I recently read an article by David Brackin of Stuff U Sell about how his company consistently achieves above average prices on eBay. I’ve known David for a number of years, and Stuff U Sell is a large, reputable, UK eBay Trading Assistant, so I asked him to share the secret of how to he realises the best possible prices for his trading assistant customers.
David explains today that’s it’s not just about having great pictures and descriptions, sometimes it can be tactics as simple as providing a great delivery service or using long duration listings and waiting for the right buyer to find your item.
Price variation in eBay sales of similar items can be as wide as 85% of the top sales price, with busier categories seeing the greatest variation in price.
Stuff U Sell tracks its performance of their , comparing the results with the marketplace averages. In many cases the extra effort and care taken to list and sell items well sees a significant increase in price, more than offsetting the Trading Assistant’s commission rate.
– David Brackin, Stuff U Sell eBay Blog
Although these techniques are used by eBay Trading Assistants, Stuff U Sell, they are applicable across a wide range of categories and sellers.
How much is all the extra work of ‘doing it well’ worth?
There are many articles which will tell you “top tips” for getting better prices on eBay – although it’s surprising how many sellers still don’t get the basics right: good photography, descriptive listings, searchable titles and prompt replies to questions. Beyond this there are the more advanced disciplines of reputation management, buyer community building, pricing strategies and game theory.
Very few people, however, ask how much all this work is worth. So we were delighted to speak last week with Genevieve Roberts of The Independent who asked us exactly this question. You can read her article – How to make eBay pay, where she discusses the listing advice we gave her and the research we’ve conducted.
We regularly monitor prices across the marketplace for commonly sold items, using tools such as Terapeak – which gives us trading data across all eBay going back over the past year – as well as our own trading data from over 120,000 transactions. The results are interesting.
How wide is the gap between best and worst prices?
We’ve taken a few examples from our internal research to illustrate some of the more advanced techniques for selling for higher prices – reputation management; market timing and enhanced offerings.
Handbags are a popular item at this time of year with London Fashion Week heralding the arrival of a new season, and we examined prices for the Jimmy Choo Hobo bag over the past 90 days. A lot of similar items had been sold, but the range in prices was huge – from £68 to £500, with an average price of £239.83. A glance through the actual listings showed a huge variety of quality of photographs, listing descriptions and strategies — as well as a mix of smaller personal sellers with no feedback and more established professional sellers.
With fashion items, reputation is really important: buyers need to be able to buy with confidence and this is where our 75,000 feedback score and Top Rated Seller status really helps. It’s also really important to have a clear no-quibble refunds policy which you really live up to so that buyers know they can send something back which they don’t like.
Stuff U Sell was the seller of the top-priced bag at £500, 208% of the average price. Falling into our 20% commission bracket, our client netted £323.75 — a full 62% more than if she had sold it herself at the average price and paid the eBay & Paypal fees.
The story is similar for other categories or products. To take another example, in men’s fashion, non-vintage Hermes ties show a huge variety in sales values – ranging from just £3 up to £97, with an average of £33.20. Noticing this huge variation, Stuff U Sell priced up their clients tie and left it in the marketplace a little longer than other sellers would (the bottom seller was a 99p auction), and as a result sold it for a client at over 2.5 times the average price. The client went away happy with 50% more after commission than doing it themselves.
Outside of fashion, January sees a lot of fitness gear being bought (and then later on sold after just one month’s use!). The high-end Concept 2D Rowing Machine saw prices vary between £450 and £870. This is a smaller variation – in part driven by the lower volume for this product – but still a huge 48% of the top price. When our client gave us this item, we realized that delivery would be the key difference from other auctions, which were offering collection only, so by using our network of delivery contacts, we were able to offer free UK delivery. The result was a sale at £815 – 17% over the average price of £695: a better deal for both the buyer and the seller, with all the hassle taken out of transaction.
The research shows that there is a lot to be gained from getting the best prices — whether you do it yourself or consign them to a seller like us — the extra work you put into your eBay sales pays back in significantly higher prices.