Sunday, December 23, 2012

eBay's Video Game Nature

Winter is here, so it is time to sell on eBay.  It's also time to be reminded that not all eBay shoppers are the same or want the same experience. We've often talked about how some people treat eBay auctions like a video game, placing each bid individually instead of using proxy bidding, constantly refreshing the screen to see the latest results, racing against the clock and against the other bidders as the auction nears its end. Along with the race comes the risk of not getting the item. For these buyers, the gambling is part of the fun, though robot bidders called snipers have ruined the fun for many. 

Others just want to find the thing they're looking for and buy it immediately.  This is what we want when we buy on the internet, so this year we have made a change in how we sell on eBay. We set a "Buy It Now" price on almost all of our items. If they want it, they can get it right away, no waiting.

Recently, though, we have stumbled across a new type of eBay video game, and a new type of eBay customer.  We added a "Make Offer" button to a few listings, and immediately noticed a pattern. As a seller, you can set it up so that eBay automatically accepts offers within a certain range and rejects lower offers. But everything we added a "Make Offer" button to was sold at the lowest price in our acceptable range.  There was no offer in the middle of the range, only at the very bottom.  Apparently by adding the "Make Offer" button we attracted a new type of gamer. This person has fun by finding "Make Offer" items and trying to figure out what the lowest acceptable price is.  They make low offers that get automatically rejected, then they gradually raise their offer price until they hit the bottom of your range.  In person, at a show, that type of behavior would just piss off the seller and end with a confrontation. Fortunately, eBay has thought about this potential problem and limits the customer to three offers per item, cutting short this particular shoot-em-up video game.