Time again for your Chicago Treasure Hunter’s weekly installment of useful eBay tips for newbie, casual and novice users of the world’s leading auction site. Today we’ll examine the fine line between profitable versus unprofitable selling choices. Let’s put aside, for the moment, how goods are sold with compelling words and imagery. Whether it’ll be offered up for auction style bids or a fixed price in your eBay store, this column will focus on merchandise selection.
As the seller, you’re expecting a particular item to generate a certain amount of money. For your buyer, that’s not the bottom line. He or she is tacking on the shipping charges. Following this logic, an item that’s worth $100 and costs just as much if not more to ship isn’t going to attract any attention. Search completed contemporary furniture listings as evidence of the fact. It’s the same as asking someone to pay twice what the piece is worth. This is true for inexpensive and big ticket items alike. A $5 item that costs $4 to ship first class represents every bit as much of a deal killer.
Which brings us to your bottom line. Since the typical eBay sale costs 35 cents to list and will generate at least another buck in eBay and PayPal fees based on the ending auction value, don’t list items that are worth $5 or less. Even if you paid a penny for it you’re walking away with pocket change. Instead group together items that are likely to appeal to the same buyer. For instance, Post-War Lionel train parts for one particular engine or even a couple of locomotives will garner more enthusiasm that one particular part – unless that part is exceptionally hard to come by.
If you’re unsure about your item’s benchmark value, do a completed items search on the category in question. Can’t determine where to direct your search? Then it’s time to hit the books and do your homework. Telling a potential buyer that you “don’t know anything about ___ but found it at an estate sale” is the kiss of death for any profiteer. Everyone will assume you have something to hide, be it an authenticity or condition issue.
Tune in next week for some points on eBay buying. It’s the other side of the coin that’s infinitely more challenging than selling, but holds far greater potential to those who possess a talent for finding needles in hay stacks.