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Building Trust With Hesitant eBay Buyers

In June 2006, I went to the annual Train Collectors Association Convention in San Antonio. I was surprised by the number of people at the TCA convention who have never bought something on eBay.

Now this is a diverse group. People came from all over the country to buy and sell toy trains. One guy even flew in from Japan. But, as a group, these members don't buy things on eBay.

Part of the reason is they do not feel comfortable with computers and the internet. I think it's a generational thing. The average TCA member is 59 years old, and has never spent the time to learn how to use a computer much less browse the internet.

Without the knowledge you and I take for granted, these people are lost. Imagine not knowing how to use a search engine. . . imagine not understanding eBay is laid out in categories. . . imagine being overwhelmed when you turn on your computer.

I understand this very well. I bought a new laptop last month. I am an experienced computer user, but found the whole process of setting up the computer very frustrating. If I am frustrated by a new computer and all the garbage the manufacturer installs, it's got to be worse for someone without my skills.

Here's an example. My stepmother still has the "create an AOL account" shortcut on her computer. She is afraid to delete it because she thinks the maker put it there for a purpose. Their purpose is to sell her an AOL account.

My father found it hard to use his new computer because of a constant stream of pop up advertisements. He thought he had a virus because he'd read about them in the newspaper, but the truth was simpler.

You see, Windows comes with Instant Messenger enabled and as soon as he went online, his messenger account was bombed with Spam. He doesn't even know what IM is let alone know how to turn it off.

I heard stories like these over and over again in Texas.

To make matters worse, the media thrives on scaring people. They run a near constant stream of stories about people getting ripped off. These stories cause users to be overly cautious.

Remember, these train collectors are willing to spend money on trains. After all, they paid to attend the show. The hotel rooms were $140 a night, plus parking. We paid almost $700 for the gas to drive to the show. Others drove even farther.

If you sell to this market, you need to help these older users buy from you. As an eBay seller you cannot do anything to help people use their computers, but you can make it easier for these people to buy your items.

Here's 8 Simple Ways To Build Trust With eBay Buyers

  1. Use keywords in your auction titles. This will help eBay shoppers who manage to find the search box get to your auction. Your most important keywords must be in your title because the majority of searchers don't search descriptions.
  2. Use a Preview Picture so your title will have a image next to it. This helps people notice your item.
  3. Put lots of pictures in your auctions. Allowing potential bidders to see exactly what you are selling builds confidence.
  4. Tell the bidder what they are bidding on. Your auction description must give the reader enough information to feel comfortable with you.
  5. Make it easy for your eBay buyers to pay you. This means taking checks, and money orders in addition to PayPal. EBay now requires you to take PayPal, but some buyers will send questions asking if you will take a check or money order. Use the eBay message system to tell these shoppers "yes" and include the answered question in your listing.
  6. Tell bidders exactly how you'll pack and ship their purchase. I found an eBay auction with this language last night:

    "SELLER DOES NOT SHIP MERCHANDISE: SELLER can provide a list of shippers and movers that have been used in the past by our customers. These shippers and movers will pick up your items at SELLER after payment has been received, and will pack, insure and ship to you at your expense."

    Sounds like a hassle to me. I saw something I wanted in one of his auctions, but I won't be bidding.
  7. Include a telephone number in your eBay listing. Very few people will call, but just seeing it builds confidence because it makes you accessible.
  8. After the auction ends send an email with all the information a buyer needs to make payment. Make sure you include your address and a total. While you are at it, include your phone number. EBay makes this easy with their send invoice function.
These eight suggestions will help you sell to a market segment that is all but ignored by most eBay sellers. If you are selling IPods to teenagers, they will buy just on price. If you are selling antiques and collectibles, you must help your buyer through the process.

While we're speaking about people who aren't comfortable buying online, I buy a lot of items on eBay to sell at local shows. A lot of us get so caught up in buying items locally so we can sell them on eBay that we forget it can be done the other way too.

I look for items that are listed in the wrong categories, have misspelled brand names, poor pictures, or other mistakes.

In fact this week, I bought a lot of train stuff on eBay from a Midwest consignment shop for $1.99 plus $19.95 for shipping and handling. I love the big eBay consignment shops. It's like taking candy from babies, but they don't start screaming.


PS Someday I'll have to write about these eBay consignment franchises. Based on the items I buy from them, they are doing a really poor job. I guess it's better for the owners than giving the items to goodwill, but not much.

PPS Here's an article about eBay Arbitrage.

"The IWantCollectibles Guide to Ebay Sales"
is now available for immediate download.

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Ted at his desk.

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