RISC World

Buying and Selling on eBay

Mike Battersby

Selling on eBay

There are various ways you can sell Acorn and other RISC OS items but eBay offers perhaps the widest audience. Of course, if you sell by auction you stand both the possibility of getting a better price and of selling at a rock bottom one (though you can safeguard against this as I shall explain later) so you "takes your chance".

Before you can sell an item you must be registered (and signed in) and then you can choose the "Sell" button from the button bar at the top of an eBay page (see below).

Choose a selling format

The first choice is your selling format. You can choose an auction or a fixed price sale (see the screen shot below). This article considers only the online Auction option. Basically the procedure is to step through a series of screens by clicking on the Continue button. You can stop at any stage before the final submission.

Select a Category

The next stage is to choose one or more categories to place your sale item in. This series of articles is concerned with Acorn (RISC OS) related items so the main category is Computer and Video Gaming rather than Computing as it has the subcategory Vintage Platforms (hmm) within which is Acorn (and the BBC Micro). You could, of course, put something like a software item in a general computing software category but this might be missed by Acorn users browsing the Acorn category. This set of options is shown in the screen shot below. You are also offered the opportunity to put the item in a second category if you wish. At each stage some items to be filled in are marked with green asterisks; these are required while those without green asterisks may be optional.

Title and Description

Next comes the description of the item. You have a title for your item and wording of this should be carefully chosen if you want it to be found in searches. For instance you may want to include the word Acorn in the title even if it is a RiscStation or Microdigital item so it is found by people searching for Acorn items e.g Microdigital Mico, Acorn compatible computer.

You have a maximum of 45 characters for the title so think carefully as to what may appeal to potential bidders.

Then enter a description which is most easily entered just as plain text; however if you know HTML you can also use that to create display effects. Incidentally the example of auctioning a mouse is purely for illustrative purposes for this article.

The use of all capital letters for your title or description tends to look amateurish and make it harder to read. Like email it can also be construed as SHOUTING. Also the use of odd labels such as L@@K which seems to be popular on eBay serves little useful purpose as people are unlikely to search on L@@K as it would yield a plethora of diverse and probably unwanted items. Once you have bought or sold a few items on eBay and got positive feedback (assuming you do) then buyers may be more willing to buy from you. In the meantime you may like to add something to your description that will inspire confidence in you as a seller of integrity (assuming you are).

Pictures and Details

Then you enter the selling details as shown below. You can choose an auction duration of 3, 5, 7 or 10 days; it depends what suits you though a good tip might be to have it run so it finishes late in or just after a weekend when more potential bidders are likely to be online. You can set a starting price and a reserve price below which you will not sell it though this will cost you a fee if it does not sell. A popular option is to have a starting price at your lowest acceptable price and then have no reserve so buyers can see that it will sell if they bid at or above that price and no reserve fee will be charged in the event that it does not sell.

Next you can choose pictures to illustrate your listing. One picture is allowed free, with charges for any additional ones. If you have a decent graphics package such as Photodesk you could do a montage of shots to submit as a single picture.

A good quality picture e.g. a scanned photo or digital camera picture is highly recommended to show off your item to its best ability. You may be prompted to download a piece of "IPIX" software to help upload pictures though this will not work on an Acorn. Once your pictures are in place on your hard disc (or wherever), you can click on one of the frames to browse to the picture and select it whereupon it is displayed on the page (see the illustration below). It will be uploaded once you click on the next continue button.

You then have the opportunity to employ a variety of display options including a gallery picture (a mini size picture displayed alongside your listing and in a picture "gallery") as well as other display options such as bold or highlighted text.

In considering these obviously the value of the item is relevant but a gallery picture only costs 15p and is highly recommended to attract buyers. As to the other options it depends how much you want to lay out to catch attention. In the sample screen below you can see the effect of a gallery picture and bold lettering for the Acorn Atom listing.

You can also have a free page counter which can be interesting if you want to see how many people have looked at your item.

Payment and Postage + Review and Submit

You will then be able to enter details of payment options, postage costs and so on and then the opportunity to review and edit any details before final submission. Choosing how people can pay needs to be carefully thought about particularly if they are abroad. By joining Paypal buyers can pay you by credit card which is a great convenience but costs you a commission charge. The use of Paypal is planned as the next article in this series. It is worth thinking carefully about where you would ship to in the world. Selling a heavy item like a monitor may only be worthwhile in your own country but software could be sent to many places reasonably cheaply (by comparison). Normally the seller sets the condition that the buyer pays for shipping costs.

Once finally submitted the item will go on eBay and after a short delay people can bid on it as described in the previous article. The better your choice of display and timing plus a hefty dose of luck as to who is or is not looking for an item like yours will determine how well you do.

There are more options available for experienced users than are covered here but this article should give you the basics. Once you have listed an item once, it gets (or seems to get) progressively easier. At the time of writing the basic listing fee is 15p with additional costs as shown in the screen shots. If your item sells you will also be charged a fee based on the final selling price. The fee is 5.25% of the selling price for items up to £15, 2.75% for items value £15.01 to £600 and 1.5% for items over £600 though cars and real estate have their own scales of charges.

Once you have sold (or bought) something it is customary to leave feedback about your buyer (or seller) once the transaction is complete. Positive feedback helps build a seller's reputation and encourage others to buy from them in future.

Mike Battersby