Using eBay Best Offer To Make The eBay Sale!
A Primer On Using eBay's Best Offer Feature -- Increase Your Sales and Offer Great Bargains!
eBay's Best Offer feature is probably one of the best ways to increase interest in, and sales of, your fixed price core or Store listings. In a nutshell, it allows the buyer to 'haggle' with the seller, making an offer on an item that is less than the Buy It Now price. The seller (YOU) can then accept the Offer or counter-offer... but there are a few things you need to know to make Best Offer work efficiently. And buyers, you should read this as well, so you can better understand how to work with a seller on an Offer that will make you both pleased with the transaction!
First - A Show Of Hands Please!!
Have you heard of Best Offer, and are you using it?
Best Offer Basics and Terminology - (or: a few keywords and phrases you'll want to remember)
There are a few keywords and phrases you'll want to remember when reading thru this lens - so I thought it best to define them first, before I start using them. Feel free to refer back to this list any time something doesn't seem clear - perhaps it will help.
- "Best Offer" - Best Offer is an feature you can add to any eBay fixed price listing to allow the shopper to make an Offer for your item.
- "Offer" - An Offer consists of two parts - the purchase price offered for the item being sold, and any 'terms' the buyer may desire, such as "includes shipping" or "to be combined with earlier purchase" or whatever. If you accept the Offer, you are accepting both the offered price AND the terms indicated, even if they conflict with your listing terms.
- "Auto Decline" and "Auto Decline Price Point" - Auto Decline is a feature of Best Offer that allows the seller to set a price point (the Auto Decline Price Point) below which Offers are automatically declined. The seller is never informed of these Offers, unless you specifically look at the Offers list for a listing. This is a great way to eliminate lowball Offers.
- "Auto Accept" and "Auto Accept Price Point" - Auto Accept is a feature of Best Offer that allows the seller to set a price point (the Auto Accept Price Point) at or above which Offers are automatically accepted. To the shopper, it is almost the same to purchasing using Buy It Now - the listing is immediately closed and the buyer is informed the item is theirs at the Best Offer price offered.
- "Decline Message" - During manual declines, where you review the offer and consider it unacceptable, you can also include a Decline Message. If you are making a counter-offer, this message would include text to entice the buyer to accept the counter-offer. If you are simply declining, you may wish to thank the shopper for their offer or indicate why the offer was declined. Message size is limited.
- "Counter-Offer" - if a buyer makes an Offer that you find almost acceptable, you are allowed to decline that offer by making a counter-offer, either for more money, or with no terms, or both. You may also include a small Decline Message with the counter-offer to explain your position.
- "My eBay Listings With Offers" - When looking at your running listings in My eBay, there is a subset selection to list just those listings with open Offers. This allows you to quickly locate these listings, deal with the offers, and then return to your normal schedule.
What exactly is Best Offer and how can it help my sales?
Best Offer is a currently free feature eBay allows on any fixed price listing (Fixed Price core listings and all Store listings) that allows the shopper to make an Offer to purchase the item listed for less than the stated Buy It Now price. In effect - to haggle for the purchase.
What is so great about this feature is that by using a combination of the Auto Accept and Auto Decline features, you can convert some Offers into automatic purchases (Auto Accept) and eliminate the need to deal with lowball Offers (Auto Decline). These control features are optional and can be using in any combination.
Best Offer helps the sales of fixed price listings by allowing the shopper to haggle - and we all know how some buyers love to 'get a bargain' on something that is already priced below retail. Here is their opportunity to do so on eBay.
Thru the intelligent use of Best Offer, you can potentially increase the sales of your slower fixed price inventory while still maintaining a reasonable profit margin. Moving more stock and maintaining profits -- sounds like a good thing to me!
Different Uses For Best Offer - (or: Just how can I take advantage of this thing anyway?)
Looking at all the terms and the various ways the feature and sub-features can be used might make you think you'll never understand Best Offer. The truth is that it's really quite easy to use... and when used well, it can be an effective way to reach buyers you might not otherwise reach. Let's look at a few of the most common uses:
- Straight Up - The simplist and easiest of the methods... just turn it on. That's it. Nothing else. Honest! That's all you have to do - just select the feature.
In this form, you will be presented with every Offer made for your item, from one cent to one cent less than your Buy It Now price. And unless you are terribly over-priced and Best Match disadvantaged, you're likely to get Offers. :)
Sellers: This mode is best used when you are simply testing to see if your buyers are interested in using the feature. Best Offer is not for all sellers - but you may never know if you don't try.
Buyers: When making an Offer, be reasonable if you really want your Offer to be accepted. You want a bargain, sellers want to pay their bills. There is a point where you both get what you want!
- Auto-Decline Active. - This is likely the second most common form of Best Offer used. Simply select the Best Offer feature, and then select the "Automatically decline offers lower than" option and enter the absolute lowest Offer price you'd ever be willing to accept in the box provided.
The great thing about this option is that you'll never even see those low-ball Offers - eBay handles them with an immediate and automatic decline. You get no message, you don't need to do a thing. Except relax.
Sellers: This combination is commonly used when you want to consider all 'reasonable' offers, but not every nickel and dime offer.
Buyers: This feature is why some Offers are immediately declined. It generally means other 'low-ball' buyers have turned this seller off to some level of haggling - a few bad apples spoiling the barrel, as they say. If your Offer is declined, think about a more reasonable Offer, or contact the seller to ask what they think is more reasonable. But remember, sellers are not required to accept Offers - it's a privilege, not a right.
- Auto-Accept Active. - This is for those sellers interested in seeing what the market will Offer, but who want to ensure that buyers with really GOOD Offers are immediately satisfied - by purchasing the item! Simply select the Best Offer feature, and then select the "Automatically accept offers of at least" option and enter the Offer price at which you wish to begin accepting/selling your item into the box provided.
The great thing about this option is that you're buyers will get immediate gratification, similar to using Buy It Now, but for less! I find this option very useful for those 'night owl' buyers... they get a good price, and I get to get a good night's sleep!
Sellers: This combination is commonly used when you want to ensure that your top Offers, perhaps those above the average selling price for the item, are immediately converted to sales. If the buyer add 'terms' to the Offer, you will still have to manually review the Offer and terms before accepting.
Buyers: These are the sellers who motivated to sell and to move product, rather than trying to eek every last penny from each item sold. Be watching for your confirmation from eBay and get you PayPal account ready! Motivated sellers are ready to get it done!
- The Full Effect. - Now you're cooking with gas! Using both Auto-Accept and Auto-Decline, you are engaging the full power of Best Offer! Not only do you get to skip the low-ball offers, but your best buyers will be able to purchase their item immediately! Everyone wins!!
Sellers: This form of Best Offer is used by experienced sellers who have a solid handle on their market and their product - who know how low they can go, and are willing to trade potential profit for a sure sale.
Buyers: If you are making reasonable Offers, you are likely enjoying a run of purchasing success on eBay, and that's good for everyone! You get a bargain, sellers move inventory, and eBay keeps their investors happy. Isn't it great when we all just get along? :)
So How Should I Use Best Offer?
(or: Examples, Examples, Examples)
The short answer is that only you know how you should use Best Offer. But that's not the answer you're looking for... you want someone to tell you the secret to the universe so you don't have to learn it the hard way. So... Sorry - but I simply don't know the answer to that question. Why? Because I don't know what you are selling, I don't know your costs, I don't know your selling history, I don't know your market.... basically, I'm not you! But I can offer some suggestions? Would that help?
Personally, I use all forms of Best Offer -- when Best Offer was first available, I got a LOT of low-ball offers... offers to buy a $125 retail item for $5!! Now, I believe in charity, but I prefer to do so thru recognized charitable organizations in my neighborhood. :) So when Auto-Decline was offered, it was great! I could now set a minimum Offer threshold, below which I didn't have to bother with the Offer. And given the particular circumstances of my inventory, setting that minimum price point was no problem. Then when Auto-Accept made the scene, things got even better! Now I could set an automatic selling point, so that buyers with really good Offers could immediately purchase their selection without waiting on me!
Today, when I use Best Offer, I tailor which options I use to the product being sold. Some items - wide open, show me everything. Others will have Auto-Accept so I can move product, while on others I use only Auto-Decline, to skip all the low-ball hassle. And some will use both Auto-Decline and Auto-Accept -- I want to move product, but I don't want to hassle with low-ball offers either. It really just depends on the product, the current state of the market for that product, and how fast I want to move the product.
I would not recommend setting your Auto-Decline point too low - definite not lower than what you need to sell the item for to see a profit. It doesn't have to be a huge profit, but if you set the Auto-Decline below your cost, there's a chance you may accept an Offer that will leave you with a loss for the sale. That may be OK if the buyer is combining multiple purchases, but there are other ways to handle that scenario. Keep your Auto-Decline set at a point where you will be comfortable with the sale. This also lets you know that any Offer then received is a profitable offer. :)
If there's a common selling price for your item, you could set the Auto-Accept at that price or perhaps slightly less, so that Offers that meet that common price will be converted to sales directly. But don't set your Auto-Accept too low... if you wouldn't be happy with a BIN of $150 for your item, don't set your Auto-Accept at $100, or you're just setting yourself up for a lot of unhappy. Set it for $175 instead, or whatever selling price would make you happy. Just keep it below your Buy It Now price or eBay won't accept it. :)
And be aware that buyers may attempt to abuse the Best Offer system, making increasingly lower and lower Offers until your Auto-Accept point is passed, then asking you to cancel those first purchases and just accept the very lowest Offer or Offers. This is abuse, not bargaining, and should be reported to eBay. If you wish to avoid this type of 'game playing', simply do not use Auto Accept and the games should stop.
So how should -YOU- use Best Offer? Whatever way works best for you -- and you'll find that by trying it out on a few listings. Then a few more. Then a few more. Until you get comfortable with how the Auto set points work and what makes you comfortable in terms of pricing. Trial-and-error, done in an informed, educated manner, is still the best way to home in on your best combination of features when selling on eBay.
What About "Decline Message" and "Counter-Offer"? - (or: I think you missed a few things!)
Good eyes! Yes - there are still a few points to touch on related to Best Offer and the activity that goes along with Offers.
- Decline Message. - When you receive an Offer that you are just not happy with, you can decline that Offer. With that, you can also send a short message to the member making the Offer, to let them know why you declined it. You might want to say something like "I'm sorry, but I never accept Offers with free shipping required." In some cases, it may be best to say nothing - smart remarks and wise-cracks are not likely to get you any sales!
The Decline Message is only available on Offers you manually decline - there is no Decline Message for automatically declined offers, st this time. :)
Buyers: If the seller takes the time to manually decline your Offer, and includes a message, please read the message. It may be that you can adjust your Offer and come to an acceptable middle ground. Everyone loves a great deal... but both parties need to give a little - and the seller's message on the decline of your Offer should point you to that middle ground.
- Counter-Offer. - If an Offer is close but not quite what you were looking for, you are permitted to make a Counter Offer, where you set a price and offer the item to the member at that price. If your Counter Offer is accepted, it becomes an immediate sale. The member, however, can counter your counter offer!
Buyers: Here again, read what the seller is saying with their Counter-Offer. Perhaps they simply need a bit more on shipping to cover the actual packaging costs for safe delivery. Perhaps your Offer was just a few dollars too low. Or perhaps the seller simply didn't understand that you were placing Offers on multiple items. Read the message and consider the Counter Offer... it may be just the deal you are looking for!
- Offer limits. - Members are allowed to make only three (3) Offers per listing. If their third Offer is declined, they are not allowed to make any more. This is to prevent the 'haggling' process from going on indefinitely.
This also means you have a limit to the number of Counter Offers you can make... so don't get too greedy and lose an opportunity for a sale!
Buyers: The same applies to you -- you only get three Offers - if the first and second are declined, you might be better served by contacting the seller before making that third and final Offer.
Where Do I Go To Find Out If I Have Any Offers?
(or: Where's the goods, boss?)
There are two ways to find your Best Offers:
- On My eBay, anywhere your active listings are displayed, there should be an "Action" column (generally on the far right). The option 'Review All Offers' will only be displayed if the Listing has Best Offer enabled at some level. Click this link and you'll be taken to a screen that will show you any/all Offers that have been received and/or processed (accepted, declined, or countered) up to this time. If there are no Offers, the screen still displays, it just shows no details:
- Your "My Messages". There will be a message in your My Messages area for each Offer that needs to be reviewed. When you open the Message, you'll see a summary of the Offer and a link to go to the Offer page. From there you will accept or decline the offer.
Buyers: Remember - Offers will expire after a period of time (2 days), so if a seller has their Store on 'Vacation' or is otherwise indicating they will be offline for a period of time, making an Offer may not be the best way to make your purchase. Also, not every seller waits at there PC 24/7 -- so if you make an offer late Friday night that is not Auto-Accepted, please give the seller time to actually see and review the offer. It may be Saturday or Sunday before they check eBay again... or the offer may expire (late Sunday evening - 48hrs after it was placed) and you'll have to do it again. In which case I would suggest asking the seller if they are willing to accept your Offer (via eBay's Ask the Seller a Question link), since you can only place three Offers on any given item, and your first one just expired, and the seller may still be unavailable..... :)
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