Skip to main content

Hi. I'm very new at selling on e-bay. What I can't figure out is why an auction item very similar to mine, with the same price and quality, will have many bidders throughout the duration of the auction, while I seem to get snipers, and the prices do not get where they need to be? I can't sell at a loss, and people don't like reserves, so now I'm faced with a higher starting price, which doesn't encourage bidders either. I just can't risk starting off at 9.99 on an item that cost me $100, when I'm hoping to get $200. Do people do this? How do they know they won't lose all their money?
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

That's a difficult question(s) to answer.

Some things to consider:

Timing - Most people will probably tell you that the best time to end an auction is on Sunday evenings. Generally, I find that to be the case for what I sell. Different products may do well to end at different times. It all depends on the target audience.

HOW you're selling something is just as important as WHAT you're selling. Just because a competitor has the same or similar product, doesn't mean that yours will automatically sell as well as his.

Some things to consider: He may have a well-established pool of repeat customers. How does his feedback/feedback score compare to yours? Is his shipping price lower than yours? Is his description written more professionally than yours? Do his pictures look better? Compare your terms-of-service to his: Are his written in a more "customer-friendly" tone? Are his terms more reasonable (from a customer's viewpoint)? Does he have a return policy? Do you? Try to look at your ads objectively compared to his. If you were a customer, would you rather buy from him, or from you, and WHY?

Have you considered putting some of your items out at a fixed price (i.e. Buy It Now)? Many customers will be willing to buy a fixed priced item at say, $179, when the same item is available as an auction with a starting price of $149. Some customers simply don't want to wait for an auction to end, or compete with other bidders, and they're willing to pay a little bit more for that privilege.
Thanks for your suggestions. I've looked at many of those things, because I'm using those sellers as my "mentors" and have styled my auctions and policies in a similar manner. My feedback is 100% positive, but a low number. So I don't really have a customer base. I've e-mailed some of the more successful sellers of products like mine, and they do mention their base of repeat customers, so I guess that's a big factor.

Thanks for your good suggestions.
Take good pictures, you'll need a good digital camera. Items with clear, well-defined pictures sell higher than ones with blurry pictures that look like someone took them with a camera phone as he was walking past. For example, I bought a pair of lightly used Nike sandals on eBay, for $7.49. I was planning to keep them for myself. However, when I got them, they didn't fit. It was my fault, I just underestimated my shoe size. So I took some really nice pictures with my home-made lightbox, they turned out just really bright & clear. I listed the sandals with a starting bid of .99 and they sold for $22.50. That made me a profit of $15.01, which more than covered even the shipping that I had paid. I credit it to the pictures that I took, which were 10x better than the original ones.
Such good advice from ya'll - it's just amazing what you can learn from just reading. I too am trying to find a "happy medium" with starting prices. While some items I start at .99 others start at 4.00 and 5.00. Just depends on the item. I don't mind selling things for 1.00 because that builds up my feed back. The items I sell vary - I think now that I've been selling for a whole month now, that I envy those of you who sell the same item - makes for less work listing - Thank you again for sharing your words of wisdom - Dawn a/k/a msalien1
What I done when I was new was just got some old stuff around the house and started bidding at $0.99 and got a feel for what people was buying the most and I still sell my old stuff LOL, its not a good idea to sell high priced items till you get comfortable with what you are allready selling, What I mean is work your way up, it wont take long Wink

Yes, indeed, some good advice abounds. Though I am a newbie myself, I can sympathize with your confusion over the nonsensical bidding wars.
My boutique has not gone live on eBay yet, as I quickly realized I had a lot to learn before I jumped in. Learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before you, and the message boards are a wonderful place to start. It takes some real effort, to overcome ones' learning curve, but there is no lack of people out there willing to help in the community.

I will share with you my own confusion over the same kind of situation. I added a new item to my inventory, and was doing my market research, and learned there were numerous identical items out on the auctions, with a wide range of starting bid prices. So, being that I was in no hurry to lose my investment, to aid my marketing efforts, I simply added all these “competitors” to my watch list, to see what would happen over the course of the auctions. My conclusion is…there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to the bidders actions. I deduced that the bidders on one of these auctions must have been “clueless” that there were so many identical items out there, as one hotly contested auction ended at well over $18.00, while there was another BUY IT NOW item posted for $18.99? Though this week another sold for less than $4. I paid $8 for my item. I will keep it for myself, before I sell it at a loss. And this is my advice to you. Do your market research, look what active auctions are bringing in. Check completed listings for similar items that SOLD. Factor in what you can “stomach” selling the item for, and begin your bidding at that price. If there is a glut of competition out there selling the same item at well below what you would be willing to accept, than let them take the loss. Market research sometimes proves that it is nothing but a crapshoot. What is the point in you expending your listing fees, if you don’t plan on making a profit? Remember, you are in business to SELL and profit, not to simply spin your wheels listing, selling and shipping inventory.

I recently got a reality check myself, as I decided I was going to post books for sale at, since there are no listing fees, which is a real incentive for low return items, such as books. As I began plugging in my ISBN numbers, I was astounded that many of these books were selling at .75 cents. How the heck can anyone make money, when selling items at .75 cents? Ones' shipping material to mail the item could cost that alone? Yes, you are paid for the shipping cost, in the sale, but not the MAILER itself. Where is the incentive to part with these books on those terms? Now, admittedly, I LOVE shopping at as a BUYER, and just purchased an eBay education, and new business start-up library of 16 books, from two sellers, and my grand total came to $100--that was including the shipping! Though, I will confess, I later suffered some pangs of remorse, when confronted with the reality of what these bargains mean for the seller. Same case, when I won an auction for a handbag at .99 cents. I KNOW what it takes to post a listing, and this gal barely recouped her costs to list the item. I see the risk involved. So, you won’t find me selling many items at a 99 cent starting bid, unless the item is meant to be a teaser to get people in to view my other items. This is when you utilize those low starting bids.

I’ve recently been reading, “Turn eBay data into dollars” by Ina Steiner, and though this book is intended for the serious eBay business, the newbie can come away with a lot of gems of advice as well. He speaks in depth about the “opinions” of when your auction ends, and its’ bearing on success. He adds, “each seller must analyze his own sales data, to determine if there is a pattern to his shoppers behavior.” (Taking the time to research the sales activities of your competitors is the obvious alternative for a new seller.) Not everyone works 9-5, and as more and more shoppers discover eBay, and you factor in a worldwide audience, in numerous time zones, the idea of having a “prime time” is fading. People shop online seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Adam Ginsberg, a Titanium Powerseller, states, “He consistently sells POOL TABLES on Christmas Day on eBay.” Sometimes, the real sales data, contradicts what you might assume would be the case.

Hold on to your unsold item for a while. You have 90 days to relist it, and be credited your listing fees. Do more research on what the competing items are selling for. Watch the auctions. I’ve decided I won’t list my $8 tote bag for any less than that. I will keep it myself before I expend money and energy listing the item and taking a loss. And remember, sometimes, shoppers do only discover the item you have listed by accident, because they viewed something else you have listed, and clicked on over to the other item through your Auctiva scrolling window, or via a storefront. They didn’t even know they wanted IT, until they saw your listing. I’ll say it again…it appears to be a crapshoot, from where I am sitting, despite all the efforts at analysis, all these eBay experts engage in.

Best wishes in overcoming your “cluelessseller” status, though inquiring minds wish to know…Will you still be using this “Handle” in the community, when you are here advising other newbies as a WHIZ? ;-)

Last edited by ldcdesigns
I would do a buy it now price for $150 or run the auction from $100.
You have to remember that,Alway use a good title and ebay categories also Sub title helps you alot when you do it.Try to test youself to check on the listing with sub title and the one that has no sub title.Which one attracts you the most?For sure you firt read the one with subtitle.
Good pictures are essential, a digital camera for less than £100 can still give excellent results with care. If your items are small it must have a macro mode, blurred closeups or distant shots are useless. Lighting is also very important.

Certainly watch succesful sellers in your area and even more so the unsuccessful which are usually greater in number to observe how NOT to do it, avoids wasting listing fees.

Beware, asking competitors how they selling this can result in negative advice, successful business people do not give away the secret of their success and remain successful. Big Grin
In paying attention to my own browsing habits, I would assert that the sub-title, even though not searchable, gives browsers more "incentive" to view the listing, instead of scanning over it in the gallery view. Though I don't imagine the .50 fee, would make it worthwhile on low profit margin items.

A fair example of this was in looking for poly bubble mailers, which I purchased from "Total Shipping Solutions" This seller offers combo packs of these mailers, which is a boon to a small book seller such as myself, who has books in a wide range of sizes, but does not yet have the capital (or storage space for that matter) to invest in cases of different size mailers.
The prices are reasonable, AND the seller also offers combined shipping at no extra charge for additional items. This got my attention, and thus my business.

In the sellers subtitle descriptions, are listed the "quantity and sizes" which are included in the combo pack. (At least on some of the listings) That would be helpful to the shopper, so they can see right away, how many envelopes of each size are included. Particularly in searchable auction listings, when the items would be displayed among a sea of similar items.

Shipping envelopes are not exactly a "fun pastime" to be browsing for on eBay. They are purely functional items, and shoppers will be looking for the BEST VALUE for their dollar. This seller recognizes this, and has come up with, what I see, as a good idea to stand out from the crowd. The seller may not offer the very lowest price for the mailers, but offering a mixed lot of sizes, makes the little bit extra, worth it.


Add Reply

Copyright © 1999-2018 All rights reserved.
Link copied to your clipboard.