eBay Selling Strategy

Discussion in 'Horological Misc' started by Ethan Lipsig, Apr 2, 2019.

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  1. Ethan Lipsig

    Ethan Lipsig Registered User
    NAWCC Gold Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    80% Retired Attorney
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    Many of you have vented about eBay, see, e.g., Ebay frustration, but, as far as I can see, there hasn't been much discussion of an entirely different subject: How to price items one is selling on eBay.

    My inquiry stems from my recent frustration at seeing a time-only watch (that isn't rare but has an especially nice case) that sold 12 years ago at auction for around $5,000 listed on eBay with a buy-it-now (BIN) price of a significant multiple (well in excess of twice that amount. I offered the seller a bit less than what the watch sold for 12 years ago. He turned down the offer without making a counteroffer.

    This is hardly the first time I have seen watches listed with unrealistic BIN prices. Currently, there are 187 pocket watches for sale on eBay with starting prices of $10,000 or more. Since last October, there only have been 12 sales on eBay for $10,000 or more. Sellers appear to think stratospheric pricing makes sense, but the paucity of stratospheric sales makes me gravely doubt that strategy.

    So, here are my questions:
    1. Do any of you think it makes sense to list an item on eBAY with a BIN or starting bid price that is significantly above fair market value, e.g., 2x or more?
    2. Do you think that sales that ultimate selling prices are depressed by starting bidding at a level that precludes a fire sale, e.g. 75% of fair market value?.
    3. If so, how does one avoid the possibility of a fire sale if the bidding starts low, other than by imposing a reserve?
    4. eBay charges for imposing a reserve. Do you think the benefit of establishing a reserve warrants the charge?
    kevin h likes this.
  2. etmb61

    etmb61 Registered User
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    Oct 25, 2010
    Retired Avionics Technician
    Mascoutah, IL
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    Hi Ethan,

    How can anyone be frustrated with ebay? It's the ultimate online yard sale. I've been an ebay user since the late 90's, and in that time they've provided access to an international market place to buy and sell without subscription fees or overhead costs. Their fees are minimal if you compare them to what you would pay to consign your items in a retail store (60% on average).

    So here are my answers:
    1. Yes! There's a sucker born every minute. There are people that cost is not a factor.
    2. No. People like a bargain. The market value you need to examine is what similar items sold for on ebay, not Sotheby's. ebay is a different market. ebay even tells you how similar sales are trending.
    3. If you don't want it to sell for less than you think it's worth, set your starting price at your minimum. You won't loose, but you might not sell.
    4. Yes! If you don't want to sell for less than you think it's worth. Pad your reserve to cover the fees.

    Hope this doesn't come across too blunt. I've seen many amazing deals and ridiculous sales on ebay over the years. That's the nature of the beast.

  3. Rick Hufnagel

    Rick Hufnagel Just Rick!
    NAWCC Member Donor Sponsor

    Oct 25, 2018
    Pittsburgh pa
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    I don't know about you guys, but if I were to sell watches of excessive value, eBay wouldn't be my first choice. I sell good working watches on there, and other stuff, but if I had something that would warrant a $10,000 price tag.... I would employ a specialist such as an auction house....

    Of course I'll probably never have this problem! That's allot of $$ . Out of my league for sure.
    kevin h likes this.
  4. MartyR

    MartyR Registered User
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    Dec 16, 2008
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    It is my opinion that most (if not all) of these high priced offerings are not expected to sell. If a dealer leaves his watch up for sale on Ebay at $20,000 for a few months, he can then withdraw it from Ebay anda ccurately claim to any future potential buyer that "this watch was priced at $20,000 on the internet". There probably are suckers who will be tempted by the new price of $8,000 :(
  5. rstl99

    rstl99 Registered User
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    Oct 31, 2015
    Retired and free (with dog again!)
    Ontario, Canada
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    All interesting points. For me as well, timepieces in the $thousands are beyond my league, or what I would be prepared to pay for any small collectible object (that I would then have to store in a safe or safety deposit box at the bank).
    Yes, I can see how dealers pricing watches exorbitantly high could later try to use that as a selling point. I've also seen many very expensively priced specimens on ebay all of a sudden drop down 50% or more, enticing potential buyers that there may be a bargain afoot, when really the item was priced twice as high as it should have (or more!) initially.
    These kind of selling games and tactics have no doubt gone on for thousands of years, nothing new under the sun (and in Ebay).

    3, 4: One way I've used to sell some things on ebay over the years, not wanting to pay the "reserve fee" or set myself up for disappointment over what final price an auction would end up, is to sell the item with a "buy it now" price a bit above what I feel the market dictates, and allow the potential buyers to submit offers, which I can either choose to accept or decline, or counter-offer. You can even setup ebay to automatically accept an offer above $X or reject an offer below $Y.
    kevin h likes this.
  6. Bogey

    Bogey Registered User

    Mar 25, 2005
    Retired Safety Consultant
    Northeast Wisconsin
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    First off, let me say that eBay has been the best marketplace I have found to sell the clocks I pick up at auctions and estate sales. It is quite literally a worldwide market. I have shipped clocks all over the world and even have had repeat buyers from overseas.

    As far as pricing is concerned, I usually start the bidding at the lowest price I am willing to let the clock go for. If it doesn't sell at that price, I will sometimes just relist it and try again. The nice thing about eBay is that if it doesn't sell, there is no fee charged.

    I chose not to use a reserve simply because of the fee for that service. As far as overpricing an item, I will sometimes list an item with a Buy-It-Now significantly higher than true value just to gauge interest. When I do that, I'll allow buyers to make an offer. Occasionally, I am surprised and I get more than I anticipated. More often, I end up accepting a lower offer than my initial asking price.
  7. kevin h

    kevin h Registered User

    Apr 9, 2015
    cambridge md
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    Thats a great topic Ethan , I have no idea why someone puts a crazy price on an item and the lists it over and over. I use RST199's method of putting a realistic start price with make offer , you would be surprised how many times people come in well over my price , of course there are always"bottom fisher's" that try a really low price

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