Become an eBay Powerseller
With over 180 million members eBay is one of the most visible and far-reaching Internet companies and the leading auction site in the world. Among eBay sellers a designation of PowerSeller is given to approximately 4%. Becoming a PowerSeller is a question of following eBay's guidelines for PowerSellers, and the same is true for keeping your PowerSeller status. PowerSellers get many advantages and discounts from eBay, access to special areas and more, so becoming and staying a PowerSeller is considered important by many people. There is far more to being a good PowerSeller than the eBay rules. In this article we will show you some of the tricks we have found to become an accomplished PowerSeller.
Win and Understand PowerSeller Status
- Learn eBay's policies for PowerSeller status. Policies are always subject to change, but PowerSeller rules have been fairly stable for a few years. To become a PowerSeller you must:
- Be an active member for 90 days.
- Average a minimum of $1000 in sales per month, for three consecutive months.
- Maintain a minimum of 4 average monthly listings for three consecutive months.
- Have an overall feedback rating of 100, of which 98% or more is positive.
- Have an account in good financial standing.
- Uphold the eBay community values, including honesty, timeliness and mutual respect
- Comply with all eBay listing and marketplace policies.
- Understand PowerSeller Tiers. There are several tiers of PowerSeller, and your benefits vary depending on your tier. The tier you fall in is determined by consistent sales volume over a period of months. There are 6 PowerSeller Tiers:
- Bronze PowerSellers have a minimum of $1000 in sales per a month. Bronze tier benefits include prioritized online support from eBay.
- Silver PowerSellers must have a minimum of $3000 of business a month. Silver PowerSellers get both prioritized online support and toll free phone support.
- Gold PowerSellers are required to do $10,000 of volume a month. These PowerSellers get all the benefits of the first two tiers plus free access to eBay's Account Manager Software.
- Platinum PowerSellers get all the benefits of the gold tier but must do $25,000 of business monthly.
- Titanium PowerSellers must do $150,000 or more of business a month.
- Diamond PowerSellers have to do a minimum of $500,000 in sales or sell at least 50,000 items per month. This is the highest PowerSeller level!
Develop Good Practices
- Put the customer first. PowerSellers always have the customer at the forefront of their operation. Understand that your seller reputation on eBay's is primarily determined by your feedback score, therefore treating your customers right is not only common sense but good business too.
- In a conflict with a customer always use the eBay email system to communicate with them in order to establish a written record.
- Always keep your cool and be professional.
- If the customer is wrong consider the money involved in keeping a customer against the money involved in proving you are right. Consider offers for dissatisfied customers, even if they are wrong:
- Give them free shipping, or refund their shipping.
- Include a free gift in the package.
- Develop a listing that answers all questions about your sale, including your return, shipping and other customer service policies. Stick with it!
- Be consistent with all customers when it comes to your own policies.
- Maintain active communication with your customers. Customers are less likely to be unhappy, file complaints or make your life miserable if you communicate with them.
- Always send the customer a tracking number for their package.
- Always include a packing slip with the auction number in the package.
- Respond to any questions promptly.
- Choose a focus. A PowerSeller is usually focused on a single article or type of product. Doing so makes all other aspects of running the business easier, including listing, packing and shipping.
- Plan to be organized. PowerSellers deal with such a large volume of business they need to develop a "back-end" organization (also known as a workflow) that minimizes the time they spend keeping up with their own policies regarding on-time shipping, packing, returns and similar activities. You may think of this preparation as creating an "assembly line". For example, you may set up a large 4' by 8' table with bubble wrap and packing materials at one end, products in the middle, and boxes, labels and packing tape at the far end.
- Buy and keep a selection of shipping boxes and shipping materials in your home.
- Consider setting aside an area of your home just to run your business.
- Create online shipping accounts with USPS, UPS or your favorite shipper so you can print shipping labels at home.
- If you do a lot of shipping consider signing up for a pickup service, rather than lugging it all to the mailer yourself.
- Establish an accurate accounting procedure.
- Keep a paper copy of every auction, the winner, and the shipping receipts.
- Keep a record of all your customers, their names and addresses.
- Establish a regular schedule for balancing your books, perhaps monthly.
- Stay up-to-date on auction trends and changes.
- Buy good, recent books on online auctions and e-commerce in general.
- Participate or read the eBay Message Boards and Forums.
- Stay tuned to the eBay Announcements Board.
- Subscribe to newsletters and groups concerning PowerSellers.
- Scan the news for PowerSeller and eBay announcements and changes.
Create Professional Listings
- Create professional photographs. Learn to take good product photographs, or use a scanner well if your item is flat. Be sure to include enough detail in your photographs to show all flaws in an item.
- Learn how to take a basic quality photograph. Make sure it is in focus!
- Consider creating a mini studio including photographic lighting.
- Learn how to color correct photographs taken in interior or other lights.
- Use a mixture of close ups and wide shots to give your customers a good feel for the item.
- Remember that your photographs are part of your listing and will be considered in any disputed transaction. Photographs must be as 'true' as your listing text.
- You pay no more for larger photographs than smaller ones, so make your photographs as large as possible for the eBay system.
- Consider paying extra for oversize photographs and other eBay photographic features.
- Only use a scanner for flat items.
- Consider adding voice and video to your listings
- Pictures are a must, but adding more engaging visuals is even better.
- You can develop trust and rapport with a simple webcam -- just keep it personal and real.
- Highlight what YOU want the prospective buyer to see. Share details about the product that would otherwise go unnoticed in a flat photograph.
- Schedule listing for peaks periods. For ten cents you can schedule any start time for your auctions. Peak buying periods are generally considered to be, Saturday, Friday and Sunday evenings between 6 and 8 pm eastern standard time. That said, the peak periods for your particular customers may vary.
- Write professional headlines. A PowerSeller resists the temptation to use "fluff" words like "L@@K", "WOW" and "MUST SEE" as these provide no information for your customer about your item, do not show up in searches, and are generally ignored by most buyers. Instead, the wise PowerSeller uses descriptive words in the headline, realizing that the headline is the "ad for the ad". A PowerSeller is also "search engine savvy", realizing that keywords in the headline are picked up by the eBay search engine, and by Google, more often than not.
- Write detailed item descriptions. A PowerSeller has achieved their level by maintaining a high ratio of positive feedback. This is primarily accomplished by having clear and accurate descriptions of the items so that the bidder can clearly "imagine" the item as if it were sitting in front of her along with describing the flaws in the item. A great description should entice the bidder to bid while at the same time providing full and complete disclosure of the item's condition. Always be scrupulously honest in your descriptions.
- Make it easy for winners to pay you!By offering a variety of payment options, PowerSellers make it easy for winning bidders to pay for their items. They offer to accept Checks, Money Orders, all types of credit and debit cards through PayPal, Billpoint, or their own Merchant Accounts. By offering a wide variety of payment options, they open up their market of available bidders and end up with higher ending bids as a result.
- Accept International Bids. By accepting bids from around the world you dramatically increase the number of customers you can attract and probably increase the end price of your item. On the down side shipping to many other countries is often difficult and awkward.
- Offer discounts on multiple items. Whether it is a discount on shipping multiple items or a discount on the actual price of multiple items, PowerSellers realize the value of a good customer and treat that customer special. Unexpected discounts tell the customer "You're special" and build a reciprocity that keeps customers coming back or searching the PowerSellers' auctions.
Take it Further
- Complete your "About me" page and any other tools eBay offers for advertising.
- Explore the use of "coop" money.
- Include a link to your current auctions in your email signature.
- Include a link to all your other auctions on all your listings.
- Use the PowerSeller tools on eBay All PowerSellers get benefit and tools from eBay to help maximize their profits. Learn to use these tools. The welcome kit varies for different tiers of PowerSeller but includes:
- A welcome kit featuring an official certificate of achievement from Meg Whitman [] and essential advanced selling tips available in electronic format (.pdf) on the PowerSeller portal.
- Personalized sales and Feedback information on program portal pages.
- PowerSeller icon next to user ID.
- Use of PowerSeller logo in your item listings and on your About Me pages.
- Unique PowerSeller logo merchandise to wear and use or give to customers.
- PowerSeller logo letterhead and business card templates for customer communications.
- Exclusive PowerSeller-only discussion board
- Monthly PowerUp! email newsletter featuring the latest program information, special promotions, and advanced selling education
- Quarterly printed PowerUp! newsletter in the mail
- Consider hiring an assistant. PowerSellers delegate because they have to! Your volume may require you hire an assistant to do some of the more repetitive tasks that don't require the your expertise attention.
- Consider a "dutch auction" In a Dutch auction a seller can place a large number of the same item up for sale individually. Bidders can bid on one or more of the item, but the highest bidders will be first in line for the products they bid on.
- A PowerSeller uses Dutch auctions often because it is a huge time-saver. This is a true "assembly line" auction from start to finish.
- Packing and shipping goes a lot faster when the same item is being packed and shipped over and over again.
- In the same period of time that it takes to list one item, you are listing dozens, or even hundreds of items!
- Bulk list your auctions Use bulk listing software or auction management services to list many auctions at the same time. There are various options in this area, from eBay's own "Mister Lister" to Blackthorne software to Andale, and Auction Watch auction management services.
- Develop your own Web site. On the Internet, business conditions can change literally from quarter to quarter! Because of the transient and high-speed nature of change in Internet business, a PowerSeller realizes the value of having their own storefront on the Web. Most have either built a website themselves or have had someone build a site for them. They have developed a following and a customer base through their eBay auctions that can help sustain them even if dramatic changes come about on their main selling venue. As eBay continues to evolve and change - applying restrictive and invasive policies - this will become more of a priority for all eBay sellers, not just PowerSellers. Having your own Web site is also an excellent marketing tactic for PowerSellers.
- Create an actual business. You may be legally required or may prefer to create an actual small business if you are running the typical PowerSeller operation. Having your own business has advantages and disadvantages. For example, you may qualify for special bank loans for capital investments or you may get certain tax privileges. The disadvantages include extra record keeping and all the work involved in creating and maintaining a small business. The eBay PowerSeller program includes some benefits designed especially for small business owners including:
- Health insurance solutions for PowerSellers and their employees
- Special invitations to participate in eBay events
- Additional special values from eBay service providers
- Invest in your business. Whether it means investing in a high-speed cable modem or DSL connection, high-quality computer components, digital cameras and lights, monitors, keyboards, or anything else investing in the tools that make running a PowerSeller program easier is always a good idea, so long as your business will scale to support such capital expenditures.
- Use a tool to automate shipping. ShipRush  is a good tool for this.
- Don't be caught off-guard with a new change or policy that might affect your business and profits.
- PowerSeller status is free, you do not pay extra for the title and often get deals and discounts not available to regular sellers.
- Invest in a heavy duty and quality shipping scale.
- Be constantly on the lookout for good deals. The PowerSeller is the consummate "deal-maker". Whether it's at an antique store or at a swap meet, the PowerSeller is always thinking about things they can re-sell. In addition check out the bulk item listing on eBay itself for good deals for PowerSellers.
- Look for good deals on your business materials too, like boxes and packing materials.
- eBay automatically sends invitations to eligible members each month. You do not have to, and cannot, apply for PowerSeller status.
- Winning and maintaining PowerSeller status is not for everybody. It involves a lot of work — much like running any retail business — so consider how valuable you think the title is before deciding on this route.
- If you fall out of PowerSeller status your title and privileges will be automatically removed, but once you qualify again they will be reinstated. For example, in one month you may have a lower sales volume than usual and loose your status. The next month it will come back, once your sales volume is up again.
- Get Started on eBay
- Avoid the Seven Deadly Sins of Selling
- Increase Your eBay Feedback Rating
- Set up a Drop Ship Business on eBay
- Be Successful Selling on eBay
- Sell on eBay
- Title an eBay Listing
- Advertise Effectively on eBay
- Automate eBay Shipping (North America)
Sources and Citations
- http://pages.ebay.com/help/basics/faq.html — eBay PowerSeller FAQ