I'm seeking knowledge and first-hand experience from those of you who have done it before. I have never sold anything on eBay, but I've finally been enticed to start selling due to their offer of $30 credit if I can complete three sales.
I'm not looking for marketing or pricing tips, I just want to know more about the logistics of it. ("It" being selling generally, and also selling coins specifically.) I'll post what I've figured out from reading selling guides, but please correct me when I'm wrong. Please also feel free to add additional knowledge if you care to!
Commission. Some brief research suggests eBay takes 10% and paypal takes 3%. To be on the safe side, I was planning on calculating loss at 15% and pricing accordingly.
Shipping. This is where I'll need the most help. Like I said, my experience is as a buyer, where shipping cost is a static amount that only affects my bid. As a seller, there seem to be many options. Priority mail, express mail are fairly simple, but I plan on selling fairly cheap loose coins in 2x2s. A significant shipping cost here would cause people to lose interest in the sale. I'm thinking bubble mailer or first class envelope with tracking? Can I list shipping and handling at $2.50 and have that accurately reflect my costs? How would you experienced sellers ship a hypothetical group of 2x2s that weighs an aggregate two ounces? (This is mostly a shipping methods question, but if you want to share how you pack coins, that would be fantastic too.) Also, insurance: leave it up to the buyer but pass on the additional cost?
Dealing with Fraudulent Claims. I've read the stories here where people have dealt with fraudulent claims from sellers. I've chatted with people who have dealt with fraudulent claims from buyers. My understanding is that eBay is very buyer friendly. Is there anything I need to watch out for when dealing with buyers?
I think that's all I can come up with for now. There's a bit of a time crunch as I need to get some listings up before the end of the week. The catch is the eBay credit can't be used for "Coins and Currency" or "Real Estate" -- there goes my $30 house -- but I can use it for supplies!
Go to Walmart. Buy 4x6 bubble envelopes in packs of 10. It will cost you $2.54 to ship. Self insure everything less than $100, but ship with delivery confirmation. In hundreds of transactions, you will get one or two scammers. Write it off as a cost of doing business.
Invest in a good camera. You will get bad feedback for not having high quality pictures.
If you are not a Powerseller, you will pay 10% to eBay and 2.8% to Paypal. You really can't make money on anything unless you start with 25% gross margins to begin with. Minimum. Even at that you are splitting the profits with eBay 50/50.
The collection is in your mind. Dispose of your albums and free your mind from the tyranny of holes.
You're correct about eBay and PayPal fees. Don't forget to add in shipping costs, and insurance (if you're selling expensive items). If you're selling low value items, your biggest cost may in fact be shipping.
eBay offers discounted shipping. For packages of 2 ounces, I think the best option (and the only method I use for shipping 1 - 15 ounce packages) is a bubble mailer shipped First Class with tracking. I think it is somewhere around $2.61 through eBay. I buy bubble mailers in bulk, so it costs me something like 5 or 7 cents for each mailer.
As the seller, it is your responsibility to get the item to the buyer. This also means that it's your responsibility to insure the item, even if the buyer doesn't pay for it, because you will be responsible to refund the buyer if something goes wrong. I will follow this statement with the following:
Don't worry about scammers. I've sold over 2000 items and have had maybe 3 returns, 1 item lost in the mail, and 0 scammer issues. Others may run into more problems, but they must be doing something wrong.
Lastly, have fun! You seem to have an open mind toward eBay, and it will pay off for you if you're diligent.
I consign through local auctions, they do pix and all, 13-15% is what they take, some shipping to them but I'll bundle multiple lots for one USPS price, flat box rates Had very good returns on stuff I'd have a hard time getting rid of. Last auction sold off a bunch of junk (to me), won a lot (1923 Peace supposedly in TPG as MS65...phooey!) and just today received a check in mail, made more than it cost overall, like getting it free! You ought to check one out, talk to them.
I personally don't use tracking on coins under $40 after eBay sided with a buyer who filed a "never received" coin case. Even though tracking showed it had arrived at the buyers home. eBay said it was not really there util the buyer went to the mail box and took it out. The only reason I put it on the higher ones is as a curtesy to my customers.
I hate to say it but you should probably have a limit on buyers with low feedback ( say under 40)And check to make sure it is real feedback. I know we all have to start somewhere, but the only time I really have problems have been with people with low feedback. Usually they don't pay. Again all of us started off with zero feed back. I get it.
While I've never sold a coin on eBay, I have been selling for years there. If you're selling coins, especially single coins or small lots, then a USPS First Class package works the best. The small bubble mailers at Wal-Mart are great and inexpensive (more so in bulk). First Class packages include tracking. If you have something more valuable or heavier (because First Class cuts off at 13 oz) consider a Small Flat Rate box for multiple rolls and such. Technically, you can load that little thing up with 70 lbs of sales.
First Class needs insurance added while any Priority shipment includes $50 insurance. I generally use Priority, but only because of weight and the flat-rate options. I don't add Insurance as an option in listings because I take into consideration the value, likelihood of being damaged, etc. then add Insurance when shipping at my own cost to cover my butt on higher priced items. I've never had an item lost in the mail and I've never lost anything from an illegitimate buyer or scam (which has only ever ended in an Unpaid Item case being opened against the buyer and resolved in my favor) and I think I've had maaaaybe two things returned legitimately and then I relisted them and they sold for more the second time!
I don't understand the previous post about "item not delivered" despite tracking showing otherwise and losing a case. Always keep the tracking numbers/receipts and if you purchased additional insurance, keep that slip as well. Generally, cover your bases. eBay is a little biased toward buyers but not so much as you would think. eBay values the sellers more in the end because, without sellers, there would be no buyers!
"When you make the finding yourself - even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light - you'll never forget it."
Unless the sale will top $150+ don't offer international shipping. Sending off a "letter" blind with zero tracking or insurance will cost you about $8. The cheapest package option avaliable is $15 (only available at post office) and the cheapest eBay offers is $30+. I foolishly sold a $30 lot and only charged $8 for shipping internationally. When I had accepted that I was taking a loss on the shipping, the package was seized by the foreign customs office (it was ancient coins) and it was a total loss of about $45.
Domestic pacages are legally protected; the post office workers cannot open it unless they have reason to suspect foul play, e.g. a bomb or drugs. When customs are involved, they can open it at either side, just to see what's in there.
Never had a problem shipping domestically, but I do insure all packages over $100. Shipping charges of $2.99 seem to be the magic number; it will cover the shipping and supplies without much impact on the final bid.
Excellent question and great advice in this thread. I've sold some coins on eBay, and I just learned a lot reading the responses here. :O)
For raw coins, I definitely agree that a high quality photograph is very important. The coin photography thread on CCF has been very helpful to me.
You cannot list Sheldon numerical grades for raw coins, but you can use 'old school' grades like VG, F, or AU. Include a proviso that the seller should examine the photographs closely since grading is always somewhat subjective, and if you chose to list letter grades, be conservative. People like to get a deal, and they will give negative feedback if they think you sold them an over-graded coin. On the other hand, under-graded coins are much less likely to result in negative feedback, and might result in positive feedback.
Of course, the other option is to not list any kind of grade.
Offer money back returns of 14 or 30 days; buyer pays return postage; do not offer "replacement" because then you have to go out and find a similar coin to replace the one that was unsatisfactory.
Using the eBay label-printing and postage-purchase features saves time and money.
You can offer 'combined shipping' to your customers - if they buy more than one item, you send them an invoice, they pay, and you ship all items in one package.
You can also offer free shipping if they buy more than a certain amount from you, although I've never done that, so I'm not sure if introduces complications.
Pay attention to setting your Business Policies for Shipping and Returns. Read up on the various options and the eBay recommendations. Also see the eBay Community Forums for a lot of good advice, although you do have to wade through a lot of whining, people asking questions without doing any research on their own, and long rants. But there are a lot of good, experienced sellers who will offer help to respectful folks who do their homework first. For some reason, it's not easy to find the community from within MyeBay or the home page. The URL is:
To clarify my statement concern items not delivered...
I have been selling coins on eBay for 10 years, with 100 percent feedback. In those 10 years I have had three cases opened against me for "items not received". In the last one they just took the money out of my account and handed it to the buyer EVEN THOUGH TRACKING SHOWED IT ARRIVING. This was just last year. The eBay CSR told me that eBay does not consider it delivered until the customer goes out to their mailbox and puts their hand on it. When I said that you could never verify that, the CSR informed me that "We believe in the integrity of our buyers/Customers".
Of the three times this happened, one of them I think was legitimate. One sent me a check about 6 months later with a note saying it had been delivered 4 months later with no explaination by the Post Office. The second was a seller who was scamming other sellers by winning bids and then claiming non-delivery, and then reselling on his own account. He was shut down by eBay, but they never paid anyone back, even though they had made money twice on the sale.
eBay also refunded money from a transaction my business partner made concerning a double eagle. The buyer claimed non deliver even with signature confirmation. Why? Because the signture was not the buyers, but his maids ( no kidding!).
Alot has been said already that I was going to say, but I thought I'd chip in anyway.
I've been selling on eBay for over three years and in that time I've sold over 6000 items, and I've got 100% feedback. But the feedback doesn't come easy. It's through dedication to good customer service, and you've got to accurately describe everything! With coins, I find it best to put an opinion of the grade, and the best quality photos I can provide. I use a third party image hosting website, and then html embed them into the description of the listing as large photos available to see.
In The United Kingdom, I send any coin worth over £10 tracked, I include it in the price of the coin usually so that it is free postage and packaging. The reason I send it tracked is that in the past, I've had many buyers take advantage of the lack of tracking, and claim that they haven't received the coin. Most people are honest, but many will try their luck with you, and you have no choice but to refund them in full, or risk receiving negative feedback. I've had buyers actually claim that the coin hasn't arrived, even when it has been signed for by their surname...perhaps a dodgy postman was signing for parcels and keeping them, but even if the buyer claims they haven't received the coin, and their is proof that it has been signed for by their surname, then eBay just shut the case down in your favour! And they have removed their feedback in the past too. If the coin is only worth a small amount, then you are insuring that you will never have to refund larger than £10. People are generally honest buyers, its just that when you start to sell a lot of coins, it increases your chances of selling to a dishonest buyer!
I will only send coins internationally tracked and signed for. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't cost a great deal more, if someone wants a coin they will pay the extra for tracked delivery. I can send a coin to the States for about £10 tracked.
If you put the effort in with photography, and describe the coin well (dimension, weight, honest opinion of grade etc) then you've done all you can.
Quote: Commission. Some brief research suggests eBay takes 10% and paypal takes 3%. To be on the safe side, I was planning on calculating loss at 15% and pricing accordingly.
eBay takes 10% of the final value. So, if you sell a coin for $10, you will take $9. Paypal takes around 3.5% I believe, so now you are down to $8.65 . Also, if you're not subscribed to a shop subscription, eBay will charge for a listing fee but these are small and often you get free listings as part of special advertising promotions.
Quote: Can I list shipping and handling at $2.50 and have that accurately reflect my costs?
It's not advised that you annoy buyers by asking high prices for postal charges. By all means, make room for expenses, it all adds up. You have packaging materials, gas costs, AND eBay takes a small proportion of the fee from international postage charges. If it costs $8 to send a coin, I feel its appropriate to ask $9 for postage and packaging. But this all depends on how much profit is in the coin! With coins over the value of say $10, I tend to charge free inland postage and packaging, and make sure I'm still making a profit whilst doing so. I'm also not sure how much it costs to send from Canada to USA, or USA to USA etc etc.
I've rambled too much, good luck with listing coins, it can be fun watching the bids come in! Or frustrating if they don't!
"In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." Abraham Lincoln
Thanks for all of the feedback, guys! I've read through all of the responses, and found most of them to be extremely useful. I'm not looking to make a ton of money on sales, just to get rid of coins I've accumulated that I don't necessarily need. The time seemed right since eBay's promotion is pretty much free money.