Patience is a virtue… (especially on eBay)

For the first couple years of listing things on eBay it was always a game for me.  I’d list something for sale starting at a low price and have an idea of how much it’d sell for, but no true picture of where it was really going to get bid up to – it was always a guessing game.  Sometimes I’d get way more than I what I considered to be market value for an item; other days I’d get burned and sell something for way less than I expected.  Ultimately, I think these different outcomes had much less to do with auction timing (I.E. – ending all auctions on a Sunday night) and more to do with something called – the volatility of the market.

So what’s the point – what I am trying to get at?  Let’s look at a quick example: Last weekend I had what I would call a mildly successful trip to a couple of thrift stores (damn you rain!).  I got a bunch of stuff – but for the point of this story I am going to focus on one pair of Italian men’s dress shoes that I paid around $6.25 for after tax.  Shoes of this nature on eBay are selling for around $10-$35.  Because of the small size of the eBay market for these shoes this big window presents a bunch of volatility for me & my shoes.  If I list these shoes on weekly auction starting at $6.99, I risk them getting only one bid and selling for $6.99 – Awesome, now I lost money after fees.  Then again, there is the opportunity that the shoes get bid up to $40, especially if two bidders really want my shoes.

What's that Mr. Shoe - what are you trying to tell me?

What if there was a way to eliminate this risk (and yes, opportunity, too).  There is.  Study the market and create a buy it now auction.  Throughout my years on eBay I’ve learned that this can be especially effective on items with small to medium sized markets on eBay.  After studying the market, A $20-$25 buy it now on these previously mentioned shoes would fit perfectly, still below what other eBay sellers are asking.  Different sellers have differing opinions on the best offer option.  I personally think it’s a good idea as it gives buyers the idea that, “Hey, this seller is willing to negotiate a little on their price.”

In my opinion, I think if you want to become a serious eBay seller you need to at least weigh the options of using buy it now auctions as a complement.  Patience is a virtue, however, as it may take multiple weeks for your item to sell.  For regular eBay sellers, at only fifty cents for a 30 day listing this is definitely worth it – you are eliminating the downside of a potential bargain for bidders.  If you list more than 50 fixed price items each month, you need to open up an eBay store to save money.  As an eBay seller, you have to realize everyone has their own motivations for buying things on eBay.  Some are looking for nice stuff at a good price that is cheaper than retail in a timely manner (these are the folks that will click that buy it now button).  Others are willing to wait for the true bargains – that’s great for them, but not so much for you – the seller.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my auction at the top of that list when someone is sorting the completed listings from price:low to high.

Don’t think buy it now auctions are the end all answer for everything, but they are an alternative way to control pricing risk on certain types of niche auctions.  And do realize I will never use these types of buy it now listings for ALL of my items.  I love seeing my regular auctions jump $20 in the last 30 seconds too.  Just remember, when those shoes sell for $6.99, I will tell you I told you so.

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