The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #79820   Message #3517205
Posted By: Stilly River Sage
20-May-13 - 12:29 PM
Thread Name: BS: eBay Strategy
Subject: RE: BS: eBay Strategy
Here's a way to figure out a good starting price.

1) Amazon would love it if you start everything at .99 and let the marketplace set the final value, and if you have a popular item, that can work well. However

2) if you have an item that sells, but maybe only a few a month, then you need to figure out what a good starting point is or you'll give it away for .99 cents. Let's choose an example from a couple of years ago, when I sold an estate item, a case with the complete antique hearing aid, the instruction book, and the advertising flyer that someone probably had before they went shopping.

There isn't a huge market for these, I suspect the collectors are people who sell hearing aids and have a collection of the early models just for the novelty or museum value. This isn't a "start at .99" kind of item, you need your audience to discover you, and you need to list your opening price at the lowest you'll accept. And use a "buy it now" price at what you reasonably hope to get for it. If someone bids on the opening price then the "sell it now" price goes away and someone can't come in and buy it for that while the auction is proceeding.

A simple search in the bar on "Antique hearing aid" shows active listings. If you think this is the best description to get the results you want (i.e., if you just list "hearing aid" without "antique" or "vintage" you'll get thousands of unhelpful hits) then search. There are 14 showing up today.

Do you see at the top of the column of photos there are links for "Sold listings" and "Completed listings"? I hit "completed listings first, because I want to see what people are trying to sell and what they're asking for them. In today's completed listings there are 101 items listed (including some like I sold - the "Acuosticon"). It's a mix of sold (green) and unsold (red).

You see several things here - that people are selling devices and are also selling the ads. I had both together, meaning I had more value in my item because I had the ephemera that went with it. You want to market the completeness of the item you're selling, so describe and photograph what comes with the thing you're selling.

You see that a lot of these sold with one bid, so there was someone willing to pay that much, and they may have waited till the last minute to bid, so they didn't telegraph their interest to others. I see one that had five bids, that started at $65 but four bidders pushed it up to $114.50. That means the seller started with a reasonable low bid and bidders felt it was still worth more and were willing to bid it up. That's the balance you want to achieve.

Sometimes what you learn from the completed sales list is what not to do. Many of them didn't sell because the seller put up fuzzy photos with no information about the item, etc. It won't sell or it will go very low.

Now click on the "sold listings." This is the information you use to set your opening price. See if representatives of the item you're selling are in that list, and decide if your item is commonplace (so start with a bit lower opening price) or rare (start a bit higher, as you see fit. If you start too high you can lower the price, but even at eBay items can become "shopworn" so you don't want to relist lower more than once.) If your offering is in better shape than what you see on that page, price it accordingly. If your item is not as good, start lower, and you can often make up for an incomplete item with great photos of what you have. Don't automatically lower the price if it doesn't sell the first or second time. Sometimes you have to wait for the right audience to come along.

Here is one kind of like what I sold. Scroll down on this page to see the original listing. This link won't stick around long, but for a little while you should be able to see it. This listing isn't great, no description to speak of (I gave the year, the manufacture info, what I could find in a Google search) but the photo catalogs the items in the sale. My hearing aid photos were much like this, the items on a good background cloth (I had a blue sheet). I make sure that nothing of my home or workspace shows in the photo, just the item and the background fabric or paper. I don't ever photograph my own hand holding it. Nothing personal, nothing distracting in the photo. Despite the general shots of a tangle of old wires, I took time with the photos and where I could I staged some of the parts so people could see the artistry that went into the design. I've just put up this photo that I hosted from my photobucket account. Now you can put up a lot of photos at eBay, but for a long time I set up my auctions in frontpage and hosted from photobucket and pasted the code into the html part of the setup page.

I ended up selling my item for about $65 - to someone in Australia.

Finally, shipping can make or break your sale. Find the best container for shipping, pack it carefully to be sure it works, then check the prices at UPS and USPS before you sell. Or whatever your shippers are. eBay will calculate the shipping for those viewing the auction. I would suggest that you NOT add in stuff- your time, the cost of tape, box, etc. Anything like that is just a cost of doing business, but if you add it to the sale you're less competitive with others. And buyers will hold it against you in the feedback. When they complete the purchase are asked to leave feedback, where they vote on how well you described it, how communicative you were, how fast you shipped, and how much you charged. If you offer a slow cheap way and a moderate fast way, then they can choose and they'll feel better about the transaction. I still see some of the old-school eBayers offering low item prices and gouging on shipping.

I hope this helps!