Friday, March 31, 2006

rob's top tips for buying (and selling) on ebay

(or confessions of an ebay addict)
as you can imagine, quite a few of my records were won in auctions on ebay. (by the way i have no affiliation whatsoever with ebay or any other business i mention here!) i've sold many fewer records (in fact i have only sold one record for a friend): as i say, you can never regret buying a record, but you can regret NOT buying one or, worse still, SELLING a record.

tips for buyers
1. ok, this one is a bit contraversial but i'll try to convince even those who have been "sniped" of the merits of sniping. we all want to get those records as cheap as possible, right? but who hasn't got in a bidding war? things are worth what someone else is willing to pay for them. so, if someone else outbids you, its is worth paying more for by definition! but then the same situation arises for the other bidder... my advice is to stick to a strict maximum which is what you would call a bargain. then, you use something like esnipe to automatically put your bid on at the last minute. that way, noone knows what you are bidding on and if the auction has no other bids, your bid will not atract others (like flies to...). the best thing is that you put it on and then forget about it. of course, you lose the auction but you keep trying until you eventually get it (maybe adjusting your maximum a little if you can't wait long enough).
2. so how do you know what records are worth? you can search past auctions to see what prices things ACTUALLY went for. (why do people get upset when a record goes for more than its "worth"?) but ebay only carries one month of data. this is where popsike come in. these guys keep a history of past record auctions going back years!!!
3. do as to others what they would do unto you. find out about records by searching through past and current auctions of people who compete for the same records as you.
4. search through seller's other auctions. maybe you can save postage.
5. here's a good one (but i'm sure i'm not the only one to have thought of it). suppose you are looking for that rare original by "mulatu". if you find it, then for sure you'll be up against some stiff competition and it will go for a small fortune. but what if the seller misspelt it? then hardly anyone else would find it. UNLESS they were warped enough to actually SEARCH for misspellings (e.g. "mulato" - although this may bring up more than you reckonned for!). desperate times call for desperate measures.

tips for sellers
1. as i say, i've only sold one record but i've been paying attention! of course you want to sell the record for as much as possible and you certainly don't want anyone to get it off you for less than you paid... but you'll never make money on ebay by just selling one item. you have to hedge you bets - some you win some you lose.
2. ok, so you 've got lots of items up for sale. each item is like a little advert for all the rest, so you start to bring in more and more potential bidders.
3. you should have some "loss leaders". think of this as advertising. don't think about the individual record but the whole lot. you put some on real cheap with the risk that they may go for too little (but they may end up surprising you!).
4. put the word out!


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