OK, so you have registered an account on eBay, you’ve bought some items so that you could watch how the whole process works, and you’ve gone around to find some bargains that you could buy and re-sell on eBay. What’s next? Well, you need to list the items up for auction! I’m not going to talk about the mechanics of how to do the listing here on the blog. I am more into talking about general ideas on how to do things that will make you money. There are lots of places on the net (including right on eBay) where they will tell you to enter this information here, and that information there, then click this button, etc. The mechanics are not what I enjoy talking about, and you can find that information on the net. For a good start, check here.
So, other than the mechanics of listing the items, what else do you need to think about?
When should you list the item? Honestly, it doesn’t make much difference when the auction starts. It makes a huge difference when the auction ends, though. The time and day when the auction ends could mean making a huge profit, or losing money! How? Well, think about it. Firstly, you need to realize that on eBay, the majority of the bids come in within the last few minutes of the auction. People will find your item, and then bookmark it. They will wait and see how the price is looking as it comes to an end to the auction. If they see an item listed for $5, and they feel it is worth $20 to them, they will pay attention to the item. But, as they keep watching the item, if it is suddenly $40, they won’t be interested anymore, most likely (with a few exceptions that we will talk about later in this post). But, if they look at the auction again and there are 5 minutes left, and it is still $5, they will start drooling! They want that item! But wait, what if there are 3 or 4 people who are all watching it at the end of the auction? A bidding war is about to erupt! Those last few minutes can see an item jump from a few dollars to any amount – the sky is the limit. Now, think about this…. what if you live in the Philippines, but you are targeting US customers. You started the auction at 3pm Philippine time, so it will end on another day at 3pm. That’s OK, right? NO, it’s NOT ok. It’s a big problem. Your target customer is in bed at the time the auction ends (it’s 3am on the East Coast of the USA, and it’s midnight on the West Coast!). Nobody, or very few people will be watching the auction at that time. You also need to have the auction end on the right day. You need to know when the holidays are in the USA to be effective. What if the item ends on Labor Day? Nobody is online on Labor Day! There certainly won’t be a bidding war on your item if you end it on Labor Day. And, if you are here in the Philippines and not familiar with US holidays, you would not realize that Labor Day is in September, it’s not in May like here in the Philippines! This takes study, and knowledge of your target customer! If the auction ends on a Sunday night in the USA, people are getting their kids ready for school on Monday, etc. Experiment with different auction ending times to see what works for you. My advice is that it’s best for your auction to end in the US evening hours, on a weekday. Your target audience may vary.
How much should I start the auction at? Well, how gutsy are you? On many items, my favorite strategy is to start the auction out for $0.01 and let it ride. It can scare the pants off of you, but it can also earn you some serious money! I have had items that cost me hundreds of dollars, and I listed them for a penny. When you list something that cheap, it starts a stir. People get all excited about the item. If it’s worth money, and it’s something they want, they will bid, you can be sure of that. You know what, a lot of times on an item starting that cheap, people will end up paying much more than the item is worth too. Why? Because once they bid when it is only pennies, they get invested in it. They are going to get that item! And, when others are bidding the price up, they only remember that they want the item, they aren’t going to let the other people bid them. Get a few people thinking that way, and you are going to be making some nice money on that particular auction! If you don’t have the guts to try setting the price at $0.01, set it at the lowest level that you are comfortable with. Let the bidding decide what the item is worth, and see what happens. That is my best advice on pricing.
What about the reserve price? Some of you are asking “what is a reserve price?” A reserve price is the minimum price that you will accept. For example, you can start off an item at $0.01, but have a reserve price of $20. In other words, the auction price may end at $19.40, but since it didn’t meet your reserve, you are under no obligation to sell the item for $19.41. As far as eBay is concerned the auction was never completed successfully. Nobody but you knows what the reserve price is, the auction will just note if the reserve has been met or not. Personally, I don’ t use reserve prices. I don’t like them. A lot of eBay buyers are turned off by reserves, and if the auction has a reserve they don’t bid. Odds are they can find the same item elsewhere on eBay with no reserve. My advice – avoid using reserve prices.
OK, in my next post, we’ll look at more selling strategies for eBay. Until then, keep up your research about eBay by buying a few items, and always be on the lookout for that hot item that you can get cheap and re-sell on eBay!