eBay Auction Bidding Strategies--Overcoming the most Frustrating Situation on eBay
It's happened to the best of us.
You've been watching the auction all week, and finally you're about to claim your prize--a rare bronze statue from the Qing Dynasty. Or something just as tantalizing.
You log on a few minutes before the auction closes, and confirm that you're still the top bidder -- no one has challenged you in several days. You're already picturing "your" statue prominently displayed on the living room mantelpiece, your friends green with envy as you tell them about the great deal you got on eBay. You refresh the page a few times, to make sure you're still number 1. You even up your bid a little just to make sure no body tries to outbid you at the last minute.
50 seconds to go...30...10...the auction has ended and the statue is yours!! You refresh the page for the last time so you can see your eBay ID announced as the winning bidder. And that's when your heart drops to your toes. It's not your eBay ID at all, but some joker who calls themselves "SpeedyFingers123".
How could this have happened?
You were the winning bidder with only 10 seconds to go!! Speedy or not, it just doesn't seem humanly possible.
Well, you're right. No one is that fast. SpeedyFingers123 (I made that one up, so if it's your actual eBay ID, please don't sue me!) won the auction in the final 4 seconds. It isn't humanly possible because "speedy" didn't actually place the bid. The bid was place on his or her behalf, from a remote server, using something called Bidding Software.
You've Been Sniped!
The act of placing a bid during the final seconds of an online auction is called "Sniping" and it's perfectly legal on eBay. Bidding wars and sniping are an eBay sellers dream and a buyer's nightmare. Why, you're asking yourself, don't these people just use eBay's trusty proxy bidding process? Why not just discreetly enter the maximum they're willing to pay at the beginning of the auction, then let the cards fall where they may? Well, for a couple of reasons. First, it's not human nature. If all you have to do is outbid the next guy by fifty cents or even five dollars to win, wouldn't you?
Second, it doesn't make economic or strategic sense to place a bid anytime before the last five minutes of an auction.
Think about it. eBay encourages bidders to use the proxy system and place bids early. What this means is that an inexperienced bidder who wants an item will want to be the highest bidder right away, and will keep upping their bid to hold that winning position. They'll only stop when the bidding exceeds their budget. Then the next guy comes along and continues the process. If this starts at the beginning of a seven or ten day auction, and ends with a bidding war in the last 10 minutes, the final price for the item can spiral out of control. Many items sell for far more than fair market value because people get caught up in "bidding fever" -- all they want is to WIN, they're not even thinking about whether the price is realistic.
What to Do?
A better strategy would be for everyone to "watch" the auction until the very end. Again, there's two good reasons. One, the price doesn't spiral up as just illustrated. Two, the auction has zero bids, so it attracts fewer bidders-- less competition. It's a fact that once an auction has at least 1 bid, it becomes a magnet for additional bidders. Shoppers scanning an auction page tend to jump to the ones with bids, figuring there must be something that attracted other bidders. The more bids, the more interesting the item looks.
Wouldn't it be great if a seller started a two carat diamond ring at $0.99 and no one bid until the last five minutes, and they all bid in fifty cent increments? Someone might win the ring for just a few bucks!! Of course, that never happens, but it would be the ideal situation for a buyer-- and it would put eBay out of business in a hurry. eBay encourages early bidding and smiles upon the snipers of the world. eBay makes their profits on listing fees and "final value" fees. The more the item sells for the higher the "final value". This makes eBay very happy. That's why you'll never find any tutorials anywhere on eBay telling you to wait until the end of an auction to bid.
OK, so now that we understand the benefits of sniping, lets get back to our friend "SpeedyFingers123". Speedy probably started out in life just like I did. She learned everything she knew about eBay from eBay and never realized there was such a thing as bidding software. Never knew a computer could do your sniping automatically, bid on your behalf in the last 2 to 8 seconds of an auction, and do it while you're asleep. With sniping software, you tell the software program which auctions you're interested in and how much you're willing to pay. eBay never knows you've seen the auction until your friendly sniping service swoops in and places your bid with only seconds to spare. Neither does your competition. They never see you coming. The only way you can lose is if someone else uses the same program sets their maximum bid higher than yours.
(Yes, my friend, you can still lose. There's no guarantee of winning an auction no matter what system you use, if someone else is willing to pay more. If you set your maximum bid at a million dollars for a hunk of Elvis' belly button lint and some nut is willing to pay a million ten, you're still going to lose!)
"Bidding Fever" Cured
Let's face it, there IS a positive side to losing an auction. It's the satisfaction of knowing that you didn't lose your head and spend more than you could afford!! Trust me, I've been there, done that, and come to regret it. With sniping programs, you can "set it and forget it" and walk away knowing that if you don't win, you couldn't have afforded it anyway.
What's that I hear you saying? "But I could have had it if I'd just upped my bid by another fifty cents!" Hey, did you listen to anything I just said? Do you want to drive yourself nuts? It's only stuff, after all. You can't take it with you, and there will always be more. The beauty of eBay is that there will probably be another just like it, or at least something just as fabulous.
You're in Control
There's another big advantage to using bidding software. Two things, actually. First, sniping programs allow you to do something called "contingency bidding". Suppose you're interested in several very similar items and you want to win at least one of them but not all. Provided they're not all ending at the same time, you can create a contingency plan telling the bidding software to cancel your bids on the other items as soon as you win one of them.
Second, you can change your mind about an item you're bidding on at any time (except in approximately the last 15 minutes). On eBay, it's a huge "no-no" to retract a bid. You can only do this under the most dire of circumstances. Do it too many times you'll be politely asked to leave. Permanently. But, because eBay doesn't register your bid until the Sniping program enters it for you, (at the very end of the auction) you can cancel your "snipe" with no penalty. You're canceling what you've programmed into the sniping software, not an actual bid on eBay. Isn't that nice? No more "watching" an auction you're unsure about, and then forgetting to bid on it. No more babysitting your computer so you can be there for the final moments of the auction. No more finding out you've read the description wrong and you're bidding on an item you don't want. Or finding something you like better after you've already committed yourself to another item, and having to pass on it. (Or worse, spending way too much on both!) And, finally, you have the satisfaction of knowing that winning doesn't depend on the speed of your fingers or your internet connection.
Believe me, the first time you snatch an item away from SpeedyFingers123-- or anyone else for that matter-- you'll be hooked.
© 2004 NetBrainer LLC. An eBay Power Seller and rabid eBay shopper, Carolyn Schweitzer is the owner and editor of "NetBrainer", a site dedicated to improving the performance of buyers and sellers on eBay. (You can learn more about sniping programs at NetBrainer.com ). Carolyn also provides weekly recorded tips on eBay for "Third Mind USA Small-Biz radio".
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The Webs Best Online Auction Sites
The best online auction links for buyers and sellers are - not surprisingly - eBay, eBay and eBay. eBay began the entire wacky world of online auctions back on the Labor Day weekend of 1995.
Making Money On EBay Can Be So Simple, Just Let Somebody Else Do All The Hard Work For You
OK, so you've been bitten by the eBay bug!You've ransacked the attic, the basement and every other room in your home to find things to sell on eBay.When friends and neighbors ask you where everything has gone, you tell them that you're going for the "Minimalist Look".
USP on eBay
If you have dabbled at all in the world of Internet marketing, you may have heard the term "unique selling proposition" or USP. USP is a technique that Internet marketers use to set themselves apart from the competition.
How to Survive the Jungles of Ebay Selling
Come with me, we are going to take a safari into the jungles of eBay selling, sometimes wrought with danger but most often rewarded with treasure.Beware of non-paying bidders, beware of auction snipers waiting to try and steal your eBay auction at a very low bid, but welcome the loot you will receive selling outdated relics in your house for a small kings ransom.
Selling on eBay? Heres a Success Tip for Your Online Auctions
Are you planning to sell on eBay? Or have you tried in the past but not had much success with your online auctions? If so, here's a strategy that has worked very well for me.In my experience, the auction lots where I created a useful collection of related items got more bids and closed at higher prices than auction lots that were all one thing.
Royal Memorabilia -Smart Trading and Fake Dodging
This is my second article about trading royal memorabilia on eBay and other online auctions. We're going to explore just what items are really tradable, how and where to find your stock and mention some definite pitfalls to avoid.
Traditional Marketing Techniques for eBay Auction Ads
Ya know, I sort of giggle when I look at an ad on eBay that's just a black and white description of the item or product that's up for bid. It wasn't long ago at all that I would have done the exact same thing, but once I understood some traditional marketing techniques, not just been exposed to them; everything looked totally different.
The Effects of eBay on American Merchandising
With one brilliantly simple idea, eBay was born just a few short years ago.From its humble beginnings in the Collectibles business, it went on to achieve the lofty heights it enjoys today.
Using Paypal for eBay Purchases
Paypal is the preferred payment choice for many buyers because Paypal allows buyers to pay instantly for eBay purchases. In this article, we will review using Paypal on eBay from the buyer's point of view.
eBays Hot Selling Books, Find Out Which Books Sell & How To Find Them
Selling books on eBay can be a very lucrative business! There are eBayers who sell only books and make a nice little income doing it. Where do they get these books to sell? At thrift stores, estate sales, flea markets, book fairs, yard sales, library sales, grandmas attic, etc.
Buying At Auction: 6 Hints to Make You a Successful Bidder
Buying at auction, be it for stamps or coins, antiques or even cattle, can be one of the most exciting and profitable experiences possible. It can also be expensive and utterly frustrating.
From Ebay Zero To Power-Selling Hero: What It Takes
Have you ever wondered what it takes to be "the best of the best"; to outcompete everyone who tries to do what you are doing--and to keep them guessing exactly what it is that makes you so much better?If you've ever owned a commercial website before, you know who these people are: they're the ones who sell the same product as you, but make $200,000 each year doing it. They have top rankings on search engines, flocks of loyal visitors, and a mailing list with 500,000 subscribers.
How To Convert eBay Surfers into Bidders!
Do you know the phrase "A Call To Action"? Well, using "A Call To Action" on your eBay Auction could help increase your sales almost immediately. As outlined in my book "eBay Marketing Wholesale SourcePak" having the right product, at the right price is crucial.
Better Than Sliced Bread? Drop Shipping, The New Home Business Craze
Many of you will probably remember the days when the only way to start a successful home business was to join some sort of multi-level marketing program or sell makeup at parties. In those days, people would have to buy a membership in the 'program' along with an inventory of sample products that they would then sell to friends and coworkers at 'parties.
Mail Order: The Original Internet Still Going Strong
While the world continues to go catatonic over the Internet and its endless possibilities, there's another industry quietly going about its business, piling up profitable year after profitable year after profitable year. What industry is that? It's the mail order industry--or as I prefer to call it, "the original Internet!"Yes, long before the birth and explosion of the Internet, mail order shopping was a hugely popular and preferred method of doing business--and still is.
eBay Consignments: The Giant Opportunity Hiding on eBay (Part I)
More and more, people are becoming aware that they have potential cash sitting in their closets, attics, and basements. But not everyone has the time or the know-how to tap into it, so these items remain where they are or are given away.
To eBay or NOT to eBay
FACT: eBay's Gross Merchandise Sales (GMS) 2003 - GMS, the total value of items sold, was a record $24 billion, representing a 60% year-over-year increase from the $15 billion reported in the full year 2002FACT: Over 79 million times a day, eBay users find products and brands of their choice.FACT: In the final quarter of 2003, reported and increase of 41.
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