Ebay for RVers – Part III

In the first two parts of EBay for RVers, we covered a lot of ground. Basically, we named and described our item to be sold, and figured out which of Ebay’s categories would be best suited offering the best opportunity to show up when a prospective buyer search on Ebay.

Now to the really important stuff, starting with FORMAT and PRICE. There are two types of “Format” when selling on EBay. One is the “Auction” format, and the other is “Fixed Price”. Let’s start with the Auction format.

As is typical with any auction, potential buyers will bid on your item based on certain criteria that you set before you item is listed and bidding begins. As a side note, EBay suggests that buyers will be more likely to purchase your item when you list it as an auction. I can’t say one way or the other, but I’ve had great success with the Fixed Price format. In any event, once you select to go the Auction route, you will be asked to set your Auction start price. Kind of the lowest price you will be willing to accept. Again, EBay will suggest some ridiculously low start price on the basis that it will “attract” more buyers”. Frankly, I ignore their suggestion. Set your “start” price at the lowest price you are willing to accept. Period.

Once you select a start price for your Auction, you will have some additional “options”. One is that you can set a “reserve” price. The is some dollar amount that you set. If the bidding does not exceed the reserve price, you are not obligated to sell your item. Another option as part of an Auction is to establish a “Buy It Now” price for your item. So, by way of explanation of all these features, let me provide an example of how they might be used.

Let’s say you are actually planning to sell a car on EBay. Although selling a vehicle on Ebay has its own set of unique additional requirements, for purposes of this example we’ll just focus on Start Price, Reserve Price and Buy It Now price. In our case, we had a 1966 Mustang fastback to sell. It was what is referred to as a “project” car. Although it was complete and in really good condition, it needed a lot of work to get it back on the road. And although it had value because examples of this particular year and model were becoming in short supply as compared to other body styles, it would greatly fall short of the full market value of a completely restored version.

So, what do we do? Let’s start with the fact that we paid $4,000 for the car and spent another $1,000 in parts that would go with the car. We had $5,000 in the car. We start with our Reserve Price. What is the price that if it is met or exceeded, we could accept as kind of a minimum price to sell the car? We set the Reserve Price at $10,000.

Now that we know that we’re protected by our Reserve Price, we select a Start Price at which the bidding should “start” at. We chose $7,500 as the Start Price based on research that suggested that even lesser examples of this car would be worth around $7,500. So why waste time with bids starting below this?

So, we have Reserve and Start prices set. Now we want to choose a Buy It Now price. This is a completely subjective price that you pick that is “up there”, considerably higher than the Start Price and the Reserve. It’s kind of a price that may be attractive to buyers if there is active bidding and they are afraid the bidding might go beyond their spending budget. Because if they “Buy It Now”, all bidding is stopped and it’s automatically sold at the “Buy It Now” price. From the seller’s point of view, the Buy It Now price should be set at a level that represents a really good price for you. Maybe what you really hoped to get in the first place. Our Buy It Now price with our Mustang was $12,500. And I can tell you it was considerably higher than we would have accepted.

To review, in our example we had a Start price of $7,500, a Reserve price of $10,000 and a Buy It Now of $12,500. So, what happened? Well, the Auction began on a Sunday. There were bidders immediately, increasing the bid $100 at a time. Within 24 hours bidding exceeded our Reserve price. although it slowed somewhat, over the next 12 hours or so bidding approached our Buy It Now price. Then, “Bang!!”, we had a Buy It Now buyer at $12,500.

It should also be mentioned that in addition to “Buy It Now”, you can create a “Make Offer” (Best Offer) option for the buyer. The buyer can submit an offer, and you can accept , counter offer or decline the offer.

The only thing remaining in Format and Pricing of an item for sale on Ebay is “Listing Duration”. The duration depends on whether it is an Auction or Fixed price format. You pick from a drop-down menus.

What’s next has to do with how we will ship the item once it is sold. Shipping is where many sellers run into trouble. Shipping is always a balancing act, particularly if the package will be large in dimensions, or weigh a considerable amount…or both. On Ebay, unless you are offering “FREE SHIPPING”, which IS an option, the buyer pays the cost that you set for shipping. You don’t want to charge the buyer so much shipping cost that it scares them away. On the other hand, you don’t want to lose money on the sale due to shipping cost. Let me give you an example of how I got burned as a seller. I was selling a couple of Mustang front seats. They could be disassembled, but they still were bulky requiring a large box AND each seat weighed 40 lbs. My listing on Ebay reflected $75 that the buyer would pay for shipping. When we went to the shipper with the two identical packages, one seat in each package, the total cost of shipping by the least expensive method was $140. We had to cover anything over $75, so our sale price was essentially diluted by $65. OUCH!

Obviously, with smaller items shipping cost may be significantly more tolerable and/or easier to determine. I guess the best policy is to have an idea of the shipping box dimensions and weight PRIOR to listing your item on Ebay. And, frankly, some items probably do not make any sense being listed on Ebay due to sheer size and weight. Having said this, there is another option and that is “Local Pick-up”. Its kind of beyond the scope of this tutorial. My suggestion would be to search Ebay for “Local Pickup” a explanation.

So, let’s get into “How You’ll Ship It. You will be confronted with three rectangular buttons to pick from… “Select Shipping For Me”… “Select Shipping Myself”… or “Offer Local Pickup Only”. If you select the first one, Ebay makes a recommendation based on how other sellers shipped similar items. This will include the particular carrier (USPS, UPS, Fed Ex), weight and dimensions of package, type of package and a range of cost.

If you select “Ship Myself”, you will have to pick whether you will charge “Actual Cost” or charge a “Fixed Cost”. If you decide on Fixed Cost, you simply select the from a menu of shipping services, and enter the fixed cost the buyer will be required to pay. If you select Actual Cost, the cost to the buyer will be determined by Service and delivery address (zip code) of the buyer.

As the seller, you have the option to offer FREE SHIPPING. This is very attractive to buyers and can be quite helpful in getting your product sold. If this is something that makes economic sense, offer it. Or if you can build the shipping cost into the price, offer it. Just know in advance what your costs are likely to be so that you can make an informed decision. You also have the opportunity to give the buyer shipping options at different costs. If they are willing to pay for it, they can get it faster. And finally, Ebay asks you to indicate whether you will offer International shipping. I don’t, but you might want to consider it. Just check the appropriate box, yay or nay. If you wish to provide international shipping, more information will be needed. Just select from choices or fill in the blanks.

Finally, you will be asked to review your listing preferences. These include confirming a Paypal email address, confirming the zip code of the item location, selecting the handling  time in which to get the item shipped (3 days is max), and confirmation of whether “Returns” will be accepted.

That’s it. The next button you will see is “List It”. And you will have an opportunity to preview the listing beforehand.

Although this is a three-part tutorial covering a lot of stuff, it really only takes a few minutes once you have a little experience with it. Good luck. And good selling.

 

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