My son has a number of riding buddies who all have an assortment fairly high end spare bikes gathering dust in their basements. He thinks he could make some money Ebaying bikes and bike parts. At the same time, I'm trying to downsize my bike parts inventory. It would be nice to get some money for my stuff but, frankly, I don't care that much.
Who has Ebay experience? Any advice or pot holes we should look out for?
I used eBay to sell some used windsurfers. Worked well. I required buyers to pick them up - I sure wasn't going to ship something that large.
Not being grouchy, but what you are asking is a huge, huge question. The eBay system is a big, shambling behemoth. I recommend taking a class or getting direct coaching from an expert.
As soon as you ask one question, is requires a dozen answers, and each of those answers requires a dozen clarifications and exceptions, which require a dozen more, etc and on and on.
I've sold a bit on eBay and made thousands of dollars. My best item was a cocktail shaker that looked like a Zeppelin. The best antique guides listed it as possibly $600.00 in great shape. I got $1,600.00 for it. But then, mine had a leather case that wasn't even mentioned in the guides. I also got $900.00 for a guitar that I had paid $35.00 for. I sold my 1970 Chevy Nova. After all my expenses, I lost about $80.00 on that one, and the buyer neglected to register it, so I finally had to go down to the DMV and prove that I had sold it so they would stop bugging me.
All of this to say that Drakonchick is right. eBay is a big subject. You can make money, you can lose money. Go to the library and get a book on eBay. Read all the eBay guidelines on the site, and the FAQs and the Forums. Make yourself an account. Start small, and work your way up. The better your reputation, the more money you can command. My ex had a collection of perfume bottles gathered by a neighbor. She started off with the mundane ones just to get her numbers up and a reputation as a perfume bottle seller. By the time she was ending her sales, one bottle got bought by a museum in Berlin for part of an exhibition on Salvador Dali.
Be sure to take great photographs. They can make it or break it on sales. Be honest about condition. Be flexible. I once sold an old calculator. The buyer decided he didn't like it. I took it back and gave him his money back. Then I relisted it, and it sold for twice as much, and the new buyer was happy. Watch out for shipping costs. Include both the cost it will actually be to ship it, plus the cost in time and materials for you to wrap it.
You might want to also try Craigslist if it's active in your area. You can save shipping by having local pickups.
I agree with those who say that eBay is a big subject. But I think it would be difficult to lose money on bike stuff that is already paid for and redundant. The bike charity I wrench for sells stuff on eBay to great effect. When we get vintage bikes it's really not worth our time to source the parts to restore them properly, and the local market is limited, but eBay allows us to sell them as seen to those who want to do the work themselves.
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
Make sure the descriptions are accurate, post detailed pictures, put a reserve on stuff you think might be undervalued by those who don't really understand it. I'd think you'll do fine.
My only advice is to organize things so your son who has the idea and the interest also does the work. I suspect you already know that.
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
I've been selling on Ebay since 1999.
Everything you've read so far is excellent advice. A couple of small additions:
1) Figure out first what it's going to take to pack and ship every item offered. Have it packaged and ready to seal (after you throw in a packing slip) before the end of the auction. Full bikes and wheels are going to be difficult to package securely and ship cheaply while protecting yourself. Life happens, and letting the shipping turnaround slip can get you into trouble with buyers quickly.
2) Don't skimp on the quality of the packaging. If you're afraid to drop the package on the floor, you haven't packed it right.
3) Be vewy, vewy careful about international shipping. Most destination countries don't allow tracking except possibly as a hugely-expensive option, and if you can't prove delivery the buyer can claim non-receipt and get both the part and his money back. I will ship to Canada, Great Britain and Australia only, and even then only if asked by a buyer who then passed my research; I disclaim International shipping in my auctions.
4) This may seem counterintuitive, but it's easier to get $100 for a thing if you start an auction at $0.01 than if you start it at $50.
5) Look at other auctions of similar stuff. Research completed auctions of similar stuff. See what sold, and for how much, to get a feel for what yours might sell for and hints about what successful auctions look like. Develop a template of your own, to give an "institutional" feel to your sales.
Like Ruby13 said, I would try Craigslist first and then eBay. You need to pay attention to the eBay fee structure as their fees can run up to 25% of the purchase price especially when buyers pay with credit cards through Paypal.
1. Arrange your auctions to start and end as late on Sunday night as you can if your schedule allows it. Most people are at home on Sundays evenings and can pay attention to bidding on a closing auction. This can lead to some very profitable bidding wars.
2. Take good pictures including all defects that you know of. In the descriptions list all of the defects possible. In disputes eBay tends to favor the buyer even at times when you have noted all of the problems with the merchandise. This can lead to you taking a return and paying for all of the shipping charges both ways as well as the eBay fees.
3. Be ready with boxes and shipping materials to ship the merchandise by the time the listing ends. Don't wait to get stuff to package your merchandise till after the auctions ends. Boxes from your local bike shop can help out quite a bit. Figure out how you are going to package the stuff early.
4. Make sure that you keep all email correspondence relating to the auctions including questions asked while the auction is ongoing.
5. Start off with only 4 or 5 auctions at one time. Once you understand the process you can ramp up the volume as time and attention to details permit.
6. Even if you do use a reserve price, start the auction with the price low. People pay more attention to an auction that they have bid on than one that is just in their watch list. Give as many people as possible to bid on your auctions as possible before it gets up to a fair value. Lowering initial prices and lowering reserves also save on eBay fees.
7. Check out flat rate shipping options at the local post office. The boxes or envelopes are free and the shipping is about as cheap as anything out there. An added bonus is that you don't have to worry about weighing the package.
8. When you ship get delivery confirmation. You don't necessarily need a signature but being able to say that the package was left at the house or that it was picked up at the post office can prevent disputes about not receiving the merchandise.
That's about all I can think of at the moment.
I would do E-bay for stuff that is easy to ship. I used to be pretty active buying and selling vintage model airplane stuff like engines and old 60's and 70's radios and parts. Big stuff, like full frame sets and bikes are easier on Craigslist since you are dealing with a local market, and shipping isn't as involved. You will probably get higher prices on E-bay, but listing fees, and crating and shipping costs can eat into that.
+1 to all.
Originally Posted by Mort Canard
Ebay can be worth the extra time and trouble for unusual or high value items, but Craigslist provides better results.
I've sold four bikes on Craigslist with little effort, cost or issues. I've sold only one bike on eBay. The sale went well, but shipping costs were $70 and the listing and PayPal fees were another $80.
The Craigslist sales were free of any cost, the purchasers inspected the bikes and paid cash.
Originally Posted by gcottay
Yup. I'm still The Dad and frankly, I don't feel like the stuff that I have is all that valuable. If my son can pick up some spare change selling stuff that's really just taking up space in my workshop, he can have it.
Under no circumstances ship to a location other than the buyer's eBay confirmed location.
Been using Ebay for over 12 years. I prefer it to Craigslist. You've gotten a lot of good advice so far. I'll just ad that on large items only allow local pick up. Always require a partial payment within 24 hours and cash when picked up. Don't take money orders or checks. A verified paypal account is a must, in my opinion.
I've sold thousands of dollars in motorcycle parts and bought and sold motorcycles and vehicles on it. I've never had a bad experience. A 100% feedback rating is also a must have so send a refund even if you're in the right.
The last thing is to be very knowledgeable of what you're selling. Do diligent research so you can answer questions and to know what the item usually sells for. Someone mentioned to start the auction low and I can't tell you just how valuable that bit of info is! That generates action and a bidding war is in your favor, every time. On high dollar items I always have a reserve price, which there is a fee for. But I'd rather pay a fee than sell for pennies on the dollar!
One more last thing, take the time to package the item well. I love buying an item and the seller went to the trouble and expense to package it well. It says to me that they are reputable and I'll surely not have any doubts about doing business again. It also helps with keeping returns from happening due to breakage and gets you that positive feedback.
I will give you an ebay bike buyers viewpoint.
My number one complaint about ebay sellers is crap packing. I will skip the horror stories but let's just say I have a list of over 150 sellers I will never deal with again due mostly to crummy packing.
Number 2 complaint is dishonest description of how "used" an item is. Yes this is a subjective area but total dishonesty is just wrong. You used to have to eat the return shipping when you got scammed.
One ride wheels should not be wheels you used one time after someone else used them 500 times.
The other thing that is a problem from a buyers viewpoint is that ebay is clogged with commercial sellers, mostly from overseas, that put up thousands of listings that you have to sift through to find what you are looking for. The site has become less of a place to get rid of things and more of a place to have an online store.
Anyway, good luck with your idea. I just wanted to give you another viewpoint.
continental shipping only!!, paypal only!!, No returns!! take alot of pictures with a camera not a cell phone! and write a detailed description with as much info as you can get.
Check in at the Classic and Vintage forum for their take on eBay selling and buying. these guys do a lot of stuff there and seem to know the ins and outs of succeeding in its operations.
My wife and I buy and sell on eBay, dumping things we don't want/need, selling items for elderly parents and friends, for church, and for hobbies...combined 100% feedback for over 750 transactions.
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch
Two points not yet mentioned:
(1) Set up a USPS log-in account, permitting you to purchase USPS shipping labels at a discount, and with delivery confirmation included at the discount price. This can be a real savings over time.
(2) Clean your for-sale items thoroughly (I'm assuming that you're not dealing with antique furniture or other items for which this would be a no-no). If you can get your hands on an ultrasonic cleaner for bike parts, you'll get fabulous results - and these very clean, shiny parts will command higher prices at auction.
(3) As others have said, take excellent photographs, with plain contrasting backgrounds - and take the time to write accurate descriptions. Include any known flaws or damage - let the buyer determine in advance whether or not to have bid based on your information.
(4) Be prepared to deal with strange behaviours from your buyers. Some will decide not to pay. You'll have to cancel these transactions. Others will take several reminders for payment, and yes, personal phone calls, to wake them up to the fact that they must pay for their winning bids.
(5) Very good advice to consider how an item will be packaged and shipped BEFORE initiating the listing. You'll need to factor in the costs of materials and postage first thing.
(6) Develop a local network for shipping materials (packing peas, bubble wrap, butcher paper, boxes, etc.) by using wanted ads, freecycle, and asking around. You'll need a supply of these to make packaging flexible and responsive to your needs.
One quick note, Phil: Doing the shipping labels through Paypal not only nets the same discount and free DC, but also automagically uploads the data to Ebay and covers you for the shipping turnaround requirement.