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eBay Chatter - Opinions abound

Posted Tuesday, June 3, 2008, at 2:37 PM

Recently one of the big topics surrounding eBay is whether or not interest in the auction format is waning. I will pose that question to you the buyer. Is it?

A blog this morning said that you can not find deals on auctions sites anymore and buyers prefer to just "buy it now". Supposedly the sniping software has eliminated this person's ability to get deals.

While I know that the software is out there. I do not see how it can beat a proxy bid. In case that is an unfamiliar term, the proxy bid is like sending a friend to an auction with a $20 bill and asking them to bid on an item for you. Most friends (with any sense) will not bid $20 the first time it comes up. They will usually bid in the smallest increments possible.

This is what eBay does with their proxy bids. Depending on the dollar amount of the first bid, it will start with as little as $.05. If the bidding stops at $10.50 and you put in $20.00, you get it at $10.50. For more info go to http://www.bedfordtradingpost.com/Educat...

We saw an item this past fall that started at $1.99 and ended up at $1,326.01 using proxy bidding. The bidding seemed to go in cyberspace for over two minutes after the physical bidding ended.

This past week, we had a person buy 7 items that were valued at about $10 each and he got them for $.99 each. Deals can go both ways, so we are not sure why the blogs are saying that auctions are dead. The excitement AND the deals are still out there.

Now we do have customers who prefer to "buy it now". We use the auction to channel buyers to our store,( like the old "blue light special") but if they are not snatched up at auction pricing, we place it in our store at a higher price. Why? Because those who do not like auctions will still buy it as long as it is a good deal.

Had a sale like that this week. We put it in the store for twice the auction price and it sold in two days. The auction price was what we refer to as a "lost leader" but the selling price was still a good deal.

So, is the internet auction format dying? Ar you going to buy it now formats?

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Steve - There are still plenty of deals out there as long as you know what you're looking for and make sure you're not getting hosed on the shipping. We've purchased both auction and Buy-it-Now items. I don't really have a preference except for when I need something relatively soon. That's when the buy it now feature is a real deal to me. One of my main issues with eBay are the people that sell an item for $5 or so and then charge $35 or more for shipping. I've reported these numerous times to eBay, but the same users are still doing the same thing. I even had several auctions that I was watching until my wife pointed out that this person charged 1/3 of the shipping price...for me to go pick the item up locally. This was someplace in Lavergne and it would have cost me more to pick it up as it would have cost me to drive up there. We still purchase a bit on eBay, but I won't purchase from sellers like that. Or the sellers in China since every company in China has the Chinese government as the majority partner, from what I understand.

-- Posted by Thom on Tue, Jun 3, 2008, at 9:12 PM

"Supposedly the sniping software has eliminated this person's ability to get deals...While I know that the software is out there. I do not see how it can beat a proxy bid."

Sniping cannot beat a proxy bid-- unless it is a higher bid. That is the bottom line, sniping or bidding manually, you still have to have the highest bid. EBay sniping is not magic.

Sniping may actually keep prices down, because it draws less attention to items that have many early bids.

Anyone bidding on an eBay auction should snipe, and preferably use automation to do so.

There are many of eBay sniping web based services and desk top software that you can use.

I recommend http://www.hidbid.com , but again, you have lots of choices.

-- Posted by Tyler313 on Tue, Jun 3, 2008, at 10:29 PM

Auctions will not die so long as there are people who will prefer to buy something for $36.95 rather than do a "Buy it Now" for the same item,from the same seller for $10.00 plus $8.00 shipping and handling.

-- Posted by quantumcat on Wed, Jun 4, 2008, at 7:42 AM

I also purchase many items from E-bay. It's convenient and many deals can be found if you have time to "wait". I, too, avoid sellers with outrageous shipping fee. The items I "collect" normally only weigh a few ounces and cost $2 to $5. Many sellers try to add another $8.00 for shipping saying this is to cover supplies. First of all, priority shipping boxes and priority tape are free at the post office. Many of the boxes I receive tend to be boxes that are free at the grocery store for the asking. You just have to be careful concerning shipping prices. If the shipping price is not listed, ask the seller what it is. If you don't, you're almost certain to get ripped off when the auction ends.

-- Posted by time2relax on Wed, Jun 4, 2008, at 8:21 AM

A lot of thoughts to respond to, but most seem to be in agreement that auctions are not dead.

eBay has been cracking down on inflated shipping charges for the last few months. With millions of listing going up every day and only 2,000 people watching them, that means some will still slip through.

Regrettably, shipping is expensive. AND I DO MEAN EXPENSIVE. I have been shipping USPS for years for two reasons, costs and convenience, but I have to find a better way.

I shipped 3 pounds of brochures to Europe by Priority on May 27th and they are still not there! The Post office admitted that they are late, and there is nothing my local Post Office can do, but the show they were intended for is opening today, so when or if they get there, they could just as well be thrown away. Great value.

To get back to eBay, the changes they have put in place have MANY outspoken critics, but they are forcing sellers to abide by the rules or lose their search status, lose discounts that are available, and even lose their accounts. The changes are challenging for me to keep up with in class.

Thom, if you can send me a few of those violators, I would be happy to see what I can find out.

The only value I can see to sniping software is that it can hold your proxy bid until the last moment, if you are not going to be available to bid. In that case, you better be darn set on not going any higher, because you will not get the chance to change your mind.

A person doing it live can proxy-bid 5 minutes before the end and add to it if it does not win. Of course, for me, it is better if I set my price and stick to it. I just like to do it myself.

I wholeheartedly agree that if they do not state their charges, I avoid them. I wanted two 'skins' for our daughter's phone, weighing less than 10 ounces but they wanted to charge $8 shipping. I wrote and they dropped it by $4.

A comment on 'free boxes'. Unless you time your shopping to be at the same time they are unpacking, you will need to make a trip back to get those free boxes. Then, they are no longer free with gas prices and time involved. Better than new, but still a cost.

We use recycled boxes and packing material probably 90% of the time, but have never been able to get the stores to work on OUR schedule. We add less than a dollar as a packaging cost, but the cost is real and can add up quickly.

-- Posted by stevemills on Wed, Jun 4, 2008, at 9:24 AM

I do not think the auction format is dead or dying, but this year about 65- 70% of my sales are buy it nows. People use it for convienance I assume. If I list an item starting at 9.99 with a buy it now of 24.99 and it will likely end at between 20 and 30 dollars, it will usually go BIN.

The exception to that in my opinion is the harder to find item or condition of the item that merits making bidding a requirement. If 30 items like yours are ending every day, you know about what it is worth, and so does the buyer.

I never buy it now though. When I look to buy, I look for bargains. There are so many items that are mis-listed or neglected that anyone with some extra time and a little knowledge can find great prices on ebay still today. There are a lot of people like me still lurking around ebay as well. I see too many watchers who could have paid a fair price with BIN wait and see what happens. I also, like you have seen 10 watchers on my $50.00 item when it ends at 9.99 so who knows about those people.

As long as people are looking for a deal, the auction format will be alive, just not as dominate as it was because ebay is no longer about the average buyer exerting any effort. Make it easy & make the sale. I like to think of it as the "dumbing down" of ebay.

Shipping fees are used to avoid paying the approx. 10% ebay fees. (They add up also) I charge exact shipping (sometimes less than actual) and cover the supplies myself. It is very expensive and buyers who doubt it should go and buy some package material to find out. This week I spent over $100.00 for supplies that will not last me through June. USPS tape is no longer given out like it used to be. It will depend on who is waiting on you. I have been told no several times(and I know them pretty well)It has not been available on the website for almost 2 years now.

There is a local man that sells 300 ft rolls of small bubble for about 13.00. I can never catch him though. I usually find him about once a year.

You buyers are right about judging the seller. You have to look at shipping cost and consider that part of your bid. Many buyers do not, from what I have seen. If a seller charges exactly what his cost are, a $4.80 package can quickly turn into an $8.50 package or more. If the buyer sees this while bidding, they should not complain. Ebay would even agree that is within accecptable limits for shipping and they dont like losing money...

-- Posted by memyselfi on Wed, Jun 4, 2008, at 12:02 PM

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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.
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