Tips for using eBay to de-clutter

This year, I made £790.47 on eBay and Amazon, through the sale of victims of my de-cluttering project. This was mostly made up of CDs, DVDs, books, miscellaneous tat (including ornaments and jewellery), a few items of clothing and old textbooks. 2012 was my first year of using eBay properly – before that I used to give my sister the occasional item for her to sell through her account. As such, I was going to write a post sharing my tips for using eBay, but Angela over a Paper Lovestory beat me to it!

You should go read Angela’s list, as I’m following her points below and expanding on them with my own thoughts.

1) Describe the item

Even when I list something like a DVD (eBay autofills these listings), I never leave this box unedited. I let people know the condition of the item (e.g. DVD with no scratches, used and in an unsealed case), give them an idea on how presentable it is (e.g. book suitable for gift, no creases in spine) and let them know they can message me with any queries. I think about what I’d like to know if I was buying this item, and then add text accordingly.

2) List the item

My sister told me to always list on a Saturday or Sunday, and Angela says the same thing. People will be around to watch the end of the listing, in theory. I rarely go against this advice, so I can’t vouch for it’s effectiveness!

I also agree with Angela about waiting for free listing weekends (which I try to do), and setting a price above 99p. I don’t always do this, especially if I’m having problems shifting an item, but for a first listing I usually set the minimum bid at the price I’d actually like for the item. I will re-list something up to 3 times to try and sell it, and if it doesn’t sell by the third auction I give it to charity.

3) Postage

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of packaging materials and your time to go to the Post Office!

4) Communication

This is easy if you have the eBay phone app, so if you have a smart phone then download it. You can mark items as despatched with one click and the job’s done! Don’t forget to let buyers know when an item is despatched. I’ve forgotten a couple of times and it must be worrying for the buyers!

5) Returns policy

I don’t have one, and I see nothing wrong with that. I know what I’m selling, so I know it’s functional (I wouldn’t sell it otherwise).

6) After the sale

Like Angela, I have done partial refunds on postage before when I’ve completely misjudged how much it would take to post an item. Errors happen, and your buyer is more likely to like you if you’re honest and correct the postage. After all, they’re going to get the parcel and they’ll know if you only paid 92p for a stamp after charging them £5!

7) Lost item

This has never happened to me, but both my sister and Angela have had experience. Get proof of postage and be prepared to argue (with Royal Mail and the buyer if need be!).

8) Unhappy buyer

I have no experience here either, but again Angela and my sis both have. Sometimes it’s easier just to call it quits and refund the buyer to keep them happy (on the grounds that they return the item). My sister had a buyer who claimed an item was damaged (even though it wasn’t) and wanted a partial refund, but when my sis refused and said she’d do a full refund in exchange for the return of the item, the buyer decided everything was ok after all. Use your judgement to decide if the buyer has a genuine grievance or is just trying it on!

9) Disputes

Follow Angela’s advice!

10) Preferences

Like Angela, I only accept bids from UK buyers. I don’t trust Royal Mail to get an item safely abroad, and it’s easier to track and hold someone accountable for a missing parcel in the UK. Having said that, I’m not rigid on this policy and I have in the past changed a listing so that a Canadian could bid on an item. Use your common sense. I was selling a very niche item, and the likelihood of someone else offering the same price as the Canadian was quite slim, so it made financial sense to open up the bidding to him (and in the end he was the only one who bid!).

I have two extra tips, not included on Angela’s list:

11) Packaging

Keep packaging when you receive parcels, to re-use for eBay sales. Good for the environment and keeps postage costs low.

12) Organisation

Clearing out a cupboard and then keeping a pile of things for eBay for a few months does not count has de-cluttering. If you’re collecting things to sell on eBay, make a concerted effort to actually list the items soon after gathering them up. If after a month you’ve not got rid of the items, give them to charity and call it quits. Life is too short to faff around with endless to-do lists. Having said that, don’t do the opposite and list an item as soon as you’ve found it. It’s much easier to wait until you have a few items and then list them all in one go.

Good luck with your eBaying!

  • Tia

    Great post! Thank you for all the great tips. I am the worst ebayer ever but have quite an amount of decluttered items that are too special (costed a lot and are still like brand new) that I don’t want to just throw away. So, I’ll keep your advice (and the one by Angela) in the back of my head. :-)

  • Angela

    Completely agree with you on saving packaging from parcels received. I definitely do this (esp. with padded envelopes – those bad boys are expensive when bought ‘new’) and like you said, it’s good for the environment.

    I’m doing a mass load of eBay listing tomorrow night as we’ve spent the past few days decluttering and have found so much we’ve not used since moving here eleven years ago – unbelievable! x