Playing the popularity game on eBay

When buying or selling on eBay, it pays to be popular. Whether you're one of the dominant sellers in a certain sub-category or well-known as a reliable, quick buyer, eBay users both stand and fall on their reputation. If other users find out you've been attempting to pull a fast one with cash or have been knowingly advertising broken goods as brand new, you will find yourself on the wrong side of eBay's terms and conditions, meaning you'll subsequently feel the full force of its wrath.

As a result, it's worth paying close attention to your conduct on the website. Deliberately shady buying and purchasing is seen as a big no-no and will undoubtedly affect your future on the website. Therefore, it's worth playing the 'popularity game' - and you may pick up a bargain in the process.

Feedback

Feedback is one of eBay's most important features and represents a user's reputation as a member of the site. Comments and ratings are left by buyers and sellers alike as an indicator as to a member's conduct. These are included, along with an overall Feedback score, in their profile.

Ratings are used to determine Feedback scores. Each user gains one point for a positive rating, no points for a neutral rating and minus one point for a negative rating. Consequently, it is easy to see which members are classed as honest, reputable members when looking at their Feedback rating. Have a think: would you prefer buy from a user with a Feedback score of 10,000 or a score of 0?

However, this doesn't mean those with a low Feedback rating should be instantly dismissed as shysters. Low Feedback ratings could indicate new members to the site; always check the comments and ratings on a user's Feedback page for a true indication as to their conduct on the site.

Presentation

With a wealth of listings going live on the site each and every day (well into the millions, too), first impressions are everything. High-quality pictures, engaging content and - of course - an attractive price is vital to luring buyers into purchasing your wares. As such, presentation is one of the key aspects to consider when trying to raise reputation and popularity levels on the site.

A well-presented listing indicates time and effort has been spent by the seller and, as a result, they are not likely to want to mess buyers about intentionally. An eye-catching, engaging listing is an efficient listing; a basic, bare-bones one, on the other hand, may only put buyers off. Poor descriptions, blurred photos, incorrect categorisation, shipping limitations, high reserves, awkward end-times for buyers...these can all have a significant negative effect on a listing. The opposite: thorough descriptions, crystal clear photos, international delivery, convenient end-time - to name a few metrics - should attract hordes of buyers.

Mass appeal

One of the great things about eBay is the sheer variety of products listed. Everything from tiny computer chips to Harrier Jump Jets has been sold on the platform, making it one of the world's premier e-commerce sites. However, those looking to gain a positive reputation quickly might want to watch what they sell.

Niche products may attract a small market, but for users looking to build their popularity quickly it's a slow, meandering way to gain Feedback and heightened reputation. In addition, niche sellers with low feedback tend to leave a lot of buyers asking if there's a catch. Plus there's always the chance the product itself might not sell, leaving sellers stuck not only with eBay fees but their unwanted item as well.

As a result, it might be worth attracting a mass market audience to quickly gain feedback. Research what types of sub-sections are thriving - technology and clothing tend to have a sizable audience of buyers looking to snap up a bargain - and try to list items that have mass appeal. Once you've cemented a positive reputation with a lot of sales (and a lot of positive Feedback built up on the back of it) then it could be time to start selling off your niche items.

Think of eBay as a metaphorical school playground. The new kid might attract some stares at first, but with the right mix of products, Feedback and presentation, users can build their reputation and become a major player when it comes to buying and selling on one of the world's most popular commerce platforms.

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