How to work with both the auction and best offer features, together. This unusual combination has subtle rules that make it appropriate for some items.
Ebay auctions are simple: you set a starting price, and then hope for bids. The highest bid at the end of the auction period wins.
Ebay auctions have a feature called “Buy it Now” (BIN), which shows the reader you’re willing to end the auction for a specific price. Most listings are made with “Buy it Now”, without an auction – this is basically the same as making a listing in an online store: people pay the BIN price and get the item.
Often, “Best Offer” (BO) is used with “Buy it Now”. This allows you, the seller, to set a price, but show you’re open to accepting a lower price. Sometimes, I’ll submit a “Best Offer” of 10% to 20% below the asking price, and often get the item at that price.
What most people don’t know about is using the “Best Offer” feature with auctions.
If you make a listing for an auction with “Best Offer”, it shows you’re willing to accept an opening offer that will end the auction.
Once live bidding begins, the best offer feature is turned off, and all offers are cancelled.
The rule is simple: the live auction supersedes the secret offers.
I listed an auction catalog of a Marc Newsom piece. I figured someone would pay between $20 and $100 for it. It’s a lot of money for a book, but, he’s a popular figure among people interested in design and luxury products. The item promoted in the book was sold for over $3 million.
So I opened the auction at $15. That was pretty high. Most auctions start at 99 cents. I just wasn’t willing to sell it for $0.99.
I could have put a “Buy it Now”, but chose “Best Offer” instead.
I was willing to end this auction for less than what I’d put as BIN, which would have been $100. I wouldn’t want to set the price too low, because it sends a signal that the item isn’t valuable.
However, think about how this situation feels to the buyer. Their options are to participate in a public bidding war, which can be fun, or to accede to the seller and pay the $100. Once BIN is in effect, it’s almost like a ceiling on the auction, and that’s not fun.
BO is different. BO allows the buyer to exercise their wealth, and terminate the auction with an offer.
BO puts the seller in the position of accepting the high offer, or rejecting it and waiting for the first public bid. BO gives the buyer control of the situation.
Giving some control to the buyer is good.
My goals were simple: to sell the item for a price I found acceptable; to sell the item quickly.
My goal was not to “beat” the buyer, or to force buyers into competing with each other.