EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 155 - November 20, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 6

Christmas Tips for eBay Sellers

By Mark O'Neill

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With Christmas fast approaching, I am trying to think of ways to boost Christmas sales in the face of even stiffer online competition. I've been an eBay seller since 2001, and along the way, I have found little ways to make an impact on my customers during the festive season.

One method that always works for me is to offer free gift-wrapping service. The concept is simple, but the impact on sales can be amazing. I'm not talking about wrapping things in newspaper or brown paper, but instead, really nice, high-quality, glossy Christmas paper.

I always buy my paper, tags and cards at knockdown prices after Christmas, when they're cheaper - it's a family tradition. Throw in little bows, ribbons, gift tags, even customized Christmas cards produced on your computer - Microsoft Publisher is excellent for this.

I have used these methods in past years to great effect. Here in Germany, cash-strapped parents buy Christmas presents on eBay to send to their student children who are living in different parts of the country or the world. My gift-wrapping service has caught their eye as I can turn the eBay item into a nicely wrapped present accompanied by a personalized gift tag, and then send it directly to the recipient.* If the customer works long hours with very little time for shopping, doing all the small but essential things for them will definitely make an impression.

Include some text in your eBay auctions saying that the item can be gift-wrapped free of charge. You can include thumbnail pictures of the wrapping paper designs and offer the customer a choice of what paper they want. Include a logo of a wrapped gift to make your offer stand out in the auction description. eBay even has an optional Gift-Services feature that displays a gift icon on search results and listings pages (http://pages.ebay.com/sell/gift-landingpage); watch for promotions to save yourself some money (eBay had a sale on Gift Services in the U.S. on November 15-16).

You can extend the personalized Christmas card idea a lot further in many different directions. Making a basic card on your PC, you can include them with eBay purchases, wishing your customers a Merry Christmas along with a discount voucher valid from the beginning of 2006 and the link to your eBay auctions.

Another money-spinner is to sell your own line of cards in your eBay auctions. Last year, a friend of mine designed and sold cards on eBay for people having an extra-marital affair to give to each other at Christmas, and she minimized her costs by only printing to order. So as you can see, you can find a niche and exploit it.

I read that last year, German eBay sellers in Frankfurt and Berlin were offering personal delivery to the customer's doorstep. What's so special about that, you're asking. Well, the seller would recruit people to turn up on the customer's doorstep dressed up in Christmas dress, ringing the bells, delivering the eBay item and collecting the payments! A novel idea, but one that would only work if you were selling a high-priced item that would allow you a big enough profit margin to recruit Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer for an afternoon. (You could even get local media attention for your eBay business if you go around your town or village dressed up delivering your eBay items.)

Christmas is a time of creativity and of innovation. With a bit of luck, you'll find unique marketing ideas that will end up benefiting you during the whole year and not just on December 25th.

Do you have any unique ways to increase Christmas sales? What works and doesn't work for you? Let us know.


About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, MakeUseOf.com. He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'Neill.org.


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