Ebay how-tos – will they ever agree?

Don’t be an eBay buyer, or you could turn into this crazy eBay woman. Be a seller. Perhaps you’re going to make a killing on PS3s. Or you’ve just cornered the world market in a particular Lego set. Just don’t pick some dud product. While you’re not going to become an eBay millionare, often the question is “What’s the trick to make the most money”?

Everyone with an opinion disagrees.

Shipping
Research shows that people are relatively insensitive to shipping costs, even though honour and the eBay rules say you can’t charge much beyond what it actually costs to ship. But perhaps the research was flawed, it only sampled 80 purchases.
Duration
The PS3 guy reckons 3 day auctions are the way to go. Roth reckons ten day ones are best, because they cover two weekends. Smith says 10 day auctions suck, but gives no reason.
Finish time
Sunday evening might work well, and in my sample of one it worked great, but:

Sunday evening may well be a peak time for ebay but bear in mind that there will be both an increase in buyers AND of auctions/competition so it’s not clear it’s the best time to end an auction. I’ve found Sunday, Monday, Thursday evenings to be good.

People are home on the weekends. Are they home, bored? I guess you want your auction to finish at such a time that when people see it, they’re willing to bid on it.
Body copy
Sean Blanda at College v2 says ‘don’t waste time on narrative‘. J.D. Roth thinks just the opposite. My anecdotal evidence says that amusing, engaging and informative copy makes for higher realised prices; the time investment in this, however, can be a killer. So you’d want to be selling multiples of whatever it is. Perhaps because I included a story of the item’s provenance it helped.
Starting price
Low starting bids are universally suggested, but often the following caveat is normally ignored:

It’s also not true that a 0.99 starting price is always the best policy. This is only true if your item has a lot of demand. Many times if there are only a few buyers interested and you list the item at near retail you will eventually get a buyer willing to pay that price – you may need to relist a few times. If you had starting it at 0.99 it may be that only one buyer happens to be interested at the time of the auction.

Moreover, if you have more than one item that will generally have few buyers and you list at 0.99 and it sells at that price, you’ve then set a precedence. People who search for completed listings will now perceive the item to be worth 0.99 – not good.

Myself, I’m going to use a buy-it-now price. I’m in no rush to sell, and really want the super premium I can capture.
Pictures
Everyone says put in a picture, but here’s a money-saving tip:

You can embed lots of pictures in your html rather than pay ebay to upload them – ebay gives one free & charges for the rest. It takes a little bit to learn this, but is NOT difficult.

Geeks aren’t afraid of HTML. And we love optimizing things, such as cost.

Feeback
Early or late? I think you’ve done unilateral disarmament if you’ve left feedback before the buyer has. But some people think you ought to leave feedback as soon as you’ve got the money. But a buyer can screw you over in so many ways after giving you the money. Bad move.

Unclear
I don’t know what the right Finish Time is. Any suggestions, with reasoning or, better yet, evidence?

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2 thoughts on “Ebay how-tos – will they ever agree?

  1. daniel

    I’d suggest a lot of this stuff depends on the item, and therefore the market you’re chasing. Are you aiming at bored office workers? Make the end time during business hours. Or perhaps mid-week evenings when there’s no good telly. Fri/Sat nights are probably not good, since typically most people aren’t in front of the computer then.

    And so on.

    I see Ad Words has picked up on this post pretty damn quick.

  2. josh Post author

    We have ad-words on this site? I guess someone’s got to pay the bills. Click on the links, those who can see them!

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