Making the best of Best Offer

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Christmas plus the credit crunch: has there ever been a better time for Best Offer? Christmas shoppers don’t want to wait for the end of an auction: give them Buy It Now and let them get on with their buying. And there’s no doubt that many buyers will be looking for a bargain this year, especially on eBay where, as one buyer told me recently, it’s the rule you have to be the cheapest.

Best Offer can be a great way to make buyers feel they’re getting a bargain, while still ensuring you’re getting the price you need. If Best Offer is new for you, here are our top tips:

Best tips for Best Offer

  • Price accordingly – if your BIN price is already the lowest you can accept, BO is no good to you.
  • Set up auto accept and auto decline prices when you list if you can – best offers don’t outlast the listing, so it would be a shame to miss an offer because you weren’t at your computer when the listing ended. But don’t price auto decline lower than you’d accept for bulk orders.
  • If you’ll take a lower price for multiple purchases, say this in the listing (some people will still pay full price!).
  • Don’t be afraid to counter offer: it took me a while to get into this feature, but I’ve had some nice results from using it.
  • Consider lower offers at the start of your listing to get higher visibility in best match.
  • Send email marketing with a “we’ll accept offers of £xx on this item for readers of this email” and watch the auto-accepts flood in: even though Best Offers are set for everyone, it makes your email subscribers feel special if they think they have privileged price information.

…and a couple of sneaky hints for buyers

  • Buyers, remember that your seller cannot see your ID when you make a best offer. If you’re a regular or you’ve just bought a whole bunch of full-price stuff, it’s worth sending an ASQ to say that it’s you making the offer.
  • If you’re buying several items from one seller, buying the full-price ones first before you put the B.O.s in might earn you more favourable treatment.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute. Best offers don’t outlast the end of the listing, and there’s nothing worse than an offer that would have been accepted, if the seller’d had time to accept it.
  • Make sure it’s your *best* offer. I’ve got to be honest as a seller here: people who put in multiple stupid offers are more likely to get their just-about-decent offers rejected or ignored. I don’t like having my time wasted, so don’t waste your own time making silly offers.

40 Responses

  1. AUCTION [with a reserve if your needing to protect your investment],
    is the best way we know to get a BEST offer
    cant work out why ebay bother with this best offer malarky
    it just attracts nutters and dreamers
    on both sides of the fence

  2. And for fixed price why say £10 when you really mean £8 or £7 or less , why not say your price in the first place
    or if your really genuine and are prepared to take a best offer,
    auction the item

  3. 1) because with best offer you don’t have to wait for the end of an auction
    2) because you give people the feeling they’ve just grabbed a bargain.

  4. 1With best offer you can get insulted ,or you dont even get a response,
    2 you give people the feeling they have been stung, when they have paid the asking price,
    plus its a bit spivvy
    NOT ten bob ,not fifteen bob ,but two pounds bleeding ten init,
    come to mind

  5. plus no one would dream of going into a Main st store, and haggling with the counter staff

  6. plus your giving a clear message your asking more than you really want and your hoping that some daft pillock drops in

  7. #5 I would and do! My latest triumph is £50 off a £219 flat screen TV after the salesman said we don’t do deals and the manager followed up saying Dom only gets discounts at independent retailers where the price is marked up high anyway and a major highstreet chain can’t discount. It’s amazing what waving a wad of cash around and saying “This is my budget and I can’t go higher” will do 😀

    There’s always a deal to be done and I’m more than happy to be on the receiving end as well as the giving end 🙂

  8. yep there is always a deal to be done
    we do more than most ,
    but were dignified and respectful about it,
    we dont try and squeeze the last drop out of anyone
    though I still cant see the point of best offer when ebay has a perfectly good auction system ,unless its in the hope someone is daft and pays more than you hope

  9. or put another way
    list items at ridiculous and insane prices hoping that someone will come along and think they are getting a bargain by offering half the asking price ,then their grabbed sucked in and spat out dry

  10. I use Best Offer alot (refuse to abbreviate to BO!!) but I was finding that too many people took a quick look at my feedback, saw the lowest price I was accepting on items, and went straight for the kill.

    I’ve since made all of these items Private listings so the price does not show on my feedback pages, but it is still possible with a bit of detective work to find previously accepted offers. There is a fine line between increased revenue and eroded margins.

    The other thing I use Best Offer for is arranging postage discounts for multiple purchases of listing where I have “free P&P” included. After a bit of contact with some buyers, we arrange a combined final price, and they make the necessary offers. Everyones a winner.

  11. Got to agree with North. In my opinion Best Offer should be reserved for car boot sales and morning TV 🙂 . I would imagine that it will be dropped within the next year.

  12. There’s something I’d never thought of which a LOT of buyers try – and that’s make a best offer to get free carriage. I’ve had loads of best offers which are below the headline price by exactly the amount of carriage charged on the listings.

    At the end of the day I don’t care if they’re good, bad or indifferent – all I care about is are buyers using them (answer – “yes”) and are they still coming in at acceptable prices (answer – “yes”). Until that changes I’ll carry on offering them 🙂

  13. something I had never thought of either
    though when I think about it, the last twice I have bought an item with a best offer, I have also offered the asking price less the postage .
    my thinking being the seller would surely bite for that offer at the very least , I could get it bought, and on with my life
    the best offer did not clich the deal either I would have paid the asking price plus the postage if the best offer had not been available but it was obviously there for the taking,

  14. or put another way why not
    rather than do best offer , offer free postage in the first place, cos most times using Best offer your going to give that amount at least anyhow,
    and get the KUDOS

  15. I love Best Offer as a seller as it plays to one of eBay’s original strengths – the thrill of the bargain. As more professional sellers and Fixed price selling came on board, many lamented that loss but here you have a carrot to dangle to buyers. They still get the item quickly (as per Fixed Price over auction) but enter into the thrill of submitting a money saving offer. That thrill will bring them back to the site time and time again and will lead them to talk to others of their “steal”. Very important.

    As a seller, I use it to differentiate against sellers selling the same item. I will often price say a DVD at the same price as many in the category but throw Best Offer out there as a means of attracting the buyer to me and not them. After all I can always hit decline or come back with a revised offer. That keeps the buyer engaged with me and not the competition!

  16. #15 “thrill of submitting a money saving offer” 😆

    I think it cheapens eBay & reinforces the prejudices that stops many from using the site.

    I guess it depends on what kind of mentality your looking for in your customers.

  17. hate to say it jamie the above statement makes its obvious you dont make your living selling on ebay, does ebay brainwash you guys ,or just give you blinkers
    the only people I have ever heard talk of a steal ,on ebay, is those that mention the buyer who stole by charging back, or the seller who stole by not sending

  18. You’re right North I don’t make a living on the site but I come back to it time and time again because it offers me value as a buyer or a seller.

    The proof though is in the application. If it had no use (by sellers offering it or buyers using it) it would have been removed by now.

    As for brainwashing, I’m off down to Richmond tomorrow to top up my injections.

  19. IMHO best offer is in the same category as
    Buy one for the price of “TWO” and get one free 😆

  20. Ah I see jamie
    a bit like the Gift Wrap option or The Pez category

    IMHO Best offer works for ebay better than anyone ,and was introduced by them to get their FVF slice from folks emailing offers

  21. #15, Thanks Jamie for the best laugh of the day. 😆

    The thrill of getting a quid or two off a DVD indeed, some folk really need to get out more. 😀

  22. Best Offer is the best bloody invention of the blinking decade Norf, wadda ya talking about ya ole codger?

    You can setup Auto Idiot Bid Rejection Norf, but why can’t beat the feeling of making someone feel stupid by immediately declining there offer and then responding to there sob story follow up email with a big fat “NO”

    Best Offer accounts for a serious % of our sales and we wouldn’t want to stop offering it in the future.

  23. #16 “I guess it depends on what kind of mentality your looking for in your customers.”

    A Pound is a Pound, I don’t care if I am dealing with a Oxford Grad or a bag of bolts, if I can spend it, they can buy it.

  24. #23 but that “pound” could’ve been “a pound ten” if you weren’t using “best offer” 🙂

  25. Buyers, remember that your seller cannot see your ID when you make a best offer.

    How long has that been in effect? Last time I used BO was March on .com and I could see my purchaser. It makes absolutely no sense not to be able to see it, otherwise eBay is admitting that buyer feedback (left and received) is meaningless. Last time I got an offer from someone in Italy over 50% of the feedback he left was negative for US sellers.

  26. North, Best Offer is an Auction potentially ending within a few minutes rather than 5/7/10 days, so crossing the speed of a BIN with the ‘grab a bargin’ factor of Auctions from a Buyers point of view.
    Also don’t your prices tags in the B&M shop have ‘T’ marks? All the Antique centres round me do 😉
    and Best Offer can be damn useful if you need a rapid kick up the cashflow. Kids and school trips come to mind! 👿

  27. Brain
    there are one day auction or a three day auctions
    if your really intent on a quick sale or offering a bargain, rather than deluding buyers with best offer, why not just ask the actual price you would take,

    no one is ever going to offer more than your asking price,
    where as in an auction ,the price can often end higher than you would have asked on a buy it now,

  28. Brain

    We Dont have T marks on our price tags ,we dont play that game either
    we have the same attitude to best offer in the real world,
    as we do on ebay
    of course we will take an offer but we dont Say £10 with a T £2
    we may as well just put £8 and not do the dance

  29. I think Best Offer is akin to how I shop:

    Sometimes I really want something (like a collectible) and will be willing to pay whatever it takes to acquire the piece (or whatever the limit is that I can afford). If you’re selling to me an auction will get my best price.

    Sometimes I need something urgently (e.g. my printer had run out of toner and I just want a replacement delivered tomorrow) In which case a Buy It Now is the best way to sell to me.

    Sometimes you have something I don’t really need, but I think it’s kinda cute to have. It’s a commodity product so if you sell it on auction you’ll probably lose money because the market is flooded with them. I might want to buy just one but equally I might want to buy two or three in which case I’ll look for a deal on price. In this case Buy It Now with Best Offer makes perfect sense.

    Not all selling formats suit all customers all of the time, but they suit some customers some of the time and that’s when it makes sense to offer a range of buying options.

    For the record if I have multiples of the same item I invariable offer some on fixed price with best offer, and list the same item on auction for those who don’t mind waiting 10 days to possibly grab a bargain (or possibly pay more than the Buy It Now price on occasion 😉 )

  30. best offer tells me I can get it for less , its most irritatating when the seller takes my first offer 😆

  31. #32 There’s one other reason for using Best Offer which no one has mentioned yet…. it allows you to minimise fees….

    Lets suppose you have an item you think is worth a fair bit but you don’t know what someone would be willing to pay – maybe £100-150 or so?. It’s a one off unique so normally you’d auction it.

    Suppose you stick it fixed price for £500 with Best Offer, you might get a very good offer and accept (more than you expected). You might counter offer and get a bit more, but either way your eBay fees could be cheaper. For me to list a BIN at any price/quantity (with my featured shop) it’s 5p. To list an auction at a high start price or with a reserve costs considerably more in comparison

  32. if its one off and unique, auction it, let them fight for it!
    not try and guess what its worth, and then take less,
    unless of course you ask daft money, in the hope that some nitwit thinks it may be worth that, is suckered in and offers a little less

  33. ebay fees are the very last thing we consider when listing
    ebays fees are such a small part of our costs, as to be almost ignored
    we dont list anything to just sit there, we expect it to sell ,and we rarely relist

  34. #35 It’s different when you have 100 of the identical buggers sitting getting dust on the shelf 😉

    Having said that I’ve woken up to a nice surprise this morning – I’ve got an auction that’s gone mad! I totally didn’t know what the thing was worth and it’s sky high already! 😀

  35. I feel for, and admire those that sell stock or identical items on ebay,

    where ebay fees. search postion are just as important as the cost, and sale price of the item

    I would not know where to start, I just could not, would not do it,

  36. It should be clear, I am a wholesaler and not a good writer or a stock expert, but I have a first hand inside look having been a powerseller almost from e bay start, for over 10 years, 1.7 million per year sales and account for $156,000 paid to e bay per year for seller fees, this is the bases in which e bay shows profit or loss in a great way for there core business, this does not account for paypal fees charged, seller manager pro, e bay stores. Buyers and sellers are leaving e bay, this can be proved by
    It is interesting how the 1500 employee lay off received so much attention, however, OVER 10% of total powersellers were laid off/suspended because of flawed aggressive policy poorly implemented has not had a placement. This is proved by between 15k-30K e bay powersellers who account for $3000-$20,000 in seller fees paid each month for each of those sellers. This seems a larger story than a simple layoff of e bay employees. Ebay saves money by laying off paid employees, but e bays profit takes a hit by getting rid of partners who contribute to e bay profit. For example: 20,000 powersellers/partners laid off/suspended that account for an average of $5,000 per month seller fees = $100,000,000 each month in seller fees not received by e bay. That is $1,200,000,000 per year in revenue given up for aggressively flawed policy by current management. The idea current ebay management had was by getting rid of 10% of its selling partners was going drive back 32% of its buyers, however, that has clearly not been the case, because the policy change was flawed and implemented with such aggression over a short period of time, 6 months total, 3 months aggressively. Ebay seems to have driven away buyers by this and the new search method that sellers or buyers don’t like with no concern of management. The company has managed to drive its investors away in the same motion as stock prices show a drop since new management put in place 6 months ago, before market crash. Ebay management charged its sellers/partners for decline in its core business and seems not to have taken into account the increased competition of walmart, best buy, circuit city and many others putting marketing dollars into the online sector of business. Ebay pushing away its partners, sellers and buyers, is only going to make profit softer and push away investors. With 70% more competitors in the market e bay only dropped 30% seems a strong market hold for e bay and a reason to support its partners in a currently working policy rather than place blame partners and will prove to decline its future market share which is pointed out by many market analysis.

    Ebay, through the wild west style new management, took a look at itself and realized it had a drop in the number of sellers buying on its site. It decided it was because of bad “buyer experience” and immediately, it seems without full thought of backfire, decided it was the sellers fault. In some cases, this may be true, but it is most likely because of the additions to online retailers such as walmart, bestbuy, circuit city and the lis t goes on that were not competitors before and had not sunk the marketing dollars into the Internet sector of there business plan before. The more big sellers the less customers for ebay. It is widely known that e bay has blamed sellers rather than external forces for the slow in sales. Instead of working within the community, that once believed that people are basically good, took on a policy that made its community fell like criminals and strong feelings of dislike for the symbol that was once regarded. Ebay has aggressively pushed away its partners will prove to decline its future market share and a relationship that may go un repaired when new management is called upon.
    Ebay has withstood the .com storm because of a superior system and its ability to hold steady to the working core business policy. Its customers fell that is no longer the case and many companies like and OLA.COM ( are rushing to try to meet seller and buyer demands that ebay seems unwilling to meet. Many small auction sites have tried to compete in the past but been successful in driving traffic. Now a once complacent audience of e bay buyers and sellers are seeing the changes and the likely hood they are being driven away through aggressive, unfair, flawed policy changes and are taking note to change to someone with the old values that made ebay a community that worked. You can see from the chart below the demand that is being driven to for example.
    This is a small amount of buyers and sellers compared to e bay, but it does show a market who is hungry to meet the demand of current buyers and sellers, and what is maybe most important that buyers and sellers are finding the ability for change.

    When e bay was a “venue”, now it is felt by many of its sellers that it acts as an employer or landlord by design of new policy, it was profitable for sellers and a great value for buyers. Sellers drove traffic to the site because buyers knew they could get many of the items for a large percentage below retail, at or below wholesale. E bay is a follower now and is trying to make itself like Amazon and other .com retailers. Ebay sellers who use Amazon report little to no sales. E bay has a niche (wholesale products) and Amazon has a niche (books, CDs with unmatched distribution etc) and both worked independently of each other, this is why Ebay sellers are not successful on Amazon and Amazon sellers are not successful using ebay. New ebay management has had a hard time realizing Amazon is a different market plan. Many e bay sellers are leaving to do Amazon but it is feared this will not prove successful for them. The e bay system worked and most were satisfied, buyers and sellers could realize other bad buyers or sellers.
    Buyers and sellers are not happy anymore and the numbers will continue to show as long as this management stays. Economy will play a roll, that is why ebay can’t afford to gamble with management that has proven to drive its partners, sellers and buyers, away. The company is large enough it will be around for a long time, maybe not in the online auction sector effectively as it was before, but it is still a mystery to many who use or used to use the site why this management has been allowed to make this aggressive of a change. If this is where they wanted to go, it would takes years to change a company this size effectively, it can’t be done in 6 months times and certainty not given a slow in the economy.
    Things are not happy under new management/John Donahoe management has made no one happy, sellers or buyers or its investors. It has been a 6 month meltdown since new management fumbled a working system.
    I talked to the owner of 1-800-900-2828, Rowen Grisham, a previous e bay powerseller who seen improper change coming long before many sellers and buyers realized. He said he had seen a flood of sellers and buyers calling to learn about the site in the last 4 months. Rowen Grishamw says they are about to roll out a goggle search program that will make it more visible. This is just one example of where e bay buyer and seller base is going. Grisham seems to want to supply its sellers and buyers with a fair service, as when the ebay site was born and acted as a venue rather than an employer. Small companies that are hungry and taking advantage of a situation where ebay is not satisfying its demand.
    Anyone considering investing or putting time into future sales may want to take a look at the aggressive, flawed policy’s they have put in place, there are little to no direct policy as there has been. Sellers, buyers and investors wouldn’t be leaving if there was any good reason to stay.
    E bay has done a poor job or emplaning the new changes to its buyers, sellers only after a few months of effect, some loosing there e bay business because of improper, unmonitored data, is still learning and it seems no one knows the answers even at the top account managers level. Its buyers do not realize that the DSR DETAILED SELLER RATING, the 5 stars under the feedback rating is not based on a 100 point scale like every other system in the free world. For example, from 1 to 5, 1 is poor, 3 is average and 5 is excellent. With e bay, 4,5 is average and 5 is good, I am glad they didn’t have my math teachers in Collage. So many times buyers rate a 3 when they don’t realize they are giving the seller a unacceptable rating that could potentially suspend his/her account from e bay as so many has been suspended in the last 3 months because of improper data that has been now used as the bible of e bay to rate seller performance. It should also be noted that a flaw in the data of the 5 star DSR is that if a customer is happy, they fell that leaving positive feedback served its purpose and they have caused a positive vote to the seller, e bay has not educated the buyer, so they do not leave a star rating at all, and are not required to and a large % do not, but leave a positive feedback as it is not required. But the buyer who is mad and is leaving hasty feedback will be more than motivated to leave a 1 or 2 for all stars. For this reason, good sellers offering great service and products are being suspended from e bay by record numbers, this cuts the life cord of the seller as well as core business at e bay and the reason buyers come to the site and investors invest in the company.

    Ebay may have ruined their market flair for both buyers and sellers forever. Too many restricting rule changes, increased charges, paypal demands, seller ratings. This has ultimately destroyed their bottom line.
    Don’t think eBay and its payment system engage in unfair, at the very least unethical or even illegal business practices? Retailers are asking for congress to crack down on organized computer crimes, but eBay, said “they would be unfairly targeted in the proposed legislation” Read article from link below: DAP&Date=20080922&ID=9174700&Symbol=EBAY

    Many sellers, buyers and investors alike have a dedicated special interest and hope they turn themselves around, but it is going to take some quick and correct policy change back to the system that worked to undo what has been done in what would be considered by many as well as a powerseller account manager in a telephone conversation said that this is “the most aggressive change e bay has ever done” it is costing sellers there business and driving buyers away from the site. The Best Match search is fatally flawed and $0.35 listings are not going to fix that.

    Sellers of the unique items that made eBay famous (and who paid listing fees) are leaving in droves, while eBay brokers deals with corporate sellers of new stuff you can get anywhere who don’t pay listing fees deteriorate the profits. And their buyers are following them. Watch the Q4 and Q1 figures. A company of this size can keep up appearances for some time, but its customers, its customers customers, that is sellers and buyers, are speaking up and cannot be ignored in the long term, the leader of these policy’s are and continue to drive away the core business of e bay and investors are taking notice.

    E bay bought Bill Me Later, I would have been surprised just 6 months ago, but I am unhappy to report that I am not at this time, the reason is this management has taken down the tread that holds e bay together as can be seen by its buyers and sellers everywhere complaining about the flawed aggressive policies that have taken place over the last few months, maybe you have heard some of them or are one of them. Every comment citing that the previous system was not broken. E bay has had community and trust, this 13 year trust has been violated and has failed both sellers and buyers in just a few months of unfair, faulty policy change that has taken a ship this size and turned it so fast that it is out of control and is facing a challenge to bring the ship back to course as it was before in the core business, although still ignored by management at this time, this is just in the core business, this shows the danger of a lateral move like credit right now. Take into account there could’t be worse timing as the world economy will not view this favorably given recent events. This policy change was over a short aggressive period, but the negative impact will make it difficult to navigate back in position, if this venture is not successful, it will be even worse for ebay, its investors, and20the management that follows. The core business has taken a great hit world wide, now it is committed to a market that is new. A new market during the time when its core business is in jeopardy due to flawed policy and a slowed economy with management proven only to drive away customers. This will prove a challenge that may take years to repair relationships of its sellers and buyers when it has been realized by investors concerned on top of unpopular credit service. Migration back to the system with effective proven 12-15 record, built by previous management over 12-15 years, seems to be the only way to save the future profits and stability the company once enjoyed.

    So, e bay wants its investors to trust it in a huge risk buy, when the investors are clearly concerned and most can see that e bay can not run its core business in a way that is satisfying to its customers, causing them to leave, look for other suppliers that will eventually be able to meet demands of the once complacent sellers and buyers. Sorry, it would be hard for anyone with basic knowledge of the problems with recent policy of the core business to buy this, having been a seller and buyer for 10 years, it makes it even harder to buy. I can say, I am happy to report my family, who bought stock when they=2 0seen my success on e bay, sold there stock when I explained the new managements flawed, unfair, and aggressive policy handed down. The stock has followed since this and many are betting with there dollars fell it will continue to fall. Maybe Jim Cramer, hyper as he is, has a point when he said he could not get behind the company, and that someone should buy the company “and put them out of their misery.” It is hard to argue with him, stock sold back in march, when these policies were being talked about, not yet implemented agressively, sold ebay seems to be the smart move. Stock was $30-$32 per share at that time, March 2008, it dropped every since as can be tracked from any stock quote chart. Yes, the economy took the abrupt hit, stock price had already plummeted by 1/3, $19-$22 per share, before it happened that our country was in trouble from bad credit/debt. Some say they wouldn’t want to touch this a credit market at this time. I would also not want to answer to shareholders when they learn what long time sellers and buyers have seen in the past few months. Good thing for golden parachutes I guess, maybe that will soften the fall?
    I think this report on NYtimes has some good in site of the problems facing the company with the current buy:

    Maybe enough people will sign to make it worthwhile?


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