Tips for Re-Listing Unsold eBay Items

eBay unsold item
Unsold items don't mean no one wants to buy what you are selling. GettyImages

Unsold items on eBay are a cross all sellers bear. Unsold items come with a stigma that the item is unwanted, overpriced, or poor quality. None of these situations are necessarily true. There are many reasons an eBay item may go unsold, and all of these situations have easy remedies. Let's examine a few reasons why an item may not sell immediately.

The Right Buyer Hasn't Come Along Yet

Patience is a virtue.

In the olden days of eBay, when auctions were the only option, a large percentage of items sold the first time they were listed on 7-day auctions. eBay has evolved dramatically since its inception in 1996. The site now has 800 million items for sale at any time, and a variety of listing types including auctions, fixed price, and best offer. Additionally, those new to eBay assume that if an item doesn't sell immediately, no one wants it.

Remember that eBay is a marketplace with millions of buyers and millions of products for sale. If you are selling collectibles, antiques, one of a kind items, or limited quantity vintage items, the right buyer may not have found your item yet. For example, let's say a buyer collects New York Yankees memorabilia. He may only check eBay once a month or so for items to add to his collection. Don't assume that because an item doesn't sell quickly that there isn't a buyer for it.

Solution: Do your research, price the item correctly, and be patient. The right buyer will come along in their own time, not yours.

Title Not Written Correctly

The eBay search algorithm, Cassini, is designed to match a buyer's inquiry with a product that matches the query. If a title does not include the words a buyer enters, the buyer will not see that listing on the search results.

Plain and simple, you must think like a buyer when writing listings.

Sometimes sellers simply copy the words off a box or use too few words in the title. If a buyer doesn't see your listing, she can't buy it. When looking through unsold listings on eBay, it is common to see items with titles like:

  • Red cashmere sweater
  • Nike shoes size 8
  • Glass ashtray 
  • Vintage patchwork quilt
  • Stuffed Lion King plush

Solution: Spend some time researching sold listings and how titles for comparable products are written. Use keywords buyers use. Better titles for the examples above include:

  • 2-ply 100% cashmere sweater red women's size large turtleneck Ann Taylor
  • Men's Nike RN Motion Flyknit running shoe size 11 gray white lace up
  • Vintage Baccarat lead crystal ashtray square 
  • Vintage handmade log cabin quilt queen size red blue yellow green
  • Disney Lion King plush Simba large 2 foot length

Listing is Not Optimized for SEO

This is one of the most common mistakes eBay sellers make. eBay estimates 40% of all purchases are made on mobile devices. If the listing isn't optimized for mobile, the information won't display correctly. This hurts a seller in two ways. First, if the information doesn't display correctly, the buyer may get frustrated and move on to the next listing.

Second, your listing won't look as neat and professional as listings that are optimized correctly and buyers may not choose to buy from you. 

When optimizing for mobile, make sure to:

  • Take photos on a solid background so the item for sale is easily viewable
  • Crop photos tightly, edge to edge - remember that mobile buyers are looking at images on a small screen
  • Write concise descriptions - avoid long rambling descriptions, stories, and policies
  • Use a bullet format for easy reading
  • Avoid moving graphics, and active HTML 

eBay will begin blocking listings with active HTML in 2017. Learn what active HTML content is, how it hurts your listings, and why eBay doesn't want it on listings. 

Photos Need Improvement

The only thing between you and your buyers is a computer or mobile phone screen. Pictures are worth a thousand words on eBay.

Many buyers won't look past the photos to even read the description if the photos are sloppy, out of focus, have bad lighting, or have a busy or messy background. eBay provides a fantastic Basic Photography Guide so take some time and study the tips. 

You don't need an expensive camera, tons of photography equipment, or a studio to take good photos. Take some time to set up a dedicated area with good lighting and a solid background for your photos. Avoid taking photos on a bed, floor, or with clutter and personal items in the background. It matters. If you look on major retailers' websites, you will see the kind of photos buyers respond to. Take time to take high quality photos so the buyer will see exactly what they are buying.

Updated on August 18, 2016 by Suzanne A. Wells.