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From the author of Fixed-Price Listings: Pros and Cons

Fixed-Price Listings: Pros and Cons

Now we come to eBay’s fair-haired child, the fixed-price listing. eBay is pushing the fixed-price format, as it believes that’s what more and more consumers, especially newer and casual buyers, prefer. It’s certainly what most consumers are familiar with; it’s the only way that traditional retailers do business.

Let’s face it: The average consumer just isn’t that familiar or comfortable with the concept of online auctions. Most of us make most of our purchases at a fixed price; we walk into a store, see the price on the price tag, and pay it. It’s quick and it’s simple, and it’s very easy for just about everyone to understand.

eBay believes that to keep growing their business they need to attract more “average” consumers, and that means providing merchandise in the format in which they’re most comfortable. If that means turning eBay into something that more closely resembles Amazon.com, so be it—and traditional auction sellers be damned.

Just because eBay is pushing fixed-price sales doesn’t mean that’s the best format for you, however. Certainly, if you have rare or collectible merchandise, you’ll generate higher prices via online auction. Same thing if you’re selling many used items, or if you’re just clearing junk out of your basement or attic; if you’re not sure what an item is really worth, let the eBay auction marketplace decide.

But if you’re selling new items, particularly items that are widely available from other sellers, you can pretty much kiss the auction format goodbye. With commodity merchandise, competition defines the price; if it’s widely available elsewhere, abandon all hope of desperate buyers bidding up the price. No, with commodity items, the price is the price is the price—that is, you won’t get a penny more than what other sellers are asking.

The other reason to go with fixed-price listings for commodity merchandise is the gratification factor. That is, a buyer who wants to purchase a commodity item expects to get that item now; they don’t want or need to wait seven days for an auction to end. When other sellers offer that item for immediate shipment, you’ll never make a sale if you make interested buyers wait till the end of the auction period.

Bottom line, when others are selling exactly what you’re selling, you need to match their price and delivery. That means fixed-price listings with immediate shipment on purchase—just like the big boys do.

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