1-Points to consider before you bid. 2-Tips for buying. 3-Private auctions. 4-Five valuable tips for selling. 5-Tips for writing winning auction titles. 6-Don't compete against your own auctions
Points to Consider Before You Bid on eBay
Is it really a bargain? Is it a reproduction? Does the condition of this particular item impact how much you should bid? Considering points such as these before you bid makes a lot of sense. But where to begin? These tips will help you take the guesswork out of buying antiques and collectibles on eBay by making wise decisions before you ever enter a bid.
1. Estimating eBay Price Points
When deciding how much to bid when you've located that perfect item on eBay, perusing past auction results can give you an idea about how high you'll need to go to actually win. Conducting a completed item search is a great place to start. To do this:
Click the advanced search link in the top right corner of any eBay.com page.
Enter the appropriate keywords in the search field.
Check the completed listings only box.
Click the search button.
If prompted, enter your eBay user ID and password
2. Values in Other Venues
Is the antique or collectible you want to bid on really a bargain on eBay? Can you buy the item for less elsewhere? It's good to have this information available before you consider how much to bid. To find out, you can look around the Net for similar pieces. Search large online malls such as rubylane.com and TIAS.com as a starting point. Doing Yahoo! and Google searches may also yeild results in other types of online shops that will be useful in your price point evaluation.
3. Consider Condition
After thoroughly reading the description and examining photos provided, consider how condition issues noted should influence the amount you bid (or whether you bid at all). Consider condition issues through descriptions and photos the same way you would if you were holding the piece in person. Would you buy this item in this condition at an antique show? Is the damage repairable? Do you see a condition problem in the photo not mentioned in the description? Query the seller if you're not sure.
4. Ask Pertinent Questions
If you have concerns about a piece, ask the seller via e-mail. Maybe you see something in the photo that doesn't look quite right or suspect a missing piece. Maybe you're familiar with common condition problems associated with this type of item like chips on the lips of glass pitchers and or handles that are prone to crack at the base. Even if the item description says that the piece is in excellent condition, the seller may have overlooked something. It never hurts to ask.
5. Look Up Unfamiliar Marks
Does the seller note any marks in the listing not reflected in the item title? If the seller hasn't done his or her own research, a mark mentioned may provide clues to how much an item is really worth. Sometimes an auction seller overestimates value, other times they underestimate. You have an opportunity to do some sleuthing prior to bidding that might help you get a steal of a deal or pass up a stinker based on additional information provided in the listing that other bidders may not notice.
6. Is the Item a Reproduction?
This is another area where closely looking at the photos provided by the seller will provide a multitude of clues. What reproduction signals would you look for if you picked the piece up in an antique mall? Look for those same characteristics in the photographs. If you can't quite tell, e-mail the seller and ask for a better photo. Look the items up in your resource materials and online before bidding. And, if you need to, ask an expert friend to view the auction to offer their opinion.
7. Assess the Seller's Reputation
A seller can be offering the most beautiful item in the world, but a less than stellar reputation might make you think twice about bidding. Click on the feedback number to see what others have to say. Take note of how many negative feedback comments the seller has received recently. Read the item description for clues too. Is the seller making unreasonable or restrictive demands before you even bid? Do they shun returns in all instances? Look at their About Me page (if they have one) for clues about character too.
Tips for Buying on eBay
Win More, Pay Less!
Whether you're a newbie just getting started, or you've been buying on eBay for years, there are a number of things you can do to find more items you're seeking through online auctions, and, in some cases, pay much less than you would elsewhere. Want a few ideas?
Look for seller mistakes. Is one of the items you collect or regularly buy on eBay commonly misspelled or misidentified by sellers? You'll know if you frequently find it happening in the "brick and mortar" world of antique shops and shows. Chances are these types of errors will be occuring online as well. If so, conduct your searches for both the correct and incorrect terms to broaden your results. Other bidders may not think to look for incorrect information giving you a leg up on the bidding competition.
Consider an automated sniping service. If you're not familiar with the concept of sniping, it's actually jumping in during the last few seconds of an auction to place a bid. You don't give other bidders the opportunity to counterbid when you snipe. This bidding strategy has been manually employed by savvy bidders for quite some time now. More and more buyers are using online services are available to help automate the process these days, including yours truly.
Consider search keywords. Searching too broadly can yield way too many results. Being too specific can eliminate results you'd like to see. If your first search brings up thousands of auction listings, consider adding a word like "vintage" to eliminate newer items. Adding a color or date to your search query can also help. On the other hand, if you add too many words to your search query you'll end up with a pretty short list. Start with a basic search like "flow blue" and then add words like "vintage" and "pitcher" until you get the results you're seeking. Save your favorite searches and then access them any time through your My eBay page.
Pay attention to shipping charges. Shipping and handling charges can really boost the cost of your finds if you're not careful. Read auction descriptions before bidding and e-mail the seller if you're not sure how much you'll be charged for delivery on a particular piece. Sometimes it's more cost-effective to find what you're seeking locally.
Keep tabs on favorite sellers. Whether it's a seller you've found some great bargains through in the past, or just someone who seems to pick items that suit your taste to a tee, you can add that person to your favorite seller's list. Check in with them often to scoop up any Buy It Now offerings they might list from week to week. You can also add them to your favorite sellers list through your My eBay page or immediately after you leave positive feedback by simply clicking on the link provided.
eBay Private Auctions
Private eBay auctions hide the bidderís ID from public view. In the past it was the sellerís prerogative to decide whether or not an auction would be a private listing. Now all auctions on eBay are private, for better or worse, and both buyers and sellers have to live with that decision.
Why the Change?
Making private auctions standard policy rather than optional was instated in March 2008 after an experimental program showed that hiding the bidderís identity markedly decreased the instance of bidders falling for scams.
Especially with big ticket items, fraudsters were contacting high bidders with deep pockets pretending to be the eBay seller after the auction concluded. These crooks tried to get the bidder to send the money to an address other than the one provided through eBay's system but they would, of course, never follow through with the goods.
There have also been instances where an unscrupulous person would contact someone who bid on a high dollar item offering to sell another similar item for the same amount or less through a private transaction. Of course, the crooked seller never delivers the goods as promised and the unsuspecting buyer is out a big chunk of change with no recourse since the transaction took place outside eBay's parameters.
Another advantage of private auctions is to protect the identity of a bidder buying for resale. Sometimes antique dealers want to buy anonymously so they can turn around and resell the item for a profit in a discreet manner, although eBay wasnít likely concerned with this factor when they changed their private listing policy.
When Do Private Auctions Present a Problem?
Private auctions hide the high bidder's ID so it never shows publicly in the auction listing, even at auction end. Only the seller knows who has won his or her items. This allows a number of sellers who've been known to repeatedly pawn off fakes and misrepresented items on unsuspecting customers to continue their dirty deeds in a stealthier manner.
When all listings are private, it's impossible for honest eBay users who recognize a potential problem to contact the high bidder with a warning after the auction ends. In the past, knowledgeable good Samaritans would try to guide others in the right direction when concern was warranted. This is no longer an option.
How to Protect Yourself When Bidding on Private Auctions
In a nutshell, when bidding on eBay always:
Check the seller's feedback before bidding. Avoid sellers with a number of negatives and bad neutrals, or a very low feedback rating.
Look for prohibitive policies in listings regarding returns and refunds if an item is found to be a reproduction, misrepresented, or damaged when you receive it.
Examine items carefully through the pictures and description provided.
Email the seller any questions you have about the item prior to bidding. If they donít reply, donít bid.
Use your credit card through PayPal so that you have more leverage for recourse if the deal goes sour.
Five Valuable Tips for Selling on eBay
Making Money with Antiques & Collectibles
Whether you're a new seller just getting started, or you've been selling on eBay for years, there's always something new to learn. Want a few ideas to make your selling experience on eBay less time consuming and more fruitful?
Do your research before listing. Knowledgable bidders love it when sellers are too lazy to research their items before putting them up for sale on eBay. Those sellers consistently offer them bargain after bargain, which can be sold again on eBay with a better title and description for lots more money. Use your books on antiques and collectibles, Web sites like this one and conversations with other sellers to learn about what you're selling on eBay long before you attempt to auction it off.
Think twice about ending an auction early. If your item is not bringing in the bids you expected during the course of the auction, don't panic. Since many bidders wait until the last minute to bid, a practice known as "sniping," the price on a desirable item can double or even triple during the last few seconds of an auction. If a potential buyer makes you an offer via e-mail to end the auction early and sell the item to them outright, that's not a good idea either. It's not only against eBay's rules to skirt around paying ending item fees, you could be cheating yourself out of a high ending price by selling to someone making a lowball offer.
Consider search keywords in titles. The small amount of space you're alloted for an eBay item title is valuable real estate from a selling perspective. Why? Most searches on eBay are done on item titles rather than descriptions. When you leave out specific keywords pertaining to the size, maker, color or age of a piece in your item title, fewer potential bidders will find your wares. Consider replacing extraneous words (such as wow, must see, huge and look) with pertinent detail words most bidders would use in a search. To do this, put yourself in the searcher's shoes. Do you think a bidder will key in "signed lovely old sparkling choker" as a keyword phrase? Perhaps "vintage clear rhinestone necklace by Lisner" would be the foundation for a better title.
Keep your shipping and handling charges reasonable. Shipping and handling charges can really jack up the cost you pass along to bidders. Some folks avoid auctions that quote very high shipping and handling fees altogether. Consider charging only what it costs you to mail the item, and build in the cost of packaging and labor into your starting price instead. And if you're not stating the shipping charge in your listings already, be sure to do so. Bidders want to know how much they're going to have to pay to get their buys home before they bid. Again, some people will avoid auctions that don't explicitly state shipping charges up front. It's not fair to spring a high shipping fee on a bidder after the fact, and you sure won't earn buyer loyalty that way.
Keep in touch with your best bidders. If you specialize in certain items such as glassware, pottery, toys or jewelry, consider setting up email lists to keep in touch with past bidders. You'll want to ask them before placing them on the list so your email won't be considered spam, of course. Once you've compiled lists of people interested in your specialties, you can keep in touch with them weekly, bi-weekly or monthly to let them know when you've listed items they might be interested in viewing. Include links directly to the items, or to your seller's list in your communication.
Tips for Writing Winning Auction Titles on eBay
Writing auction titles seems deceptively easy. But snaring bidders on eBay means carefully considering the keywords used in every title you write, and being eloquent isn't as important as you might think. Why? Because most eBay searches are conducted on the title field only, and that's how many bidders will find your auctions among thousands of others. Avoid listing title pitfalls and put yourself in the searcher's shoes with these helpful tips.
1. Focus on Key Terms
Take advantage of all 55 characters you're allotted for your title to make sure you've covered all your bases when it comes to keywords. Include words that will appeal to both avid collectors and casual shoppers. Avoid listing titles that are too simplistic. A listing title like "Rhinestone Necklace Earrings" simply doesn't offer enough information about the listing. How old are the pieces? What color are they? Are they signed? Start with the basics and add as many relavent words as possible.
2. Eliminate Meaningless Characters
Many listing titles on eBay are swamped with meangless characters, like plus signs, tildes, exclamation points, and the like. While they're supposed to be eye-catching, these characters do absolutely nothing to educate potential buyers about the pieces you're attempting to sell and entice them into bidding. You'll be far better off using that space to add relevant keywords, thereby increasing the odds of potential buyers actually finding what you have to sell when they conduct a search.
3. Avoid Meaningless Phrases
Using phrases like "very nice" in your listing title do nothing to maximize exposure. Few bidders will conduct a search for a "very nice pitcher," a "very nice necklace," or what have you. Leave out this type of language unless you've exhaused your keyword options and still have room in the title. Whether you're selling paintings, pens, or pottery, strive to make every word address search requirements of your potential bidders. After that, you can add "WOW!" if you have room.
4. Know What You're Selling
Make sure you're representing the item correctly. If it's a green Depression glass pitcher you're listing, don't mistake it for a vaseline glass pitcher (even though the two types of glass do have some qualities in common). Bidders searching for true vaseline glass, which is more yellow in appearance (like petroleum jelly, hence the name) and older than Depression glass, probably won't be interested in your offering. And people really looking for Depression glass won't find your listing at all.
5. Don't Miss a Mark
I talk a lot about paying attention to marks when evaluating and pricing antiques. There's no exception here. Leaving the maker's mark out of your title is never a good idea, no matter what you're listing on eBay. If your item is marked, make sure you say so in the title. Don't just say that the piece is "signed,"; go ahead and put the name of the maker or artist in the title. That way, bidders looking for a piece with particular signature will zero in on your listing through the search engine.
6. Watch Your Spelling
Bidders will find your auctions if keywords are spelled correctly, and you'll be demonstrating your professionalism as well. Many eBayers see sloppy titles as a reflection of how sellers generally handle their business, and avoid placing bids accordingly. If you have room, however, using a commonly misspelled word in a title can work for you - for example, including "Steiff" and "Stieff" or "brooch" and "broach." Just be sure you don't refer to a necklace as a "neckless." That just looks silly.
7. Put Yourself in the Searcher's Shoes
To determine which keywords you should use, ask yourself about words bidders who are looking for this type of item will type in the search field. Each item will have a unique set of keywords best suited to maximize the number of search hits your listing receives. Suppose you plan to list a pink Depression glass butter dish in the Cube pattern, sometimes referred to as "Cubist" by collectors. A complete title like "Cube Cubist pink Depression glass butter dish" is necessary to reach your bidders.
8. Pay Attention to Details
What's the difference between R.S. Prussia and RS Prussia? A couple of simple periods. But when searching on eBay, bidders might use one or the other and omitting the periods can keep a potential buyer from finding your listing. Using both in your auction title will net more positive search results. For instance, consider using a complete listing title like "RS R.S. Prussia Countess Potocka portrait plate" to cover all your bases.
Don't Compete Against Your Own Auctions
Selling too many can mean selling for too little
Supply and demand can be a tricky thing to master, but on eBay one rule of supply and demand is often forgotten—with disastrous results. The rule is this: surpluses drive prices down.
eBay is deceptive in comparison to traditional retail because it is an entire marketplace that exists on a single website, with a single point of entry, and everyone has access to it. None of the traditional barriers that separate local markets exist, and there are no physical incentives (say, the difficulty of driving across town to another store) to keep customers shopping within your stock, as opposed to someone elses. Furthermore, auctions remain the most popular eBay selling format, and auctions make it possible for the market to set the price of an item.
Too often sellers with multiple items to sell are content to list them all at once in an already crowded market, perhaps even in a multiple item listing, without first doing research to determine whether or not this is the most effective selling strategy. Also unfortunately common is the seller who figures that if they are turning a profit on their items, they can double that profit by doubling the number of items that they list for sale.
Neither practice holds up in the cold, harsh reality of the marketplace. If you want to maximize your earnings, you can't simply list items in bulk without stopping to consider the effects on final prices of such a market flood.
What To Do Instead
Though power sellers use formulas and carefully recorded data to manage track their earnings and establish a listing rate, every seller can improve his or her sales potential for multiple items simply by following a few ground rules.
Time your listings well. The larger the size of the buying market, the more concurrently sold items the market will bear. In short, if you list so that your auctions close when more people are buying, you can list more items simultaneously without hurting your sale price.
Don't take your competitors lightly. The quantity of most products on eBay experiences a kind of ebb and flow as big sellers buy in big lots, then sell off their stock. Before you decide to sell a lot of a particular item, do your research—if other sellers are currently saturating eBay with similar items and you can afford to wait for volume to let up a little, it is to your benefit to do so, especially if the other sellers' stock appears to be larger than yours..
Stagger your listings. Unless your item is very hot in the marketplace or you have a very large volume of items to sell, stagger your listings so that they're ending on successive days or weeks, rather than all at once. This will give buyers who don't win one auction the chance to find and bid on the next one.
List with a fixed price. If you believe your items to be niche items or to have a limited market of buyers, consider not listing items in auction format at all, but in fixed price format instead, perhaps even in eBay stores. The auction format may not give a small buying pool that would otherwise be willing to pay more enough time to bid a listing upward.
In short, whenever you're attempting to sell multiple items, research the eBay marketplace and then ask yourself whether you're likely to saturate the market and drive closing prices down if you list too many auction items at once.
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