If I were to ask you why you are selling on eBay, I expect your answer to be somewhere along the lines of, "to make money". That seems to be the consensus, we are all here to make a little (or a lot) of extra money. This is why it may be difficult for new sellers to swallow this concept: In the beginning, we need to not make money in order to make money. At least this is better than the saying we’ve all heard, “you need to spend money to make money”. Hang in here with me and I will show you how to increase your sales, sometimes as much as 50% or more.
So what do I mean not make any money? And isn’t that counterintuitive to what we are trying to accomplish here? Before I explain how you can easily increase your sales on eBay, I have to introduce to you eBay’s algorithm. They call it, Cassini.
In layman terms, which I fully intend to stick to in this article because I don’t speak Mathematics and Computer Science, Cassini is eBay's algorithm that determines where your listing will place in search rankings. Placement of your listing is key in determining how many buyers will see it, which is called an impression. Once it shows up in someone's search results and the buyer clicks on the listing, this starts a whole other measurable statistic. This statistic is called the click-through rate. Then, if the buyer actually purchases the item, this statistic is known as a buy through rate. Just to be clear, you want your impressions, click through rates and buy through rates to be high! Thanks to eBay’s Seller Hub, you can easily see these statistical percentages for any listing.
So we know the goal; get impressions, clicks and sales. Cassini uses various data from your account to determine where your listings will place. This determines your impressions. So what is some of the data that Cassini uses?
In a presentation on Cassini Search, the Director of Search for eBay Australia, Todd Alexander, outlined four core values that drive eBay's development and tweaking of the Cassini system: Relevance, Value, Trust, and Convenience.
- Make sure your titles are an accurate description of the item. Use all the space provided, don’t use fluff words like fabulous, beautiful and perfect (buyers don’t search for a fabulous coffee maker).
- Don’t keyword spam (putting keywords related to other items that may be similar or used with your item). For example, putting the word charger in a listing for a cell phone case so people will see the case when looking for a charger. This strategy doesn’t work, and will only hurt your placement in future search rankings.
- Fill out as many item specifics if you can. The more details you give the more relevant your listing can be to a buyer’s search.
- Make sure you place your listing in the correct category and have a detailed item description.
VALUE – All about that price. Be competitive. Though remember you don’t always have to have the lowest price.
TRUST – This is about your account health which includes feedback, five-star ratings, length of time selling and return rate to name just a few.
CONVENIENCE – Free shipping, Fast Shipping, Free Returns, handling time, etc.
If optimizing and retitling your listings is too time-consuming, you can hire a trained virtual assistant for about $4-$5 an hour from websites like Upwork. They can help take the load off this task leaving you free to source new items.
So, Relevance you understand, it’s in the title, body, product identifiers, item specifics. Trust, all you can do here is run a good clean account. Offer excellent service, follow through, ship on time, etc. Convenience, also super easy, offer free shipping, offer 1-day handling and if your business model allows, offer free returns.
The one core value we are going to talk about today is VALUE. Value translates to low prices. Buyers want the best deals, eBay wants to give buyers what they want. If you have a great price, Cassini will throw your listing towards the top.
Besides the price, the other important factor is the speed in which buyers click on and purchase your listing. Clearly, if your price is low enough, you should get some sales right away. It’s these initial quick sales that have such a strong effect on where your listing places in search results.
Here is my suggestion. List your items for little to no profit at all, possibly even a negative profit. Then, once your listing has sold a few times, 3 or 4, slowly start to increase the price and build in your profit. This will make Cassini go crazy for your listing, fall in love with it, and want to keep it closer to the top of search results.
So the bottom line is, although it may seem counterintuitive to list items at a loss, in the long run, you can find yourself on top….the top of the search rankings!