Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

Getting Repeat Ebay Buyers

If you sell primarily in the same categories week after week for years like I've been doing, you'll get repeat buyers. Right now depending on the category, 30-60% of my eBay sales are to repeat buyers. There are a few things you can do to increase the number of repeat buyers.

One of the advantages of repeat buyers is I have a following of dealers. These dealers watch my auctions and bid on lots of them. They rarely win which means I'm getting more than wholesale prices.

Personally, I think it's insane to buy something on eBay for $50, just to relist it for $75 and then wait months - or years! - for someone to come along and buy it. I find it easier to just buy the items from the public and then sell them for at least wholesale.

Here's some ways to encourage repeat buyers:

  • I just use white packing paper for my picture backgrounds, but some sellers do really well with an interesting background. My pictures don't stand out as well as the ones with the colorful backgrounds, but they are consistent.
  • Use a consistent title format. My titles always follow the order described in my article on titles.
  • Use a consistent layout for your listings. I was going to use the word template rather than layout, but don't want you to think I mean to use an eBay template. What I mean here is you lay out your auctions so when a shopper sees your listing he knows it's yours. Lots of my descriptions now use pictures of my dog as image placeholders.
  • For store subscribers eBay has a newsletter service. This can only be used to promote eBay items, so I've ignored it in the past. But it's free to send 5000 emails a month, and I'm looking for easy ways to create more repeat buyers

    I set up three categories based on the different items I sell so I only send emails to people who are interested in that week's offerings. Then I put the subscription box across the top of the page that eBay shows when people click on the view other items link.

    So far this is NOT generating much traffic or subscriptions. I've been testing using this service to drive buyers to my new listings. It doesn't seem to have much effect, but I haven't done enough with it to say it's worthless.
  • Another thing you can do is paste a quick note into the note area of the eBay label page. The buyer will get this note with the tracking information. I tried this a few years ago, and don't think buyers even read these messages.
  • Deal honestly with your buyers. I had a buyer this week who sent me a note saying the car I'd sold him was missing 2 springs. He sent me the note after leaving me positive feedback. I sent him the springs he needed, along with advice for putting them on. For the $2.00 in postage, this buyer will certainly know that I'll treat him well next time.
  • Use consistent descriptions. I tend to grade conservatively and my repeat buyers know this. If I were to grade haphazardly, sooner or later a buyer would get something I'd over graded, and think I'd exaggerated the condition.
  • Include a thank you note with your phone number inside all packages you mail. I get about 1 call for every 300 packages, but even the buyers who don't call feel I'm interested in them.

    If you buy on eBay, look for notes inside the packages. I once got some cookies with a handwritten note wrapped in a ribbon inside a package. I think this is a little much, and instead use a simple preprinted note. Sometimes I write specific information on the back of the preprinted note.
  • When you pack something in an unusual way send the buyer an email with unpacking instructions. Obviously you won't need to do this often, but it really lets your buyer know you care.
  • Packing well impresses buyers. The average eBay seller packs as well as a dog burying a bone. Pack well and you will stand out.

That's a good list of ways to increase repeat buyers.

One other benefit of having lots of repeat buyers is they become politer. A buyer who comes back every week or two isn't going to freak out and accuse you of scamming him when there is a problem.

Here's a story to make the point. . .

I buy trains for my collection from an east coast eBay seller often. His pictures suck, his descriptions are worse, and the packing is usually a square of tissue paper and chunk of bubble wrap put in a box with the train. Not wrapped or stuffed, put in. Visualize a marble in a coffee can with a tissue. That's how he packs.

But I never complain. I buy from him 2-4 times a year. The trains come in bouncing around inside their boxes. So far nothing has been damaged, and I've gotten some wonderful trains at great prices. When, or maybe if as this has been going on for at least 6 years, something comes in broken I'll deal with it then.

Now I don't recommend poor packing, and his feedback shows other buyers won't put up with it, but if you have great items and please your buyers, they will cut you some slack to keep the door open.

One last quick story. . .

In the spring of 2019, I started a second eBay store with the purpose of selling just small items I could list with simple combined shipping rates. For items that quickly go over a pound I charge $6 for the first piece and $1 for each additional up to a maximum shipping cost of $12.00. For the lighter items I charge a flat $6 shipping no matter how many items go into the box.

These items are listed with different titles and gallery photos. Everything else in the listing including the description is the same. I can write 30-50 listings in about an hour. Because I can send combined invoices without packing, that takes minutes. I don't even have to send combined invoices for the $6 flat rate fees because an eBay shipping rule takes care of it for me.

The idea was to have a second eBay account where I could do very little effort and bring in a few hundred a week. I never list more than 40-60 items a week, and rarely spend more than 3 hours a week working on it. I'm really happy with this account.

On this account at least half the buyers each week are repeat buyers. This is mostly because it's the same type of item week after week, and the buyers get good deals.

I started using pictures of the dog as placeholders so when I wrote listings I could quickly see if I'd forgotten to set the pictures. Because I almost never put a second image into the description, buyers see the dog. They remember the dog.

Now I put pictures of the dog in many of my listings. I take a new picture each week but the image name stays the same.

Terry

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


Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.

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