Last year we welcomed a miniature dachshund to the family. Unfortunately, she immediately started terrorizing the family’s garden gnome collection and they were forced to seek refuge in the shed.
When tidying the shed this spring, I rediscovered our collection of twenty gnomes (what can I say, we like gnomes!) We can no longer have them on display in the garden, so I have decided to sell them on eBay.
I would ideally like to use some eBay software to help me with the process. I think the gnomes would fetch a better price if I do my market research up front, and build attractive listings for all the other gnome-lovers out there. However I don’t intend to build a real business selling on eBay just yet, so I’m looking for free software that can optimize my selling.
At a glance
Free isn’t always free
I’m aware that free eBay software exists, as I have previously used Turbo Lister. But, eBay have retired this ancient tool so I’m looking for different software, that I can use long-term. If my gnomes sell well, maybe I’ll make a business out it.
What exactly do I mean by “free”? There are so many shades of free these days that it needs a little explanation. The software I’m looking for should be free forever, not just a free trial for 14 days before you have to pay.
Free plans will usually have limits, or come with ads or promotions for paid tools, but that’s OK as long as they provide genuinely useful features for free. After all, companies have to make money somehow or they won’t be around for very long.
eBay market research: ShelfTrend
Now that I’ve decided to sell my gnomes, I need to work out what price to sell each one for, and which eBay marketplace globally will give me the biggest return.
This is where I need to find some free market research and valuation software. The best known name in this area is Terapeak, but sadly they have no free-forever plan so I’ll have to pass them over.
A slightly different software is ShelfTrend, which does offer free-forever use. This allows you to search live inventory data from 22 global eBay marketplaces. When I select eBay US and search for garden gnomes, ShelfTrend brings up 500 listings that best match those keywords. It’s a good start.
ShelfTrend allows you to see who your competitors are and what types of product they are selling. You can take this further and hone in on just one seller. In my market for gnomes, I took a closer look at the top-ranked seller nanafind, to see which products were making them so successful.
It turns out that a merry gnome drinking a large pint of beer is a great product, selling 65 of the 71 available but a helpful gnome carrying a pair of garden shears isn’t, as little more than a quarter of the stock has sold. This gives me a good idea as to what kind of gnomes sell well, and which of my five I may have more trouble selling.
A key point here, is to check the median delivery charge. If the norm for your market is free delivery, you don’t want to risk making you product unattractive by passing on your shipping fees. This appears to be the case in the market for gnomes, as the vast majority of sellers have median delivery fees of zero.
There is the option to upgrade to a paid-for plan with ShelfTrend, which is $9.99 a month. It allows you to filter your search results and search for data on specific brands. You can also download the data in a CSV for further analysis.
eBay title optimization: Title Builder
When creating listings on eBay, two of the most important factors for SEO are title and category. To make sure I get these right, I’m going to use Title Builder.
First, I’m going to generate my title by searching for two keywords, for my next little fellow I choose “gnome light”. Title Builder suggests a category and shows the most searched-for terms, and also the keywords most used by sellers in the category.
Picking a category is something that is very easy to get wrong, as eBay has over 18,000 to choose from. I would approach this part with caution, and not simply select the first category that Title Builder suggests. Instead, search a few of the listed categories on eBay and see what type of products are listed.
In my case the top suggestion was Collectibles/Fantasy > Mythical & Magic/Elves > Gnomes, Pixies, but an eBay search showed me that this was more for indoor figurines and not really suitable for gnomes of the garden variety.
The second suggested category of Home & Garden/Yard > Garden & Outdoor Living > Garden Decor/Statues & Yard Art proved to be a better match, with gnomes similar to mine listed.
By selecting this category in Title Builder, I now have two new lists of relevant words. You can delete the words that aren’t relevant and re-arrange the ones that are left to make a suitable title.
From my selection of words I’ve decided to title my listing: “Garden gnome statue with solar powered light”. This includes all of the words that have received medium search volume, and a selection of the top words being used by sellers of similar products. Importantly, it is also under eBay’s 80 character limit on title length.
eBay listing design: Supreme Lister
Because some of the gnomes are collectible I want a professional set of eBay listings that reflect the quality of the items. I don’t simply want a description written in Times New Roman against a white background! This is where Supreme Lister is useful.
After you’ve registered and logged in, and selected “new project”, Supreme Lister will open another window. This is where you create your listing. I encountered a few glitches getting it working, mainly down to needing the latest version of Flash Player installed and enabled in my browser.
First, you enter basic data like your title, price and so on. You can also assign a category and enter your shipping and returns information.
When you’ve done this, you just simply select the next tab. The texts tab is where you write your product description and media is where you upload your images.
Take care with the design tab as the free design templates are hidden below the paid-for templates. If you scroll down to the bottom there is a good range of free options under the “Basic Designs” heading. I selected the “garden in wild” option, as it best reflected the natural habitat for my gnomes.
When you’re happy with your listing, you can preview it and if it looks good then click finish. A loading screen will appear as eBay verifies your item and, all being well, the item will be listed on eBay.
Fast eBay listing: WowLister
Now, despite the family’s gnome collection hiding in the shed away from the dangerous dachshund, not everyone knew about the gnome embargo and I received one for Christmas as a gift.
Because this chap is new I’m going to use WowLister, a software tool that takes a product from Amazon.com and converts it into an eBay listing. All I have to do is find the same product on Amazon, copy the URL into WowLister, set the item’s condition, and it will list the gnome on eBay within sixty seconds.
The listing it creates looks professional and certainly saves a lot of time. It copies across the title, description, images and even categorizes the gnome accurately under Home & Garden > Statues & Lawn Ornaments.
I experienced a couple of minor glitches with WowLister. The first time I linked my eBay account it returned a “page not found” error (update: WowLister tell me this is now fixed). The second time it brought up a message about accepting eBay’s global selling agreement, which I had to go to eBay to fix. That might just have been because I hadn’t sold recently with this particular eBay account.
WowLister was great for selling new items, but I would advise caution with used items because eBay doesn’t allow stock images to be used for products that aren’t new.
WowLister has paid plans, but is free for up to 10 listings per month.
Bulk eBay listing: Xpress Lister
From my research, I’ve found that there is a good level of demand for new gnomes. Once I’ve sold my collection of twenty I might consider getting into gnome-selling as a business .
eBay’s own lister, Supreme Lister and WowLister are all based around listing items one-by-one. They aren’t a great fit for creating listings in bulk, which is exactly what I’d want to do if I get seriously involved in the gnome trade. So, I’ve looked at Xpress Lister, which allows you to create bulk listings from simply uploading a spreadsheet.
So, if I was to purchase a large quantity of gnomes from a wholesaler, I could simply take the wholesaler’s spreadsheet and use Xpress Lister to create all the listings in one go. It will also try to automatically categorize each product, which as we’ve already discussed can be challenging. The selected categories can be edited manually if they don’t fit the product.
Xpress Lister also has a paid version, starting from $9 per month, which allows you to edit live listings as well as create new ones.
My top picks
My mission to find useful free eBay software is now over and it has proven successful. I have already sold four gnomes, so my quest to re-home these little folk is well underway.
To finish, I’m going to pick my favorite tools. ShelfTrend is the only remaining eBay market research tool with a free-forever plan. It takes a while to understand how to use the different reports, and there are frequent nag messages to upgrade, but the data provided is clear and very useful.
In terms of listing tools, WowLister’s speed is unbeatable. If you want to list a small number of new products then it is a strong option, providing a detailed and visually pleasing listing in sixty seconds or less.
I’ve hope you’ve found this useful. If you’ve used any of these tools, or found some different free-forever eBay software, let me know in the comments below!
This post was inspired by Sam Carson’s classic tale of gnome trading from 2007. It was first published in April 2017 and updated in June 2020.