Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday's Ebay Selling Tip: Set the Right Starting Price

Hot dog!  Your frequently asked question, answered.

More than anything else, people ask me how to know how I decide on a starting bid price for my auctions.  It's a tricky decision:  if you start it too high, the buyers will be turned off and won't bid at all because there is no possibility of them getting a deal.  If you start your auction price too low, you may end up selling your would-be 25 dollar item for ninety nine cents.

Here are my thoughts:
  • If I am selling clothes, I start the auction with a "I would be happy with this" price.  Clothes don't sell as well as they used to, so I like to start the auction at a price where if it ended at that price, I would feel good about it.
  • As far as toys are concerned, I only buy things I feel confident I can sell for a decent profit (at least $10, but usually I'm shooting for more than that with my purchases).  
  • I typically start my auctions, even if it is something I think will sell for $200, at $7.99 or $9.99.  That's low enough to pull most anyone in and let them get emotionally invested in the toy, and let them think they might get a really good deal.  
  • Consider adding a "buy it now" price.  As an eBay shopper, I love buy it now and fixed prices.  I am not a see-the-auction-through-to-the-end kind of gal.  I pretty much only buy things on ebay if I can buy it right then and there (I guess I am into instant gratification...so if I am, other people are too!)  So don't be afraid to add a "buy it now" price to your listing, a price you would be really happy with when it sells.  If nothing else, it will inspire someone to place a bid right from the start, which is also key--once someone jumps in and gets the bids going, other people want to get in on the action.
  • During the slower months for toys, I often do a "fixed price" listing.  This is where YOU set the price and if someone wants it, they have to pay your set price.  You can also add an "or best offer" to your fixed price, which people LOVE because they can "feel" like they are getting a discount.  If you choose the "or best offer" to add to your fixed price, you will want to increase your fixed price to allow for the lower offer.  (Many people open an ebay store and have had great success with this, which is all fixed price listings.  I have not done this myself but am considering it!)
  • It's important to research completed listings of the item you are selling so that you can anticipate the final sale price of your auction.  If your item consistently sells for a certain amount, this knowledge will help you decide if you want to do an auction, a fixed price, and what kind of "buy it now" price you would like to add if you choose to do so.
  • I almost always list my items for 7 days and I like to begin my auctions on Thursday nights around 10pm Eastern Time.  10pm is not too late for East Coast buyers, and not too early for West Coast buyers.  Thursdays are great because I have the whole weekend to get my shipments together.  Please note:  be mindful of holidays and holiday weekends.  You want to avoid ending your auctions during these times.
For all my fellow ebayers out there, what can you add?  There's so much to say, I know I have probably missed something.  Feel free to comment and join the conversation!  We also discuss these things on my facebook page, so if you want you can like me on the right and join in.

If you are new here and just getting started on the whole eBay thing, you may want to read one or more of the following posts before reading today's ebay selling tip:


  1. All great points. I like to stagger my auctions all throughout the week, so I am not overwhelmed with a bunch of packages I have to ship all at once. Probably not the most effective way to drive up your auction prices, but it's more practical for me. Sunday is always your best day to post as most people are home on the computer looking. Like YardSaleMommy, I start most auctions at 9.99, shipping price is a careful balance of not too high to turn people off and not to low that you short yourself. I keep a little postage scale (garage sale find) to weigh stuff then use USPS.com. to estimate postage if I am not sure.

    I should use "buy it now" but always in the back of my mind is, "what if I price it too low?" So I let the eBay market decide. Downside of that is if it's a slow week, your item could go for a lower price then what you were hoping. Upside is it could go or much more then what you thought it was worth! But I agree with you Jen, more eBay buyers now seem to prefer the Buy it now option, then waiting around for an auction to end.

  2. I've gotten back into ebaying pretty heavily over the past month, and I've done pretty well, but I'm so glad I found your blog! Great tips! Thank you!

    I listed a pre-worn Gap denim jacket at a starting price of .99, I thought about doing a "buy it now" for $15, but I'm glad I didn't because it went for $75! I was shocked. I also listed a couple for pairs of new Gap jeans (started at .99), thinking they would go for lots and decided not to do a "buy it now" (still big-headed from the denim jacket), and sure enough, they went for .99/each! I was bummed.

    It just goes to show you can't really tell what other people are thinking! I'm glad to know your starting prices, though, because one thing I've learned is, if you list something for .99, it might actually sell for that. And that stinks.

  3. Thanks so much for the tips! I was also thinking about opening an eBay store since I have been having good luck selling replacement parts for baby items and toys. Seems like people might want them right away instead of having to wait a week (plus those 7 day auctions are hard on me as I like instant gratification too!) Do you schedule your auctions or just post them at 10pm to make them end on time?

    Funny you mention not closing on holidays - I was bummed earlier this month when I realized I had scheduled a few auctions to end of July 4th. Turns out two people got into a bidding war over a replacement mobile for a pack n play I had listed and while I was at a parade and fireworks, the price went from $4.99 to $40! Crazy since they could've bought an entire pack n play for that price.

  4. Just curious how many people ship from home? I used to never ship from home and now its the only way I go. I almost always ship packages out the next morning after they are paid. I get them out of my house and the buyer gets them quickly. I also used to only list at certain times and now I list whenever I get the chance. I really haven't seen a difference in prices. I also try not to end on holiday's and I recently accidently ended some on the 4th. Surprising, a few of them went decent.

  5. I was a little hesitant about doing the best offer thing, but I went ahead and changed the price of one of my items to buy it now or best offer. I hope I get what I'm asking for with the best offer. :)

    I really needed help with starting prices. I could never figure those things out.

  6. I beg to differ. Clothing does extremely well for me. It also cuts down on time as they are super easy to ship. I will admit I know a lot about clothes. I've worked in the fashion industry for going on 20 yrs in one aspect or another. So I think that might give me a little bit of an edge. I wouldn't do clothing as an auction. People rarely get on eBay to bid on clothes. They want it when they go to look for it. While I may not get the surprise super high price an auction may get from time to time. My store items average well above a person selling the same thing at auction. Perfect example the Guess items up above. Blue Jackets are hot, especially anything that fits in the "retro" genre. I would have done a buy it now of 60.00 best offer of 50.00 but the jeans best offer of 30.00 to 40.00 (I'd have to see them). I'd eventually get those prices. Jeans are a slower sell it takes the right person but they ALWAYS come along (always). Anyway don't discount clothes they are a big money maker for me and many others. I AM learning a lot from you on toys! I know my vintage/antique toys. But this new stuff is a whole genre in itself and its a bit overwhelming!:) So thank you.

  7. PS as I scroll through I gotta say your kids are truly adorable!:)

  8. Here's a little tip I learned years ago from my mom who used to own a craft store. Whenever you price anything, price it ending in .99. So instead of $15.00, do $14.99. For whatever reason, people think they are getting a better deal. And it's just one penny, but it looks so much less expensive.


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