eBay sales tips: Buy your stock on eBay and ignore most offline salesrooms

Okay, so I may be about to contradict everything I’ve said about buying in small, out of the way offline auction salerooms.

But much of what I’ve said about those offline salerooms being a place where few dealers congregate – meaning really low prices are possible for big bundles of items you can split and sell separately – is simply because I am a collector as well as a dealer.

I like nothing more than sorting through big bundles of collectibles, looking not only for goods to resell on eBay, but also to add to my own massive collection of postcards, photographs, books and many other things.

Also, being able to sort through items and study them from all angles is the only definite way to spot a sleeper – an item likely to sell below its true market value by unaware sellers – in any location.

Most importantly, I also have time and transport to travel to distant auctions, which is not always possible for people in full-time employment, those unable to leave home for long periods or those that rely on public transport.

And that’s why I want to reveal an easy way to obtain stock to resell at frequently fabulous high profits – without ever leaving home!

It’s done by making eBay your main product sourcing site and expecting to generate profit from every purchase… but only if you’re quick.

The main thing about buying items on eBay to resell at higher prices on eBay – one part of an overall business concept called ‘flipping’ and ‘arbitrage’ – is that vendors in a hurry to sell their goods and bank the money will use fixed price listings, not auction.

And some will make mistakes and set their prices low and earn much less than otherwise offering their items separately by auctioning them on eBay.

When that happens, the early bird is the one who bags the bargain bundle.  And that early bird has to be you.

How to get your ‘worms’

– You find those bargains by visiting eBay several times each day and looking for ‘NEW LISTING’ alongside titles for items you might want to buy.

– Begin by choosing a product category top of eBay’s home page.

– Choose ‘Buy It Now’ here because we are looking for items to buy soon after they have gone live and before other resellers get to see them. Auction listings last up to ten days and attract many possible buyers and potentially very high finishing prices.

– Then at ‘Sort’ choose ‘Newly Listed’ from the dropdown menu. Release the mouse and the next page will show items just listed, beginning most recent down to earliest, usually covering the last day or so. Some will have been listed within the last few minutes and you are the first visitor.

– Now you search the listings looking for items that may be described incorrectly. Possibly with spelling mistakes, for example. Or missing, essential search terms or priced way below their possible resale value.

– When you find these bargains, pounce before someone else does! Do not make a best offer or you risk someone else coming in and paying full price before your offer reaches the seller.

But you must remember, you have to be quick because the biggest bargains go within minutes of going live. Visit every half hour or so and there’ll always be something just perfect for you, visit more often and you’ll get the cream of the crop.

Plenty of recently listed bargains isn’t the only reason eBay sometimes beats buying in offline auction salerooms. Another reason is due to additional costs and overheads usually applicable to buying offline but absent from eBay.

These can include:

• Travelling to view and to bid, sometimes over several days. Trips can frequently involving long journeys and overnight stays can sometimes double your costs On eBay you simply stay at home and order as well as, sometimes, choosing free delivery lots or travelling locally to collect.

• No buyers’ premium on eBay and no payment transaction to PayPalmean the product’s fixed price plus any delivery cost is the price you pay.  Nothing more. Offline auctions charge a premium ranging from 10% – but not very often – to 20% and sometimes more.  And that often means paying a fifth of your bidding price in buyers’ premium. So if you bid, say, £100 for a lot, you could pay an extra £20 in buyer’s premium.

• On eBay, the majority of sellers are inexperienced and don’t know what their goods are worth, and some won’t even bother to find out. So they will price goods below value and be happy with what they get. Offline sellers, in auction salerooms and antiques fairs, collectors’ fairs, second-hand shops, market stalls, and so on, are more likely to understand values and have staff available to research goods and set appropriate reserves and fixed prices.

This all means eBay could be the best place to pay low prices for sleepers and potentially very profitable arbitrage deals…

… but only if you are first to see those newly listed, fixed price items.

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