More eBay Best Offer – Conversation Starter

I love eBay’s Best Offer, but that’s no secret. Even so, I’ve recently come to believe that I haven’t been using it to its fullest effect, though now, hopefully, that’s a problem I’ve corrected. Of course, you’re going to have to read through a little prologue to get to the meat of this post, but I think it’s pretty good backstory and it pats a back well worth patting.

A lot of credit for the change(s) I’ve made have to go to Vince at Green Spot Antiques, who also blogs about ecommerce here and tweets about it (and other things) here. In the grand scheme Vince is but a recent acquaintance, but as a fellow vintage dealer we clicked pretty quick. Besides dealing in antiques and collectibles online Vince operates a brick and mortar business in Ontario. Now I’ve never had such a set-up myself, but what my experience in those old baseball card show days I like to refer back to does have in common with the much more traditional world of the antiques shop is a wheeling-and-dealing spirit. How do I know? Well, I’ve been in my share of antiques shops and I’ve never paid retail.

Vince made one bold suggestion to me, which when he first mentioned it I waved him off and never expected I’d end up following his advice–eliminate my auction format listings on eBay. But I’ve been running those since 2000. Cut ‘em off altogether? Crazy!

A few months ago though I was way behind on work and probably spent a little more time writing and blogging than I should have and suddenly my broken routine led to 3 or 4 days without any new auctions going up (I typically listed 5 nights per week). At that point I decided why not go a few more days. Sales grew and I quickly came to realize that it was much better to sell an item at Fixed Price $20 in a day or two than it was to wait a week to get one $9.99 bid on an auction. I decided that this Vince knew his stuff.

Now the second idea I got from Vince wasn’t as wild as the first one, in fact I’m not even sure he knows it made an impact, and so I’m rather certain he’s reading this with some interest right now. Hi Vince.

I’d mentioned before how lowball offers can really piss me off. If I’ve got an item listed for $10 and an offer of $1 floats in my first reaction used to be to hit the decline button with enough force that I’d hope the “buyer” feels impact. Several times I bit my bottom lip and restrained myself from commenting “would you like me to include some cash with that as well.”

Now I force the buyer to decline.

What changed? I did a guest post about eBay’s Best Offer on John Lawson’s ColderICE blog back in July and Vince left a comment there. The game changer for me came in the last sentence of Vince’s initial comment on the post:

And we would never turn the LOW end offers declined to OFF, we had a case just yesterday where a $5 offer came in for a $37 item, we settled at $28.

Whoa, this is the same buyer I’d be cursing under my breath and be referring to here today as “buyer” or perhaps the more subtle buyer if Vince’s words hadn’t sunk in.

It’s true, a lot of times that $1 offer is just a conversation starter. My mistake is I believed the buyer’s were attempting negotiation from that $1 starting point. I wasn’t going to take my time to wrangle them up to $2. But lo and behold, Vince was absolutely right, many times I’ve gotten the $7 or $8 I really wanted on an item marked $10 when the first offer came in super low.

Think of all of the sales I missed as recently as July by pouncing on the decline button at offers less than 50% of marked price.

No, $1 offer is not an insult, it’s a conversation starter. Bringing it back to the card show it’s like the customer stopping long enough at your table to know they’ll be back later in the day even if they didn’t take the time to even say hi the first time through. It’s more of a greeting, or even a question, than an actual offer.

And so tonight I’ve added Best Offer to everything in my eBay Store (2 exceptions: 1) items on sale with Markdown Manager; 2) a few dozen items already marked as low as I can go). Even if it’s a $3 card, if the buyer has nerve enough to offer me $1, why shouldn’t I have nerve enough to ask for $2.50 if that’s what I really want.

Thanks, Vince, game changing stuff!

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5 Responses to More eBay Best Offer – Conversation Starter

  1. Henrietta says:

    Isn’t it great how we can learn from each other! I am rather fond of the OBO function on Bonanzle. I don’t have the chutzpah to offer $1 for a $20 item and quite honestly I think it is rude, although I do admire Vince’s positive attitude.

    I will routinely offer a Bonanzle seller the same terms they are offering on eBay. (Why to they jack the price up on what is essentially a free site?) If they choose not to accept they are loosing the sale because I choose not to buy on eBay. Choice is good, for every one.

    When I am thinking about making an offer I do it from a seller viewpoint. I am aware of the overhead and if I think it is worth a lot less than the asking price I probably will not offer at all because I have no wish to antagonize or insult the seller.

    On the other hand if it is something I really want, I don’t haggle at all.

  2. Hey Henrietta. Honestly, I resisted applying BO to lower priced items because yes, I’d find the lowball offers rude, but I’ve found Vince is right–a lot of times buyers are just trying to see how much room you have to play with.

    I’ve also noticed an increasing number of offers coming in at 50% of marked price lately. I can usually get these up to the 70-80% range I’m looking for, but it does make me curious–wonder if it’d get the same kind of action if I just doubled what I really wanted, then I could just hit accept. Might try “overpricing” some items in the future to see if this works. Then again, might not.

    Thanks, Cliff

  3. Hi, Cliff, just noted you changed site layout, dropped in to peek.
    Been busy lately haven’t you?
    (PS.. there’s a really cool free wordpress theme you might like….. called “magazine-basic”…. you can see it at now.. OUR new store online soon.

    (just another bold suggestion in case you’re not set on this one yet.)

    just a shameless plug this one.


  4. vincej says:

    Hey, Cliff.
    I came across this old post againt today in my travels.
    Had a quick re-read…. good stuff.
    btw, I did exactly what you said in your last comment.
    I’ve UPPED the ebay pricing and found that yes the offers are still coming in, better than ever.

    IN fact, recently lost my TRS and powerseller discounts due to shipping charges (arggh… hate shipping from Canada to US buyers…… they just don’t understand the difference in charges here). So.. my simple solution was to up the price on all my ebay items by 15% immediately. Guess what.. a few items have now sold at listed price, no offers, no haggling… I wonder what another 10% increase and loss of TRS and powerseller status can do for my sales..
    It’s wonderful just how unpredictable our markets really are isn’t it?

  5. Hi Vince,

    Good to hear that’s working out: add 15% and suddenly old crap acquires new luster :)

    Thanks for the comment, makes me glad I’ve left this site online!


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