Monday, September 03, 2007

eBay Lesson - watchers

I mention bits and pieces of eBay strategy occasionally as they occur to me - here's another thing that often confuses new sellers.

Today's lesson: The number of watchers is useless.

That is to say, in some views eBay will show your items along with the people watching them. As an example, a typical shot of mine accumulates a couple of watchers by the time they end. The assumption new sellers have is that these are people who want to be reminded of the item so they can bid at the last minute. This might be true, but a lot of folks now use sniping services, or they might have some other interest. They might just be curious as to if it's going to sell. Might be a competitor in fact - "hmm, he's listing something weird, I wonder if it will sell and for how much."

It's really bad for items that are basically commodities. As an example, if I want to buy a lens or something, I might look at completed items, but I'll also watch any of them that were particularly interesting. And then at some later point I'll see what they all went for. With some kinds of collectables it's very useful to just watch what things go for without bidding for a few weeks until you get the hang of it. But I'll also do that if I'm selling an item - if I'm thinking of selling some used camera gear, I want to know if it's worth the trouble, see what promotes good prices (do lots of pictures help or hurt?), that sort of thing. And part of how that works is to watch a couple of very good listings and very bad listings and see what the price spread ends up being.

As of now my pictures up for auction have 0-3 watchers (not including a featured item which has 11), the 28-135 lens which has been bid up to $177.50 has 20 watchers, and the Canon 10D which has been bid up to $203 has 57 watchers. Somehow I don't think 57 folks will appear out of the woodwork to bid on this camera, but we'll see!

Update: The camera ended up with over 60 watchers, both went for $325ish. The lens ended up with 37 bids!


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