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Sunday, November 2, 2008

eBay: Auction vs. Fixed-Price Format

If you've been searching for items on eBay, you probably realize that eBay has three basic forms for selling:
  • Auction - This format is the one most people are thinking about when they first use eBay. Auctions run for a maximum of 10 days. The winning bidder is obligated to buy.
  • Fixed-Price - More and more sellers are using the fixed-price format whereby the seller sets a fixed price for the item to be sold.
  • Store - To a buyer, store format looks exactly like fixed-price format. To the seller, there are some differences in the fees charged by eBay. The primary thing affecting a buyer is the way eBay searches for items. Unless you specify otherwise, you may not see "store" items in your search results. On the "Advanced Search" page there is an option to include store inventory in your searches. Fixed-price and store listings run for a maximum of 30 days, although many sellers renew the listings for one or more additional 30-day periods.

Auctions offer the opportunity for bargain prices for some items. However, a bidder must wait until the auction ends to see who is successful. If you have been bidding on items lately, you may have noticed that several bidders may bid in the last five seconds or so. This technique, called "slamming", has become more prevalent lately. If you have lost an item in such a situation, you may have thought that there were several bidders lurking out there, all hitting the "Enter" key to submit their bids simultaneously. However, it is likely that some or all of these last second bidders used one of several services available on the Internet that submit last second bids automatically on behalf of such bidders. Check out for example.

Fixed-price and store items offer the benefit of selecting an item immediately with no waiting. You know what you are going to pay up front and you can "Buy it Now".

Which way is best? It all depends upon your time frame, your patience, your need to find just the right item, your price flexibility, etc. You be the judge.

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