How eBay Sellers Can Make Offers to Buyers

The ‘Best Offer’ feature has long been a mainstay of selling on eBay. It lets a buyer offer a seller the price they are willing to pay for an item. A new selling feature, however, turns the tables and allows sellers more flexibility to send offers to buyers themselves.

Keep reading to discover this new feature and how it compares to the existing ‘custom offer’ option that sellers can also use. At the end, we’ll consider the benefits and downsides to offering buyers discounted listings in this way.

Sending an offer to watchers

Confirmed in the Early Seller Update released earlier this year, sellers using are now able to target potential buyers with a new ‘offer to buyers’ feature on some listings. This tool has been rolling out to select sellers over the last few months. The purpose is to improve sales conversion rates for sellers by allowing access to buyers who have added an item onto their Watch List.

Here’s how this new offer feature works – 

  • In Seller Hub, go to Active Listings and then select the ‘offer to buyers’ option to show eligible listings. It is located next to ‘Promoted Listings’ and ‘Best Offer’
  • Click ‘eligible for offers’ next to the item to send an discounted offer to the 10 most recent buyers who have added the item to their Watch List
  • Buyers who receive the offer will be notified. In this notification, they will be advised that other buyers can still purchase the item
  • If the buyer accepts the offer, their username will be revealed to the seller and the sale proceeds as normal

The process, as described above, is simple though can only be manually completed via Seller Hub at this time. A couple of other considerations to keep in mind are:

  • Offers to buyers expire after 48 hours
  • Buyers can choose not to receive offers by changing their communication preferences
  • Sellers do not see which individual buyers receive an offer
  • Offers can only be sent to buyers who are on the watch list for the specific item
  • The same buyer can only receive this type of offer on an individual item once
  • Eligibility of listings is based on age of listing and listing format as well as rules that manage how many offers buyers receive
  • Listings do not need to include ‘Best Offer’ to be eligible for this feature

Reply with custom offer

There is another way for sellers to offer buyers a custom price on an item. This selling feature has been available for a number of years, though it is possible that some sellers may not have come across or noticed it before. If a buyer asks a question about a fixed price item, the seller has the opportunity to reply to them with a custom offer.

Here’s how custom offers work:

  • Check Messages and click to read the buyer’s message
  • Select ‘Reply with offer’ and then change the amount to preferred price
  • Complete the full details of the offer in the ‘Message to Buyer’ section
  • Review and send to buyer
  • If the buyer accepts the offer, the sale proceeds as normal

Providing a custom offer not only gives sellers the chance to offer a buyer a discount but it is also an alternative way to charge international buyers additional shipping without changing the listing. Keep the following in mind when working with custom offers:

  • Offers to buyers expire after 48 hours or when the item is sold (whichever is first)
  • It is possible to send a buyer up to 3 offers
  • The custom offer can be higher or lower than the Buy It Now price
  • For the transaction to be covered under the eBay Seller Protection Policy, the offer details must be visible within messaging or the ‘Message to buyer’ field
  • In single listings with two or more identical items, it is possible to send an offer for one, some or all items
  • The custom offer feature is unavailable on auction, multi-variation and Motor Vehicle listings

Sending offers to buyers on eBay: Some considerations

The option of sending offers to buyers is a feature with advantages as well as disadvantages. On the one hand, it offers sellers an extra degree of flexibility with their eBay business.

It can also help sellers quickly clear out stock and make space for new inventory when needed. Buyers are likely to appreciate the chance to get a discounted deal on an item they are interested in.

Some disadvantages, however, include:

  • The encouragement for haggling puts downward pressure on pricing across the marketplace. This reduces the already thin margins that a lot of sellers operate with
  • The potential for buyers to feel overwhelmed with messages construed to be spam
  • Perceived loss of anonymity on eBay. Although sellers cannot see the names of buyers on an item’s Watch List, buyers may feel that their shopping experience on eBay is less private
  • Some sellers use Watch Lists to keep an eye on the competition – sending an offer to these ‘buyers’ would therefore be a waste of time and also block offers to legitimate purchasers

The introduction of new seller focused features are usually welcomed by most sellers on eBay. It always does take time, however, to know whether the feature will be commonly used by a range of sellers.

It is clear that the ability to send ‘watching’ buyers an offer is a particular bonus for sellers looking to clear out stock but beyond this, it may be considered additional pressure to discount prices unnecessarily.

What are your thoughts on the new ‘offers to buyers’ feature on eBay? 

Gemma is our all things eBay expert. Originally from the UK, she now lives in Canada and travels extensively. You can read about her travels at her blog Off Track Travel.