Once again, I’ve used the Ebay tools to make a pricing error, so maybe some folks will get a big discount. I’m not going to shut off the sale, so, check it out.
This article is for both buyers and sellers.
Ebay has two ways to reduce prices to push sales: markdowns, and promotions.
Markdowns are either “$x off” or “x% off” selected items. These show up like this:
Promotions are “cross promotions” and are added to your order if you use the shopping cart feature. These aren’t visible until you go to the product page, and see the offer below the product photo.
So, you should always scroll down and see if there’s another discount!
These discounts add up. You could be saving 30% off the regular price, and then an additional 20% off the sale price, for a total of 44% off.
That’s my pricing error: I didn’t realize these discounts stacked up. I felt like I should have offered a smaller discount for quantity sales. Why smaller? Because cross promotions don’t affect the price visible in the search results. You have to win the price war against other sellers, first, to get the customer to view your page, to see the promo. Then you need to convince the customer to buy more stuff; I don’t have a large enough inventory to make that realistic.
Another shopper tip: look at the product pages for more than one listing, because there may be “hidden promotion discounts” in the listings.
Types of Ebay Promotions
- Simple discounts of x% or $x
- Buy 1 get 1 free style quantity discounts
- There are numerous types of these, like buy 1 get 5 for 50% off, and you can set the quantities and amounts of discounts.
- Get a discount when you buy some quantity of items
- Get a discount when you spend a certain amount of money
- Shipping discounts
These seem simple enough, but, because I’m a “learn by doing” type of person, I had to make a few of these promotions to understand how they work.
The sad part is that these promotions haven’t worked for me, so far. Mainly, it’s my fault, because I didn’t understand that the goal was to get the customer to buy more stuff.
Promo Fails, and Remedies
I don’t see these cross promotions working well for long-tail items, because those are sales you get because someone is searching for your exact product. Once they find it, they buy it. They may not even bother to use the “Best Offer” option, if you have that available.
The few multiple item sales I’ve had were for similar items. So if I have multiples of one product, or two similar products, or products that work with the same machine, the customer may make more than one purchase. Ebay cross promotes your store inventory for you, if the categories and titles are similar.
I’m not counting “lotting up” a few items into one listing, which sellers do when they want to move slow-selling items.
While I was starting to sell this hoard of ephemera, I initially sold things in lots. I got much less money for a few items, probably because my lots weren’t searchable. They were too heterogeneous to allow me to write a good title, and, consequently, couldn’t be found in Google searches, and couldn’t command long-tail prices.
So a lot needs to comprise similar products. This means identical sizes for clothes, items from a series for publications, parts for one specific machine, etc.
My strategy changed, to first listing each item individually. This allows me to see if each item, individually, can get views. If they can, then they can be left to sell on their own. I should run a cross-promotion discount on them to encourage multiple sales, but I haven’t yet.
For example, I discovered that anything “LAPD” will get views, and sell.
If similar items don’t get many views, individually, maybe they can be lotted up, and treated like an extremely long-tail item. At the very least, you save on listing fees, and can offer a lower cost-per-item. I have some magazines that got less than 10 views each during a 10-day listing, so I lotted them up.
My hope of selling those magazines is pretty low, but I like them, so I’ll try.
Promotions allow you to keep things separate, but let the customer “lot up” the similar items, and get a discount.
The Hidden Promo: Auctions
Ebay encourages you to use auctions to sell items quickly and at a low price. So, shoppers should always try to use the search filters to find auctions.
Normally, sellers use auctions to get a maximum price for a popular item, but Ebay encourages sellers to use auctions to sell things at a low price.
When something isn’t selling in the Collectibles or Clothing categories, I will list it as an auction, because Ebay has given me 250 “free” auction listings for those categories, so I want to use these listings to free up the other 250 “free” Buy It Now listings.
I don’t set the price to 99 cents. I will set it to a price that’s comfortable for me, but lower it over time if there’s not enough interest. In any event, these “auctions” are really just discounted sales prices for long-tail items.