What does it take to sell stuff on Trade Me in 2010?

This internet thingy is catching on. The latest (August 2010) Media Trends Report from Roy Morgan Research shows us that buying stuff online is now pretty widespread in New Zealand:


So 58% of us have used the internet  for buying things.

What sorts of things are Kiwis buying online? Again, Roy Morgan Research to the rescue:

Top Ten Products Bought Online
(within the last three months, Jan-Dec 2009)

  • 18% Travel (tickets/accommodation)
  • 10% Clothing/Shoes
  • 9% Books/Magazines/Newspapers
  • 8% DVDs/Videos
  • 7% Music to download
  • 7% Sports equipment/clothing
  • 7% Gifts
  • 7% Toys or Games
  • 5% Computer Software
  • 5% Other entertainment

Trade Me’s influence is clear — most of those products (largely excluding travel, which can be found on sister site TravelBug) are readily available through our favourite online auction site.

So have the dynamics of selling on Trade Me changed, now that there are more than a million and a half items regularly listed on the site?

Better, Faster, Cheaper (pick all three)

Once upon a time, sellers could get away with offering products on Trade Me that were EITHER Better OR Faster OR Cheaper. Now we need to try and deliver across all three metrics — competition in most categories is as intense on Trade Me as it is in the real world (if not more so).

And customers today are more demanding. They want perfect orders, shipped and delivered on time.

What’s a “perfect order”? According to Edward Marien of the University of Wisconsin, customers are looking for:

  1. The Right Product in the
  2. Right Quantity from the
  3. Right Source to the
  4. Right Destination in the
  5. Right Condition at the
  6. Right Time with the
  7. Right Documentation for the
  8. Right Cost.

US consumer products giant Procter & Gamble has its own definition of a perfect order: “a product that arrives on time, complete (as ordered), and billed correctly.” By P&G’s internal calculations, the company estimated that an imperfect order was costing it an average of US$200 each time.

The company found that additional costs for getting things wrong included:

  • the cost of redelivery when orders were late;
  • replacement costs if shipments were damaged;
  • processing costs for quantity adjustments;
  • and price and allowance deductions.

Those are industrial-strength concerns, of course. The Trade Me equivalent would be:

  • new shipping charges if items are poorly addressed and then returned to sender
  • the cost of re-supplying and re-sending goods lost or damaged in the post
  • time lost swapping emails with an aggrieved buyer if the product isn’t as advertised
  • the reputational risk of negative feedback if you don’t meet customer expectations
  • the danger of further damage to your reputation if unhappy customers decide to tweet, blog or post to Facebook about their unhappy experiences with you
  • oh, and visits to the Small Claims Court if things really get out of hand

All in all, it’s better to be an overachieving seller, delivering more than you promised.

Seven tips for improving your Trade Me sales

In many ways, though, delivering on The Perfect Order is really just about the hygiene factor — getting things right after the sale.

If you want to increase the percentage of your listings that actually sell, start with these seven tips:

  1. Always include shipping costs in your listings.
    American research shows that one in five online shoppers abandon their purchase because shipping costs aren’t shown alongside the product costs. Today’s consumer doesn’t want any hidden surprises.
  2. Tell visitors why they should shop with you
    Unless you”re offering a one-of-a-kind product that’s simply unavailable elsewhere, chances are you have competitors on Trade Me selling similar products. So don’t rely on the product attributes to do all the selling job — tell your browsers why they should choose you. Talk about things such as value for money, your excellent customer service record, the merits of your organisation (not just your product).
  3. Include Customer Reviews
    According to Nielsen’s NZ Social Media Report (July 2010), 1.92 million Kiwis now look to their fellow Internet users for opinions and information about products, services and brands. It’s not that they don’t trust sellers — they just trust their fellow consumers more. So incorporate the words of your customers into your listings, If you have really flattering feedback, feature it prominently in your listing (don’t expect visitors to check out past praise in your feedback — they won’t, they’ll just look at the percentage of positive feedbacks).
  4. Have a highly-visible, no-hassle returns policy
    For many potential buyers, a money-back-guarantee will make the difference in convincing them to go with you rather than a competitor. Yes, there is the risk that your products will be returned to you, sometimes in unsaleable condition — but if you’re delivering The Perfect Order (as defined above), your percentage of returned orders will be much lower than your percentage of increased sales achieved as a result of your returns policy.
  5. Check Out Your Competitors’ Images
    What are your competitors doing well that you might copy (and indeed improve upon)? Take a look at their listing photos — are they sharp, professional, attractive? Do they show key aspects of the product that yours don’t? If you put your photos and theirs side by side, which look more interesting, desirable, show off the product features best?
  6. X-Ray Your Competitors’ Words
    Start with their headlines. What features have they highlighted? What keywords have they used? Are they using subheads as well? Are there any headlines which sound better than yours? Then take a look at the main body of their listings. How compelling are the words they use? Are there any benefits they’ve emphasised that you’ve overlooked? Review what others are doing, and then polish up your own stuff.
  7. Use Real-Life Stories to bring your listings to life
    It’s one thing to have nice marketing copy describing a product — but it’s far more compelling to see real-life tales from other customers describing how they use the product. Once you have a base of happy customers, invite them to contribute their stories. Even if most won’t, you just might find some real gems. [Okay, you can't do this with every product, but where you can, it's worth the effort].

Tip of the Iceberg

What we’ve covered here is only part of the story of what it takes to sell effectively in 2010.

If you want to join the 15,000 or so professional sellers that Trade Me estimates conduct business on the site, you need to dig rather deeper.

Here are just some of the questions that professional sellers have asked (and found out the answers to) and most of us don’t know:

  • What can you find out about the buyers who are most likely to be buying on Trade Me?
  • When are they most likely to visit Trade Me and push the “Bid” button?
  • What are the hottest selling seasons and how can you take best advantage of that timing?
  • What types of products sell best on Trade Me? And what’s particularly hot in 2010?
  • Who are the top selling traders on Trade Me these days and what are they doing well?
  • Where are the best places to source your products?
  • How can you make your products truly unique?
  • How can you really get noticed on Trade Me?
  • What are the secrets of going viral and getting your listings heaps of traffic?
  • How do you come up with Compelling Headlines and Sizzling Descriptions?
  • What sorts of images will sell your stuff best?
  • How can you get the most money for your products?
  • How do you promote your listings to best effect?
  • These days, should you be building a following through Twitter or Facebook?
  • How can you try to squeeze an extra sale out of every listing with no additional promotional cost?
  • How can you grow your Trade Me business without having a total meltdown?
  • What are the best tools for automating your listings processes?
  • How can you get your products out the door effectively and efficiently?
  • How can you attract really favourable feedback from your customers?
  • How can you turn today’s one-time buyer into a longterm satisfied customer?

If you’d like to significantly improve your Trade Me sales performance, allow us to introduce our new course:

Course TM-1: Advanced Selling On Trade Me

This is a seven-week eCourse providing a comprehensive masterclass on selling on Trade Me. The course presumes you are already familiar with the basics of selling on Trade Me (if there are a few gaps, you can do your homework with our own TRADE ME SUCCESS SECRETS book).

This is an ONLINE-ONLY course — you can take part from anywhere, in your own time.

This eCourse is conducted on a web-based e-learning software platform, enabling course participants to proceed at their own pace, accessing materials online. This particular eCourse provides content in a variety of multimedia forms, including videos, slideshows, flash-based presentations and PDF files. No special software is required to participate.

Course lessons are released weekly, for participants to access in accordance with their own timetables. Interaction with the course tutor is enabled through the platform software tools (with telephone backup if required).

This eCourse started on Wednesday August 18, with the delivery to participants of Lesson One. New lessons are delivered weekly on Wednesdays.

Late entries are accepted within the first three weeks of course commencement (up until September 8).

This course has been created and will be tutored by Michael Carney, author of the best-selling book about buying and selling effectively on Trade Me, TRADE ME SUCCESS SECRETS (now in its second edition).

Anyone who wants to sell as effectively and profitably as possible on Trade Me.


The full course details are at http://trademesuccesssecrets.com/ecourses/ but here’s a sneak peek:



  • The secrets of selling successfully on Trade Me
  • The skills you’ll need to have (or hire in) as your selling operation expands
  • Self-assessment questionnaire to determine if you have what it takes to be a top Trade Me seller.


  • What makes them buy (or not)?
  • How are they impacted by current economic conditions?
  • What are their motivations?
  • How can trigger the urge to buy?
  • When are they most likely to visit Trade Me?
  • How can you keep watch on their current interests?
  • Who are the most likely buyers for your products?


  • Products that always sell well on Trade Me
  • Items that are especially hot in 2010
  • The best places to source your products in 2010
  • How you can make your products truly unique


  • Who are the top selling traders on Trade Me these days?
  • What are they doing especially well?
  • We also catch up with some old friends (featured in Trade Me Success Secrets) and ask them what they’ve learned since last we met


  • Why an auction goes viral and picks up hundreds of thousands of pageviews
  • Tana Umaga and that handbag
  • The Scary Washing Machine phenomenon
  • Strategies that make auctions sizzle.
  • The increasing importance of Twitter and Facebook for auction sales


  • What makes content remarkable, valuable and relevant?
  • What makes it worth sharing?
  • How to craft the words that matter
  • Creating headlines that get noticed
  • Pictures that make your item a must-have


  • What pricing strategies are most effective on Trade Me these days?
  • What are the little tricks for squeezing more revenue out of the site?
  • When are loss leaders (such as $1 No Reserve listings) appropriate?


  • Systems are vital if you want to grow your Trade Me business (unless you simply don’t want a life).
  • What’s now available to create your listings, post them quickly, get the products out the door — and then handle those after-sales deals such as feedback.
  • We also look at how you can build a list of satisfied customers — and turn that happiness into additional revenues.


  • How to turn all that learning into a planned sales programme. We give you the tools (or tell you where to find them).



This seven-part eCourse is available for $297 +GST ($334.13 total). However we offer a special highly-reduced rate:


Pay just $197 +GST ($221.63 including GST) if you book and pay before MIDNIGHT NEXT WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 8.

Bookings are confirmed on receipt of payment, which can be by bank deposit or credit card. We can raise an invoice in advance if you need it.

If you’d like to pay by credit card, here’s the link to sign up for the Early Bird Special (via international credit card processor PayPal): CLICK HERE TO PAY.

We also offer a couple of instalment options, if you’d rather not pay up front:

  1. Pay five monthly installments of $70 per month (total to pay, including GST, $350): CLICK HERE FOR THIS FIVE-MONTH PAYMENT OPTION
  2. Pay twelve monthly installments of $30 per month (total $360): CLICK HERE FOR THIS TWELVE-MONTH PAYMENT OPTION

If you would prefer to pay  by bank deposit, or require an invoice before making payment, please send an email to info@successsecrets.co.nz with your contact details.

(The service provider will be shown as Netmarketing Services Limited in your transaction and on your credit card statement)


  • Your booking will be confirmed (if you have not received a confirmation within 24 hours, feel free to email info@successsecrets.co.nz
  • You will receive a series of emails from us on Wednesday September 15 with login and password details and Course Notes for Lesson One
  • Further Lessons will be provided at weekly intervals for the duration of the seven-week course

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2 thoughts on “What does it take to sell stuff on Trade Me in 2010?

  1. Robyn

    Hmmm! sounds interesting, I’ve been watching this for a little while now, so I’m keen to learn more. I’m a buyer but have never sold anything, nows a good time to learn. What do I do from here?

  2. Michael Carney Post author

    Hi Robyn

    If you’re considering getting into selling from scratch, my recommendation would be to start by getting a copy of TRADE ME SUCCESS SECRETS (Second Edition), either from your library or from our Trade Me store.

    That’ll give you a good grounding in the skills required to sell effectively on Trade Me. If you then want to learn the advanced techniques for selling on the site, come back here and take a look at our Advanced Selling ecourse.

    Michael Carney

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