Within a few hours of posting your eBay listing, five people have added the listing to their Watchlist. Someone will surely nibble soon, you think. A few days pass, and your sales time frame ends — a bunch of people still on the Watchlist, but no bids or offers. What happened?
While it can be encouraging to see the number of people watching your listing tick upward, it’s not a reliable indicator that you’re going to make a sale.
The eBay Watchlist lets shoppers bookmark listings to follow changes, monitor auctions and bring together all the products they are interested in for easy viewing.
But people click “watch” for a lot of reasons. They could be watching to see how an auction plays out before committing. They could be comparing similar items from other listings. They might not even want to buy the item at all but think it’s cool or interesting. Or they could be one of your competitors and just watching to see how their listings perform against yours.
It’s impossible to know which category your watchers fall into. And only eBay sellers can see the number of watchers on their listings. So, high watch counts don’t generate any external social proof or sense of urgency for shoppers.
But a rising watcher count is still a useful signal that someone is interested in your product. So, it’s worth optimizing listings that have sparked attention to nudge interested shoppers over the line.
Use these simple eBay selling tips to persuade watchers to become buyers.
1. Make them a direct offer
For fixed price listings (not auctions), you can use eBay’s “offer to watchers” function to direct message eBay watchers with a lower-price offer. This is the only way sellers can communicate directly with watchers, so it’s one of your best opportunities for conversion.
To use this feature, your listing needs to be at least 10 days old, and your offer must be at least 5% lower than the posted price. You can send offers to up to 10 watchers at a time with that new price offer.
Take advantage of the message box to connect with your potential customer. Even a simple message could make a difference for eBay buyers compared to just being hit with a discount with no context. Something like, “Thank you for your consideration! Please enjoy this 15% discount,” will do just fine.
The offer you send is binding, and cannot be withdrawn, so be prepared to honor whatever price you suggest. Watchers have 48 hours to consider your offer. If nobody accepts, and you have more than 10 watchers on your list, you can send out a new offer to any remaining watchers who haven’t been contacted yet. However, you can’t send another offer to the same watchers (this prevents watchers from being spammed or hassled).
2. Lower the price
Direct offers are a great opportunity to connect with watchers. But if you have a hefty Watchlist, the 10-person offer limit can feel restrictive. Try lowering the price on the listing directly instead. If the price drops by at least 5%, eBay automatically updates everyone watching it with the new price.
This is a great way to reach a lot of people at the same time.
How much should you mark down your product? That really depends on how much you can afford and how much you are already charging. On a high-value item like a laptop, a 5% price drop might be enough to incentivize buyers, but a small-ticket item like a T-shirt may require a deeper discount.
Of course, lowering prices means eating into your own profits. So, many experienced sellers build a potential future discount into their pricing structure by pricing items higher from the beginning. That way, they don’t lose as much money when they offer buyers a 5% (or 50%) discount.
3. Raise the price
Increase prices to generate eBay sales? It sounds counterintuitive, but this is a unique bit of sales psychology that many eBay users swear by.
In one eBay community discussion thread, sellers share about times they’ve seen success when relisting unsold products at a higher price.
Raising the price on your listing by just a few dollars can create a sense of urgency. Potential buyers see the price going up and know they must act right now, before prices rise again. They may jump on the higher price point or at least message you to try to negotiate back down to the old price.
Plus, pricing is an important signifier of quality, particularly for items that have ambiguous value, like collectibles, art and antiques. If an item is priced too low, potential buyers may worry that it’s fake or low quality. So, it’s just a matter of finding the right balance, according to this seller:
Seller be warned: Just don’t play the price-adjustment game too often or too blatantly. Buyers may lose trust and take their business elsewhere.
This customer is frustrated that a seller increased the price and then offered them a discount to the original price — all within hours of adding a product to their Watchlist.
4. Offer a deal
We love deals because they make us feel clever and resourceful. So, offering a special incentive for customers can draw buyers in. This seller encourages shoppers to check out their other listings by offering a discount on two or more items.
And for these moving blankets, shoppers are rewarded with a discount for buying in bulk:
To set up an official sale or promotion, you need to be an eBay Store subscriber. Then you can choose from five types of special offers on the Promotions Manager page.
- Order discounts: Discounts based on order size or amount spent, e.g., “Buy one, get one free” or “Spend $30 and get 10% off.”
- Promotional shipping: Free or discounted shipping offered to buyers that meet certain qualifications, e.g., minimum order value.
- Volume price discounts: Discounts that reward buyers who purchase multiples of the same item.
- Sales events: Limited-time price reductions on specific categories or items, e.g., “All sports equipment is 30% off today.”
- Codeless coupons: Exclusive discounts available only to buyers who have the coupon link. You can promote these links to shoppers who are subscribed to your store, on your social media accounts or even in shipments to recent purchasers.
If an item goes on sale after it is added to a member’s Watchlist, that sale price is displayed on the Watchlist with the percentage-off listed. The information will also be included in the “Items I’m Watching Ending Soon” email that is sent to watchers.
If you don’t want to pay for an eBay store subscription, you can run your own informal sale by updating the listing title or product description to include the details of the sale. For example, you can write “Free gift with purchase” or “50% off sale ends May 3rd.” In your description, draw attention to the offer by putting it at the top of the page and bolding it or making the text red.
An informal sale won’t give you the same visibility as an official promotion, but it might sway a potential buyer who is on the fence. And you can always increase visibility by promoting your sale on your other marketing channels.
5. Add an “or best offer” option
Instead of obsessively fiddling with the price, trying to find the sweet spot for potential buyers, add an OBO option to your listing. Once buyers make you an offer, you have 48 hours to accept, decline or respond with a counteroffer.
While eBay won’t automatically notify watchers that you’ve added this option, it will be clear from looking at your listing.
“Or Best Offer” appears in the search for items with that option.
And there’s a big “Make Offer” button on the listings page, so customers won’t miss it.
You could also update your listing to include “or best offer” in the title.
6. Reduce product availability
Scarcity can persuade potential buyers to snatch up a product before it disappears. People hate missing out on an opportunity, so simulating the idea that your product may sell out can be a powerful motivator.
Reduce the number of items you have available to simulate scarcity. If you have a large quantity of the same or similar items, only list a few to start or consolidate identical listings into one. You want to give potential customers the idea that this is your last handmade purse (or china bowl or refurbished laptop) and that it’s urgent to buy it now.
You can amp up the drama by adding a note in the title of your listing so that watchers immediately see it as they scroll through their list. Something along the lines of “Only a few left,” like this seller did for a limited-edition card playing mat.
7. Optimize your images
Good photos can make your eBay items look more enticing to prospective buyers. Visuals are the most persuasive part of any eBay listing, so it’s important that your images convey the quality and unique advantages of your product.
Take your own photos
Shoppers will know if you are using the same generic stock photo as every other seller on the site.
Using stock photos erodes trust because buyers know they aren’t seeing the actual product they are buying. Even if your photo isn’t as high quality as the stock photos available, it will be more persuasive because it’s real.
Use 8–12 photos per listing
Online shopping is different than shopping in person. Potential buyers can’t examine an eBay product in detail like they can in a store. So, it’s your job to replicate an in-store experience as much as possible.
Every listing can have up to 12 photos free of charge. Take advantage of the number of photos you can attach to your listings to show off quality, specific features and details that display what makes your product unique.
Improve the quality of your photos
You don’t need expert photography skills to take high-quality product photos. To take better pictures, eBay recommends that sellers:
- Use a plain backdrop
- Fill the frame with the product
- Use a diffuse light, instead of your camera’s flash, to prevent harsh angles and shadows
- Show scale with a ruler or other standardized object (like a quarter)
- Avoid filters or lights that will change the color accuracy of your product
This listing of a stuffed animal uses several of the tips above.
8. Fine-tune your product descriptions
It’s possible that your watchers are holding off on making a purchase because they don’t have enough information. Update your descriptions to answer any remaining questions bidders may have.
You’ve likely already optimized your description with eBay search intent in mind. Though, you’ll also want to consider updating your text to be more persuasive and informational.
- Highlight your product’s benefits. Grab shoppers’ attention by listing your product’s top features at the top of the description. Underscore anything that makes your product stand out from the competition.
- Focus on both tangible and intangible value. Not all benefits are straightforward features and functions. Emotion is a factor in the psychology of selling too. Buyers are thinking: Will this product make me feel cool or stylish? Will it make my life easier or happier in some way? Make your listing more persuasive by using words that convey the emotional value of purchasing this product.
- Include all important details. Help buyers make an informed purchasing decision by providing detailed product information. List out what’s included, dimensions, color information and descriptions of any wear and tear. Depending on the product, you may want to include a sizing chart or color wheel, materials used or care information. Also, touch on your shipping and return policies, so buyers don’t need to search for that information.
- Make formatting clear. Your descriptions should be easy to read and look professional. Break up huge walls of text with bolded subheadings or bullet points. Avoid typing in all caps or using too many text or highlighter colors, as that can look spammy. And do a thorough read-through for spelling and grammar errors.
- Keep it concise. The more text in your description, the less likely someone will read it. So, include just what’s important and don’t repeat information. Eliminate anything that doesn’t serve a purpose.
In this engagement ring listing, there’s a spec section that details materials, and the description focuses on intangible value and ordering information, so shoppers can feel confident in their purchase.
9. Check out your competition
Watchers may be deciding between your product and one from a direct competitor. Perhaps they are watching both listings. So do some opposition research to make your listing more competitive.
To find your closest competitors, search for similar items using the same search terms you’ve used in your own listing. Or check out the “People who viewed this item also viewed” list that appears at the bottom of every listing.
Once you’ve identified some similar listings, measure how you stack up on the following:
- Price. If your competitor is charging the same or less than you, you might consider undercutting them by sending your watchers an offer, creating a sale, or simply lowering your price.
- Perceived quality. You and your competitor might be selling the exact same thing, but are you presenting it the same? Do your photos and text properly convey the quality and value of your item? Update your description and photos to increase the perceived quality of your offer. You could also experiment with raising your price to increase your item’s perceived value.
- Shipping and returns policy. Thanks to Amazon Prime, consumers have gotten used to free shipping and returns. If your competitor is offering free shipping options and a generous return policy, you may want to build shipping costs into your pricing structure.
- Listing appearance. Make a listing that you’d trust purchasing from yourself. Compare your pictures and description against your competitors. Do the products appear as attractive as theirs? Is your listing as informative and easy to read? Does it feel credible and trustworthy?
You probably can’t undercut every rival store on eBay with the lowest price, and doing so would drive down prices for everyone. However, you can compete on the quality of your listing and the perceived value of your product and brand.
If you don’t make a sale, try again
Some watchers will never convert into buyers, no matter how hard you try to entice them. Your product might be out of their price range or just not what they want. Or maybe they never had any intention of buying in the first place.
It can be maddening not knowing why you didn’t make the sale. But if, after all that tweaking, you still don’t attract a buyer, don’t despair. Listings are an ongoing process with room for continual improvement. Relist your product and try to reach more motivated shoppers. Activate eBay Listing Analytics to identify patterns for your successful completed listings and use those to keep improving.
Want more tips for selling on eBay? Check out our full guide to level up your eBay marketing skills.