Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Designing & Critiquing An Ebay Listing: Item Description

As important as having a picture in a listing, having a quality item description is key to selling these cards. Even if you do not sell often, it is important to develop a handy template so it won't feel like you're "re-inventing the wheel" each time you set up a listing

A good way to develop one is to do a little research. Look at ebay listings. See which ones are selling. Read over their descriptions. Those who sell more than a few etopps in-hands already have the same language in each in-hand listing.

A good rule of thumb is your template should cover about 80% of your description so you would only have to adjust the remaining 20% for each listing.

In the 80%, your listing can stand out with a template design from Auctiva. It would be wise to describe what makes etopps cards special, their quality, their availability as well as other basics like your shipping and return policy. My policy is simple: 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

You may consider having a template for different sports or years. If you sell 2005 cards, for example, a template would make sense for to describe the Certificate of Issuance that are included with each card or 2004 cards with their total print run stamped on the back.

In summary, the template should be versatile enough to apply to most of your in-hands to save you time but it should have some thought behind it so it doesn't appear that it was slapped together.

The downside to templates is you run the risk of overlooking a typo or mispelling and having to go back to every listing you used with that template to correct the mistake. (I've been there. It sucks.)

Just remember, how you write your template will reflect what kind of seller you are. Will you give off a professional impression? Will you seem clueless? Friendly? Boring or asleep at the wheel? I love finding the ones who are asleep, the ones who list their in-hand(s) at 3AM on a Friday night after coming home from partying. That's how I won a BGS 10 LeBron rookie card for $40.

I think the impression you want to give is you're selling something that you like and believe the buyer will like as well.

Some of the best descriptions I've read for etopps in-hands start with one word that can set this tone: Wow! And that's what we want buyers of etopps in-hands to feel when they open the package we sent them. It's the feeling customers get at the National when they put an in-hand card in their hand. It's that expression on an 8-year old boy's face at a card show when they discover your table of in-hands and yell for their parent to come over.

The other 20% is where you plug in the player's name, year of the card, and possibly the total print run or serialized number. It may be helpful to place this information in a different colored font or in bold for buyers who are going through a few of your listings, making it easier on their eyes rather than having to read through your template each time to get the info they want.

Let's take a look now at the Ken Griffey Jr. listing's item description:

This is a card from 2006 Etopps of Ken Griffey Jr.. The card is #13 in the set. This card is serialed #/999 with the majority of them being in online portfolios. The card is also uncirculated and comes in the factory case and a baggy that is sent with the card from Etopps to keep the case from scratching.


$2.25 for the first item and 50 cents each additional item.


$50 coverage: $1.65

$100 coverage: $2.05

$150 coverage: $2.45

Insurance is optional on this item but I am not responsible for any uninsured packages.

Payments are to be received within 7 days of auctions closing. Failure to do so will result in negative feedback being given.

It covers most of the basic information you would cover in a template with the card information, shipping, insurance and payment policy spelled out pretty well in four sentences at the top. He shows he's going to ship this with its baggie and tells you why it will be included which is a nice touch.

Three things caught my eye besides the mispelling of serialized:
  1. Writing what the number of the card is on the back doesn't really do much for the listing. I know this is standard for cardboard but not etopps listings. Anyone trying to collect the 2006 Baseball set will probably try to collect the online cards than the in-hands on ebay.
  2. The card does not come in a factory case. This implies the case can be opened but should not. The word "factory" in a hobby listing refers to being sealed by the manufacturer and usually implies a case of something like hobby/retail boxes of cards or a hobby/retail box rather than an acrylic casing.
  3. The seller gives a warning - payment in 7 days or negative feedback. As a buyer, I'm not keen on a seller that gives me ultimatums in their listings no matter how many times they've been burned in the past. Just mentioning negative feedback in a listing is threatening and pretty soon will be superfluous when ebay begins their no negative feedback to buyers policy in the near future.
The seller could probably do a lot more for the description to sell the card so I'm grading his description a B.

It would probably take him 5-10 minutes to beef it up a little based on the suggestions I've made. If I was selling this card I would say that Ken Griffey Jr.'s 2006 card is his best etopps card because of the photo of him with his baseball cap turned around: while he's all grown up, he's still a kid at heart. Wouldn't this be something the buyer could relate to?

To conclude, selling in-hands on ebay is competitive and by expecting the picture to sell your card for you as good as this one is not enough.

Give the buyer reason to do business with you besides pricing which is what I will cover next.

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