Steering With the Skid--on eBay
The law of inertia is alive and well in economics.
I should know. As an online seller for over a dozen years, my entrepreneurial ship has run aground in shallow eBay waters a few times.
When that happens, I have to conjure up my metaphorical Rolodex of strategies to incorporate in a trial and error process something that will hopefully nudge me off the low customer traffic shoal I'm stuck on.
The particular skid I've been on has been nothing short of dramatic. My fly tying hooks were selling quite well in the winter months. Along with my newfound niches of vintage print ads, prints, articles, and magazines, the sails/sales of my proverbial ship were constantly pregnant with the bottom line winds of fortune.
January was a fantastic month. The orders were flying in on a daily basis, and my wife and I were ecstatic.
In February, there was a bit of a dip, but I chalked it up as a seasonal thing. The graph for March revealed more of a decline. When April resulted in an even sharper drop, I decided to call the good folks at eBay up. Although the conversation was polite and pleasant enough, I was left with a sense of inadequacy rather than with the satisfaction of having learned new and constructive strategies.
The graph for May was very shocking. In a month when sales historically have soared for me, my bottom line was literally half of what it had been in February. Needless to say, I was very discouraged.
I'm ashamed to say that for a moment...a brief moment, but nevertheless a moment...I thought about dumping my online business and returning to the daily grind as a baker.
Truly, I was like the frog in the following video.
How eBay Helped Me
So I called eBay up one more time, vowing that it would be the last time if I didn't get any help.
The young woman who took my call had such a sweet spirit about her. Something about her responses and her tone of voice assured me that she wasn't just giving me lip service. She was actually very empathetic and willing to go the extra mile. On a couple of occasions, she asked me to hold so she could analyze my business demographics as well as confer with a colleague.
Long story short, she made a key discovery. eBay had made some changes in recent months. While I don't fully understand what those changes were, because my listings had for the most part been grandfathered, the changes had thus resulted in my listings slipping through the cracks. Simply put, to a significant degree, my items had dropped off potential customers' radar screens.
I hasten to include a disclaimer at this point that I may or may not have explained the problem accurately, but I truly have made an earnest attempt to put it in language that I--and hopefully you--can understand. In no way am I badmouthing eBay. It was simply some sort of technical glitch, perhaps a situation similar to what several successful writers on HubPages, commercial website owners, online affiliates, and others have referred to as a huge drop in traffic as a result of Google's algorithmic imps, Panda and Penguin.
With the patient help of the young female eBay customer rep, I terminated my 1400+ listings and relisted every single one of them. Even with the bulk editing tool, it took a while. But the results were well worth the effort. My listings were once again visible to my customers. Specifically, what I mean by this is that my listings had been re-instated, so to speak, to the front of the eBay search pages. Not all, but a good number of them.
The next day, I started seeing more orders coming in. Ah, sweet victory!
The thing I felt happiest about was discovering that the huge drop in sales hadn't been the result of something I had done or had neglected to do.
As a Business Owner, I am Always Accountable
Does the discovery that the skid had not been my fault take me off the hook?
Not one bit. A good business owner is always seeking out new ways to improve his business.
Which brings me now to the focal point of this article...
The Eclectic 99 Cents Auction!
What is the Eclectic 99 Cents Auction?
I'm old school through and through.
In the early eBay days, it was very common to see a steady diet of auctions beginning with inexpensive amounts, often no more than a penny! Before I owned an eBay store, all of my listings began with a penny and without any reserve (a fixed amount that a seller sets that negates the auction if it is not reached).
A decade or so ago, it was also very common to see penny auctions reach astronomical heights. Truly, the early eBay marketplace was a financial paradise for sellers.
Not so anymore. The eBay of today is, in my educated opinion, heavily biased in favor of buyers. I think it's a mistake of the current eBay ownership and administration, but like anything else, it is what it is. My responsibility is to do my best with whatever circumstances life presents me.
So, why eclectic? The term simply means that a seller can list any item under the sun.
Why 99 cents? Because of higher eBay fees, the current tepid economy, and the influx of sophisticated eBay buyers utilizing the strategy of arbitrage, I find my happy medium to be the eclectic 99 cents auction.
In addition, it is the highest amount I can set and still be charged just a dime as a listing fee for an auction.
The Effectiveness of the Eclectic 99 Cents Auction in Ending a Skid
There's a tried and true adage among driving instructors and skilled racing experts that when one encounters slippery conditions, one needs to steer into the skid .
This runs counter to our natural inclination. We're taught to avoid danger, not run smack dab into it.
But it works, and it's been proven to save a lot of lives.
Similarly, the eclectic 99 cents auction is a strategy that's currently proving to be the saving grace to my business on eBay.
In the right margin of this article, you're looking at items that are live on eBay at the time of this writing. I'm quite pleased at how things are developing. As time permits, I will add to the photo captions a final selling price.
The following are my personal, behind the scenes reasons why I really like this eBay strategy.
- At the very least, the eclectic 99 cents auctions are a welcome change of pace for an otherwise stagnant eBay site.
- They serve to move inventory that has been nothing but dead weight--and thus an unwelcome overhead expense.
- To some degree, they're actually easier for a seller to list because, optimistically, they're short-term items (lasting 7 days, on average).
- Psychologically, these auctions trigger impulse buying.
- Bidding wars can ensue where the shark frenzy syndrome becomes more important to bidders than the item itself.
- The market value of an item becomes more significant than the intrinsic or aesthetic value of an item.
- They successfully catch the attention of buyers.
- They increase traffic to an eBay seller's site.
- They pique the curiosity of potential buyers regarding the fixed price and eBay store items of the same seller.
- They construct the perfect financial bridge connecting seller and buyer; that is, they form the common empathetic denominator for both sides of a healthy financial transaction.
- They're actually fun and exciting to monitor!
- In truth, the eclectic 99 cents auctions are like steroid injections to my bottom line.
Conclusion? Au Contraire, A New Beginning!
Indeed, there are times in life when driving with controlled abandon in the direction of a skid makes life-saving sense.
In like manner, liberally employing the eBay strategy of eclectic 99 cents auctions can truly make a positive difference. In fact, it just might catapult an online entrepreneur to stellar levels.
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