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Should eBay sellers use auction style or fixed price listings?

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When eBay started back in 1995, all listings were auction style. Things have changed dramatically on eBay since its inception, and sellers are often confused about what listing type to use when selling their items on the world’s largest online marketplace. Each listing type has advantages and disadvantages. Neither is better than the other, it just depends on the seller’s goal and business model when selling on eBay. Here are the nuts and bolts of both types of listings, and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Remember; always do what works for your unique business.

If it has been a while since you have sold on eBay, you may still think that auctions are the way to go because an item can have a low starting price, and many bidders will be attracted to the listing. This strategy no longer holds true. Bidding wars on eBay are rare. Millions of auctions end on eBay every day with zero bids, or only one bid. Use caution when starting listings at 99 cents. If only one bid is received, the seller is obligated to sell the item for the starting bid. Always start the bidding at the lowest acceptable price so that if only one bid is received, money isn’t lost on the auction.

Benefits of an auction include:

Lower (sometimes free) insertion fee – only pay a final value fee if the item sells.

Shorter duration – 3, 5, 7, or 10 days, good for when a gift-giving holiday is approaching.

Good for items truly limited in number such as event tickets, autographed items, or true one of a kind items. Let the market determine the price rather than possibly setting it too low on fixed price.

Good way to get rid of stale inventory – sell at cost plus a percentage to cover eBay and Paypal fees.

Some buyers only purchase from auctions – they like bidding.

A fixed price listing is like retail in the real world – the seller sets a price and the buyer pays the asking price. Best Offer can also be added to fixed price listings so that the seller can consider offers from buyers. There are many advantages to using Best Offer on Fixed Price listings.

Advantages of fixed price Listings:

Longer duration – up to 30 days. This gives the listing time to be indexed on Google. Many buyers find the perfect item by searching Google, not even realizing they could have looked on eBay first.

Sellers can require immediate payment. This often weeds out the serious buyers who will pay immediately because they really want the item. Immediate payment is a huge time saver because the seller doesn’t have to become a bill collector begging for payment from the buyer. Many sellers only want to deal with buyers who will pay at the time of purchase.

International customers like fixed price items better. They don’t like waiting days for an auction to end – they already know it will take their item days or weeks to arrive, so their sense of urgency is greater.

Set it and forget it. Since fixed price listings can run for 30 days or Good Til Canceled (where they keep renewing automatically every 30 days), there isn’t a need to manually relist unsold items. A good sell through rate on eBay is 30%, so that means 70% of items don’t sell the first time listed. Unsold items will need to be manually relisted and this takes up valuable time. If a seller is running hundreds of auctions a week, and 70% go unsold, a great deal of time will be spent relisting unsold items.

Consider all of these factors when determining if an auction or fixed price listing is best for your particular item. Most at home eBay sellers doing eBay as a part or full time business use fixed price listings as their business model. Learn more strategies to increase sales on eBay.

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