Auctions On Ebay – Do We Need To Rediscover The Format?

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Mark and Philomena are full time antiques and collectables dealers trading on eBay as Classic-Quality-Collectables. Today Mark discusses if eBay auctions are still viable in todays market.

The correct question would probably be: Do auctions work?

The answer then would be: Yes and No…

With 4 years of selling on Ebay (3 years full time) collectables and antiques, we have come to some very definite conclusions about our area of selling.

1. Low start Auctions work when your item is rare and desirable.
2. Low start Auctions “do not” work when your item is not rare (but possibly still desirable).

Point 1 is quite simple, if demand for an item is there (i.e. there is not 50 of them listed on Ebay or “elsewhere”), then an item will find a good price using the Auction Format.

Point 2 is also quite simple, if demand for an item is not there (i.e. there are 50 item listed that week and only 10 potential buyers), then you are going to sell at pretty much what you list at.

To sell a “genuine” auction item is quite easy, you list it correctly for the longest term possible and people bid. Nothing complicated…

Now to sell an item that “demand” is not there for, we have BIN and SIF.

This means we can now market to a different customer base. This customer base is not looking for the thrill of an auction but the means to buy something NOW (for various reasons).

Two completely different subsets of customers, with two completely different sets of needs.

So can we just use auctions? What purpose does it serve? It might make Ebay attractive to a buyer, but if you have just lost £150.00 in one week in listing (if not more), how have you benefited?

Auctions are not for everyone or everything in our opinion, what about you?

You have to make up your own mind…

Some final mysteries to ponder whilst we consider selling on Ebay:

  • Mystery no 1: Why is that do not have multiple offers like (we use both sites so tend to notice which system works)?
  • Mystery no 2: Why is it that when no search results return on, Ebay Shop items are not shown (before people are whisked away to various other websites)?

3 Responses

  1. Re Mystery no 1: In some categories up to three best offers are allowed. What *would* be great is the ability to use counter offers and the ability to auto accept/decline offers.

  2. Only allowing one BO is just stupid. I have BOs on some SIF listings, and my buyers do NOT understand why I can accept their first offer, but when they want to buy more, they can’t have the same price deal. Fortunately for them, my website is set up to reward bulk purchasing ]:)

  3. Ebay’s constant force feeding of the “Auctions auctions auctions!” idea simply reaffirms for me the notion that the people responsible for making policy decisions (that in many cases drastically affect how ebay users run their businesses) have never used ebay as a buyer or seller in their lives.

    I had 15 or so low start auctions running this week to try shift some clearout stock that I was tripping over, but when I found that after 5 days the 15 had no bids and less than 60 page views in TOTAL, I canned the lot of them on the last day. Cowardly? Yes indeedy.

    “So evidently your stock is Rubbish”, you might say. And I would sometimes agree…. except in this case, the items (some exclusive at the time to me, in the sense that no-one else had them on sale) were simultaniously on BIN, and sold healthily in quantity at full price while the auctions were running.

    The substantially higher page views on the BINs also suggested a complete lack of interest in auction culture.
    It seems its a quickfire/starbucks/broadband want-it-RIGHT-now! world, and auctions of ANY length, for me at least, have joined the choir invisble as far as buyers are concerned.



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