Learn to buy and sell antiques and collectibles

Easily Increase Your eBay Sales Without Working Harder

I did some chores this weekend at my step-mother's house. I want to make a point here, but the basics of what I was doing aren't important. This isn't a lesson on fixing sprinkler systems.

Think about the feelings rather than the broken pipes.

I went to Home Depot on Saturday to get some parts for the sprinkler system. I had two sizes of pipes I needed to join.

I couldn't get anyone to help me at Home Depot and ended up buying two pieces to join the pipes together. A large threaded piece and a second tube the smaller pipe would fit into.

I figured I could glue it all together and it would work.

It looked pretty, but when I turned the water on, the joints leaked, and one of them flew apart.

@#$$%#$ @#$@%!

It was 115 degrees on Saturday - that's in the shade, not in the sun where I working - and I'd spent two hours rigging everything up.

I sent Fran back to Home Depot to get new parts so I could do other chores while she was gone.

An hour later she came back with nothing. She couldn't find anyone to help her, so she left the store after waiting for 50 minutes and getting frustrated.

She wasn't happy when she got back. I wasn't happy either because it means another 110 mile trip for me.

Today I went up to finish the job. I went to the local Ace hardware store figuring I'd get exactly what I needed.

I walked into Ace, and asked the gentleman with the name badge where the sprinkler parts were. He walked with me to the sprinkler section, and showed me exactly how to do it.

Where I'd bought 12 pieces - two for each joint - at Home Depot I only bought six pieces at Ace.

Once the salesman helped me find the pipe parts, he asked if I needed anything else.

Fran's also been having problems with packrats. They climb up into the cars and eat the wires. They ruined one vehicle, and damaged the other ones.

The real problem is the neighbor is killing all the snakes causing the packrat population to skyrocket. I can't do anything about him, but I can get traps to kill off the excess packrats. (I wonder if I could sell packrat pelts on eBay?)

I told Fran to get some traps, but I didn't know if she'd gotten them yet. So I asked at the hardware store.

They had traps and I bought one. I figured even if Fran had found traps elsewhere, it was only $28.

Think about those two experiences.

At Home Depot I was able to pull some parts off a shelf with the assumption I could make them work. (Poor assumption, but not uncommon for me!)

At Ace Hardware, a salesman helped me get the right parts and then sold me a trap I didn't really need. I can use it, but Fran had gotten them somewhere else.

Lets add one more important consideration. . .

Ace Hardware has higher prices than Home Depot. At least the sticker prices are higher.

The truth is Ace's prices aren't higher. Remember, I bought 12 fittings at Home Depot, wasted two hours putting them together, then threw them all out. My Home Depot experience was poor.

At Ace I bought six pieces, spent an hour putting them together, and it worked. I'm happy and next time I need something, I'll just go to Ace Hardware.

Why deal with the long lines, poor service and extra aggravation at Home Depot to save a few cents?

Lets shift gears a bit.

I recently read an article saying Wal-Mart shoppers usually leave the store with only 70% of the items on their list. This isn't because they aren't remembering the items, it's because they cannot find them.

In order to increase sales, Wal-Mart is changing the way they stock their stores. They are also putting employees in each area who know exactly where things are.

I went to a different Ace hardware store recently for some tape. I walked in and said, "I need pipe wrap tape." The guy at the counter said, "aisle ten, top shelf on the right, a third of the way down."

If Wal-Mart can train their employees to be that specific about item locations they will surely sell more.

For us eBay sellers, using keywords and listing in the best categories are how we make sure buyers can find our items. See Selecting Category And Keywords For eBay Auctions.

Pudgey likes bacon

One more quick story. . . Last night I saw a bacon flavored bubble blowing machine on David Letterman's show. It sounded like something the dog would like so I figured I'd buy one online.

It's not neat enough to make a special trip to get. It's an impulse buy. I found websites with them, but they all had weird hurdles I'd have to jump through to order.


I don't want to create an account. I want to click one button and fill in my address and payment information and go back to watching TV.

They lost the sale, and the dog will go without.

How does this effect your business?

No matter whether you're selling on eBay, or on your own website, following a clear path through the ordering steps increases sales.

When you add hurdles, you loose sales.

When you make it hard to find items, you lose sales.

Remember Ace also got the additional sale of the trap I didn't really need. I bought it because I felt a sense of gratitude rather than the frustration I'd felt at Home Depot.

Sure I can use it as there a plenty of packrats, but it was an impulse sale generated by exceeding my expectations and then asking me if I needed anything else.

How can you exceed people's expectations?

  • Faster shipping?
  • Explaining uses to people?
  • Pick up or deliver? I've met two new people in the past month who bought something from me on eBay who are now calling me and buying other items directly. No eBay fees, and I set the price.
  • I am sure there are many other ways.

Here's another lesson from the above stories. . .

The salesman at Ace Hardware didn't ask me what else I needed until he'd gotten the pipe parts for me and was walking to the cash register. He didn't distract me from what I came for, he added to my list.

That's one of the biggest online errors I see. Websites that are too busy, too cluttered, too full of distractions.

If you have an eBay store, have you tested including links to all your store categories in your auctions? Probably not as most sellers just include them thinking it helps.

The eBay store owners I've talked with are finding mixed results. Some have better sales, some don't. It's worth testing.

If you just sell items on eBay, have you tested using a simpler template? In every test I've seen, using fewer words about what will happen after the auction ends, increases bids.

If you follow the normal eBay sales path of sending an invoice after the auction ends and then shipping the item when payment is received, you really don't need to explain it.

In my rambling way, I've shown you a few ways to increase your sales without increasing your efforts.

Simple changes with big results.


PS Adding Backend Sales To Your eBay Sales is an interview that explains how one eBay seller sells cheap items and then upsells some of the buyers into more expensive items off eBay. This lowers her eBay fees while increasing her profits.

"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.

Ted at his desk.

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