ANDY FISH is a comic book artist

Saturday, October 13, 2012

eBay and the Study of Shopping- SELLER TIPS

This is here for a reason, be patient young jedi
Paul Chile was a mentor of mine, and he was an avid student of Paco Underhill-- both were brilliant merchandisers and had a masterful understanding of business as well as creating a sale.

I took what I've learned from both of them and applied it to several real life situations.  In retail, I took a failing 50k square foot business and turned it profitable in under six weeks.  I corrected morale issues, customer service complaints and shopping patterns that eventually led to the store being the #1 store in the region sales wise.

eBay is a terrific opportunity for anyone looking to either start a home business or just to get rid of the extra stuff crowing their homes.  I laugh at those that complain about outrageous fees charged or horrible afronts to their accounts because they didn't follow the safe harbor trading guidelines established to protect buyers who might still be nervous about trading online.

The same goes for Amazon Seller accounts-- and I'll get to that in a minute.

The fees, charges and hassles associated with eBay are a cost of doing business.  If you opened a store in the real world you would have to deal with taxes, rent and utility costs PLUS the added expense of having a staff (or maybe just you) who is there every minute the store is open.

It's the CDB bottom line-- and when you compare that cost to what eBay asks there is no comparison.

I understand the small thinking.  I have millionaire business friends who at one point decided they would never accept PAYPAL because the fees it charges are 1 or 2pts higher than their credit card company only to find that they had to accept PAYPAL because it wasn't up to them, it was up to their customers.

I have some essential rules to selling on eBay that I do not stray from;
1. No Reserve auctions ever.  Nothing kills the interest in an auction or stunts the price you'll get faster than a reserve.  Bidders don't like to play a guessing game.  If you need to use a Reserve go with a BUY IT NOW price and a high opening bid, OR list the reserve price in the auction so that bidders will know if it's worth their time and effort.

2. LOW Opening bid.  eBay charges the same fee whether an auction starts at .99 or 9.99 so that's as high as I'll start an auction.  Yes that means that on occasion I've had to sell something at $10 that I thought was worth much more-- but that's just it-- I THOUGHT it was worth more, but by starting it at $10 you will find out what its actually worth because in an auction the buyers determine the value.

Let's get specific.   Pictured above is an issue of Batman comics I particularly like-- it was listed for MONTHS at a Buy It Now price of $100 with Free shipping.  It was listed and re-listed several times with absolutely no interest.  I contacted the seller and asked him to consider $75 for it-- he said he was in no hurry to sell it so he declined.

The book is CGC graded at 9.8-- that means its been independently graded and sealed.  9.8 is a rare grade meaning it's as close to perfect as it gets and normally would sell for multiple times the guide price.

But why didn't it sell?  Was the price too high?

The official comics price guide lists this book at $50 in 9.8 condition raw (which means unslabbed in the plastic holder) and $100 slabbed.  So his asking price was equal to guide so price was not the issue.

The problem was the high opening bid.  Bidders were not able to get emotionally attached to the idea of getting a deal and therefore driving up the price as it goes.

But he wanted $100 for it-- he didn't want to sell it for $10!

The likelihood of a CGC 9.8 copy of this book selling for $10 was near impossible-- and I would argue if he started it at $10 it would likely hit the $100 mark or maybe even go higher.  If only someone else would sell a copy of this book the way I'm advising so we could see the result....

Well thank you Sparkle City Comics!  
Here is the same exact book- graded and slabbed at 9.8 condition which started with an opening bid of $9.99 and SOLD for $224.50-- more than TWO times what the original seller wanted for his copy of this same exact book.

And yes, I'm kicking myself that I didn't grab it at the $100 price he had.

But this solidly proves my point-- and its really just common sense.  The auction sat at $80 for several days-- and I'm sure if the seller was looking for that $100 guide price they were nervous about it-- but auctions become heated and bidders can sometimes overbid-- but only if the chance of getting it for a steal is there first.

I've attended many live auctions where the opening bid on an item was $400 and no one bids, yet the final bid ends up being $1000 after the auctioneer gets down to a start bid of $100.  If someone threw out a bid at the opening $400 they likely would have gotten it and saved $600 (I have experience in a bad way on this).  Because the bidders are only engaged when the price falls below perception of market value.

In business there seems to be a lot of common sense lacking.  Piling items in the aisles will turn a customer off.  Playing music too loud will disturb the concentration of your customer and drive them out of the store.  A brick and mortar business that doesn't have a strong online presence is missing out on the opportunity for a store that doubles or even triples the business they are currently doing.

Retailers-- I am available for hire as a consultant, I'm not cheap but I guarantee results.