General Thoughts – Selling on eBay
Last week I talked about my first experiences buying on eBay, with my particular market of buying models for my war gaming. This week I want to talk about my first experiences selling on eBay, which was also war gaming related. It’s been probably ten years or more now since I played Warhammer Fantasy, and it was well past time to sell my armies, with the thought that I could turn that money into models for my current game, Warmachine and Hordes.
Now I actually had a friend back in my Warhammer days who did a lot of buying and selling of Warhammer models on eBay, so much so that despite a full time job he was also making a bunch of money on eBay. Some of his basic strategy, as I remember it, was that you buy the larger lots of full armies, which are often posted as a steal in terms of value, and in his estimation were often poorly titled, had bad pictures, etc. Maybe unpainted, certainly not presented in the best light. He would get them, break them up by units or models, make sure they were painted and photographed well, and then sell them individually like that. Buy in bulk to sell broken up, sounds like business!
His other major point with this strategy was that it was important to do this with a market that you understand, so he did it with Warhammer models because he knew them, knew their value, how to break them up appropriately, things like that. He considered other markets but just stayed away – too easy to think something is a deal when it isn’t!
So with these thoughts in mind… I promptly took my Lizardmen army and sold it as a single lot. Part of my thinking was that it wasn’t fully painted, but also that my color scheme was so non-standard (green with purple scales) that I felt it would be better if it all stayed together. What I need to do now, with that experience behind me, is sell my High Elves army more piecemeal – with my painted and based units going individually, things like that. It’s certainly going to be more work to do, so I’m ramping up to do that! But here are some of my thoughts from the selling experiences I’ve had so far.
The Good – Item Sale Interface
I have to say, the first experience of selling, as you go through the sales interface and create your listing, was pretty good. The different elements I had seen while buying have controls and places to input information, so that you can tailor things to suit your items and your needs. For example, there was a place to put how many business days you anticipate it taking before you shipped, which I used to give myself a couple of days just because of the Geek Baby. Better to say you’ll take a while and go faster, right?
You can upload a bunch of pictures, and maybe I should have done more than I did but oh well – I probably fell in the trap of this being a poorly-placed whole-army lot. You can choose which is the main picture, things like that. Then there’s all sorts of text options, the description and all that.
It also has recommendations based on what it perceived as similar listings, but that was painful – it recommended from $0.99 through several hundred dollars. Not a helpful range. Some hunting myself – useful for trying to find the right listing title (although I eventually changed that, since I later found that the Lizardmen have a new name in the game!) – gave me an idea on a starting range, and I started on a higher end. I also chose to do a bid and then a higher Buy It Now, rather than doing a best offer or just bidding or some of the other options. It is a lot of options, though, so you can really choose how you want to do things – I may use the Best Offer options as well when selling individual units.
The Good – Ways to Share Your Listing
So right after I created my posting, lo! Forsooth! It popped up with “share me on social” sort of page. Those pop up on lots of other things, generally when you’ve just bought something. As much fun as telling everyone what my shopping habits are, or doing free advertising for Amazon or whoever… Not interested. However, when what you’re sharing is something you are selling? Well, that’s a whole different matter!
It’s a small thing, but I hadn’t thought of it myself so it was a nice touch from eBay!
The Annoying – Biting Your Nails While You Wait It Out
I mean, there’s probably nothing to be done about this. But as I said about buying, most of the activity happens at the end of the listing. My listings had people watching… but not bidding. Indeed, they didn’t end up with a bidding war or anything. And it’s hard to tell what to do during that time. Maybe a social media blast again?
This element might get better with time and more selling, or perhaps when I have a lot of items up at once instead of just one… Then if some things move but not everything, well, that’s okay. But when it’s one big item? Come one, bid! Bid high! BUY IT NOW!
The Confusing – Re-Listing If It Doesn’t Sell
So I have to say, this is actually a pretty nice element for eBay – it saves all of your information and photos for re-listing the item. Then it gives some hints on things to adjust to maybe be found or to sell. So especially things around the price – what can you change there? And again, I had the unhelpful huge range from $0.99 to hundreds of dollars.
And this is the confusing thing – what should I do? How should I re-list? Major edits? Minor? More pictures? New price or bidding scheme?
The first time I re-listed, I just dropped my prices a bit. It didn’t sell again. For the third time, I did some more looking and digging. Here’s where I found out the Lizardmen had become the Seraphon – so people playing the game looking for models would likely be looking for that term! I unfortunately also lowered my price again, and I wonder if maybe I didn’t need to. This listing finally ended up with a bidding war (which was unfortunately only going up like a dollar at a time… so maybe some auto-bids versus a live human). So it didn’t drive up too high over my starting bid price.
The Good – Shipping Cost Estimator
Alright, it finally sold! It had been weeks, at this point, with three listings. I used some of the shipping materials I had received from buying (though I saw somewhere a thing from eBay saying they would send you shipping materials – I may have to use this next time!) and got everything carefully loaded up into the box to send. I weighed and measured it, and used the eBay postage system, curious about the shipping it had estimated – especially because I felt like it had lost some of the settings I had put in about the estimated dimensions and weight for the shipment!
And while it was not precise, by golly, it was within a dollar for the shipping cost! I think not in my favor, but I also think I sent it Priority Mail so that’s pretty good. It was a good sized box for a whole army, and from Alaska, so it getting the shipping right to within a dollar was great – it meant that I left alone the amount that eBay charged my buyer (I think there’s ways to change this, since I know some people I bought from did so with combining shipping!) and I called it good.
This is an important element for me both on the buying and selling end, one of the main reasons I turned to eBay in the first place. The fact that it’s accurate on both accounts is really excellent, and I applaud them for this!
The Annoying – Not Getting Money As a New Seller
And then… nothing. I went to look, and apparently when you’re new to selling, eBay holds the funds for weeks, waiting for confirmation from the buyer (presumably) that they received the product. And… dang it, that makes sense.
Some of what got to me, though, is it sounds like there is a limit on this – like, if I had sold for a bit more, I would have gotten the money sooner? Who knows. It also got to me as a system because I’m not the sort of person to do reviews of sellers or items (like Amazon is always asking you to do), so sorry people I’ve bought from but it’s true! I now realize I may have held up someone else by not reviewing my purchase, and for that I’m sorry.
So I’m annoyed with eBay for giving me this guilt!
I finally got the money, though, and in less than the maximum, so there we go. And hopefully I won’t have the same issue in the future as I start selling more!
The Annoying – Additional, Random, and Inconsistent Fees After the Fact
I didn’t mention it above, but when listing and re-listing there were boxes with mentions of fees but then a mention of “free.” At least for my sale. But then, after the fact, fees started showing up. I paid for the shipping through eBay, so that was one thing. Then it seems eBay maybe takes 10% of the sale? I don’t know. I saw several different fee numbers, in invoices sent, PayPal statements, and then it seemed to be deducted from the amount I eventually received… which did not add up based on the other numbers I had seen.
In the end, I have no idea what eBay charged for the sale, nor exactly why. eBay getting a cut just seems like something to keep in mind when listing items – don’t go too low – but it makes sense. And I may continue to use them for the postage. And 10% is just less of a concern on smaller listings – but it felt like a big chunk of my big army sale, and I again wish I had known to have listed a bit higher! But it’s done, it’s gone, and my mind is clearly churning for the next sales.
Thanks for reading to this point in my two-post series about getting my head wrapped around eBay! I hope you liked it and maybe you learned something. If you have something to teach me, definitely let me know in the comments below! Or any stories from using eBay, great finds or horror stories or whatever. I’d love to know!