Learning to price items appropriately is a crucial skill for selling on eBay. Item pricing remains one of the top factors to influence a sale, alongside shipping speed, shipping cost and availability.
Determining sale prices can be a particularly perplexing task for new eBay sellers. Low pricing may entice more buyers but profits will also remain low. On the other hand pricing high risks sales for better margins.
Read on to discover five essential tips for pricing items on eBay.
Perform market research
It is essential to first check how the competition is pricing similar items and the level of success achieved. Some of the easiest ways to do this include:
- Using eBay’s Advanced Search tool to see how much similar items have sold for in this past. Simply enter the relevant item keywords and then select ‘completed listings.’
- Terapeak offers detailed marketplace research, showing data including sell through rate and average sale price for millions of items sold across the internet. eBay.com users with an eBay Store subscription above Starter are able to access Terapeak’s services for free
- In addition to Terapeak, there are many other third party websites offering sales data amalgamation. One example is CheckAFlip.com
- Free classifieds websites such as Craigslist (USA and Canada), Kijiji (Canada) and Gumtree (UK) are helpful to double check average prices. Keep in mind, however, that items do not necessarily sell at the listed price due to in-person bartering
Choose the listing format carefully
Though initially founded as an auction website, most eBay listings now follow a fixed price format. There are fundamental differences between these two types of listing formats that help determine pricing strategy.
With auctions, the market determines the sale price. The seller’s influence is limited to the starting price, reserve and an optional ‘Buy It Now’ price. Auctions are often work well with collectible or rare items as well as one-offs and items considered ‘junk.’
eBay has a tendency to recommend auctions for all manner of items. This is likely due to the competitive nature of auctions that can sometimes drive up the price of the item far beyond its perceived value. 99c, for example, is a frequently recommended auction start price.
With fixed price listings, the seller maintains full control over pricing, though buyers are allowed to ask for a discount.
Critically consider eBay’s suggestions
eBay offers assistance with item pricing in a number of ways, with the most common being a suggested price at the listing stage.
Over the years, numerous other features have been introduced (and some later removed) to encourage sellers to price their items in a certain way. ‘Best Offer,’ for example, has long enabled buyers to suggest a lower price they are willing to pay for the item.
When considering eBay’s suggestions, it is important to think critically regarding their intention. eBay’s number one priority is to secure sales. The margin (and profit) for the seller is less of a priority and, as a result, eBay will often recommend selling at a lower price to guarantee a sale.
Incorporate all expenses
Making a profit is the all important aim when selling anything on eBay. In order to make a profit, however, you must incorporate all expenses into the sale price. Relevant expenses include:
- Listing insertion fees
- Listing upgrades
- Final Value Fees
- PayPal or other money processing fees
- Income tax remittance
- New Internet Sales Tax fees (eBay.com sellers)
- Packaging materials
- Shipping costs
- Shipping insurance
In addition to the above, eBay sellers may also want to consider the overall cost of their home office and/or business vehicle as well as any warehouse or storage unit fees, if applicable.
Handling returns and refunds is an inevitable part of any retail business. Sellers also have to deal with occasional item damage through shipping and storage. Some eBay sellers choose to factor this loss into their pricing strategy, to retain better overall margins.
Essential in so many aspects of eBay selling, constant testing should be second nature to every eBay seller. It is simply not possible to set prices and then forget about it. Start with one price and be prepared to experiment to see what works.
- Price high and then work lower. The other way around provides no proof that the item did not sell just because it was priced cheaply
- Sometimes, the timing just isn’t right. If dropping the price isn’t an option, consider holding off and relisting at a later date
- Remember that it only takes one interested person to make a sale
- Pricing is an important factor when it comes to determining sales, but it not the only one. Think about the presentation of the item (photography, description), as well as the item specifics, condition, search result positioning, shipping options etc.
- Be sure to stay well-informed of trends as well as marketplace rivals to maintain competitive prices
Experienced eBay sellers, are you willing to share any of your pricing strategy secrets?