ebay: Auction vs. BIN?

ebay: Auction vs. BIN?

This simple question actually has a pretty complex answer.

The answer is: the auction versus buy it now strategy is different for everybody. Not only is it different for each seller, but also each item type, or sometimes even each specific item. Clothing items for instance is usually best for a buy it now, but can sometimes also do really well at auction if its a unique or oddly desirable piece. Market research or experience can help assess if the desired item can do best at which buying format.

Auctions can be a gamble sometimes, but sometimes when titled, photographed, and designed correctly, they can run wild. Popular modern electronics (ie: iPods, modern laptops, etc) are pretty safe to auction because there are so many eyes constantly looking for them which drive the items up to a fairly set market price. This again can be assessed by simple market research.

How long can YOU have the money tied up for, is also something to consider. An auction could entice a buyer within 3-10 days (depending on auction set time) to make a bid.  You would have the money invested in the item tied up for AT LEAST that amount of time, maybe more if it doesn’t sell.

If you have very little invested in the item, have plenty of storage space, then perhaps you can ask a premium price and let it sit at a buy it now price. You also might be surprised because sometimes a buy it nows sell faster than auctions. When someone finds the listing they and has the ability to purchase it outright, they pull the trigger and buy the item.

You can always start an auction at your lowest acceptable price. This lowers your risk of “what happens if one person bids on my item and they get it for cheap.”  Well, if you got the item for cheap, who cares if one of your auctions doesn’t pull in a home run? You should be turning over enough inventory not to be stuck on what happens to ONE ITEM!

$0.99 auctions can help drive traffic to your store. Cheap auctions can generate more bids, watchers, views. These convert into higher search ranking which can get people pointed towards your store or other items for sale. If you have a personal website that you sell on, make sure you put it in the description somewhere to push traffic in that direction which can convert into more sales.

See what works for you. Mega sellers that auction antiques have email lists that they send out, and more than likely other secret ways of promotion. Play with different strategies and see what works well for you. For instance if you run an auction for 2 full weeks (7 days no bids, re-list 7 more days) and it does not sell, put it up for a BIN and see what happens. Large items you tend to not want to have sitting around for very long so you could try to blow it out with an auction or set it up as a buy it now but below a premium price that large volume sellers are marketed at. The more experience you get as a seller, the more you will know what will do well at auction vs a buy it now.

Do you do mostly auctions or buy it now? Let me know in the comments below!

That’s my take on the issue. Check out this write up for more info on this topic.


  • Iama Victor

    I will auction when I believe it can go high – I have a tough time pulling the trigger with a $.99 start price…freaks me out, I see folks who do it and seem to do well….but of course see others who dont. I offer free shipping on 95% of my listings so I is usually start at shipping plus minimum. Works sometimes.
    I like BIN and take offers….again. free shipping
    Just really depends on the item and demand