chapter 6

What Not to Do on eBay

So far, this guide has covered what you should do to be successful on eBay, but there are a few things that you should not do as well. Many of these actions are attached to selling penalties, and may create bad experiences for eBay shoppers, so avoid them whenever possible. eBay works hard to attract buyers onto the eBay platform, ensuring they’re able to find what they’re looking for and purchase the item easily. These rules are designed specifically to ensure the customer experience is top-notch while the selling experience for merchants is fair.

Don’t Include Contact Information or External Links in Listings

Avoid providing details that can be used to contact you outside of eBay.

eBay buyers and sellers can only be protected when they transact through eBay, so eBay disallows the following:

  • Including your phone number in listings or eBay messages
  • Including your email address in listings or eBay messages
  • Including your business address in listings or eBay messages
  • Encouraging shoppers to contact you outside of eBay messages
  • Including any of these things anywhere else on eBay or in listing images
  • Using your phone number, website, or email address as your eBay ID

In most cases, you should think of your entire eBay presence, including your item descriptions, as an eBay-only zone. Listings containing links to external websites or addresses may automatically be removed and your selling privileges may be suspended.

Don’t Create Misleading Listings or Listing Titles

Be transparent, honest, and accurate about the products that you sell.

In your listing titles, include appropriate keywords that apply to your products. Avoid using irrelevant keywords in an attempt to appear more frequently in eBay search. Shoppers don’t click on listings for products that they didn’t intend to search for, and engaging in this practice—often called “keyword spamming”—can reduce your eBay search visibility over time.

In your descriptions and images, represent your products accurately and completely—both good points, including any caveats or negatives that apply. Provide your buyer with the data they need to make an informed purchase. Leave them satisfied and happy to provide positive rather than negative feedback about their experience.

Don’t Neglect Customer Service Requests

Respond promptly to buyer questions and return or exchange requests.

Respond promptly to buyer refund and returns requests. Putting off a request (or ignoring one) can be detrimental to your business—your visibility may suffer or you may experience selling restrictions.

It can be frustrating when shoppers request a refund or open a case with eBay, but by addressing requests promptly and professionally, you ensure high levels of buyer satisfaction and long-term success.

Don’t Regularly Cancel Orders

Make it your policy to fulfill every order. When you can’t, refund immediately.

From time to time you may experience inventory problems and have to cancel orders. You should not allow this to become a regular practice. In cases when can’t fulfill an order promptly for some reason, contact your buyer immediately to ask how they want to proceed. Let them know that you can cancel and refund their order.

Sellers who consistently cancel their orders will have their selling abilities limited, and may be banned from eBay indefinitely. While mistakes happen, eBay needs to make sure that its customers walk away with the best experience possible, every time. The more positive experiences shoppers have, the more buyers there will be to purchase eBay items—including yours.

Putting It All Together

Congratulations! You’ve completed this entire guide—and you’ve become an eBay seller in the process. To recap, you’ve:

  • Learned about the unique eBay marketplace opportunity
  • Connected eBay to your Shopify account
  • Made your products available for sale on eBay
  • Optimized your eBay listings to maximize your sales
  • Discovered tools to differentiate your listings and drive more sales
  • Made note of things you should avoid doing as an eBay seller

Now it’s time to run your business, manage your-day-to-day operations, and strive for eBay success with dedication and a customer-centric outlook.

Good luck!


About the Author

Aron Hsiao, Ph.D., is a longtime expert in e-commerce and internet culture. Aron is the author of multiple books and thousands of articles on eBay, Linux, and open source software, as well as the former managing editor of The International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society. A graduate and fellow of The New School for Social Research, Aron has taught thousands of students in media, communication, and technology at New York University, the City University of New York, The New School for Public Engagement, and the Parsons School of Design. He is currently head of communications at Terapeak, an eBay company, where he has been helping online sellers to succeed since 2013.

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