The eBay e-commerce platform was at first a small idea when in 1995 something as simple as a broken laser printer was sold to Mark Fraser, a Canadian native and made the very first ever transaction on the platform for the founder Pierre Omidyar. This printer was originally listed for $1 and for over a week it didn’t see much action in bids or takers, but eventually, it sold for $14.83.
Neither party in this transaction realized or knew at the time just how big Auction Web, eBay’s original name, would get and that by the end of 2019 the company’s market capitalization would be $29 billion.
On 26 April 2003, I created a profile with eBay myself for all my eBay account activity and haven’t regretted it even though I’ve had a few unwelcomed experiences myself over time. I have used eBay for selling goods and unwanted items and have, on more than one occasion used it for buying. It is a trusted brand and I do feel safe these days using the platform compared to the Facebook marketplace for example. I currently have a 100% feedback rating and have a total of 457 individual feedback transactions.
eBay Highlighted Features
In 2020 the eBay platform has listened to the users and has gone through some great and not so great changes. When using the seller hub for my eBay account activity, I get to see a complete rundown of the details behind all my listings as well as at a glance information, charts, performance graphs and statistics.
This information is used a lot if you have a business established through the platform and you’re selling a lot per day, for example, the information provided can inform you what’s doing well or not, trends in purchases and gives suggestions on where to improve sales and what tasks are to be completed.
Throughout my use over time, I’ve come across an option to combine postage costs, add a discount to these costs or even use the global shipping programme where all you have to do is send your item to a UK shipping centre and the rest will be taken care of. Fees are also normally waived through eBay’s promotional offers and free listing opportunities and you can also offer your buyers a percentage off the total cost if they buy items and products from you.
Sign up for FREE and take advantage of further cashback from sites like Quidco mentioned in my other post, and you can get some good deals from the eBay platform and sometimes cheaper than retail and online stores.
For the users who use eBay a lot or have their businesses tied into it, speed is a big factor for creating multiple listings and submitting them quickly. The platform offers a bulk way of selling using general fields of data across all items and leaving only a few changes to be made. I’ve also noticed recently that for all the “buy it now” items that were listed for 30 days before ending are now “good til’ cancelled” a feature where they are now renewed and re-listed automatically until sold or cancelled if you choose this format of sale.
The Buying Process
In the past, I remember eBay being talked about as an “online auction site” but it’s good to know that there are different formats in place now for buying, which I approve of. The auction-based buying is still in place if you wish to bid for an item and be surrounded by a global competition but now there is a “buy it now” option, which means what it says, dodges the auction, the wait and gets results quicker once the sale is done for the specific price offered.
What I also personally like myself, is the option for “best offer” which I use a lot to haggle with a seller on price and try to get the price total to something I’m comfortable with, including the postage costs.
When I’m in the buying seat, I consider a few factors in the transaction and the buying format plays a big part as well as the initial price of the item and postage costs. I know all of us with an account started from somewhere, just as Pierre did but in this digital day and age I’m warier of the sellers with zero feedback and unfinished profiles, as I feel these accounts have been put together quickly to sell something on. . . I’ll let you fill in the blanks.
A seller’s feedback status and rank also play heavily in my decision making as this gives out trust and confidence in the item being delivered.
As much as eBay assist in the creating of listings by using the catalogue numbers for the data and images or allow a seller to sell an item using previously added data, these methods don’t suit me when selling and I’d rather take my time with my listings, data and my images, to get it right for my buyers and knowing it was done and completed by me. I don’t feel confident with stock or catalogue images and minimal descriptions and details.
As a buyer, you have an option to bookmark items in your own “watch list” or add multiple items to a basket ready for one large shopping purchase. It’s just a matter then of choosing a postage option given, if you have the choice, wait for the item and submit some transaction feedback to the seller. If things don’t go smoothly eBay can assist and if you’re tied in with Paypal, they can too.
The Selling Operation
As a seller you are a little more pressured to give a good service, are watched carefully when conducting business and are fought for less from eBay, in my opinion, when dealing with neutral and negative feedback from buyers as you are limited in making your side heard. Keeping this in mind I always try to run a professional outfit with my listings, my business conduct, communication and the timely manner I complete the transaction.
I take pride in the listings I create and the selling of an item to the public, giving them a service I’d want and using images and details I’d want to see too. But, even after pushing the boat out, being fair and making more effort than some sellers out there, transactions still don’t always go smoothly. Click below to see what video games, tabletop games and movies I have currently listed for sale.
Pride and Packaging
My eBay account activity and operations from a selling angle start with photographing the item against a black cloth, using good light, interesting angles, set-ups and “opening out” the item – “action shots” I like to call them. This black cloth eliminates any unwanted details in the picture and keeps the focus on the item presented, from here I crop them, clean them up, retouch and colour enhance them in Adobe Photoshop CS2.
I add full descriptions of the item and details on the condition, giving general information on dimensions, weight and anything else I’d want to know about the item and stay away from using all capitals in the title or content. I use some home parcel scales to give the description an accurate unpackaged weight and a pull-out metal tape measure for the accurate dimensions.
One of my biggest gripes about using the eBay platform is the number of unrealistic prices for items, see above image as an example showing a PlayStation 4 (PS4) video game for sale, just shy of £100. I also disagree with over the top, inaccurate postage costs for the service specified.
The image below has been taken from a live eBay listing, promoting a PlayStation 4 (PS4) video game that weighs in as 101g+ and should be £1.40 (accurate as of 14 May 2020) which is what a Royal Mail second class, large letter service is. The example shows the postage costs as £2.48. I make sure that my listed postage prices accurately reflect what they supposed to be and take this information from either Royal Mail sources or Post Office Price Finder.
A postage label, delivery slip and proof of postage are printed and the item is either packaged in bubble wrap and brown parcel paper, a sealed plastic postage bag is used, or a suitable Jiffy bag before being re-weighed to make sure that the weight and size are still accurately within the postage cost range quoted.
The next step is to photograph the packaged and labelled item along with the unstamped proof of postage. This evidence is sent to the buyer along with a status update message to show it’s been done and what it looks like before it leaves my place of business. Feedback after conducting sales is only left once payment has come through, the item handed over and the paperwork stamped.
I made a bold statement above which I’ve found is true over time and that a simple auction-based e-commerce platform can deliver an item I want or have sought for a while and at prices that can beat high street stores and even online retailers. As I mentioned in my other article, I’m in no rush for the latest release and the second-hand market is a gold mine for my hobbies, interests and home entertainment needs as well as a few other select items and keeps costs low on some of that disc-based media.
It’s like comparing prices of an item you want from multiple stores from a screen and without visiting them. You have multiple ways to buy and save money, you can haggle, contact the sellers/buyers and hopefully walk away with an item or product that matches a price you’re happy with. Although eBay offers a “click and collect” service, these winning bids or purchases can come straight to your door too which can only add to the convenience.
I’ve also started to notice more changes in trends and eBay platform use as some sellers are promoting their shop and goods, selling factory-sealed new items and not used as are individual users. My first preconceptions of eBay from the start was that it was an auction site, selling unwanted and used items only, maybe this is how it was? It’s grown into an online global marketplace now, competing against other online stores with rigidly fixed prices and higher standard postage costs.
As long as sellers describe and show what they are selling accurately, it’ll still make me a buyer for years to come and is an excellent platform for e-commerce transactions, either that be for an item, multiple items, an individual having a rid out or a profit-making business.
Thank you for reading this article, I hope you found it of some help or interest. Please feel free to drop a comment about the written content or even your own experiences with the eBay platform or e-commerce.