Tips For Selling Expensive Collectibles At Online Auctions
The principles for selling expensive collectibles at an online auction are the same, regardless of what is being sold.
Obviously, like all online auctions, the seller must have a powerful listing with great pictures. This is always true regardless of what the merchandise is. Expensive collectibles offer splendid opportunities, but also need special precautions.
1. Price: decide the lowest amount you will accept for each item and set that price as a reserve. Then make your opening bid absurdly low, this is a great way to draw attention to the listing.
Example: if you would accept £1,000 – make your starting price £25. There is no risk in this, because you don’t have to sell unless the bidding reaches your reserve of £1000, but the low price attracts buyers, (assuming there is demand, of course).
Looking at completed auctions allows us to track prices, Again and again we learn that starting the price where the seller hopes it will end is not a wise tactic, as people are always hoping to grab a bargain.
For instance, a seller wants to get £750 for his item. An opening bid of £750 won’t attract nearly as many buyers as an opening bid of £25 and surprisingly, the lower bid almost always gets higher prices. There is some human psychology at work with the cheap price. It may not make logical sense, but it’s the reality of life at nearly all auction websites.
2. Devote space in your auction listing explaining how you will pack your item to ensure safe transit. This is critically important because in the back of every buyer’s mind is the dread of receiving a package that rattles with broken pieces. A collectibles buyer will inevitably be thinking of the hassle she will have to go through – and the possible loss of purchase price – if the item is broken. She needs to know that the seller has carefully considered this issue and has a solution should a problem arise.
3. For the protection of both of you, insist that the buyer pay for appropriate insurance. Don’t allow this to be an option. You definitely do not want the liability of a broken collectible that costs hundreds of pounds. In fact, if a customer objects to paying for insurance, this might possibly be a red flag. A genuine collector is very eager to add to her collection and would want the collectible to be protected.
4. We can safely assume that every Internet buyer has heard stories of fraud at online auctions and elsewhere on the net. Therefore, anything you can do to prove the authenticity of your collectible is well worth your time. Is there a marking on the bottom? Do you have the original box or other container? Does it have a label? Is there a certificate of authenticity or an appraisal by a respected organization? If the answer to any of these is “yes”, then be certain to emphasize your authenticity in your auction. Taking pictures of your proof is especially effective.
5. I don’t suggest offering a guarantee except in the most general way – that is, you, the seller, are telling the truth about the product. Anyone bidding on a collectible is knowledgeable and therefore they know what they’re buying so there should be no reason for a return. If someone expresses dissatisfaction and mails your merchandise back, there is every likelihood of it being broken. You do not want the hassle of trying to collect on broken merchandise or putting yourself into a litigious situation with someone who refuses to believe that the collectible was broken via return shipping.
Also, you don’t want to take a loss on your auction fees, which might be substantial on a highly priced item.
6. With a really expensive item, always offer the option of an escrow service – at the buyer’s expense, of course. They may not take you up on this service, but make certain they have the option. You, of course, know that your merchandise is legitimate, but the buyer isn’t so certain. Auction sites will recommend an escrow service that is available to all members for obvious reasons.
7. If you’re willing to ship worldwide, you need to take special steps to protect yourself. A very large percentage of the fraud suffered by buyers occurs outside the United States and Europe so you are justified in protecting yourself. Losing the purchase price on a £5 item isn’t such a big deal – but a £1,000 collectible item is another matter.
Your bank can advise you on the time it will take to verify foreign funds. Be certain to let any prospective buyer know in your auction that there will be a delay if they are outside of your country. Do not let your merchandise out of your hands until you are sure!
If you follow these ‘rules’, the chances of selling your expensive collectibles at the highest possible prices will be greatly increased.