable. Appearance is everything! Can you imagine a full-page BMW spread in a magazine that used a half-baked photo? Added tip: If you can spare the extra cents, consider including a photo of yourself and/or your team smiling and waving in your warehouse or in front of your building. You’ll be (pleasantly) surprised.
- Make readable descriptions that answer all questions. Make listings: simple, clear, detailed, well-organized, and complete including shipping, payment, return and exchange terms and disclaimers. Three big no-no’s: (a) standard specifications from eBay or as a copy/paste with no additional from you, (b) short and ungrammatical listings with little information and even less organizational skill, or (c) long and flashy descriptions in three different colors and five different font sizes that take ten minutes to read. Ask yourself: would you want to read this? Is it professional but approachable? Remember, that’s what you’re aiming for: professional but approachable.
- Offer useful links and services. Make your listing descriptions useful beyond simple text. Partner with a warranty service and link to that. If you’re not the manufacturer of the item, make a link to the manufacturer’s website in your listing, or better, to their page for the item in question. Have a website of your own with customer service pages and forms on it? Link to that, too. Features like these make buyers feel more secure about buying from you. Even if something goes wrong, they know they can return to the listing for help or additional information.
- Post multiple listings, in moderation. You’re more likely to win bids if buyers can see that you have a presence on eBay, so having multiple listings in search results can help you when facing off against another seller. At the same time, having too many multiples can cause the reverse reaction, making your listings into a kind of background noise that buyers ignore. If you have multiples, post a few listings, but not so many that buyers feel as though they have to put in extra work to evaluate the competition.
- Tell buyers something about your business. Do something to make your business stand out as a business, not just another eBay listing. It doesn’t matter whether this takes the form of a name, address, and telephone number, a statement on your business philosophy that begins with “We’ve been selling great products on eBay since 1997,” or a story about how you got started, who you work with, or what the culture at your offices is like. Let the buyer know that you’re real people and it’ll translate into real bids.
Though each of these things might not win you the bid battle on its own, start adding them together and your advantage quickly adds up. Each time a buyer opens one of your listings, you have the chance to make a sale or earn another bid—as long as the buyer doesn’t choose your competitor’s listing instead. Press your advantage and win the battle for the bid.