Official Blog of the Tophatter Auction House
Anyone who has sold their first item on Tophatter knows how to list a lot. You just describe the item you’re selling, right? Whoa there soldier, there’s a little bit more to it than that if you want to be sure to protect yourself and your customers in case there are any issues later on, all while also making a profit!
Here’s your how-to on perfecting the art of putting together a listing…
Step 1: Prepare to list. Create a new document in MS Word, Google Documents, Evernote, or whatever your word processing tool of choice may be. Your listings should all include some key information that may be too time-consuming to type over and over again so saving is really important. Plan an outline of what your listing will include and in what order. For example:
- Tophatter category-specific requirements
Step 2: Check out your PayPal account to familiarize yourself with the options there. When you log in there visit “My Selling Tools” and make sure everything is set the way you want it beforehand. Understand what protections you have and what you need to do to be eligible for those. If you have payment exclusions set up on your PayPal account, you’ll want to note those in the listing so that bidders know ahead of time if you don’t accept a certain type of payment or address.
Step 3: Create a return policy. You really have to anticipate potential problems and plan for them in advance even though nobody wants to think that something may go wrong. It’s just selling on the internet- how hard could it be? But things do happen, and being prepared will help you and your customers if questions ever do come up. You can host your return policy on a free website or your store webpage, or if it’s short and sweet, add it right in your listing itself. If your policy will be on a different page, you can just include a link to that at the end of your listing and be sure to identify it by letting readers know what that URL leads to. Think about what you are willing to do for a buyer if you ship outside the country and the item doesn’t make it beyond customs. Is it on you or them to ship a replacement? Have a plan in place if a buyer says the package arrived damaged or empty. Include all of this in as much detail as possible. Note: Tophatter will be updating and revamping Seller Profiles, so this type of information can potentially be included on your profile in the future.
Step 4: Consider your customer service. If you have an email account that is filled with spam, think about making a new one just for selling, and then be sure to check it regularly. Communication is key to helping buyers feel safe. Keeping track of your expenses and profit will help you understand if you can afford to offer freebies with every purchase or send a replacement for the item that got lost on its way to Australia. Which leads us to…
Step 5: Research shipping. Find out where in the world you can and can’t sell your specific items to and what protection you have when shipping there. Estimate what it costs to ship there so you don’t wind up over or under-charging for that and eating into your profit. If possible, planning to include tracking or delivery confirmation is always a great idea that can only help you and your buyers. If you want to offer these or other services such as insurance as a separate charge, be sure to include that in your listing description. Weigh the risks and benefits to determine what shipping options you want to offer and to where. Lots of international buyers would love to buy your items; just be sure you are prepared.
Step 6: Examine cost. Set your starting bid at something you can live with if that ends up being the selling price. Steps 1-5 can be saved and reused again and again, but each unique item should be considered to determine what it cost you to make or buy, what packing costs, how many hours it took to make and the value of your labor, what you spent on gas and mileage to drive it to the post office or what your subscription to a shipping service costs, and of course any fees Tophatter may charge as well as PayPal fees. Additionally, think about the retail value. If this is something you made, you can determine the factors that went into creating it, and check out similar items at other major retail websites to get an idea of what your type of item generally sells for. If it is a purchased item, really think about what the item is and how much it sells for at retail, not wholesale. If an item is costume jewelry, for example, the retail price won’t be as high as a similar-looking item made from genuine materials. For more tips on how to decide on a starting bid, visit a previous post written by Katie, our Community Liaison.
Step 7: Come up with a catchy, not spammy, title. It could be a “Size 7 Dazzling Pink Ring” but it shouldn’t be a “PINK ($200 ~ value!!) RING with loads of BLING!!! + bonus”.
Step 8: Describe and photograph your item accurately. Is that pair of Louboutins really worth the new retail price if you wore them for three summers? Are there scuffs you’d rather not show because it takes away from the aesthetic? Is your necklace gorgeous but made of an indeterminate but probably synthetic material? Do you smoke or store your yarn in the same basket the German Shepherd sleeps in? That’s ok! The more the buyer knows about the item up front, the safer they will feel that you accurately represented it. Most people don’t mind that something isn’t perfect or pristine as long as they know before they buy it. Use terms like gently used, as-is, silver-colored, antique-style, slight wear, pre-loved, and others. Explain what is and isn’t included. If that stuffed monkey is just modeling the collar with the fancy tag, be sure to say you will receive one collar and one tag. If you are trying to get rid of your vintage Nintendo 64 but Baxter chewed up the wires back in ‘97, let the buyer know that they will receive one system and a controller -cables are not included.
Step 9: Don’t forget the guidelines! Some Tophatter categories have very specific criteria that need to be included or your lot may be unscheduled. Find out what your type of item requires by checking the Help Center or by asking a staff member by clicking the “Help” menu & then “Chat With Staff” from any Tophatter page.
Step 10: Review. Once you have your listing set up as you like it and you’ve added it to your Items for Sale, re-read it once more to be sure it has all the information needed and you haven’t left anything out. You may not be able to edit later on after you have scheduled, and adding something or leaving something out could cause problems after the item sells. Rushing through will look rushed. A nice polished listing free of typos and errors and with plenty of vital information will grab attention, be easy to understand, and allow the buyers to bid with confidence. Now you’re ready to get out there and sell!
By Aimee, Support Staff
Psst…feel free to email Aimee if you have any questions about getting started or you’d like advice on how to improve your existing listings!