Buying and Selling on eBay: Tips, Tricks, Problems & Questions

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by HansderHund, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. Sartoriamo

    Sartoriamo Senior member

    Likes Received:
    Nov 29, 2010
    Fallbrook, CA
    BIN/OBO vs NR auction wall of text

    I think the core issue with NR auction vs BIN/OBO is simply the time it takes to find a "real" buyer. Unless you have a well-known business where people come looking for your stuff, knowing there's fantastic inventory, it's tough to aggregate enough views in an auction to get much activity. So then it becomes the domain of the most egregious cheapskates, and for someone like me, the place where I'm most likely to take a loss: i.e. if a GW $7.99 SC goes out at auction with a single bid of $9.99, then it's a loss of time, effort and money. Experience has taught that I'm simply not prepared to sell an SC for $9.99 (or $10.49) at auction when I know it will sell for $79, or $69 or even $39 on a BIN/OBO, even if it takes a while. That makes it a simple equation for me. No auctions unless I'm blowing out old items to make space in my closets. Back when I was originally experimenting, I remember having items fail to attract a single bid on auction, then get re-listed as BIN/OBO, and go out at full price. It's all about the "right" buyer coming along at the right time. The little auction "snapshot" of 7-10 days is guaranteed to get only the buyers who are constantly trolling for deals, and a small handful of new lookers attracted by the low start price.

    The one exception is true grails, which can do OK if enough activity shows up. But even with those, I tend to list them first as BIN/OBO to attract views, then push them to auction once enough watchers have aggregated. I see some folks do everything on NR auctions, but when I do that, I just take far too much of a hit, and then I get mad all over again when I'm shipping stuff that I took a hit on, knowing that every minute I spend on it is aggregating further loss.

    There's also something about the nature of buyers: a huge number of people simply can't be bothered with auctions, as it's something to have to think about, set aside the time for, program a snipe engine for etc. We all do it, because we are addicted to "steals", but auctions appeal to that same mindset. Is that who you want as your customer?

    Many of you may have encountered Barry Schwartz' work about the paradox of choice, from his book of the same name from about a decade ago. He identifies "satisficers" and "maximizers": the first, for whom "close enough is good enough", and the second, who need to squeeze every last dollar out of a deal, or get the "perfect" item. The first group are generally a lot happier, and less depressed, whereas the second group, even after a decision is made, always second-guess themselves about whether they could have done even better. I'm willing to assert that satisficers are more likely to buy something at BIN/OBO (the best of them just at BIN, which happens surprisingly often, I find), while maximizers will begin with an often offensive lowball on a BIN/OBO, or become the only bidder on a NR auction. But the maximizers are also the ones most likely to try for returns for spurious reasons, often trying to force a SNAD to maximize the refund. These are the folks who keep scanning listings for their chosen item even after they've bought one (just in case someone posts a cheaper one)!! These are not the people I want as my customers.

    On a related note, I have been mulling over a different type of strategy, since the theoretical appeal of auctions is getting a deal or steal, but there is the occasional advantage of a bidding war, provoked by bidding pressure and fear of loss, noting that's far more likely when an item is rare or highly desirable. The problem with the BIN/OBO is that there's no purchase pressure, as there is with auctions. I'd like to try creating pressure by making it clear in the listing that the BIN price will reduce by a certain amount or percentage over a certain time period, say ten percent a week. We all know that various people "squat" on BIN/OBO listings, presumably waiting for the initial asking price to lower, but without any real pressure to bid. By decrementing the price progressively, and making that known in advance, it might engender fear of loss that someone else will pull the trigger before they do, resulting in an earlier sale. We all do this on an ad-hoc basis when we put items on sale, but I am intrigued as to what the results would be if it was implemented overtly. The idea of combining longer exposure with some purchase pressure is appealing.

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