We know that somewhere in the region of 80% of eBay sales are now Fixed Price items. The Auction format, which accounted for 100% of sales when eBay launched, has been in decline for many years and yet eBay is still today described as an online auction marketplace.
There are any number of reasons why auctions are in decline: The immediacy of a fixed price sale and knowing that the item is on it’s way; The rise in sales of FMCG where the price is pretty much a known quantity; Sellers want exposure on Google for their eBay listings and Google Shopping only highlights fixed price items; and of course with deep inventory sellers can shift many more units on a multiple quantity fixed price listing compared to waiting up to 10 days for an auction to complete.
Auctions are still valuable in just about every category on eBay though. If you have a rare or unusual item but highly sought after item, which could be a collectible or just as easily a handbag, motor part (or car), a tech item or anything that’s enhanced (such as a CD signed by the artist) then auctions will still work for you.
Even in collectibles however, we know sellers that prefer to research their item and list at a realistic price rather than risk a single bidder walking away with a bargain. eBay is 20 years old the the once mighty auction isn’t quite as pervasive as it once was.
It’s bizarre in some ways because as technology has progressed it’s easier to bid on eBay auctions than ever before. eBay’s mobile app will prompt you whenever you’re outbid, you can pop a cheeky last minute bid on your mobile or tablet and of course there are plenty of sniping tools to place your bids for you. Technology alone isn’t enough to impact buyer and seller behaviour though, and sell through rates and the velocity of sales dictates that fixed price listings are more popular.
Do you still use auctions on eBay? Where do you see them sitting in your portfolio? Do you auction everything, selected items, or rarely when an item comes your way that just lends itself to the auction format?