Ask Auctiva: Is eBay Worth the Cost?

VP of Engineering Tom Urbanowicz answers this and other questions from Auctiva users.

by staff writer
- Sep 28, 2011

What impact is the economy having on buyers and sellers? Is it worth all the work and cost to keep selling on eBay? What can sellers do to draw more buyers?

—Uncertain in Sunnyvale

Urbanowicz: Though the U.S. economy is certainly not booming in every sector, eBay remains a solid and growing marketplace for sellers to reach buyers. The following five tips can hopefully improve your selling experience on eBay.

First, if you're willing to ship internationally, rumor has it that Canada, the U.K. and Australia are English-speaking countries. Auctiva supports posting to these eBay sites. You may find an untapped market for inventory that's slow to move in the U.S.

Second, take a fresh look at your listings' keywords, titles and descriptions. With eBay's recent policy change, your listing titles now get 80 characters—that's more wiggle room to play with adding valuable keywords.

A simple way to reduce your overall eBay expenses is to increase your sell-through rate

Third, review the quality of your listings—both the text and the photos. Words that are mspeled (wink) or poor grammar having (wink, wink) can subtly detract from a professional appearance. Similarly, photos that underrepresent item details won't help your listing. Neither will poorly cropped or blurry images. Here's a helpful Auctiva video tutorial on how to make a photo lightbox and some recent blog posts about taking photos for eBay listings.

Fourth, do a bit of research to ensure you're still effectively describing and presenting items for your target buyers. Auctiva's listing templates give you a professionally designed framework for marketing your inventory. Similarly, review the competitiveness of your pricing—including a reasonable auction start price and Buy It Now price.

Fifth, carefully experiment with eBay marketing options like bold and subtitle. For instance, you might find one of your items with a subtitle sells at a much higher price after an aggressive bidding war, while the same item without the subtitle sells at a much lower price with only a few watches and one bid.

Remember, you are typically charged eBay listing fees whether or not your item sells. So a simple way to reduce your overall eBay expenses is to increase your sell-through rate.

Is Auctiva still actively working on interfacing with other selling venues?

—Restless in Renton

Urbanowicz: Auctiva is still active in bringing sellers more sales. Our engineering and product management teams have done significant research into how to bring sellers more buyer traffic. While I can't share all the details right now, good things are in the future for this area.

For those of us sellers with multiple businesses, it would be convenient to be able to manage multiple businesses from one Auctiva account. Do you have plans to support this?

—Seeing Double in Durham

Urbanowicz: This feature is on the development roadmap. For now, continues to support our many multi-account sellers with one master billing account. Contact Customer Support and ask about our economical multi-account plan.

Buyers all seem to want free shipping, but my profit margin is too small to absorb the cost. Can you suggest some creative ways to reduce shipping cost?

—Cost-conscious in Columbus

Auctiva can help you cut costs on some of your shipping-related expenses, like insurance and labels

Urbanowicz: It's been said that "time is money." One way you can reduce your overall business cost is to use Auctiva's time-saving and money-saving shipping tools. You can efficiently purchase and print shipping labels at competitive prices, print packing slips with custom messaging and purchase discounted shipping insurance. Auctiva is designed to help you cut costs on some of your shipping-related expenses, like insurance and labels. For maximum efficiency, you can set up automated rules for these in your Account Preferences. You can also take action on individual transactions from the new Sales page.

A second way to reduce shipping costs is to economically obtain quality shipping supplies. Rather than list all the tips and tricks here, the best advice I can give is to watch Part 1 and Part 2 of our humorous and informative "Shipping Secrets Revealed" video how-to series.

Are there any plans to incorporate sales tax rates for different zip codes or counties?

—Taxed in Tallahassee

Urbanowicz: In Auctiva Commerce—Auctiva's independent online store solution—merchants can already define tax rates for both states and zip codes. While eBay doesn't support this level of granularity, sellers can still define tax rates for each state. You can configure your tax table for your eBay account and then use these rates when posting through When creating a listing using, see the "Use your eBay sales tax table" checkbox in the "Checkout Options" section.

Will Auctiva be adjusting any of its templates to streamline the info when it's being viewed on a mobile device? Auctiva templates showcase my items well and a mobile-friendly listing gives up a lot of the possible impact for PC viewers. Templates that detect mobile systems and skip everything but photos and text would make Auctiva even more valuable.

—Mobile-minded in McAllen

Urbanowicz: Currently, Auctiva's listing templates are already handled gracefully on mobile devices. Buyers viewing eBay listings see only your description, item details and gallery image. The screen "real estate" for a mobile device is typically around the size of a business card. It's important to ensure you've got a high-quality gallery photo and a clear description, and that you are properly using item condition and item specifics. Don't forget that eBay is hoping to exceed $4 billion in mobile sales this year.

You can ask Auctiva management your own questions by e-mailing "AskAuctiva" at the Auctiva dot com domain. Not all questions will be answered, but those selected will be published with responses from Auctiva's top managers in future Ask Auctiva articles. Due to the volume of mail we receive, it will not be possible to reply to you individually.

Please do not submit inquiries requiring an immediate response. If you need a technical issue resolved right away, please use the online form to file a support request and your case will be addressed by our customer support team.

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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