eBay lets construction equipment sellers expand market area

Online auction juggernaut eBay offers construction equipment sellers a chance to snare an audience of millions and make a profit – in less than 30 minutes.

The No.1 e-commerce site in the world has one of the fastest growing venues for construction equipment sales. A piece of heavy equipment or an attachment sells every nine minutes, according to eBay.

“eBay allows sellers to reach out beyond local markets for assets that they wouldn’t be able to find,” said Benjamin Hanna, senior category manager for eBay’s business and industrial section.

Hanna said most sellers of construction equipment on the site are small to medium-size businesses that want to participate in the Internet marketplace. He said it’s a great way for these sellers to expand their sales into other states, something they might not otherwise be able to accomplish.

Most construction equipment sellers on eBay list used items, such as contractor tools, heavy equipment units or attachments/parts, operator guides or an array of other items. Top-selling brands in the construction category include Bobcat, Ditch Witch, Topcon and Kubota.

“Categories grow organically,” Hanna said. “Trends mirror what’s going on in the industry in general.”

Hanna said rising prices for used construction equipment are helping boost the number of sellers on eBay.

“On eBay, both buyers and sellers have the opportunity to get a better deal,” he said.

Mark A. Warfield, owner of Suppliers Online Auctions in Canton, Texas, was one of the first construction equipment sellers to use eBay’s auction tools, having been a member for four years. He began auctioning primarily tractors, but switched to heavy equipment one year ago.

Warfield’s established tenure as an eBay seller – he is a titanium power seller, the site’s highest seller rating – earned him the privilege to help develop the agricultural category. Though his switch to heavy equipment nets fewer sales, he moves approximately 400 units each year.

Warfield said construction equipment business owners who want to begin selling items on eBay should treat the process as they would a physical location. “There’s certain things you do and don’t do to realize the best results,” he said.

This means explaining everything thoroughly in the item description, and posting lots of photos – a must for used equipment that could have damage – and listening to customers, Warfield said. “People complain a lot about anything these days,” he said.

Warfield said he recommends new sellers study auction pages of more established users to see what they offer, how they operate and what makes them successful. “They really need to do their homework,” he said.

One successful eBay seller in the construction category is Greg McGrew, president of McGrew Equipment. His company has a physical business location, but has maintained an eBay presence for four years.

McGrew said he learned how to use eBay as a business tool by selling equipment manuals on the site. After finding success with small listings, he moved to tractors and other, large-ticket pieces.

eBay now makes up some 20 percent of McGrew’s total sales – a lot for one of the nation’s largest retailers of sub-$20,000 equipment. “Stuff goes everywhere,” McGrew said, referring to his business’s national market. “That’s one of the advantages of selling on eBay, but there are better ways to sell. For every good thing about it, there are two bad ones.”

Unlike Warfield’s experience, McGrew said he has had several instances involving fraudulent, non-paying buyers. “They think they’re buying a brand-new machine,” he said.

McGrew said the key to preventing buyer fraud is to get them to call or visit the business’s physical location before placing a bid. He said this helps both the buyer and seller build trust that each party will deliver in the transaction.

Despite his issues with some buyers, McGrew still suggests rookie sellers “jump in head first.”

“It’s a lot of trial and error,” he said.

Tips on becoming an eBay seller

  • All eBay sellers must first create a “Seller’s Account” by clicking on the appropriate link at the home page. An account must have credit card and checking account information or be ID verified.
  • Research sellers listing similar items to find description examples and a suggested price range. Use the “Completed Items” search to find what these items sold for and which categories they were listed in.
  • Always take photos of the item you intend to sell using a digital camera, especially if it’s used or has wear and tear. This is also an easy way to build trust with buyers.
  • Use the “Sell Your Item” form to begin the listing process. Remember to use keywords in your title that a buyer might use to search. Include as much detail as possible in the description, including special shipping and payment instructions.
  • After listing the item, monitor your activity using the “My eBay” page. Check your e-mail often to ensure all buyer questions are answered promptly.
  • When the buyer sends payment using Paypal (allows sellers to accept credit cards or checking account transfers) or another method, ship the item using the agreed-upon terms.

To learn more about selling on eBay, visit the site’s learning center at www.ebay.com/education.

Patrick Beeson can be contacted at pbeeson@randallpub.com.