Sunday, November 25, 2012

Chasing After eBay's Top-Rated Seller Part 2

A little over one week ago, I listed a large number of items on eBay during one of its free auction listing promotions.  Those items close in the next one to three days.  My goal is to maintain my top-rated seller status.

The problem is caused by sales that continuously roll off of my record from one year ago.

The above screen capture shows the sales that will roll off in the next seven months.  Since I am right at 100 items sold in the last year, I cannot afford to slack on getting items listed on eBay.  I need to sell these numbers of items in the coming months.

My biggest obstacle in the near future is the 21 sales needed by January 20.  I have been scrambling for several months to try to get ahead of 100 sales, but I have only been able to keep my total at just slightly over 100 items sold in the last year.  I gave some details in Part 1 of this discussion.

My task is made much more difficult by the fact that auctions are once again suppressed in "best match."  While all of us who have been collecting for a while know to avoid "best match," people new to eBay are not aware.  They do not know that "best match" presents the items in a jumbled order.  This is a huge problem for Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, due to the large number of items seen in those search results.  A newbie buyer using "best match" is not likely to see any of my Nancy Drew books.

Also consider that newbie buyers are the ones who need everything and tend to be the most enthusiastic of buyers.  They are the ones who will place multiple bids on auctions.  If a significant number of those buyers are seeing the "best match" sort, then auctions will close for lower prices and fewer auction listings will sell.  

I decided to look at a few longtime eBay sellers of series books to see how they are doing.  The last time I checked on several sellers, their sell-through rate had dropped to around 10%.  

One seller who sells series books plus a good many other items has sold 162 items out of 1,522 items, which gives this seller a sell-through rate of 10.6%.  I should note that this seller has sold more items that are not books than ones that are books.  I did not want to try to separate the sales due to the high number of listings.

I checked two other sellers who almost exclusively sell series books.  Of these sellers, one has sold 5 out of 82 items with a sell-through rate of 6.1%.  The other has sold 12 out of 304 items with a sell-through rate of 3.9%.  This last one might be the most telling, since this particular seller has been extremely successful over the years on eBay.  3.9% is a horrible sell-through rate, especially for someone who has always had great traction on eBay and has never left eBay.

These low sell-through rates show how much eBay has slid in recent years.  Do not misunderstand and think that I am blaming the sellers.  Not at all.  These sellers are doing what they have always done, and their sell-through rates continue to fall.

When I first began listing on Bonanza in my Jennifer's Series Books booth, I had to figure out a way to promote my listings.  I created a Facebook page and placed links in this blog and on my website.  This was in early 2009, and only on the alternative sites did people get told that they had to promote their listings.  Now in 2012, this same advice is given on eBay's message boards.  eBay users are now telling other users that they cannot just list their items.  They need a Facebook page, and they need to promote outside eBay.

eBay has changed.  In order to have a chance on eBay, one must promote one's items.  Furthermore, Buy It Now is almost necessary, and one's items need to be inexpensive.

During last week's eBay promotion, I decided to list as much as I could and as cheaply as I could.  Since that promotion offered 10-day listings for free, I listed every auction for 10 days to maximize my exposure.  I added Buy It Now to all listings in hopes of either getting an immediate sale or forcing someone to deactivate the Buy It Now.  I aimed for each Buy It Now to be approximately 10% above the opening bid, which is the minimum amount above the starting bid price that is allowed by eBay.  Essentially, I wanted these items to serve as fixed-price items but without the listing fee associated with such listings.

I have sold several items via Buy It Now, and several items have had the Buy It Now deactivated.  Either way, I am happy since I need every single sale to maintain 100 items sold during the last year.  Counting all of the items that have sold and the current items with bids, I have met my December requirement and now have 16 out of the 21 items required for January 20.  As soon as these items close, I am immediately going to relist 26 of them to use up my remaining November free listings.  I am hoping that at least few of those will sell and that I will then be right at the 21 required items for January 20.  If I can get those items plus a few extra, then I will be okay well into the spring.

The main reason I want to keep top-rated seller is because I get a 20% discount on fees.  This really does add up to a significant savings.  If I fall below 100 items, then I lose my discount.

I want to keep my discount because I want to use eBay to help promote my Bonanza booth.  Inside each package, I send a flyer that includes a link to my Bonanza booth.  I have had a few people purchase from me on eBay in the last few months, and then make a purchase from me on Bonanza at about the item their packages arrived.  These are people who had not previously purchased from me, so the flyer is helping.

I also had one person send me a message upon receiving the package thanking me for the links.  That person was thrilled to have discovered this blog as a result of the flyer. 

Quite a few people buy on eBay who have no knowledge of where collectors gather.  They do not know about this blog, my website, my Bonanza booth, or any of the Yahoo! Groups.  Selling on eBay is an excellent way to gain exposure to a group of collectors who is outside the main circle.


Cathy Reeve said...

I've been a lurker on your blog for awhile, and really enjoy it. One question I've wondered about in the past - if you do an auction with buy it now, if someone uses the BIN, are the final value fees the auction percentages or the BIN percentage?? I also use the free listings, but don't usually put the buy it now on there.

Jennifer White said...

If someone uses the Buy It Now, then the final value fees will be based on the Buy It Now price. Of course if someone deactivates the Buy It Now and the auction closes at the opening bid, then the opening bid price will determine the fees.

If the Buy It Now is close enough to the opening bid, it can motivate someone to act by either buying the item or deactivating the Buy It Now. I think it helped with my cheap Nancy Drew PCs.

By the way, my listings that have been closing the last few days went pretty well. While as expected, many did not sell, I did also get a number of sales, especially with the Nancy Drew PCs. I was able to meet my January sales requirement, and I have also met my February and March requirements as well. The pressure is off for now, but I have to make certain I keep listing some each month or else I will fall into the same predicament in a few months.

I'm glad you enjoy the blog!