If you sell in small niches as I recommend and are organized enough that you know what you will be listing on eBay 1 to 2 weeks ahead of time, you should give serious thought to previewing your upcoming auctions for your customers. The result can be increased sales and higher final bids.
For two years I used a free hosting service to host a small web site that I used as a pre-auction catalog. Each week this preview site would contain pictures and descriptions of the majority of the items I would be listing on eBay the following week.
When that hosting service eventually dropped it's free hosting, because of time constraints, I let that part of my business slide. Over the course of the next 3-4 months I saw a significant decrease in the number of bids, the final selling price, and the number of auctions that closed successfully. At the time that was an industry wide trend but I also think it had a great deal to do with the fact I no longer had a preview site on-line.
After a few months I moved the site to a cheap hosting company and saw an immediate increase in bidders, final selling prices, and closing prices. Adding an auction preview site to your business model can have significant benefits to your eBay business.
An auction preview site has several advantages - both to you and to your potential bidders.
Advantages to the bidder include:
1. It gives them additional time to do research on an item if they want.
2. It gives them more time to ask questions about an item.
3. It allows them to plan their purchases. Many bidders budget a specific amount of money each month for on-line purchases. I've had several bidders tell me they'd decided not to bid on someone else's item so they would have the money to bid on what I was listing next week.
Advantage to you the seller include:
1. It gives you a chance to hone your description if needed. If you are receiving a lot of similar questions from several customers about an item it probably means you need more or better pictures or to make your description more detailed.
2. In most cases it will increase selling prices. I've found that people tend to bid earlier on auctions that they have been able to preview. This early bidding attracts other bidders to the auction and often drives the final price up.
Your preview site doesn't have to be anything fancy or expensive. A free hosting service works just fine for what this would be used for. Most of them offer 10-25 megabytes of space, and easy to use page building tools. That's really all you require.
Another option might be geocities.yahoo.com which gives you 25 MB of web space, 5 GB of data transfer and a helpful web page building utility for only $4.95 a month.
Also most of you will find that your ISP offers 10-25 megabytes of free space. If you have a basic knowledge of FTP and HTML this may be a good route to take.
What should you put on your preview page?
1. The items you will be putting on eBay the following week.
2 Clear pictures of the item.
3. A well written description of the item including any flaws.
4. An easy to find email link so prospective bidders can easily email you with any questions they may have.
Advertise your preview site by including a link on your About Me page. Include it in all winning bidder announcements and other correspondence you have with customers. A link in your signature file is a good idea. If you have a list, send an announcement of your new preview site to your list.
If you try this for a month or two I think you will find the results pleasantly surprising - and well worth the effort involved. And, your customers will love you!
Gary Hendrickson has been making his living selling on eBay for more than six years. He's the author of two eBay related ebooks, has a blog for eBay sellers, and is the owner of ColdItems.Com.
The Auction Rebel Blog