Enhancing Your Auction Listings

When listing auctions, you will be given a wide variety of choices to enhance the auction listing. While these enhancements will make your auction stand out in different ways when people do their searches, they also cost extra money. There are no set rules on which enhancements to use or not to use and taking the time to experiment with them to see which work best for the items you decide to sell is the best way to determine which ones to add to your auctions. The following are the basic enhancements available along with some points to consider when deciding whether or not to add them to your auction listings.

Gallery ($0.25 per auction listing): Of all the option offered, this is the one that you should consider most. The Gallery option will place your main photo next to your title listing when your listing comes up in searches. This allows people to see a “preview” of the item before clicking on your title link. Furthermore, with the huge number of auctions now listed on eBay, more and more people are opting to do their searches by Gallery than the regular title search method. Instead of a list of titles appearing, Gallery searches will bring up a page of photos similar to a catalog for buyers to choose from. Searching by photo is much easier (and fun), but your auction gets passed over by people who search this way if you do not choose the Gallery auction enhancement.

If you are starting your auction listing at $9.95 or more, you should seriously consider using the Gallery enhancement option as it almost always pays for itself. For items starting at lower prices or with thin margins, use your best judgment. When using this method, you’ll want to take special care in taking your main photo since it will be displayed for all to see and a poor photo will actually make this enhancement option a deterrent to people taking a closer look at your auction.

Buy It Now Fee ($0.05 per auction listing): Buy it now allows a buyer to purchase your item on auction for a set price without going through the bidding process. While for some the entire auction concept of bidding and trying to win is fun, for others it is not. They would rather purchase the item once they see it without wondering if someone is going to outbid them at the last second.

This option is useful for items you have listed a number of times, have a quantity to sell and know the true value of the item. By setting a buy it now price you also create the opportunity to quicken the pace of you sales by allowing an instant purchase of the item. The buy it now option can also increase the number of views to your auction in an indirect way. As we mentioned previously, people like to see why auctions have a bid. If someone wants an item but doesn’t want to pay the buy it now price, they will often make a minimum bid on the item. Once a bid is placed, the buy it now option disappears so the bidder is safe in knowing someone will not win the auction without having a chance to bid again. by placing their bid, however, your auction will now have a bid on it which will attract more people to take a look.

Avoid using the buy it now enhancement for items you have not listed before or of which you only have a small quantity. Auctions are strange and items you don’t think are worth much can often go well beyond your price expectations. By using the buy it now option on items you are not completely familiar with, you forfeit the chance to be pleasantly surprised in this way.

10 Day Listing Fee ($0.10 per auction listing): This option allows you to place your auction up for 10 days instead of the normal 3, 5 or 7 days. The reasoning goes that the longer you have your auction up, the more people that are likely to see it. For higher priced items over $50 this option often makes sense, especially if the 10 days will make it so the auction ends on a day that you prefer. If you are selling items for under $50, a better option is to go with a 7-day auction. If after 6.5 days (you can edit your auction as long as there have been no bids placed and it is more than 12 hours before it ends) your auction hasn’t received any bids, go in and edit your auction and extend it to 10 days. This way you only pay the fee if nobody actually bids on your auction the first week.

Scheduled Listing Fee ($0.10 per auction listing): For those who have other commitments and can only list auctions at strange hours, this enhancement option can come in handy. This allows you to set a specific time you want your auction to start and end. As you become more familiar with your customers, you will notice that items ending on certain days and at certain times will do better than the same item ending at a different time or on a different day. For example, if your main customers work 9 to 5 jobs, ending your auction when they are not working will bring in more bids than if you end it when they are working and can’t place a last-minute bid. If you find that there is a significant ending price difference for like items, an investment in this option is worthwhile.

Second Category (doubles listing fee): Sometimes you will have an item that fits perfectly into several categories on eBay. By listing the item in more than one category, you increase the likelihood of getting more people to look at your auction. The problem is that your insertion fee doubles when you chose this option. There are certain specific circumstances where this makes sense. For example, if you have a high priced item that you decide to start at a low initial price to attract bidders. For most auctions, however, this option doesn’t make sense when you can use other options to better enhance your listing for a less expensive price.

Gift Fee ($0.25 per auction listing): There is a certain segment of the people searching for items on eBay that are doing so to give a gift. If the products that you sell would make a good gift and you offer other services like gift wrapping, express mail service and shipping to addresses other than the buyer, this option may make sense for you. This is best utilized with an item that would make a good gift for a specific upcoming holiday where the people searching need a good gift idea quickly.

Extra Photo Fee ($0.15 per extra photo listed): As explained previously, a photo is worth a thousand words. While your first photo is free of charge, if you want to add additional photos to your auction through the eBay system, you will be charged 15 cents for each additional photo. This can make sense if you only have extra photos to attach a couple of times each month. If you are listing more auctions and extra photos will help sell your product, then you will want to find a free or minimal cost photo hosting service.

Free photo hosting services exist, but the come and go at a rather rapid pace. They are usually a victim of their own success. Once word begins to spread about a good free photo hosting service, the host gets so many applications that it is forced to 1) collapse under its own success or 2) begin charging a fee to make the system work reliably. There are hosts that offer limited space for inexpensive prices. If you place more than 6 extra photos in your auctions each month, this is a cheaper alternative to eBay and they are much more likely to remain around for awhile than the free photo hosting services.

Another option more and more people are opting for is creating their own free homepage. Then they simply upload the photos to their homepage and then display the auction photos from there. This takes a little knowledge in html and computers, but can easily be learned in a few days. For those with a lot of photos, this option can make sense.

If you aren’t sure about these options, you can try them out for a fraction of their regular price if you have a little patience. eBay periodically has discount days where these options are available for use usually for only a penny. If you have auctions that you think might do well with some of these enhancements, you can get them ready to go and when the discount day arrives, place them all on at once and see how well the enhancement works.

While we mentioned the basic enhancements in the previous section, we will now take a look at the higher cost enhancements that are available. As your business grows into more expensive items or you begin to sell items in bulk, these enhancements can put you on the way to making a large amount of money.

The first thing that you need to be sure of is that you will be selling a product with a wide enough appeal to make the charge of these enhancements worthwhile. It makes no sense to spend a lot of money making your auction stand out if the item you’re selling has a low-value price and is not likely to make up for the enhancement’s cost. You’ll just end up spending more in the enhancements than you will make on the item. It is therefore wise to limit using these options to single products that will command a high-value final price or multiples of the same item that you are listing at a set price.

If you are selling a single expensive item that you feel will have a wide appeal then making it stand out above the normal auctions makes sense. Although there are no set rules, the higher the final price you believe the item will sell for, the greater the enhancement you’ll most likely want to make.

The other time it may be worthwhile to make your auctions stand out with the more expensive enhancements is when you are selling many multiples of the same item at a set price. While a $5 item would not warrant this type of enhancement when selling just one, if you are trying to sell 100 of the same item (and thus potentially $500 in sales) these enhancements can make sense. Here are some of the further enhancements you can make that carry a higher charge:

Bold Fee ($2.00 per auction listing): By using this enhancement, your auction title will appear in bold lettering rather than normal text which will help it stand out on a page. When a page comes up, the bold titles do stand out making it more likely that a potential buyer will take a look at what you’re selling.

Highlight Fee ($5.00 per auction listing): This enhancement will give your auction a colored band (light purple) that will help it to stand out on a page. You should probably choose either bolding or highlighting depending on which you feel is most appropriate for the auction you’re listing. Highlighting makes the auction stand out more than bold and thus the higher enhancement fee. Unless you are listing an auction in an area where there are already a lot of sellers using highlighting and bold (there are very few areas like this), you should choose one or the other and not both in combination.

Featured Plus Fee ($19.95 per auction listing): This enhancement will show your listing in the Featured area at the top of each page of category listings and search results. If the item(s) you’re selling fit perfectly into a certain category, this option will get your auction a lot of page views.

Gallery Featured Fee ($19.95 per auction listing): This enhancement will give you all the benefits of Gallery while also showcasing your item in the Featured section of Gallery. If your item will do best by having buyers see a preview photo of your auction rather than by a title search this is the option to choose.

Home Page Featured Fee ($99.95 per auction listing): This optional enhancement is best utilized when you have a lot of the same item that has a wide buying audience and you want to give your auction maximum exposure. It may also be appropriate for single high-end products. The auction will be in the Featured area and you may even appear on the eBay Home page.

For the average person running an online auction business, these enhancements are good to know about and use when appropriate, but they are by no means necessary to use to have a successful online auction business. Your need and success in utilizing these more expensive enhancements will depend quite a lot on the products and the quantities you are selling.