Research Your Item: eBay Completed Listings Tool

First off, What are you going to sell?

Maybe you only plan on selling things from around your home. Or perhaps you plan to use a drop shipper. Or open an eBay store carrying a niche line of products. Your best chance at successful selling on eBay begins by first knowing what your products will sell for (the current market value on eBay). You also need to know the best possible listing practices that others are using to successfully sell on eBay, so that you can adopt those same practices.

If you know what you plan on selling, you’re off to a good start. Let’s begin searching for items similar to yours on eBay so we can compare and find out what’s working for those items and what doesn’t. If you are still trying to figure out what you want to sell, start with something easy that you already have.

Get something for Christmas from Aunt Karen that you have no use for? Why not sell it on eBay? People have all kinds of stuff sitting around in storage that could easily be sold. If you haven’t sold anything on eBay before, this is the bestway to get started.

When choosing something to sell, it helps to choose a product from something that you already enjoy, such as a hobby, a skill or an interest. You will be more knowledgeable about your product and your prospective buyers will see that when reading your auctions. If you already own a retail store, research a couple of products that you would like to sell on eBay.

Whatever you decide to sell, become an expert on those products. Read up on them, research your competition both on eBay and on the internet. Study the manufacturers and the history of your product. The more knowledgeable you are about what you are selling, the more successful you will be.

If you choose to sell products that you really don’t know much about, or worse, aren’t enthusiastic about, chances are your sales will suffer. If you plan to make selling on eBay a long term proposition, you shouldn’t sell products that you would not buy yourself, or recommend to your friends or family.

Whatever you choose to list first on eBay, make it something easy to ship, preferably new and still in it’s original box. Got your item?

Let’s log on to eBay and find out what the competition sold their similar item for.

Before you list an item for sale, you will want to look for similar items that have recently sold on eBay to help you select the best category, price, or learn your item’s potential value. Simply searching for items on sale only gives you the starting price or current bid. Using eBay’s “Completed Listings Search” tool allows you to see what specific items have sold for the last 15 days on eBay.

I have a used Sony PSP handheld game system that I want to sell. Let’s use this tool to do a search for a this item to see how Sony PSP game systems are selling or use your own search criteria to look up your own item as the process is the same:

  1. Login to eBay.
  2. Click the “Advanced Search” link located at the top of most eBay pages, usually to the right of the search box.
  3. Enter your keywords (Sony PSP handheld game system).
  4. Select the “Completed listings” check box.
  5. Click the “Search” button.


Note: You must first be logged in to eBay, otherwise you will be prompted to login to eBay before any search results are displayed.

Note: When using this tool, you will notice that there are many more options listed. You can specify a certain Category that you want to search, exclude words from your search, add a Price Range, look at specific auction formats, shipping options, payment options, even search for specific eBay sellers.

At the time of this search, our search results gave us 1,667 matching closed items with our search term in their titles.

Note: the dropdown box at the top right allows you to sort by:

End Date: recent first
Date Listed: oldest first
Price + Shipping: lowest first
Price + Shipping: highest first
Price: highest first
Distance: nearest first

If you look to the left side of the page, you can see that your search can be refined further, in this case: by Product Type, Bundled Items, Condition, Price, Platform and Categories.

You will also notice several things on the search results page:

First, if the item sold, it is listed as “Sold” right under the selling format. A number of bids means that the product sold had used an auction format. If the selling format was “Buy It Now” or “Best Offer”, it will be labeled as such. Secondly, the to the left of the number of bids placed means that the payment method used was PayPal. Lastly, the ending auction or selling price is listed.

Let’s compare listings using the following checklist:

Completed Listings Checklist:

Starting Price
Selling Format
Number of Bids
Payment Options
Shipping/Handling fees
Return/refund policy
Hit counter

The title should reflect the keywords that people use to find an item. Using the most appropriate keywords and as many appropriate keywords will allow your product to be found by prospective buyers. Using keywords such as “Great,” “Wow,” “L@@K” do not add to the ability to find an item as such terms are unsearchable, however they may catch a buyer’s eye. The title is a good opportunity to add any extras that may be included as well as the condition of the item.

Starting Price
The starting price is the amount at which the bidding will begin. Bids can start as low as $.01. Browsing the listings for “Sony PSP handheld game system” shows most items selling at an average of $160. Listings for items that didn’t close with a bid show that the items were listed for a starting price that was too high. A simple search of recently sold similar items would have given the seller a much better idea where their starting price should be.

An accurate and complete description should include all the details about the item (size, color, make, model, condition, age, extras, etc.). Make sure to include detailed shipping methods, accepted Payment methods and a detailed refund or return policy. The description should also include any other pertinent and technical information about the product. Anything the seller might want to know should be listed in the description including any damages to the listed item.

Remember, you are competing to sell your item. Skipping on the description will detract from your sales; looking at items that have sold will give you a good starting point for a good description.

Looking at items that have sold reveal a variety of photo types in the listings. Some listings use stock photos of the item, others use photos taken by the seller. You want to use the best photos possible; notice in the example below that the seller’s photo shows everything that is included. In most cases, especially when selling a Used item, it is preferrable to use your own photos, not stock photos. Stock photos are fine with Books, DVDs and CDs.

Note: Listings that utilize a Gallery image, such as the ones above, will receive more attention than those that don’t.

Selling Format               Auction Format Buy It Now Format Best Offer
Using the “Completed Listings Search”, you can quickly see what selling formats were used by other sellers. By looking at how others have sold similiar items to yours, you can best determine which selling format will work best for you.

Number of bids
The number of bids is a good indicator of product desirability with the higher the number of bids, the more interest in that product. Compare items that sold with a lot of bids with those that sold with a low number.

Payment Options
The most popular payment method on eBay is PayPal but it is not the only method most sellers offer. What payment method you off should be clearly outlined in your description.

Shipping/Handling Fees
Sellers that offer the most reasonable shipping rates, have clear outlines on their shipping terms and that offer more than one shipping method tend to have more bidders and therefore higher final bids on their products. Offering reasonable shipping and handling may be an area in which you can get a leg up on the competition. We will show you tools you can use that allow a buyer to calculate accurate shipping costs before they bid or buy.

Return/Refund Policy
Having a resonable and clear return policy listed will help your potiential buyers gain confidence in buying from you. Sellers with good return policies tend to have more bids on their items. Find a policy that you like and copy it or adapt it for you.

Most buyers will find what they are looking for through a search of keywords and titles, however, many sellers limit their keyword descriptions to specific categories. Where you put your item should be determined by where the highest number of bidders will look for it. Look again at the Completed Listings for your item and look at what categories that those items that did best in were listed. Think like a potential buyer and put your items where you would look for them. Later on, we will look at other market research tools that will help you by consolidating this information for you.

Note: You can always list your item in more than one category as eBay will let you list in two categories but you will be charged double the listing fees. On the other hand, this may also double your exposure and increase your chance at a successful sale.

Hit Counter
Sellers can add a free hit counter at the bottom of their listing description. The counter indicates the number of times the page has been loaded or viewed. A high hit counter number but low to no bids would indicate something wrong with the listing’s other checklist items.

That is eBay’s “Completed Listings Search” tool in a nutshell. It is important before listing items or items you may want to sell in the future, that you do your research to see what your products are actually selling for and if there is a market for them. Researching results of current listings as well as that of recently sold items will give you a heads up on your competition and could save you a lot of frustration. You should adopt others good listing practices and avoid the bad ones. Remember, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

As an eBay seller, market research is an ongoing process that should be done on a regular basis in order to assure long term selling success on eBay.

Note: There are other third party market research tools available and we will be covering those tools in a later lesson.

What is the result of all this research and what good will it do you? Use this tool to gather your materials for your auction! You now know whether your item has a good chance of selling or not, you know what it is selling for, you know what titles have worked best, you see the descriptions of the items that sold for the most, you see the images others are using and you see what category the item is found in! Use this info to help you create your auction so you can complete with other sellers!