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What to do when Ebay sales are slow?

Updated on August 13, 2012

Ebay Sales Dead Slow Lately...

This article is a follow-up to a page I wrote in 2007 about How to Increase Your Ebay Sales.

The advice I wrote then is still relevant today, but today I have more thoughts on what to do from a business and personal standpoint when sales come to screeching halt.

A period of slow sales is something that happens to every Ebay seller. Pretty much any time of the year, you will find people complaining of slow sales. With the economic recession, this is even more so today. While you might not be able to avoid a slow period, you can do things to improve your future business.

Funny photo is by Misserion on Flickr. Photo used with permission (CC Licensed).

Text Copyright 2012 by Hotbrain

Don't Miss: How to Get People to Pay on Ebay

Poll Question for Ebay Sellers

What do you do when sales are slow?

See results
Dealing with Ebay Slow Sales......
Dealing with Ebay Slow Sales......

Think of it as a Cash Flow Problem

The money isn't coming in, but that's not the end of the world!

It is easy for me to get stressed when sales have slowed down. I'll look at what I've been doing, and often I've been doing the same stuff all along, and yet I'm not getting the same results. This is frustrating!

However, I try to remind myself that although I do have a lot of control over my business, I can't actually force someone to buy something, and hence, that's up to some factors that I can't control. I have noticed that sales usually come in groups - I'll get no sales and then a bunch of sales all at once. I kind of think there might be some unexplained phenomenon that makes people as a whole "feel" like buying, but that's a lot of conspiracy woo-woo nonsense that might make people think I'm crazy, so I won't go there!

The bottom line is that you aren't a loser if you are afflicted by slow sales. You shouldn't take it personally. You should try to not let it effect your self-esteem. It's just one of the risks we take as business owners, ebay sellers, and entrepreneurs. If you want the same income all of the time, then go work for someone else. If we want the big excitement over lots of sales, then we have to be willing to accept that the opposite will happen to.

Tip: List new stuff!

Have you slowed down in listing new items? Some stuff sells fast, but if you've had the same things listed for months now, your inventory might be stale. Try lowering prices, but more importantly, try finding new stuff to list.

Textbooks might not be the best niche right now.
Textbooks might not be the best niche right now.

Study your Niche, and your Competition

Sometimes no sales is a sign.....

Do you think your items will have more value in the future? Or is it all downhill and should you liquidate?

Sometimes, the lack of sales is a result of a trend or change in the marketplace. For example, sellers of textbooks might see a drop-off because Amazon is going to be renting textbooks. I wouldn't want selling textbooks to be my niche!

To find out if your niche is the problem, search for related news articles, read forums, and talk to people.

Check out your competition. On Ebay, it is easy to see your competition. Are they selling anything? If they are, what are they doing differently? Are their prices lower? Their presentation better?

If you can't find anything to indicate that your niche is doomed, then it just might be the time of the year. Maybe your stuff will sell during the Christmas season, or the back-to-school season.

Use this Slow Time to Get Things Done - When you're busy, you don't have the time.

  1. Organize your Inventory System. Do you have trouble finding merchandise when it sells? Do you have stuff not listed?
  2. Back up your Computer. Prevent headaches and disaster by making sure your data is backed up.
  3. Research and Study New Niches. Look at Ebay completed listings to find out what is selling, and figure out how you can find suppliers.
  4. Spend time with your family.... or doing something completely different! Work isn't the most important thing in life. Now you might have the extra time that you don't usually have. Use it wisely!
  5. Consider creating your own website, or improving your website. If you can sell on your website, you don't have to pay Ebay fees, and you might increase your repeat customers. Having a website is like having your own brand. It will make you stand out and set you apart. Likewise, if your website looks like it was made in 1990s, maybe it's time to redesign it!
  6. Update Ebay Listings Change prices, add "Best Offer" choice, change your title's keywords, add more description or better pictures, add more shipping options, etc.

People Complaining About Slow Sales - You're not alone!

Maybe it's the economy. Maybe it's Ebay. Maybe it's summer time and everyone's on vacation. Or maybe it's just your bad luck.

Well, here are some thoughts on what other people think:

It might be the bad economy.

But, knowing the cause doesn't pay the bills.

Just think, if you can do OK now, imagine how well you'll be doing when the economy recovers!

And it will recover one day.....

Has it been slow on Ebay for you lately? - What do you think about it?

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    • steven law profile image

      Stephen L:aw Chi Ming 3 years ago from BC,Canada, WA98281, or China

      I have been a Power seller for 10+yrs. U can always blame the slow sales to depressed economy; increased competitions (esp from big chains closing stores) & abroad (selling direct from oversea manufacturers) . However, CEO of ebay has created a bad atmosphere for sellers over the last 5 years (due to resign in April 2015, together with Vice-Pres who invented the notorious search algorithm) :

      1. Dashboard performance to limit listings & exposures

      2. One way feedback to please buyers ONLY; Faulty 5 Star rating system, not well-communicated to buyers

      3. Increasing fees & almost forcing FREE shipping

      4. Hostile relationship & bad support for sellers .

      John (CEO) seems to dislike sellers; as he (w background as a financial controller) thinks sellers are generally trouble-makers ridding innocent buyers for maximum profits. He dos not realize that sellers are like scouts in sports, and strive to bring interesting items into the virtual shopping platform for bargain-hunting consumers. It will be extremely boring to sell Top 1o items by Top 10 merchants....just like another Walwart?! Besides, there will be NO identity!

      ebay does not have a SINGLE item that it owns; and non-motivated sellers will not provide products aggressively like before. Many have quit, many have gone to other platforms like myself (watch out for the new Alibaba coming soon!)

      5. Recent dispute with Google & major virus scams (from Europe) have caused concerns among both sellers & buyers. Most have to change their passwords.

      6. Management has discouraged feedback through community boards (bad comments have been censored); About Me pages have ALL been removed w/o even announced.

      7. Ever-changing Rules & regulations...resulting in many Power Sellers frustrated & pissed off....thus a bad atmosphere is now prevailing at ebay for new competition to strive in. Online auction is no longer working like before; due to decreased traffic & interest.

      8. Forcing buyers to pay by PAYPAL only, instead of other common-used methods like many years before (M.O.,Postal O.,check,google pay,bank transfer,billpoint, etc). Luckily, Paypal has decided to be separated from ebay this month.due to pressure from major shareholders

      9. ebay is NOT a financial institution; it is a sales & marketing enterprise....does John has to resign to realize this FACT?

      10. ebay has been hostile & non-friendly to many foreign host countries (e.g China & EU) & I have seen eachnet dropped from 80% to 10% market share. The future growth will be in those countries,NOT USA, a saturated market.

      11. Let's have a petition on April 1st; where ALL sellers will take a vacation & remove all his/her listings to celebrate the FINAL departure of JOHN, the die-hard terminator of X-Bay!

      S. Law,MBA,CHA.CEC...joining Alibaba!

    • profile image

      mainmanone 3 years ago

      dreadful , also ebay are now taking a percentage from your postal charges,ebay still wants to make maximum profit so it attacks the sellers profit to make up for its losses, i honestly think ebay is finished i sell on a number of sites now which charge very little fees and i get far more response from these sites far more than ebay.

    • CCGAL profile image

      CCGAL 4 years ago

      Although I've been a member of eBay since 1998, I haven't done much buying or selling there in the past few years. I am now getting back into the swing of things, but haven't enough history to be able to say yay nor nay to whether my sales are slow or not. I'm still at the point where every sale is a mysterious blessing to me.

    • JeffPadovani profile image

      JeffPadovani 5 years ago

      I'm a new seller and have yet to make my first sale.

    • profile image

      cainersbliss99 5 years ago

      Interesting lens, Sure is a big problem for ebay sellers, all changed since stores were dumped into core, and Google changed searching making it hard for people to find ebay shops.We have had a huge drop in sales, looks like its time to find an alternative.We just opened an Art Fire shop, it's a mix of ebay and esty hoping for a fresh start. Ebay is a sinking ship and people are jumping off!

    • mojoCNYartist profile image

      Dan 5 years ago from CNY

      Awesome lens.

    • TrentAdamsCA profile image

      TrentAdamsCA 6 years ago

      I've taken an extended break from eBay while freelancing fulltime for the past couple of years. I enjoyed the wisdom of this article -- your tactics apply to a lot of ventures. I'm always assessing how I'm doing and diversifying. Post-Panda, I've been expanding my niches and enterprises. Thanks for your thoughts on this -- well-organized and helpful.