Why selling to the highest eBay bidder is not the best way to make money

PLUS: Sneaky ways to make really big money on eBay – the amazing potential of arbitrage!

PLUS: 12 ways to easy eBay dropshipping profits

A reader contacted me the other day, saying: ‘Someone is offering me twice the price I’d be happy to take for one of my products. How do I download the listing and offer this person the product before he changes his mind?’

My answer was ‘You don’t’ and ‘He won’t’, meaning I don’t think you should download the listing and I don’t think your potential customer will change his mind about wanting your product if he has to bid for it like everyone else.

I say that because I have been asked the same question hundreds of times over the last 11 or so years and I’ve always refused to end my auction.

Why selling to the highest eBay bidder is not the best way to make money

I tell people asking the question that I don’t consider the practice fair on other people wanting to bid on the item and who do not realise the seller can download a listing and sell to the current highest bidder.

For me, ending a listing is totally immoral; it doesn’t happen at offline auctions and I don’t think an online auctioneer should end an auction midway and leave other bidders in the lurch.

But more than this, letting my auctions run their course has always made me more money than ending them early.

That’s because most requests to end an auction early are based on the enquirer knowing the item is likely to fetch a high price, which that person doesn’t want to pay and he or she is banking on the seller being tempted by a quick sale.

Sneaky ways to make really big money on eBay – the amazing potential of arbitrage!

You’ve almost certainly read before about making money by spotting mistakes other sellers make on eBay, which means their listings go largely unnoticed and their goods sell for a pittance to other eBay sellers who buy those items cheap and relist them without the earlier mistakes.

The end result is money lost for original owners and sometimes-fabulous profits for subsequent resellers.

Spelling mistakes are the commonest form of arbitrage, just ahead of listing in the wrong category or listing an item as commonplace when actually it’s a rare and highly prized collectible.

But there are other arbitrage opportunities to consider, as these tips show:

  • The most reliable way to profit on a regular basis is to specialise in a niche you know well. By specialising you’ll come to know which products are commonly misspelled, which are often listed in incorrect categories, which are sometimes offered in one country but might fetch higher prices elsewhere, and so on.
  • The most effective way to make non-spelling-mistake arbitrage work is to regularly study last-minute auctions with few or no potential bidders, and determine how much more profit is waiting on the table due to sellers’ mistakes or oversights. It’s a long job but the rewards can be spectacular.
  • When you find arbitrage opportunities, look at other items from the same seller. Many sellers make mistakes through all their listings, such as repeating their spelling mistakes, using poor photographs and incorrect categories, and more. Not only will you find some sellers a regular source of arbitrage opportunities, but you’ll also find most giving discount shipping on multiple purchases.
  • The best arbitrage opportunities occur with unprofessional sellers, people who continuously use poor photographs or list in the wrong categories; sellers who list only in their own country and never overseas on a potentially more effective eBay site; or people using a template with a spelling mistake or template error that’s existed from day one and was never corrected. Keep careful notes of these sellers’ eBay IDs and visit them often.
  • Look for auctions that end while most of the world sleeps: some amazing buys are possible. There are sellers who constantly end auctions when no one is bidding, purely because they are repeating a one-time mistake that has never been corrected.

12 ways to easy eBay dropshipping profits

Dropshipping is a wonderful way to source high-profit products with none of the usual costly hassles confronting ‘bricks and mortar’ ventures.

This is what makes dropshipping such a fascinating and very profitable option for your eBay business:

  • No products to stock, and no tying up limited space in your home or business premises.
  • No paying upfront for products that might not sell.
  • Sales materials and graphics are normally provided by larger suppliers or can be downloaded from their websites. Some have printed catalogues from which you can scan product pictures; others have CDs containing digital images.

Using their pictures and descriptions makes life easier for you and means you don’t spend time and money buying products, taking pictures, creating descriptions.

But usually the bigger the company the more aggressive their marketing will be and the more likely their products are known to other eBay sellers.

That is why you should not rely solely on these bigger companies and aim for small family firms instead…

  • You receive payment up front from the customer before having to pay for stock and without ever having to pack or post items yourself.
  • No minimum order quantity.
  • Many large dropshipping companies buy in volume and pass discounts to resellers, sometimes equal to or lower than typical wholesale prices for similar items.
  • No chance of unsold stock tying up capital and storage space. If a product is discontinued, goes out of fashion, or grows heavily competitive on eBay, you drop the item and move on.
  • Greater flexibility. You can sell lots of different products or develop a specific line; promote just a few products or stock thousands.
  • Shipping costs from bigger wholesalers are often much lower than for processing products yourself. So you’d be breaking no rules by charging your buyers shipping at cost, even where dropshipping companies offer low or no cost delivery.
  • You can list new products in minutes without testing prices and marketing options, and so on. Large dropshipping companies will have previously carried out extensive marketing checks, leaving you free to benefit from their experience and capital outlay.
  • Your customers may never know you are using a dropshipper and most dropshipping companies will include your business details in outgoing packages.
  • Best of all, once you have a good product, it could be a regular best seller for you for life: the closest thing to an automatic business model you’re ever likely to find. Once up and running, all you do is phone or email orders to suppliers, pay them, and look for more products to sell.

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here