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You can do IT in laterlife 


You can do IT is a regular feature of aimed at trying to help laterlife visitors make the most of Information Technology on or off the web. 

Jackie Sherman who runs the You can do IT Question & Answer section is an IT trainer and author. Jackie has spent her career in education and specialises in teaching IT to adults. Her courses for adults include such topics as MS Office, the Internet, e-mail and basic web page authoring.  

Jackie has also written several books - you can find more details about these by clicking here. Jackie has also been running a course specifically for over 50s.

Via Jackie aims to particularly help those new to IT and the web to build up knowledge and confidence, so no question is too basic. At the same time she will cover Q&As for the more experienced user. 

So if you would like to ask a question of Jackie, why not email her 

Or if you have discovered something which may be of interest to others in making the most of the web, then she would love to hear about that too.

View previous editions of YoucandoIT for more useful Questions and Answers

December 2012 

Be an effective seller on eBay during the Christmas rush

This is the month when thousands of people are desperately looking for last-minute Christmas presents, and so it is a great opportunity for sellers to get rid of unwanted items at a higher price than usual.

Sadly, many sellers do themselves a great disservice by presenting their goods so poorly they attract few if no buyers. If you are a potential seller, here is the most important piece of advice you will ever need on getting the best price – identify with purchasers. If you think about the things that would make you buy something on eBay and ensure your advertisement meets those criteria, you will have a much better chance of making that sale.

A buyer will want:

  1. At least one GOOD photograph. If the angle it is taken from is important, choose that carefully. If the colour is important, put the item in a good light against a simple background. If it is clothing, try to at least hang it up on a hanger (if no model is available). I have seen photos of clothes roughly thrown across beds, items in dark rooms so no details are visible, too much concentration on one aspect (such as three different views of a design label) rather than the overall shape and pattern of an item to be worn, or no picture at all.

  2. ALL measurements and details that might be required. Never make a buyer contact you to ask how long, heavy or wide your item is, what it is made of, or if the box and instructions are included or not, as delays mean you could lose a potential sale. If you can, provide both metric and imperial measurements, to save people having to use conversion tables. At the top of each main advertisement there are sections that you can fill when setting up the entry in that include measurements, condition etc. but you may forget (and buyers may not look at these anyway), so make sure you include everything in the body of the text as well.

  3. Sensible information about faults. The sale will be void (and you will have to pay return postage) if you lie or cover-up, so describe scratches, broken or missing pieces etc in simple language and provide an extra photo if required to make it clear exactly what you are describing. To cover yourself, you should also mention any small flaws e.g. from normal wear and tear that don't affect the product but that a buyer will still like to know about in advance.

  4. Searchable text in the main title. Think of the item's unique selling point - size, colour, style, period, designer name, uses, antique value etc – and put that into the title. There are usually side indexes (e.g. beds: size, material, style, new/used etc) but it may be too late if a single search throws up enough items for buyers to look through without them having to click the indexes as well.

  5. Truth about New or Used. I have recently seen hundreds of hairdryers advertised as "New" that the text says: "has only been used once/twice, no box or instructions." To me, that is "Used" but you could add "very good condition" in your title. (By the way, abbreviations have NO place on eBay as you cannot know if you are selling to a first-time-user who will not understand any of them.)

  6. Clear main text. The number of entries I have seen where the text appears to have been thrown together in seconds (and includes spelling and grammar mistakes as well), is appalling. Buyers will want good English and clear text that tells them all the important details and possibly your reasons for selling, how long you have owned the item and any uses you have put it to. If anything is hidden in the photo (such as pockets, drawers, brackets etc), mention them too.

    Here is a skimpy entry that wouldn't attract many buyers:
    "Hi am selling a bedside cabinet pine it has been used but it's still got plenty of years left for it purpose."
    And here is a better one: "Two pine bedside cabinets. Only had a year so immaculate condition. Lovely solid and have 3 drawers for extra storage."
    Ideally, you have time and space to write something like: "Two antique bedside cabinets no longer needed as moving house. Owned a year and in immaculate condition. They are solid pine with 3 drawers for extra storage and have been varnished recently. Measurements: 59cm (23") H x 42cm (16.5") W x 39cm (15") D."

  7. No heavy sell. There is nothing more irritating than over-the-top advertising hyperbole for an ordinary item or one that buyers can clearly see in the photograph. However, do make your item sound as attractive as possible. Related to this topic is the irritating habit of some sellers to just include all the company details found on the original website. Put a link to one of these – that is fine – but what buyers want is some details about YOUR item. They can find technical stuff elsewhere themselves and the dehumanising effect of all this copy-and-pasted text is quite a turn-off.

  8. No threats. You may have once had a bad experience, but that is no reason to treat everyone with suspicion. As it is hard to know how a buyer will behave, you must assume most are genuine and not use up all the space threatening people who don't pay immediately, or give bad feedback. That will not help attract buyers or put off determined cowboys.

  9. Help with delivery/postage. It is hard on eBay to offer a mix of delivery systems, but if you are asking for "collection only" and live in Cornwall, you will limit your purchasers to locals rather than attracting people from as far afield as Newcastle or Scotland. At least find out what a courier might charge (say, to central England) and not only put the rough cost into the body of the main text, offer to facilitate buyers wishing to have your item collected. The converse is also true – put courier or postage costs but also offer locals the chance to collect for free postage.

  10. Use the correct categories. If you are an experienced searcher, you can find items that have been placed in the wrong categories and can then buy them much cheaper as they will be overlooked and so will attract fewer bids. To sell to the most people, check carefully that you have placed your goods in the correct category.

  11. Set a reasonable price. "Not meeting the reserve" is quite an annoying thing to happen to buyers, although it is understandable to want to set a reserve to encourage brisk bidding without handing over a precious item for too little. But if you start too high for a "Buy Now" item, you will probably not sell it. To find the ideal price – go to Completed listings and see what people have paid for the same item in the past. Decide the lowest price you will accept (not your preferred highest!) and put that as the starting price.

  12. Set the correct postage. No purchasers like to be taken for a ride (like buying an item and being charged £10 rather than the £2.50 postage it costs you to send it to them!). It is very important to wrap the item up, measure and weigh it carefully and use online postal comparison charts OR – even better – take it to the post office and ask them what the postage would be. THEN you can put it on eBay knowing your postage will be correct.

Happy selling!

And let me know if you discover or know of any other tips I could put into a future article.

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