Close this window to return to BookThink

Selling on eBay

Using Best Offers to Increase Your Revenue

by Craig Stark

#135, 22 June 2009

It's no secret that most booksellers aren't making a killing this summer. I hear or read something about it every day. Blame it on the economy, the season, ever-increasing competition - whatever. Apart from applying the serious, long-term strategy we so often recommend in our premium newsletters, is there anything that you can do now to increase your revenue?

With this question in mind, I conducted an experiment with one of my eBay Stores last month. Using Comsulting's Bulk Reviser - see a review of this software here - I added the Best Offer feature to every one of that Store's books (about 1500 strong). I'm sure most of us have heard all of the arguments against doing this more than once, perhaps the most persistent being that you'll all but guarantee not getting your listed prices. And I can tell you, one month later, that this is exactly right. You won't.

But think about this: How many challenged businesses are sitting on their prices right now, let alone raising them? And how many consumers are expecting lower prices? Or refusing to pay full price? For that matter, when was the last time you re-priced your inventory? If it's been six months, a year or longer, you might be in for a rude awakening if you check your prices against your competition's. Let's face it; there are good times and bad times, and if you make no adjustments during the bad times, you might not come out of them with your business intact.

Prior to launching this experiment, my sales out of this Store comprised approximately 25% to 35% of my total fixed-price venue sales, with Amazon Marketplace typically being my best performer. The month previous they comprised 38%.

So - what happened? First, within hours, offers started coming in. To my surprise, only a few of them were obscenely low. The rest were either totally acceptable or high enough to persuade me to make a counter offer. Despite the fact that, as much as possible, I try to sell uncommon, in-demand books that hold or increase their value over time, as the offers came in, I searched comparables and often was surprised to see that the offer was very much in line with what others were asking. I've been late re-pricing too!

Another thing happened: A number of books that I'd had in inventory for a year, sometimes two or more, started selling. A few of these were the only copies listed online, but, when I stopped to think about it, What was the point of sitting on an uncommon book priced at $75, for example, if nobody would ever pay more than $50 for it? At some point in time you've got to figure that you've got it priced too high.

Well, it turned out to be a very good month - sales out of this Store shot up to 62% of my total FPV venue sales. And, if you think it was invigorating to see this additional revenue come in, you're right. At the beginning of the month, I confess that I was somewhat slow to accept offers as low as 2/3 of what I had the books listed at, but once I started pulling the trigger on them, it felt genuinely good to see sale after sale.

If you don't have an eBay Store, you can still do this on other venues simply by inserting something in your descriptions. Here's something I found in an Alibris seller's description: "Due to the vagaries of market fluctuations, an item may occasionally seem overvalued. To compensate for that possibility, all serious buyers are welcome to make a best offer on each and every item listed, with the assurance that ALL reasonable offers will be accepted." Well worded, I thought.

Will this work for you? Heck if I know, but if your sales are heading south, it might not hurt to conduct your own experiment.

Copyright 2003-2011 by BookThink LLC