eBay 101

Need a one-stop guide to starting, running and growing a business on eBay? Then you've come to the right place.

If you're ready to dive into the world of eBay but aren't sure where to start, you're in the right place. Our "eBay Essentials" will answer your most basic eBay questions: What types of listing formats does eBay offer? What are the rules for selling on eBay? What tools can I use to promote my product? What types of products can I list on eBay, and which are prohibited? Where can I find more information about starting my business on eBay? What terms do I need to know to understand the eBay process? Following are some terms and procedures you'll need to know to get your business on eBay started off right.

Types of Listings

Under the broad category of "listings" falls a variety of types, and you need to choose the one or ones that will get the best results for you and your particular products. Keep in mind that in addition to the type of listing you opt for, you'll also choose a 1-, 3-, 5-, 7- or 10-day duration for the listing.

  • Reserve price listings: A hidden minimum sale price for a listed item is known as a Reserve Price. Listings that have a hidden minimum price are known as Reserve Price listings. The Reserve Price is the lowest amount the seller is willing to accept for the item. Buyers are not shown what the Reserve Price is; they only see that there is one and whether or not it has been met. If the Reserve Price is not met, the seller is not obligated to sell the item.
  • Buy it now: You can add this feature to a traditional auction-style listing to give buyers the option to bid on your product or to buy it immediately. With Buy It Now (BIN), you set the price you're willing to sell for, and bidders can either place a bid for less than that amount (but at or above your starting price) or win the item instantly by paying the BIN amount. When a bidder agrees to the BIN price, the listing ends. Once a bid has been submitted, the BIN option disappears (unless you have a Reserve Price set).
  • Fixed-price listings: eBay's Fixed-Price format allows users to buy and sell items immediately at a set price, with no bidding or waiting. You can sell more than one item in a Fixed-Price listing, which saves you time and money.
  • Private listings: In most listing formats, anyone looking at the item can see the User IDs of people who are bidding on it. With the Private listing format, however, the bidders' User IDs are not seen on the item or bidding history screens. When the bidding has ended, only the seller and winning bidder are notified via e-mail, and the winner remains private.
  • Dutch auctions: When a seller offers two or more identical items for sale in the same listing, it's known as a Dutch (or Multiple Item) Auction. There can be many winners in this type of listing. For sellers, the power of a Dutch Auction is that it lets you sell large quantities of a single item in one listing. What makes Dutch Auctions interesting-and complicated-is that all winning bidders pay the same price per item, which is the lowest successful bid. Most commonly, all buyers pay the starting price. But if there are more bids than items, the items will go to the earliest successful bids when the listing ends. Bidders may bid on any quantity but have the right to refuse partial quantities.
  • Live auctions: This type of online auction is of more interest to an online buyer than a seller, but it's something you should know about. eBay's Live Auctions feature allows buyers to bid in real time on auctions that are happening on the floor of offline auction events. Buyers can place absentee bids, bid against the floor, or just watch the auction-all from the convenience of their homes or offices. For more information, go to www.ebayliveauctions.com .

Types of Bids

For most listings, the bidding process is fairly straight-forward. You set your minimum bid, and people interested in buying your merchandise place successively higher bids until the listing ends. Beyond that, however, are some details about bidding you need to know.

  • Proxy bidding: eBay's Proxy Bidding system lets buyers enter the maximum amount they're willing to pay for an item, then sit back and relax while the computer handles the bidding. If another bidder has a higher maximum, the first bidder will be outbid and will receive an outbid notice via e-mail. At that point, the bidder can go back and rebid or choose to let the item go. Proxy Bidding does not apply to Dutch (Multiple Item) Auctions.
  • High-dollar bids: When placing a bid of $15,000 or more on eBay, users must provide a valid credit card or go through eBay's ID Verify process. This assures sellers the bidder is of legal age and serious about completing the transaction.
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