Monday, April 7, 2008

Designing & Critiquing An Ebay Listing: Pricing

I'll break this up into two parts: pricing of the cards in the listing and shipping charges. For both, the choices you make will have an impact on how successful you will be in selling etopps cards on ebay.

For the listings, I'll break this down to three types of listings: auctions, fixed price and store.

Auction - you've got two approaches, the low road and the high road. If you want to make a profit, starting an auction listing at .99 is both risky and rewarding. You may not get the final price that will give you a profit from what you paid for the card at cost but you pay less upfront (now 15 cents) and your listing could attract more bidders than the same card starting at a higher asking price. It's something that is worth testing to see what works best for you.

Another good approach is using the Buy-It-Now offer. The bigger the discrepancy between the starting bid and the BIN offer, the more likely the potential buyer will take the low road which kills the BIN. A good combo may be a $9.99 starting bid with a $14.99 BIN. A nice incentive would be to have a subtitle offering free shipping if the buyer takes the BIN.

Fixed price - this is a good move especially when adding the Best Offer feature. I've made many sales this way. What's nice now is you can set the floor on offers to the price you want and automatically accept an offer over a certain price. For instance, I have a Mickey Mantle 1952 reprint at $150 fixed price with Best Offer. I can set a minimum for me to consider the offer for $100 and automatically accept any offer over $125. This is a great way to sell higher priced cards as well as autographed cards. Only downside to this is not all bidders are experienced with this method of buying and may not want the commitment of waiting for the seller to decide whether to take up their offer.

Another great part to the Best Offer option is Counter Offering. If I'm not happy with the offer, I can submit a counter offer. And in return, the buyer can submit a counter offer to my counter offer. In addition to both parties reaching an agreement in this haggling/negotiating process, going through this process is fun. I've had buyers who have gone through several series of counter-offers email me afterwards thanking me for negotiating with them.

Another good thing about Best Offer is setting the price of a newly-available in-hand. Rather than starting the auction at .99, why not start from the top with best offer. Ask for (half of) the sky and see how many offers you get. You have 48 hours to consider an offer so you can weigh in on which is the best.

Store - if you don't have a store, the short and long of this is it's similar to fixed price except the listings are below the core (auction, fixed price) on a search results page but the listing fee is quite cheap - 3 cents if listed below $25.

Over the last few years, more and more in-hand sellers have opened ebay stores to sell their cards and compete with one another on price. Just do a search for Derek Jeter's 2006 card. The difference sometimes between listings can be as slim as a penny.

There are also low-ball store listings prices for cards that hove a penny or more above CT's 7 day average. I used to scoop these up to replenish my inventory and get a sense of my competition's shipping process.

What I have noticed with low-ball store listing offers are less conscientiousness from these sellers. They don't communicate with the buyer even when I as the buyer inquiring about when the card was shipped because they take their sweet time shipping the card.

Ebay buyers are finicky. These low-ball offerings work only to a certain extent if the rest of the buying experience is less than desired. Buyers will look at the feedback and see how much of this feedback is from repeat customers.

As for shipping, your choice determines how you'll do.
The facts:
  • The lower your shipping cost the slimmer your margins (between gross and cost)
  • The lower your shipping cost, the more attractive will be your listing compared to another with the exact same asking price and higher shipping.
  • The higher your shipping cost, the higher your margins but the lower your sales based on another card at the same asking price.
  • To add to this, the higher your shipping cost, the lower will be the shipping Detailed Seller Rating on ebay's feedback which will eventually prevent you from getting a 5% Final Value Fee discount from ebay.
Find a cost for shipping somewhere in between and stick with it. Give a nice discount for multiple items to encourage in-hand shopping sprees. You can also give options for shipping both first-class and priority mail in case someone is buying an in-hand for a gift.

For autographed in-hands with the COA, I would charge a little extra than a regular in-hand because the weight is a little more. One in-hand weighs a little less than 3 ounces while the auto in-hand w/ COA is more than 3 and will be charged as 4 ounces.

If I left out something with pricing, please feel free to add your insight in the comments section below.

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