BIN or Auction. Which is best?  Since I first started selling on eBay, over 10 years ago now, the site has evolved quite considerably, as you would expect. When I started selling, auction listings were the norm – particularly for private sellers – but even businesses were mainly using auction style listings then too. The reason for this was because at that time, eBay was known primarily as an ‘auction site’ where people could go to ‘bid’ for items and potentially grab a bargain, so it was natural for sellers to list items and let them get bid up to a final selling price rather than selling them at a set price. Over the years, the use of Fixed Price, or in other words, Buy It Now listings has increased year on year and I think if truth be known, even eBay themselves would prefer it if all listings on the site were fixed price so that they have more of an Amazon style venue rather than an ‘auction site’. Eventually, this will probably happen and my prediction is that in time there will be only a few private sellers who use auctions, with the large majority (even more so than now) using fixed price. This is just my opinion; I don’t have any inside info! For now though, as a seller, you do have the choice of using auctions or Buy It Now, and I often get asked which is the best format to use. I have devised plenty of strategies over the years that involve auctions, Buy It Now’s and indeed a combination of the two – all of which can help your products sell. Auction style listings certainly have their place and, with the right knowledge, can actually help increase your eBay success. For example, by listing a product at auction and linking it to a Buy It Now listing for the same product you can help promote and create traffic to more of your listings… But I’m not going to go into any of my strategies today! Instead I want to introduce you to the main advantages of using Buy It Now listings on eBay because for me, using Buy It Now’s has been the main key to long term success and that’s why I always recommend you should consider using the Buy It Now option wherever possible. If you have never tried a Buy It Now before then you should at least test it out and see if it makes a difference to sales of your particular product. In my view, Buy It Now’s, when used correctly, can give you a real advantage. A Guaranteed price If you aren’t familiar with the Buy It Now format, I’ll briefly explain. Essentially you set a price at which your item will sell, along with a postage and packaging fee, which lets potential buyers know exactly how much your product will cost upfront. What this also does though is provide you with the knowledge of how much money you will earn from each sale. A product on an auction style listing on eBay could sell for more than you expect…but it could also sell for less. Should you choose to start your auction for less than the price for which you originally purchased the item – perhaps in an attempt to stir up some initial interest – you could actually lose money. This is the risk you take with an auction and one that is, on the whole, eradicated when creating a Buy It Now listing. Of course, you can’t guarantee how many items you will sell through your Buy It Now listings, but at least knowing how much money you will make per sale will help you to budget. Impulse buyers love Buy It Now’s! I think it’s safe to say that at some point in all of our lives we have seen something and said, ‘I want that, I have to have it, I’m buying it now!’ and have immediately made the purchase. It may be for something inexpensive or for something rather more pricey, the cost isn’t important. What is important is the principle that we are all creatures of impulse. A Buy It Now listing on eBay helps to pander to this particular characteristic, as there is no need to wait until a certain time to buy, during which a prospective buyer could change their mind which is what may happen with an auction listing – either that or the buyer simply forgets to place their bid. With relevant keywords, a persuasive description, excellent photos and eye-catching titles you will find that you can earn a continual income stream from a regular set of products listed under the Buy It Now format. Limited or exclusive products If someone visits your eBay listings, and discovers that you only have a handful of a particular product left in stock, they will be more likely to instinctively click on Buy It Now and purchase immediately – this is the fear factor. The fear of missing out. I’m not saying that you should only ever source a handful of any item to sell; I’m saying that listing your product a few at a time with a ‘limited offer’ or ‘exclusive’ fixed price will entice more sales from your visitors. The exclusivity of just a few remaining items, combined with the belief that if the product isn’t purchased right now it could potentially cost more in the future, is a big selling point, and one that will definitely increase your profit margins. The right format for the right product So, as I’ve said, auction style listings do definitely have their place on eBay, but so does the Buy It Now alternative; the skill is in knowing which format to use and when. So, here’s your 3 point check-list to help you make that decision:
  1. Used, or new? Your buyers will be more likely to spend a fixed amount for a brand new product as they are used to this formula from high street and online retailers. Used items, on the other hand, are incredibly well suited to auction listings as they encourage those convinced they are getting a bargain by buying second hand, into a bidding war with one trying to outbid the other.
  2. What’s the product? Take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of your buyers; would you be likely to make an impulse purchase on the product you’re selling? A new on-trend fashion item, for example, may sell particularly successfully with a Buy It Now price as it’s something that buyers are likely to want immediately.
  3. What’s the product worth? If you are selling something that you found around your house and no longer need or something that you picked up from a charity shop for a few pence, then an auction style listing will help you earn some extra pocket money quite effectively if you wait for the item to get ‘bid up’. For a more expensive item though, you may prefer the guarantee of knowing that you will make a profit. And that is what a Buy It Now listing can promise. If you have purchased stock at wholesale purely with the intention of reselling, again a Buy It Now listing with multiple quantities of the product available, will be the best option.
Always remember that your time spent as an eBay seller is a continual learning experience. For some products an auction will be the best way to bring in the cash, whereas for other products a Buy It Now price will be the way to entice your customers, but you certainly shouldn’t be afraid to try out different listing formats to find the method that works the most successfully for you, your products and your business.