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The Science of eBay

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the on-the-auction-block dept.

136

PreacherTom writes "Professors of marketing, economics, management, and psychology have published dozens of papers to try to explain how and why eBay users buy and sell online. At the same time, there is no shortage of people offering helpful hints online. Kerry Miller takes a novel approach, offering 10 tips to maximize your profit that are based on a summary of these scientific analyses, rather than just 'educated' guessing."

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2nd post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16071801)

You know it's not the first

1st post! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16071820)

Oh, goddamed time machines!

That is not science... (5, Insightful)

Funkcikle (630170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071815)

...and describing it as such is just yet more "puffery" intended to get people to look at THAT guide instead of others, thus driving up ad revenue.

Most of the tips are common sense or obvious to people who have used eBay a few times, to both buy and sell.

Along the same lines... (3, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071829)

You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

Re:Along the same lines... (4, Insightful)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071861)

It probably lies in the difference between knowing and doing. You can know something, but not act on that knowledge, and then after the fact say "oh, I knew I should have done XYZ". Of course, humans tend to forget the times that we were wrong about these guesses.

Most economics proffessors know that there is no sure-fire way to make money apart from saving and investing carefully. They know that just as many people lose money in the market as make it. But then again, you have some people that go to business school that don't teach, like Warren Buffet...

Just a like between action and knowledge. Most economics profs I would guess have a large amount of money in savings, bonds and blue chip stocks.

Re:Along the same lines... (4, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071877)

You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

I'm sure that there are plenty of people who are just happier in academia than in the "real world". If your needs are simple and you're going to make more money than you know what to do with either way, the person who delights in research is going to be content with a university position.

Please put on your RDFEG for testing purposes. (0, Troll)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072045)

your needs are simple and you're going to make more money than you know what to do with either way, the person who delights in research is going to be content with a university position.

I'm sorry, but you seem to have used the phrases "university position" and "more money than you know what to do with" in the same sentence. We are forced to view your comment through special Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field Effect Glasses to check for credibility. These glasses will be available at Mac stores soon, packaged as the new iSmackMyHeadInDisbelief.

Re:Please put on your RDFEG for testing purposes. (1, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072091)

Do you know how much a professor with just a few years behind him makes at a good American university? At least in the upper five figures, often in the six-figure range. Yes, that is more money than I would know what to do with. Plus, you can't beat the amount of vacation time you get, travel expenses if you go to conferences, etc. Sure, competition for such positions is stiff, but if you've got what it takes, why not go for it?

Re:Please put on your RDFEG for testing purposes. (0)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072157)

At least in the upper five figures, often in the six-figure range

Let's assume that upper five figures means $95,000 gross. After typical income taxes, health care premiums, retirement witholdings, etc., you're in for about $57k net, and that's assuming a LOW rate of saving for retirement. That leaves you with about $4750 to spend each month.

Now, when you're talking about university professors making $95k, you're talking about only some of them, and then only in larger metro areas. Given the cost of living in those areas, let's assume a few things: a mortgage payment of at least $1500 (or rent), a car payment and related monthly expenses of probably $500+. Utility bills, insurance, food (ever eat out?), child care, clothing, modest entertainment, the occasional frivality (a new camera? your National Geographic subscription? a gift for your spouse's birthday?). By the time the dust settles, you've got, at most, perhaps $1000 not yet spoken for every month. That assumes that (beyond your housing and car) you've got no debt to service. College loans that got you that academic position preparation? Some stray credit card bills? I just don't see the "more money than you know what to do with" factor playing in at all. Especially if you've got a couple of kids: they're going to need about $200k for college. It's ALL spoken for, dude.

And then: how about the much larger majority of professors, who make way, way less than that?

Re:Please put on your RDFEG for testing purposes. (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072364)

It's ALL spoken for, dude.


If 95k a year is all spoken for, how do people manage who make less than 95k? Surely then someone on 45k would be going 50k into debt every single year just through the costs of living.

Or maybe these economics professors are just being uneconomic with their money...

Re:Please put on your RDFEG for testing purposes. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072403)

If 95k a year is all spoken for, how do people manage who make less than 95k? Surely then someone on 45k would be going 50k into debt every single year just through the costs of living.

But that's my point. Someone who lives in a major metro area, proximate to the sort of high-end school that can actually pay a professor $95k, is going to have very high cost of living, and presumably doesn't live like a total hermit. Hence it's all spoken for. Someone who teaches at, say, the U of SD, is going to be living in a much, much less expensive environment, and can by on less income - though it's all spoken for too. Presuming you're doing things like saving for retirement. What I'm trying to counter, here, was that "it's more than you'd know what to do with" sentiment, which I found a little silly.

Re:Please put on your RDFEG for testing purposes. (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072793)

But that's my point. Someone who lives in a major metro area, proximate to the sort of high-end school that can actually pay a professor $95k, is going to have very high cost of living, and presumably doesn't live like a total hermit. Hence it's all spoken for.


So how do the lesser-paid professors, cleaners etc. at that same school manage to live?

Re:Please put on your RDFEG for testing purposes. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16073013)

So how do the lesser-paid professors, cleaners etc. at that same school manage to live?

Roomates. Hyundai sedans. Little or no savings. Less dinner out, no new flat panel TV. In other words, pretty much like most people. The real thing is having fewer dependents.

Re:Please put on your RDFEG for testing purposes. (1)

MattskEE (925706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072400)

All you've done is confirm the high cost of living. $95k gross a year is a pretty good living even in very expensive areas like Santa Barabara (where I live). From my experience in engineering, an electrical engineer fresh with a PhD can generally make $100,000 gross, capping out at around $175k as they get more experienced unless they invent something, move into higher management, or go somewhere highly specialized. To be an EE prof at a university, you would need the same PhD. The salary would probably start around $80k and cap around $120k unless the prof gets a big breakthrough in his research, or moves up higher in the ladder to department head (or something like that). Is there a difference? Yes, but both are very comfortable salary ranges, and for many professors, academia is where they want to be, which makes up for the fact that they're making less money than they would in the traditional job market. You also make the point that a lot of professors don't make $95k a year. This is true, but there is a very big difference between a professor at a nice university, and a professor at a community college or small state university. One of the primary differences is that at community colleges and smaller schools the professors are much less likely to do research. This isn't necesarily a bad thing, but why would you pay a professor who isn't actively doing research the same amount that you would to one who is merely a lecturer?

Re:Please put on your RDFEG for testing purposes. (0)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072444)

Because you don't pay a professor doing research anything at all. Professors recieving grants are expected to extract their salaries from the grant money, in addition to *paying for their offices* at exhorbitant, only a university-could-charge-it rent. Which is one of the reasons you see "teaching schools" and "research schools."

Professors recieving grant money can't really afford to waste their time.. teaching classes. They have to work on the research to keep the grant money coming in. Similarly, Grant-giving organizations would be silly to proffer grants on professors who insist on stooping to the level of teaching when they can get "research professors" with much more time on their hands.

Re:Along the same lines... (2, Funny)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071880)

Compare to Slashdotters who are out there making a fort... oh shit.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071895)

You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

Those Who Can't Do... Teach!

There is more to it than that, actually a lot more, but there is a BIG difference between knowing and doing.

I'm frequently astounded how many PhDs in computer science or something like human factors engineering teach this stuff for a living and do research in the fields, but they don't or can't do basic stuff in their field in their everyday life.

Regarding business, its completely different to study and have an interest in business but to not have the interest in doing business itself. There are legal issues, ass kissing/soul selling, compromises over beliefs/morals for profits, taxes, and all of these things. There is risk taking, where being a professor is not very risky.

Hmm, I know bunches of stuff, and I've been told that I'm bright enough to do anything successfully, but currently I'm moderately paid and am moderately OK with it because I'm also lazy and don't want the responsibility, risk taking, stress, and headache of taking over the world. Oh, and I used to correct my college professors when they were wrong like professors correct the "real world" when they are wrong :)

BTW, the 10 things there are really good tips in the article.

Re:Along the same lines... (3, Insightful)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071920)

i know parent is meant to be funny BUT IF a professor of economics isn't already wealthy and trading, etc. as a result of having worked private for many years before going to education... then the reason would be that they have no cash reserves with which to invest. Lots of people have what it takes mentally to be good traders, few people have what it takes financially. This is why most people are in 401k mutual funds, etc.... cause they just can't pull enough together at one time to invest independently.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071943)

Well, a) I was only semi-joking, as some business professors teach things that don't imply entrepreneurial ability, and b) I was talking about business, not economic professors. Most economics professors readily admit they can't come up with a strategy to consistently beat the market.

And the fact that they have no reserves saved up is a stupid reason, to be frank. The median age of business professors is, what, 50? And they don't have enough saved by then? Plus, they can find investors. So no, it's a non-excuse.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072176)

a) is there such a thing as a 'business' professor? business isn't academic... it's charm, savvy, legal and illegal deals.. how do you teach that? b) you don't have to 'beat' the market to make money, people do it every day.

c) err your next statement: median, right so there are economics profs who are 30 and still paying off their school loans and of course the luck few who have bad habits and drank, snorted, gambled, f@cked away their money shamelessly. Then there are the idiots who are smart enough to get a position teaching the stuff but too academic and afraid of risk to actually put it into practice.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072243)

Is that a serious response?

Re:Along the same lines... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16072030)

i know parent is meant to be funny BUT IF a professor of economics isn't already wealthy and trading, etc. as a result of having worked private for many years before going to education... then the reason would be that they have no cash reserves with which to invest.
Just how much money do you think is necessary? If they really knew half of what they claimed to know about the markets, they should be able to use leverage to turn a few thousand dollars into a million dollars in two or three years.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

Metex (302736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071924)

Stress, it is a huge reason why a professor doesnt. I rember a joke a doctor told me about lawyers when I went in for stress related heartburn:

"Anti-acid and prozac medication? It is the lawyer prescription."

Sadly he said that if my heartburn gets any worse he would suggest this presciption for me. This is probably the number one reason why a proffesor doesnt make tons of $$ in the real world since academics is no where near as stressfull and bodily distroying as running your own buissness

Re:Along the same lines... (4, Insightful)

Garse Janacek (554329) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071929)

Some are. My undergrad econ professor was a millionaire who consulted for major companies, but taught freshman-level econ anyway because he enjoyed it.

That may not be representative, but just because they're in academia doesn't mean there's no substance to what they're teaching. Some people just like teaching, or like the academic environment, or aren't interested in the sacrifices they'd have to make to really do well in business. Or have already done very well in business and are teaching from quasi-retirement, or whatever. You get the idea.

Re:Along the same lines... (2, Funny)

Funkcikle (630170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071945)

My undergrad econ professor was a millionaire who consulted for major companies, but taught freshman-level econ anyway because he enjoyed it.

Or did that so he could teach incorrect economics in order to keep all the money for himself, muahahahaha.

Same here... (1)

Optic7 (688717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072630)

I took a personal finance class at a local community college and the professor (who also teaches two investing classes) is a professional financial consustant, both for individuals and for companies or other organizations (pension funds, etc). He seems to be very well off. He said he taught these classes (only a couple of nights a week) because he would always learn something new from the students (cool new websites or whatever), and because he got a great deal on health insurance for doing it! He's a total money geek - heck, maybe he even reads Slashdot.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071957)

At the undergraduate university I attended, professors in the management and MIS departments were among the highest paid, and many of them own successful businesses or do consulting work on the side.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

queenb**ch (446380) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071985)

Hence our reference to them as PhD-retards....

Size of human brain = x

Knowledge of PhD in his field = x

Brain Power required for body functions (breathing, digestion, etc.) = 1

x x+1 this leaves no room for anything else.....

2 cents,

QueenB

Biz school different, those who teach also do ... (2, Insightful)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072005)

You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

Business programs are very different than scientific and engineering programs. I have BS and MS degrees in Computer Science. The MS degree was from a school near JPL, lots of part-time consulting gigs for profs and students. Now I'm working on an MBA. The relationship with industry is far more intimate with the business school. Prior to business school I believed in the "those who teach" line as well, now I know that the kernel of truth in that joke distorts the true big picture.

In my marketing class some of the cases we studied were anonymized consulting projects the prof had run. These were projects intitiated by execs at big oil, big movie studio, etc. And no, I'm not at some big name ivy league school. State university, well regarded but not one of the big names.

Several of the profs are semi-retired and having fun teaching after making millions. One is on his third career. 20 years in the Marines, 10 years with the company he founded, now teaching and consulting. Most of the professors do consulting for industry. They are hired to study organization problems, marketing/sale problems, etc. MBA and PhD candiates are often some of the grunts for these projects.

Networking. I did not fully realize the importance of networking before business school, but for business it is essential. Teaching is an amazing networking tool. You are generating hundreds of managers and execs who will be inclined to come back to the prof with their problems.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072113)


I always thought it was because the economics and benefits of becoming a professor with tenure was risk/work vs. rewards out there.

Employement effectively for life with a great pension at a large orgainzation with a stable customer-base and very little compitition. Sounds like a good deal.

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072291)

You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.


Why do some engineers work at companies instead of inventing things on their own? Why do some programmers become overworked code monkeys for someone else instead of on their own? Etcetera.

To branch out on your own takes some initiative, willingless to take hassles of entreprenuership that a 9-5 job doesn't have, and some guts.

Also, being a Professor has incentives on its own. It's more "pure," you get to deal in your subject all day if that is really your interest. You get to interact with a young crowd, some with fresh ideas - the rest looking at you with the wide eyes of a deer caught in the headlights when you ask them a question, or perhaps that perpetually bored/dumb expression of a zombie, some drool hanging off the sides of their mouth, as they wade through your lecture and are just waiting for the end of class to bolt out of the class they are only taking to fulfill requirements. :D At least it's better than being a high school teacher, as you can legally date the students!

Re:Along the same lines... (1)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072415)

You always have to wonder why business professors -- if they know so much about how to read the market -- aren't out there making a fortune instead of making less as a professor.

A followup to my previous comment:

Economics professors also know that market timing is dangerous, and not often sucessful. For example, I knew that the housing market was headed for a downturn over 2 years ago, and Warren Buffet said the same thing when he sold his beach house. So, you can know that something WILL happen, but you may not be able to know WHEN. Since using hedging instruments like Options, Shorting, or Futures, profit depends mostly on knowing what will happen and when. If the thing you predict happens just after the term of your short, option or future expires, you lose money, you don't make it.

So, even Buffett knew there was a problem in housing, (Google for the CNN story on him selling his house in 2005) but not even the Oracle of Omaha could tell you WHEN it would fall, but he gives great detail on why. The same priciple goes for many even harder sciences, you can know something will happen within a certain degree of accuracy, but the amount of error can vary widely. In the case of the world of finace, the margin of error must be taken into account in financial dealings, otherwise you could invest in say, a Commodity Future on Oil because you KNOW that XYZ is going to happen, and the cost of oil will go up (or down, depending on Future type). Now, say this thing does happnen, but it happens 3 days after your future contract expires. If it goes down like that, you could find yourself bankrupt instead of filthy rich.

Always remember, a huge segment of stock traders made fun of Buffett for saying that the dot com stocks were not grounded in fundametals. I think he said this in 1995 or 1996. He knew they were over valued, so he did not touch them because he had no knowledge of WHEN they would fall.

The best "market predictors" like Buffett move very slowly, and don't count on "market timing" because predcting the market is risky - even if you get all the other factors right, if your timing is off, you lose.

Re:That is not science... (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071986)

...and describing it as such is just yet more "puffery" intended to get people to look at THAT guide instead of others, thus driving up ad revenue.

Most of the tips are common sense or obvious to people who have used eBay a few times, to both buy and sell.

Indeed. The slashdot submission sounds like it was written by the author himself. That's the sort of thing that all of those "IBM Whitepaper" authors do.

As a one-time PhD student let me say... (1)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072164)

Only professors could publish dozens of articles on something this damn simple. I'm so glad I left academia and got a life and spend my career doing something useful.

Re:As a one-time PhD student let me say... (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | more than 7 years ago | (#16073028)

And what might that be, posting a comment on a Slashdot story about an article written praising the things these professors are doing? I'd say they are on the higher end of the "useful" scale than you in this case.

The Science of eBay (2, Insightful)

Wellington Grey (942717) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071818)

I don't know about anyone else, but I've about had it with eBay. It hasn't improved in the last five years and they slowly nickle and dime you to death. I'd love an article on The Science of Leaving eBay: ten reasonable alternatives.

-Grey [wellingtongrey.net]

Re: The Science of eBay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16071867)

I wish there were alternatives! There are a few niche alternatives, but if you're selling old crap from your attic/basement/garage/computer room, only ebay is going to put enough eyeballs on your auction.

Ebay Express (1)

neelm (691182) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072424)

I take it you didn't actually go to ebay in the last five years either. Ebay Express is a huge advancement - I wish more sites used the same search interface.

Re:Ebay Express (1)

Aokubidaikon (942336) | more than 7 years ago | (#16073414)

You obviously aren't a seller. Sales on eBay Express are terrible and so are eBay's recent fees.
I make around $7000 in sales monthly but pay around $1200 in fees. Crazy.
Most professional eBay sellers I know are seriously looking into spreading out to alternative sites or their own Zencart or OSCommerce sites because of recent fee hikes and lowered exposure of store listings.

There aren't any alternatives, that's the problem (1)

tentimestwenty (693290) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072665)

The reason people don't leave ebay is because there are no visible alternatives. eBay works because it is the ONLY option you have. If the market had a competitor with even 10% of the users it would probably be enough to turn the tides against eBay. You just need to fracture the audience enough and eBay's main selling feature will vanish. They're probably the most exposed company out there.

THE TIPS - ad free (5, Informative)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071825)

1. Set the starting price low (except for items you expect little interest in). Low starting prices stimulate auction traffic and get early bidders psychologically invested in the auction, leading to more completed sales and higher final prices. Professor Gillian Ku from London Business School and professors Adam Galinsky and J. Keith Murnighan from Northwestern found that Nikon cameras with starting prices of $0.01 resulted in significantly higher final prices than the average price for completed camera auctions.

An auction for a kitchen sink with a starting price of $225 ended without a single bidder. When re-auctioned with a starting price of $75, the sink sold for $275. The exception to the start-low rule: If you're selling an idiosyncratic item you don't think a lot of people will bid on, set a price closer to the item's actual value.

2. Use reserve prices with caution, especially for low-priced items. When using a low minimum bid, nervous sellers sometimes set secret reserve prices to make sure their item doesn't sell for less than the item's true value. Using reserves is a risky strategy for sellers, say professors at Stanford and the University of Arizona, because it reduces the probability that the auction will end in a sale.

In an experiment using Pokémon trading cards, they found that secret-reserve auctions on average resulted in fewer serious bidders per auction and lower final sale prices. However, other research suggests that for auctions of higher-priced goods (over $25), secret reserves might actually push revenues higher when the auctions end in a successful sale.

3. Use photos in your listings. Listings with photos receive much more traffic than listings without photos. Generally speaking, more traffic to your listing--especially on the first day of an auction--results in more active bidders, and the more bidders competing for an item, the higher the sale price. In one study at Stanford, researchers found that an extra bidder results in an 11.4% increase in auction revenue among all auctions, and a 5.5% increase for auctions in which there are least two bidders.

4. Don't flood the market. If you're selling multiples of an item, space them out, rather then selling them all at once, says Ku--that's simple supply and demand at work.

5. Spell-check. Misspellings decrease the amount of traffic an auction receives. Ku, Galinsky, and Murnighan found that Michael Jordan shirts listed "Micheal" went unsold almost twice as often as those that were spelled correctly. When sold, the misspelled brand names resulted in lower final sale prices.

6. Hype it up. Ku and Murnighan suggest that inserting blatant puffery like "This shirt is hot!! A must-have for the summer!!" into low-starting-price auctions could stimulate interest better than more straightforward listings, and possibly even raise final sale prices. Researchers at Stanford found that auctions which mention the high retail price in an item description sell for 7% more on average.

7. Hold longer auctions. Researchers from the University of Arizona and the University of Michigan found that longer auctions tend to fetch higher prices. While three-day and five-day auctions yield approximately the same prices, seven-day auctions are about 24% higher, and 10-day auctions 42% higher on average.

8. Don't end auctions during "eBay happy hour." Though it might seem counterintuitive, a University of Pennsylvania researcher found that auctions ending during peak hours on eBay are actually 9.6% less likely to result in a sale. The reason? More competition. About 35% of auctions end between 5 p.m. and 8:59 p.m., when 25% of bids are placed.

9. Charge for shipping--but not too much. Bidders don't pay much attention to shipping costs when placing bids, say professors at UC Berkeley and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. CDs listed with a starting price of one cent with $3.99 shipping averaged 21% higher final sale prices than CDs set with an opening price of $4 and no shipping charge. But when the professors listed CDs with a $2 starting price and a $6 shipping cost, five of the 20 CDs went unsold.

10. Avoid negative feedback. A Bentley College researcher found that sellers who have even a few positive reports are more likely than sellers who have no history to receive bids and to have their auctions result in a sale. Positively rated sellers also receive higher bids. One study by researchers at UC Santa Cruz and Ryerson University found that highly rated sellers are more likely to provide secure payment options, such as PayPal, as well as detailed product information.

Hype it up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16071840)

Hyping it up just turns me off!

Why? Because everytime something is hyped it is over-hyped and I'm ALWAYS disappointed in what I get: whether it's movies, food, clothes, etc...

Hype is marketing obfuscation.

Re:Hype it up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16071865)

everytime something is hyped it is over-hyped and I'm ALWAYS disappointed in what I get


Except for the awesome, civilization-changing Segway. No disappointment there. Nope.

Re:THE TIPS - ad free (2, Interesting)

Ancil (622971) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071885)

Ad free?

Looks to me like you've simply replaced Business Week ads with Slashdot ads.

Business Week had to pay the author who wrote this story, out of its ad revenues. What right does Slashdot have to those revenues?

Re:THE TIPS - ad free (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071966)

Business Week had to pay the author who wrote this story, out of its ad revenues. What right does Slashdot have to those revenues?
What right does the author have to the payment? I ask since some of ther points are common sense, some are actually posted on the eBay site itself as selling advice.

There's nothing, nothing at all, in this article I haven't seen in many other places on the web.

Re:THE TIPS - ad free (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072642)

What right does the author have to the payment?

Because he wrote it, and you didn't. Regardless of the effort you think went into the article, he at least did something instead of sitting on his ass steling other people's work.

Re:THE TIPS - ad free (2, Interesting)

macaddict (91085) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071912)

I won't click on auctions that have "hype" in the listing. My first thought is "What's wrong with it? Why are they having trouble selling it that they need to hype it?" Hype on the description page will also make me go look elsewhere. A clear, concise and detailed description, that looks like somebody put some thought into it, is what will get me to consider the item. I mostly buy books, so pictures are a big plus--I can see what edition is for sale and get a basic idea of the condition. I don't bother with Reserve auctions at all. Either start with what you're willing to sell it for or forget it--I don't have time to play games of "Guess the minimum bid!".

More and more I've been going to Amazon for used books, though. No auction to wait through and the prices are often much lower.

Re:THE TIPS - ad free (1)

nursegirl (914509) | more than 7 years ago | (#16073134)

I pretty much always use Amazon and Alibris for my used books. Only occassionally do I see a first edition signed piece of goodness that makes it worth my time to put up with the royal inconvenience that is Ebay.

Re:THE TIPS - ad free (-1, Flamebait)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071950)

Fucking karma whore. If you don't have something to contribute to the discussion, please go find some other, less obnoxious way to justify your worthless existence.

Suck my cock, you simpleton (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16072208)

How's that for a contribution, douche? Go whine somewhere else.

Re:THE TIPS - ad free (0, Troll)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072582)

Contrary to popular belief, nobody really cares about their "karma" on slashdot, except for maybe the 13 year olds. It is kinda dumb, you know.

Can't agree with 2 and 9. (2, Informative)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072011)

2. Use reserve prices with caution, especially for low-priced items. When using a low minimum bid, nervous sellers sometimes set secret reserve prices to make sure their item doesn't sell for less than the item's true value. Using reserves is a risky strategy for sellers, say professors at Stanford and the University of Arizona, because it reduces the probability that the auction will end in a sale.

I can comment on that one. I generally avoid auctions with reserve prices. Usually the reserve is too high, and I hate the stupid mystery of how much the item is actually being auctioned for. If the seller doesn't want to sell the item for less than XX dollars, just make that the minimum price. There are generally other sellers who have the same item and will be more direct about their expectations, and I like that.

9. Charge for shipping--but not too much. Bidders don't pay much attention to shipping costs when placing bids, say professors at UC Berkeley and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. CDs listed with a starting price of one cent with $3.99 shipping averaged 21% higher final sale prices than CDs set with an opening price of $4 and no shipping charge. But when the professors listed CDs with a $2 starting price and a $6 shipping cost, five of the 20 CDs went unsold.

I call bullshit on that. Many people pay attention to shipping, and changes made in the last year to eBay's page display and search results make it harder to con people with inflated shipping charges becuase they are now shown much more prominantly in the auction.

Re:Can't agree with 2 and 9. (1)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072671)

I call bullshit on that.

You call bullshit on something someone observed and documented? They weren't pulling stuff out of their butts. It was a study.

Regardless, I'm with you -- I always pay attention to shipping, especially for international orders.

Re:Can't agree with 2 and 9. (1)

phyrra (986093) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072829)

I will often refrain from bidding on things from the UK these days because of the inflated shipping costs. (I'm located in the USA) I definitely pay attention to shipping because I'm not willing to get screwed by inflated shipping costs. Some things from the UK are fine, but I've seen different sellers who list shipping at 12 GPB for one shirt, and another who lists it for 3 GPB for the same service, so I just stay away from the high ones. Again, this is just a common sense thing.

They forgot #11... (2, Funny)

Lactoso (853587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072458)

11. Make sure the legalese on your auction is at least 10 to 20 times longer than the actual description of your item...

Shipping price is important (1)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16073574)

I pay a lot of attention to shipping prices. I'm sick of seeing "powersellers" who claim that it costs $95 to ship a USB thumb drive via the lowest and cheapest possible method, and then have the gall to charge $5 "required insurance" for a shipping method that includes insurance, or for a method where the actual insurance for the value of the item is only $1. I often send these people nasty comments. They're pricks and more of what ruins ebay. Ebay when asked about their policies which these types of listings violates, regurgitates bullshit form letters about how much they love and trust their powersellers to set appropriate fees. Its amazing they can let go of their ankles long enough to send out the form letters.

From the article... (1, Informative)

theheff (894014) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071836)

7. Hold longer auctions. Researchers from the University of Arizona and the University of Michigan found that longer auctions tend to fetch higher prices. While three-day and five-day auctions yield approximately the same prices, seven-day auctions are about 24% higher, and 10-day auctions 42% higher on average.

I disagree with this statement. In my experience, the length of the auction, especially when the item is widespread, makes little difference in final sale price. This is easy to tell if you're a seller on eBay... just watch your counter when you put up a long auction. Buyers usually compete close to the auction's close. It doesn't matter if your auction is listed for 10 days if no one sees it until the 10th day. The only point to having a long auction is if your item is rare or odd, so people will eventually stumble across it. I believe the research numbers may be skewed here because sellers will list items of more importance for longer periods of time because it has ore value, contrary to items that have less valuable. Just my opinion.

Re:From the article... (2, Insightful)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071899)

Did you collect and analyze data from ebay, like the researchers? No, you say? Then what makes you think your opinion matters?

Re:From the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16072237)

Did you collect and analyze data from ebay, like the researchers? No, you say? Then what makes you think your opinion matters?

He says he has experience. Do you know how much he has? Sometimes long-term experience is more meaningful than some specific metrics which were collected over a shorter time.

I rather thought what he had to say was spot on.

Re:From the article... (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072636)

Really? The PhD committee who gave Arrhenius the lowest passing grade for his ionic dissociation theory had more experience than almost anyone in the world in working with molecules, and they assured him that atoms couldn't hold a charge. The ancients knew from hundreds of years of writings that the stars don't move. Decades of experience had taught chemists that chlorofluorocarbons were safe. And _everyone_ knew that neutrinos are massless. All these long-term experiences were shot down by measurement and analysis taken in short periods of time.

Re:From the article... (1)

twistedcubic (577194) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072634)

You don't consider collected data from personal experiece as collecting data?

Re:From the article... (1)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072776)

The human brain collects and remembers data in insanely selective, limited, and warped ways. It's not exactly like theheff has a list of auction times and final prices in a sorted list in his head.

Re:From the article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16072093)

Wow, and your unsubstantiated anecotal opinion is valid over people who have actually studied the topic (you know, with actual data and numbers and stuff) because....?

Re:From the article... (1)

ydrol (626558) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072890)

I disagree with this statement. ... It doesn't matter if your auction is listed for 10 days if no one sees it until the 10th day.

I think the point is that a longer auction generates more potential bidders/watchers who may then hold off bidding until the final hours. People do see it they just dont bid on it right away.

Re:From the article... (1)

mencomenco (551866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16073051)

Quite true, theheff. Really expensive goods seem ot me to sell best on eBay as "Store Items" not auctions. There are comparatively few buyers at high prices, but exposure is unlimited and some negotiation is possible. I have nego'ed a "Best Offer" up from $1000 to the full $3750.00 listing price.

Part of the fraility of academic eBay analyis is that researchers devoid of practical experience are studying an operation which is seriously contemptuous of the hands that feed it, ie. sellers. What happens on eBay is far less interesting to eBay senior management than what happens to eBay stock on Wall Street.

After a couple thousand auctions, my reaction to TFA is that these profs researched "eBay, the Toy Marketplace," not "eBay, the Business Bazaar." The items they studied were worth peanuts - Pokemon cards and cheap Nikons for instance. And had large volumes, probably because it's easier to peer review & publish statistical analysis of large populations.

Let 'em start some experimental buy/sell in the $500 - $5000 range (spectrophotometers, gas chromatographs, inspection microscopes, Cisco switches) and let's see what they learn. One condition - they must auction, pack and ship the actual goods. No "thought experiments."

Then they'll have results worth applying.

For what it's worth, when I got my MBA in the late 1970's we had only one weathy prof -- but he owned/ran Continental Airlines, a very large autoparts OEM, an international copper mining conglomerate, a large chunk of Las Vegas AND one of the Hawaiian Islands. Taught me that the best way to get rich is to be born wealthy and work hard. Bill Gates comes to mind in that respect too, but not IMHO such a great guy to have a beer with.

I hate ebay (0, Offtopic)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071837)

For most items it is cheaper to get them elsewhere. Especially once the shipping and customs charges are added. Ebay is only worthwhile for hard to find items, IMHO.

Re:I hate ebay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16071845)

Well what do you expect when you purchase outside your country?!

Re:I hate ebay (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072015)

It's the same domestically. The shipping charge scam often makes the discount you'd expect buying from a "garage sale" dwindle to such an extent, it's more rational to pay an extra couple percent to a) have the item today, b) have a place you can actually return it if it is defective, and c) have the certainty that you actually will receive it.

Re:I hate ebay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16072338)

For most items it is cheaper to get them elsewhere. Especially once the shipping and customs charges are added. Ebay is only worthwhile for hard to find items, IMHO.

eBay is worth watching for the occasional bargain. I got a 2 month old $3,500 (AU) IBM TP Z60t (with metal cover) for my GF, for under $1,600. We still have the remaining warantee, according to IBM/Lenovo and have the option to purchase a warrantee extension. It is an awesome machine too. Nothing wrong with it. The seller just bought something he later realised did not match his needs and then set the reserve at around $1,500. Not one person bid until there was less than 60 seconds to go. I watched, astonished, that nobody touched it leading up to the end. 0 bids all the way. I figured I was up against other snipers only. I also wonder how many of those people checked how much the optional upgrades bumped the original price up to, since they didn't bid much. They just went a few bucks over the known reserve. I bid $2,100 or so with about 8 seconds to go. Only at the end did I know that I was up against another 3 snipers who either didn't really value this machine very well or didn't feel it was worth it. I would not have regretted $2,100 for this really nice machine. I am envious of my GF with her nice TP and I have a $5,000 Sony VAIO, which is nowhere near as well built as her TP.

My 2 cents (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16071848)

Buy low. Sell high.

That'll be $1 for the advice and $11.95 for shipping.

No C.O.D's

A bit dear (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072048)

You're selling 2 cents for $12.95? I realise that the metal content makes them worth more than face value, but this is ridiculous.

Re:A bit dear (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072287)

No, he's selling 2 cents for $1 plus shipping. About par for eBay!

People just like to bid... (5, Insightful)

cjkeeme (980951) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071863)

It's funny that many of the auction that I have seen on eBay actually close higher then if you had bought it at a retail store.

Re:People just like to bid... (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072027)

Its funny that many of the auction that I have seen on eBay actually close higher then if you had bought it at a retail store.

Its a known and studied phenomenon. What happens is that under "normal" economic transactions, people are trying to optimize bang for buck with little variables like convenience (eg, paying more at a convenience store), supply/demand (eg, movie theater soda prices), paying slightly more for the illusion or reality of support vs buying it second hand, etc.

But, many of these rules go out the window when in an auction environment. What happens, is the price outweighs "winning" the auction, and the desire to win can outweigh logic, reason, convenience, supply/demand, and all that. An example is when someone will pay for something online via eBay and pay more for something vs just going to the store and buying it. But hey, that is the price of winning, right?

Re:People just like to bid... (1)

Shanep (68243) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072422)

It's funny that many of the auction that I have seen on eBay actually close higher then if you had bought it at a retail store.

Yes, I've been amazed to also see this happen. I tend to use Google to find the lowest prices if I'm looking to buy something and Google normally comes back with the same few local (30min drive max) vendors I buy from anyway. It seems that eBay items typically go for cheaper than the RRP you'd pay at $BIGNAME_MERCHANT_AT_THE_MALL, but often more expensive than the brand new item from the cheapy local asian computer shop, for example.

Shop around! Google and haggle.

Re:People just like to bid... (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072810)

Depending on what the item is that isn't necessarily a bad thing because the retail tax added on might still be more than the shipping that would be incurred when buying online to the point where retail price+tax ends up still being higher than bid price+shipping in which case the ebay user ends up spending less of course. Usually this only works for high priced items where the in-store tax would be high.

eBay Bubble (0, Flamebait)

You're a dick! (1001433) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071872)

There has to be a bubble that will burst for eBay sometime. It truly is just an online junk sale.

Here's another good reason eBay works... (3, Insightful)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071892)

In bad times, people sell stuff. In good times they buy. Either way eBay is making $$$.

Same reason alcohol is great: drink to forget (bad times), drink to celebrate (good times).

Re:Here's another good reason eBay works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16071921)

In each transaction there's a buyer AND a seller.

Re:Here's another good reason eBay works... (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072407)

Same reason alcohol is great: drink to forget (bad times), drink to celebrate (good times).

Simpsons did it!

Alcohol: The cause of and solution to all of life's problems!

Weak article... (1)

Tayween1 (1000406) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071905)

Not exactly rocket science there. People use Ebay because auctions are fun. Only those who use it a lot realize just how poorly it is executed.

My own tips from almost 4 years ago (3, Insightful)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071922)

Originally from this Usenet posting. [google.com]

Updated:

Don't post stuff in lots. Auction stuff off separately because you'll have a hard time finding someone who wants all of it, but you will get bombarded with annoying emails from people interested only in one or two items who want you to break up the lot. Instead, list everything the same day, mention in each item description that you've got other items that complement this item, and create a link to all your current auctions (assume people won't think to click on the official eBay "View seller's other auctions" link).

Having nice, large photos of everything will encourage a higher final value. People like to know what they're buying.

Having detailed descriptions will cut down on having to answer the same question a hundred times from prospective bidders.

Make the auctions run for at least 5 days, so patient people who like to search and zero in on low-priced items they need will be able to put you in their watch list-- more watchers in the beginning means more people competing with each other and driving up the price at the end.

Time the start of the auctions so they end on a Sunday evening, but before 8pm-- when people are almost certain to be home but aren't yet glued to the TV. (But definitely don't end it the night of the Super Bowl!)

I have used the above tips for years, with great success.

~Philly

Re:My own tips from almost 4 years ago (0, Troll)

boingo82 (932244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072040)

I disagree completely on the lots. I just plain don't bid on things unless they're in a lot. Not worth my time and money to find 10 separate auctions and try to win them all and then have to dick around with the shipping arrangements. eBay is only cost-effective when you're buying in quantity. Likewise as a seller, once you factor in the listing fee, photo fee, bolding fee, BIN fee, overall fee scale, etc etc you can easily save $20 by putting like items together. Let alone the time involved in listing separate auctions and dealing with the multiple buyers.

FWIW, I never once got an email from someone who wanted to break up the lot. Not once.

I am not saying to make stupid lots, putting a bunch of unrelated crap together, but when you have like items that will be desired by the same buyer, combine them! Take great photos of individual items, describe everything in detail, and your "lot" auctions will be very successful. The reason so many "lot" auctions fail is that the seller just throws a pile of stuff on their floor and photographs it. You can't even tell what you're buying.

you contradict yourself (1)

512k (125874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072314)

in your posts you mention that it costs too much as a buyer, to buy things seperately. That means, that the seller is taking more of your money.

There are quite a few people who make a living buying lots, breaking them up, and flipping them on ebay. It's similar to buying a brand new car, vs. paying $200 for a washer fluid bottle, $80 for a badge, $50 for the mounting bracket for the badge, etc.. when the car is in an accident, and needs to be repaired.

Re:you contradict yourself (1)

boingo82 (932244) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072433)

It doesn't mean the SELLER is taking more of my money. It means eBay / UPS is taking more. This is good for neither seller nor buyer.

L@@K! Micheal Jordan (1)

AnimeRulez (621583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071934)

They forgot to add @'s to their listings.

10 ebay selling tips for only $1.00 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16071946)

shipping $12.99

Isn't it obvious... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071949)

I can scientifically predict that another book on how to be an eBay mega-seller will be hitting local bookstores in the near future.

Most important tip. (1)

Funkcikle (630170) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071953)

Tip Number 11 - Have a friend shill for you to drive up the price.

Re:Most important tip. (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072000)

Tip Number 12 - Steal a user id with high feedback -> List lots of items you don't have -> Run away -> Profit!

Tip Number 12a - A variant on the above. Buy 50 hot items (latest cell phones, etc) -> List all 50 for 25% of their retail price -> Get fantastic feedback -> Then list 10000 of the same item which you do not have -> Run away -> Serious profit!

There's no ???.

Corollaries (2, Insightful)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071963)

Many of the tips have corollaries for buyers. For example, if you're a buyer, search for misspellings, as the closing prices tend to be lower. I can see the big caveat to bidding on an auction with a reserve--you could end up the high bidder, but not a winner. Bidding on reserve auctions might work better for a buyer who needs a large quantity of a particular product--so losing one individual auction wouldn't be terribly frustrating.

Re:Corollaries (1)

Tsiangkun (746511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072001)

And look, there's a Magnetbox and Sorny!

Re:Corollaries (1)

sweetnjguy29 (880256) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072060)

I think you are drawing the wrong conclusion here. If you see a misspelling, it is a sign that it might be a bad deal, or that you have a disinterested or misinformed seller, or that the seller might be trying to rip you off. Thus, misspellings signal a risky transaction! But, as part of assuming that risk, there will be a lower price.

My 2 cents + 6 dollar shipping :-)

Re:Corollaries (1)

CmdrPorno (115048) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072301)

Like any other eBay transaction, you have to be careful, but I can see how someone would make a slight spelling error and not realize it. It wouldn't turn me off from placing a bid if their feedback score was up to snuff.

The Price of Shipping (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 7 years ago | (#16071987)

9. Charge for shipping--but not too much. Bidders don't pay much attention to shipping costs when placing bids, say professors at UC Berkeley and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. CDs listed with a starting price of one cent with $3.99 shipping averaged 21% higher final sale prices than CDs set with an opening price of $4 and no shipping charge. But when the professors listed CDs with a $2 starting price and a $6 shipping cost, five of the 20 CDs went unsold.

That really should be obvious. But a lot of sellers just don't seem to understand that blatant dishonesty works against them. I recently did a "buy it now" bid for an MP3 player that was listed at $1 for the player itself and $30 for "shipping". Fine, I thought, $31, shipping included — not a bad price for an MP3 player. What I failed to notice (because eBay doesn't list insurance charges prominently) was a mandatory $41 insurance charge. Sent an email to the seller asking how it could cost more than an item was worth to insure it, but all I got back was boilerplate email about how there's more to shipping costs than postage.

I finally decided to take the negative feedback hit from refusing to pay. (EBay was nice enough about lifting my nonpayment "first strike" when I explained the issues.) The item's still there, only the seller has realized that a bogus insurance charge is not a strong sellng point. So now it's listed at $1 with $71 for "shipping"! Some people just don't have a clue.

Excessive shipping isn't just to decieve the buyer (2, Insightful)

512k (125874) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072278)

it's because ebays fee structure, charges a percentage of the closing price, not the total bill (including shipping).

so if you sold an item for $100 with $5 shipping, ebay would bill you for their share of $100.

If you sold the same item for $1 with $104 shipping, ebay would bill you for their share of $1.

Buying electronics on ebay is more trouble than it's worth, because of this. The margins in that category are so slim, that the only people who can make any money, are the ones who have excessive shipping.

Re:The Price of Shipping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16072528)

So now it's listed at $1 with $71 for "shipping"!

They should be f*cking killed. No trial, no jury, just straight to execution.

A Sucker Is Born Every Minute (3, Funny)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072267)

I'm not sure why there's any need to overcomplicate this. eBay works *because* there are morons out there with way too much money.

Just make any ordinary item something *sound* special in some way, and start the pricing out with a number ending in ".95", and they jump on it like fleas. I've managed to sell numerous used items time and time again at above retail prices, because of this.

Remember kids, it's not lying if it can't be proven wrong.

6. Hype It Up (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#16072401)

I'll think about it next time I have something to sell

"This PowerMac 6500 power supply unit is hot!! A must-have for the summer!!"

Besides that, everything listed there is pretty obvious, except maybe the 8, which says not to make the auction end during the peak hour.

What about adding a video?! (1)

mrcolj (870373) | more than 7 years ago | (#16073085)

What about adding a video?! Every report I've seen says that adding a video is a gold mine, especially since it's not that common yet since eBay hasn't mass-marketed their "default" provider of video, Auction Video [auctionvideo.com] . I've only tried it once, on an iPod I went and bought at the store, and that sold for more than retail with over 2,000 page views. Flash video is getting easier to post (although that level of streaming still at this point justifies using a service like eBay's Auction Video above.)
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