Clearing Clutter on eBay
A few weeks prior to the launch of the iPad I decided to sell off some unwanted items on eBay.
The main aim was to see if it was possible to raise enough money to buy Apple's new release without having to resort to using savings.
You can read the steps I took and the updates I made as I went along on the following webpage:
I Want An iPad
Another of my aims was to document the process and then create a write-up of the changes I saw between the present (mid-2010) and the times when I was very active on eBay (around 2004-2005).
Here is the end result which hopefully will help you to increase the sale price of items you list on eBay in 2010 and beyond...
Zero Listing Fees
One major change that eBay has made recently is the scrapping of listing fees for auctions that start at below £1.
This means that you can list an item for free, providing you do not start the auction at more than 99p.
For those who sell a lot of items this change will reduce their fees but in some ways it isn’t so good.
Yes, you save a little on listing fees but the problem with this is that if you only attract one bidder, your item will sell for just 99p.
During my little fund-raising exercise, of the four auctions I started at just 99p three eventually sold for that price. Yes, I may have saved 10p or so per auction on the listing price but I potentially lost out on several pounds because only one person submitted a bid.
The one item that sold for more than 99p finished at just £2.20.
There’s no way of knowing why these auctions finished with just one bidder – could’ve been bad timing of the start and finish of the auctions, could’ve been a slow week, could even have been because the auctions weren’t presented well.
In any case it meant that I had to pack and ship 4 different items for not very much gain. Even raising the price by a few pounds would’ve been a far better outcome and would perhaps have made the effort worthwhile.
The way to avoid this scenario is to start each auction for the minimum price that you are willing to accept. So if you are comfortable to accept £5 for an item, start the auction at £5.
This way if just one person goes as far as submitting a bid, you at least reach your "minimum" price.
Of course, the auction also has the potential to go higher than that.
If your listing manages to attract a few bidders, there is always the possibility that your item will go for a great deal more.
Try not to think about how you are losing out on a “free” listing.
Let’s face facts – if you start an auction for 99p and it goes for 99p you will be charged 10% (10p) in eBay fees.
Start an auction at £4.99 and you pay a 15p “insertion” fee. Say you get 1 bid and it sells for £4.99 your final value fee will be 50p. So that’s 65p in total.
Simply by increasing the starting bid you have a net gain of £4.34 rather than 89p.
That’s what is commonly known as a “no brainer”.
After the disappointment of the 4 "99p" auctions I decided to change tactics with two more auctions and instead started them running at initial prices of £19.99 and £24.99.
The first auction attracted only one bidder and so it sold for £19.99. The second one attracted several last minute snipers who bid it up to £52.21.
Imagine that I had started the first auction at 99p. It's possible it would've still attracted only one bidder and sold for just 99p. Of course, I would've saved a few pence on listing fees but I was actually throwing away £19.
The second auction may well have still ended at £52.21 even if I had started at 99p but why take the chance? The few extra pence for the listing fee gave the auction a kind of "insurance" that the eventual price would be at least £24.99.
Research the Completed Listings
Before selling anything it's well worth taking a few minutes to check the completed listings to see what kind of price other auctions for your item have been attracting.
For a Samsung mobile phone - brand new, unopened - the price range was very interesting.
The lowest went for £13.50 (plus £3 P&P) on the 17th of the month whereas the highest went for £41.01 (plus £4.99) on the 8th.
Of the 13 completed listings I found, the average was £25.02.
I felt it was worth a try listing it with a good picture and description along with a Buy It Now price of £29.99 plus £4.99 for Recorded Delivery.
Three days later somebody bought and paid for it in the early hours of a Sunday morning.
Perhaps someone coming home from the pub and having a drunken shopping spree?
Whatever the reason for the buyer choosing that time to click “Complete”, the research paid off and the buyer received their item promptly.
To see results for Completed Listings simply perform a normal search and then click on the link that says “Completed Listings” on the right hand side of the search results. You can then sort by the end price or by date which gives you some data to work from.
Using Buy It Now Listings
With Buy It Now listings it's always worth experimenting. Start with a high but reasonable price and see what happens.
If your item is attracting interest you will see the number of “watchers” increase during the time the listing is active. You may also start to receive some questions and offers.
And speaking of time, unless you have a good reason for not using 10 day listings, there’s only one timeframe to choose when putting an item on eBay with a Buy It Now price. The fees are the same whether you choose 3, 5, 7 or 10 days so you may as well choose the 10 day option.
Here’s what I will do when it comes to BIN listings.
First, choose the price. Check the completed listings and pick an appropriate price towards the top of the price range (maybe even a little higher).
List the item for 10 days and with any luck it will sell.
If it doesn’t sell, but there have been some watchers, relist it for another 10 days at the same price.
If the people who are watching want the item enough, and you keep on relisting at the same price, someone will eventually buy it.
However, if you relist the item and drop the price at the same time, you run the risk of someone waiting to see how far you’ll drop the price.
With the iPad experiment I was selling a home study course which usually costs in the region of £350 new.
I listed the item for a BIN of £180 (roughly half price) but, and this is a great feature on eBay, I added a “Make Offer” button to the listing.
My aim was to sell the item for about £100 so I listed it above this price so that potential buyers were given the impression that price was a reasonable one.
After a couple of days someone offered £50 but I declined the offer. The first listing ended after 10 days with no further offers.
I relisted at £180 and, again, it didn’t sell.
The third time I relisted it at the same price and within a couple of days somebody offered the £100 I was looking for so I sold to them.
In selling off a load of unwanted stuff I found that you need to assess each item individually in order to work out the best way to obtain the maximum amount.
If you just want rid of something, and don’t care how much you get for it, use an auction starting at 99p.
If you believe the item has the potential to go for a large amount of money use an auction but fix the starting price at an amount that you would be happy to sell for.
Combine Buy It Now listings with the “Make Offer” function to entice buyers. Fixing a large Buy It Now price sets that price in the buyer’s mind and helps to invite a decent offer.
There’s still potential to make money on eBay as it’s obvious that the market is still there but for most it’s a great way of turning unwanted clutter into cash. Just be careful about how you sell on eBay and you will maximise the cash you receive.
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