Classifieds Give Online Sellers More Options

Learn to use the 'underused' format.

by staff writer
- Feb 09, 2009

With millions of online buyers combing through eBay every day to find items they need—or simply want—from doors to cars to housewares, why not put up that bike you've been meaning to get rid of using eBay's classified ads format?

If you didn't know eBay offered classifieds, you're not alone. According to Fabian Tan, chief executive of Unbounded Marketing, the online selling site's classifieds are "underused," but can be very profitable. The global online classified market is a $10 billion industry and is expected to grow to a $15 billion business over the next three years, reports Kijiji, eBay's online classifieds Web site, which caters to local markets. attracts 5 million visitors a month to look at the 300,000 listings on its site. eBay provides a link to Kijiji on the bottom of its homepage, but if you're worried potential buyers won't see it and bypass your goods, don't be. Licensed dealers can also sell items using the classifieds format right on eBay. This gives sellers to option to market items on a local level through Kijiji or on a national—or even international—level using eBay.

If you're still worried potential buyers won't find your goods even on eBay, this will make you feel better: Classified ads on eBay are intermingled with items offered through auction, fixed price and store inventory formats. So when potential buyers search eBay for that Ford Mustang they've been wanting, your classified will pop up with the rest.

Setting classifieds apart

So what makes classifieds different from auctions? Well, they're like classifieds you see in your local paper. There is no biding; interested buyers contact sellers directly—without going through eBay. They just fill out a contact form with their phone number, e-mail address (which is optional) and send a message to the seller. This allows sellers to contact several interested buyers and could mean multiple offers, although sellers don't commit to buying anything by sending the form. They are simply inquiring.

The desired item might not necessarily go to the highest bidder, but with potential for multiple offers, there is money to be made.

Using the classifieds format allows eBay sellers to bypass the final value fees that auctions and fixed-price listings require

For those selling digital products, such as e-books and software, classifieds are the only way to go on eBay, since the e-commerce site no longer permits the sale of "downloads" using the auction format.

Sellers who post classifieds on eBay pay an insertion fee of $9.95 for a 30-day listing. That may seem like a lot, but it works out to about 33 cents a day. And using the classifieds format allows eBay sellers to bypass the final value fees that auctions and fixed-price listings require.

Meanwhile, those who post on Kijiji don't pay anything, and the site provides an interface that's easy to use, says Lisa Boyd, a company spokeswoman.

"It requires half as many clicks to post an ad on Kijiji versus Craigslist," Boyd notes.

And Kijiji provide users "a wholesome and clean experience" because it does not host personals categories and employs various technological features to prevent fraudulent listings, she says.

Sellers should consider their desired audience before listing, however. Kijiji is a relatively new platform, and doesn't get anywhere near the volume of traffic that gets. And while Kijiji offers "global" accessibility, with sites in more than 20 countries around the world, its content is oriented toward local metropolitan markets, in the same vein as Craigslist.

Creating a classified ad through either site is simple. On, just click the "Post Ad" tab, then fill out the ad details, preview your item and post. Licensed dealers selling on eBay simply select the classified ad format when they create a new listing.

Tailoring your listings

Use bulleted points in your descriptions to break up text and catch potential buyers' eyes

Regardless of which site you use, remember to make good use of the title since it will be the first thing sellers see. Be specific if your item is well known and buyers are sure to recognize it (e.g., the new 3G iPhone). If you're not sure about the notoriety of the product but think it has a use that will appeal to many, state the item's purpose in the title, says Tracey Edwards, author of several eBooks about online selling.

"People search for the benefits of what the product will do," she notes.

So if you have a product that helps infants sleep, tell buyers in the title. Tired parents will be sure to click on your listing and thank you.

Edwards also suggests using bulleted points in your descriptions to break up text and catch potential buyers' eyes. And when choosing an item to list, think about what buyers are looking for. Would they prefer a book on caring for guinea pigs or falling in love? Sure, some people have guinea pigs as pets, but more probably want to meet that special someone.

Classifieds have endured the test of time—the struggling newspaper industry continues to run lots of them—so why not try them online? You will only increase the number of potential buyers many, many times. Who doesn't like that?

About the Author

Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.

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