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My Trademe Tips for Low Stress Selling

trademe_logoTrademe poweruser I am not, but I definitely have seen a few auctions around that could do with a bit of a rewrite. For those who are not in the Land of the Long White Cloud, Trademe is the go-to place for auctions and classified sales as Ebay is for the US and many other countries.

In fact Trademe is streets ahead in terms of quality, setup and overall experience for buyers and sellers alike compared to any other Auction/Sales site I have seen. It pretty much holds a monopoly in NZ for product Auctions, and many have tried and failed to take it on (eg Weedle, Sella) with others still trying today.  There are other smaller sites around such as Listselltrade, Lixtor, Sellshed, and plenty more small sites have tried too… but even though Trademe really charges quite a bit for its sales cut, people still use it due to the experience, and overall userbase.

I started using Trademe in its first year 1999, when it was advertised as “NZ’s Free Auction site”, and I remember very well the backlash when they started to charge users in 2000.

This Tips summary is aimed at the average ‘list stuff occasionally’, not the people who run a business doing it. Like EBay, you can buy software to list & maintain 1000’s of products for you and deal with the Q&A etc.

Why would you bother with any of this? Well, if you are selling something you want the maximum number of people looking at your advert and wanting to buy your item. There is nothing more frustrating than selling something and having few people looking to buy it. If it takes you 10 minutes and you make another $20, is it worth it for you?

Tip 1: Write a decent ad and include lots of text.

Speaks for itself, make sure you write everything you can about the item so you avoid questions. Also, put everything into the ad from when you release it… don’t say ‘photos coming soon’ or try to add more text later. Usually you have one shot to make an impact, especially if you have a buy now. Sometime I wish trademe had a ‘draft’ ad feature as sometimes it takes me a while to complete and ad and trademe logs me out!
Subtip: Draft your ad first...

For people like me who this happens to regularly, I suggest… type the main ad up first in a text file or word document then paste it in. You can then save for later for similar items. Also, if the item doesn’t sell, you have a few months to re-release your ad before trademe deletes the text/photos so it is nice to have a copy elsewhere.
Tip 2: Include a summary of FAQs/Notes

A bit of a pain, but with a busy life you really want to answer everything ‘before’ people ask. People often skip past ads where they aren’t sure what the total cost is or if they have to wait for a question to be answered. People are much more likely to buy now or bid if they know the full story.  For pretty much every auction I run I have a standard set of notes at the end with some relevant details.
Here is my note summary. Feel free to copy and paste the relevant lines or use something similar

– Start price is the reserve, if you would like a buy now feel free to suggest one. (You may persuade someone to suggest a price if they want it asap)
– Questions welcomed (A nice touch to show you are friendly)
– Payment and pickup within 7 days please. (Sometimes people think they can wait for a couple of pay-days to pay you and pick up.  This gives you the option of relisting if it is slow. You could make it longer or put ‘or other by arrangement’… and they may ask in a question)
– Item is large, Please pick up. Unlikely I’ll ship but make an offer if you want to. (Avoids the inevitable ‘how much to Dunedin’ questions)
(OR) – P+P within NZ $25 (See below for postage costs)
– Pickup location is Newlands, Wellington, after business hours please. (Always be specific about pickup, otherwise people will ask)
– I have a trailer and might drop it to you in the Newlands region for an extra $30 (A way to make a few extra $, with no fees if you really can be bothered)
Tip 3: Fill up the Titletitle_trademe

You have a bunch of characters (50 apparently) and you should use them all. This is what people see first. Don’t say “Cordless Phones”, say “3 set Panasonic DECT Cordless Ph, Near New $1 res”. Exclamation marks optional.

photos_trademeTip 4. Photos, Photos, Photos.

As of late, Trademe now lets you add up to 20 photos for free. Never put up an advert without photos. Make them decent ones… show everything you can about the item (any damage, colour, different angles, a photo of the item being used, sit it beside a ruler or something so people know the size… oh yes, always put the size/measurements… or people will ask.)
Subtip: Photos with other items you are selling...

Sounds weird, but if you are selling a few similar items, Take a photo with the other items in the background. Often it generates interest… ie if they want the other item, they will see it and look to your other auctions.
start_priceTip 5: No reserve, Buy Now, or $1 reserve?

I like to list $1 reserve whenever possible, or at least Start=reserve.  Don’t bother with the extra 25c to add another reserve price.  As mentioned, Trademe have a near monopoly, so pretty much everyone in NZ who can bid will probably do so if they see your ad.  Therefore, whatever it goes for… is what its worth (as long as you list at the right time, with the right search parameters).
Subtip: Maybe start high then relist...

If you really have the time, there is little harm listing an item for a high reserve the first time and if it doesn’t sell, lowering it later…. but it is time consuming running the same ad over and over.  Also it can be costly if you keep paying the additional 25c here and there for auction features. If you put a buy now, make it high…at least the first time listed anyway.  You may catch someone who needs the item urgently and is willing to pay (I’ve bought things like that myself)
Tip 6: Always Set a Sensible Finishing Time.

finishing_timeList your ad to complete say… between 7 and 9pm on weekdays.  I suggest Tues to Thurs.  If you have to pay the 25c to do so, I recommend it.  The cheapest things I have obtained from Trademe are because the auction closed at 2am and I was the sole bidder.  I have no real thoughts on auction length, I usually run it for 5 or 7 days.
Why do I need a finishing time when people can just put an autobid in?

People who really know how to win Auctions will ONLY bid in the last minute of the auction, and use an auto-bid then walk away.  I am often up at 2am, so no problem looking for specific things to win cheaply.  Also, there are a lot of ‘standard family impulse buyers’ out there… if they have just put the kids to bed and are browsing the net, they might just buy your items.
Tip 7: Add Post PLUS Packaging Costs

My life is busy, and if someone wants me to ship something, they can damn well pay for it.  I recommend that you put some form of packaging cost for your efforts and any bubble wrap etc you need.  This will depend on what you are selling obviously, you may not want someone to come to your house and/or organise a time for pick-ups.  Declare P&P when you first release the auction, otherwise people will complain that ‘shipping is too expensive’.
Actually, the main reason I really like to use P+P is...

…that Trademe don’t take a cut of of shipping or packaging fees….
Tip 8: Include Some Searchable Key words

Looks dodgy, but honestly it is useful for when people search for things, or even spell things wrongly. Also, not everything fits exactly in ONE Trademe category and Trademe does not allow you to choose multiple categories, so this greatly helps people who search. Put them at the very end of you ad. Some people even put key words to other things you are selling if you like. This will annoy some… but will drive more people to the ad. I even use the word ‘Keywords’ at the beginning so people know that’s exactly what they are.
An example of Keywords:

Example: eg if you were selling a Ryobi Battery Skillsaw

Keywords: Ryobi, Riobi, Ryobe, Skillsaw, Battery Saw, Power Saw, Ryobi Battery, OnePlus, One Plus, Dropsaw, Power tools. Ryobi 5AH battery in other auction

trademe_feedbackTip 9: Feedback Only if Fed Back.

Once you have 50 or so Feedbacks (so you have some sort of reputation), NEVER give feedback to someone without them giving feedback first.  Why?  Well you only get 2 chances to give feedback… one to feedback, and another to change it if needed.  If someone gives you bad feedback, then you can reciprocate and at the same time suggest they remove their bad comments.  If someone gives you a neutral, you have the option of emailing them and suggesting they change it… or you can add bad feedback to theirs.

And lastly… I also don’t usually bother with those fancy or featured listings, most people would browse categories to find what the need.  I also don’t bother with subtitles (25c), ‘authenticated members only’ (you can delete bidders or claim money back if it goes sour), or safetrader.  You’ll find that by far the majority of people on Trademe are reputable and a pleasure to deal with.  If not, just add some bad feedback and get on with your life.


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