Q: Do you have any advice for using eBay reserve price on auction listings? I sell high-end watches, and I want to preserve my investment, but I’m worried about scaring away bidders by setting a reserve.
A: Setting an eBay reserve price is one way to ensure you don’t take a loss on a listing, but reserve pricing can be tricky business. As you point out, bidders tend to avoid auctions with reserve prices.
If you want to ensure your items don’t sell for less than a certain amount, try experimenting with fixed-price listings using the Best Offer option.
The best way to use ‘Best Offer’
If you decide to go the fixed-price with Best Offer route, list the item at a price slightly above the eBay reserve price you would have used. Then on the Best Offer settings, set it to accept an offer over the amount you want to get.
Here’s an example. Before, you may have listed something with a starting price of $50, but set an eBay reserve price of $75. With the fixed-price, Best Offer option, you could instead list the item for $85 or the best offer, and set it to accept offers of more than $75.Buyers might be more inclined to make an offer because they think they could get it for less than the asking price
This way, potential buyers won’t be put off by the “mystery” surrounding your reserve price. Plus, if they see the Best Offer option, they might be more inclined to make an offer because they think they could get it for less than the asking price. It’s a win for you and the buyer.
Another alternative is to simply start the bidding at the price you want to get and not to bother with the reserve at all.
A word about fees
If you’ve been taking advantage of eBay’s 50 free auction listings per month, switching to fixed-price will cost you more in listing fees. But remember that it costs $2 per listing to add an eBay reserve price.
Final value fees differ from auction to fixed-price, too, so it’s a good idea to do some cost modeling to figure out what’s going to make the most sense for you. I would even suggest running a few listings side by side in each format to see which perform best for your products.
I hope this helps. Good luck.