I've had many spirited conversations with quite a few of my Ebay friends on what is a better way to list an item on Ebay. I'm going to give you my personal opinion based on quite a few years of experience as well as the opinions of my fellow Ebayers who are all very successful and have a different viewpoint. Perhaps this will help you in deciding on how you want to list your next item.
First, let's discuss the Buy It Now option that is available to you on Ebay. This Buy It Now or better known as the BIN feature allows you to set the price you want for an item straight out. Ebayers who look at your item will know right away the price you are asking for your item as it's clearly in black and white and your buyer can easily click the BIN button on your auction and purchase it straight out. Some interested buyers might decide to forgo the BIN and will simply put your item on their watch to see what happens or might have a like item and they are curious to see if you sell it for the price asked, and others will just look and that's all. If you decide to do the BIN think long and hard on the price you are asking. My rule of thumb, if I do a BIN and 50 people have looked at it and it hasn't sold yet then it's priced a little too high. Start looking at auctions with a BIN that have sold and you will see this is true, most of the time it's sold by 35 people looking at it.
Do your research by looking to see what other buyers have gotten for their similar item or items. A key word I just used is SIMILAR items. Be aware that a seller who get's the very top price for their similar item could very well have one in perfect condition, possibly it's brand new with the tags still attached, possibly an item with more options or upgrades or one that is just a little rarer so you have to take these things into account. You need to be aware of these nuances because this can make a big difference in the price you set for your item. Don't just list something with a BIN at the top of the price ladder without taking these issues into account. A good example is someone selling a French antique bisque head Jumeau with a hairline for the same price as a perfect head Jumeau doll. Be realistic if you really want to sell your item.
Also, decide are you looking to sell it quick or can you wait until the very end of the auction and be comfortable if it doesn't sell and possibly relist it again. Experience has taught me that if you don't sell it on the first go around at the price you are asking, the chances of you selling it on the second go around at the same price asked before as you relist it are not as good. The reason being, most Ebayers who are interested in your item have seen it already. It's not fresh to the market anymore and if you didn't sell it than their is a reason, price, condition, not desirable, etc.... You might get that one buyer who emails you after the auction and still is interested...it does happen and then you can decide to sell it to them for the highest price they offered on the item by emailing them a Second Chance Offer which would allow you to sell the item at their highest price offered. Remember you can only offer one Second Chance Offer at a time. and of course you can forego the Second Chance Offer altogether and just relist your item again. I will always email interested parties whom contacted me on the first go around of my auction letting them know my item has been relisted again. Always good to keep interest in your item and certainly doesn't hurt to pique some interest however you can.
This brings me to the second part of the BIN option. You can also list your item with a BIN but add a Best Offer feature to it. In my opinion this is the best option of all, especially if the price you are asking is at the very top. Psychologically, I think most buyers like to feel like they are getting a deal or have some control over the price you are asking. This will also give you a comfort level as well because you can decide to accept or deny any bids you get while keeping your BIN price intact. I completely understand why someone would want to use the BIN option, you can sell your item immediately getting the exact price you want and move on to other items you are selling.
Two of my Ebay friends who have over 7,500 feedbacks each use the BIN option all the time and swear by it. They don't use the Best Offer because they feel like no one will use the BIN and they will always use the Best Offer because it is being offered to them. I counter this mentality because if it's good and priced well you will sell it for the BIN price and buyers won't wait on the Best Offer because they may lose the item by waiting.
Now for the straight auction. This is my personal favorite but you need to be aware that this involves several different issues that you really need to think about before you decide to list your item using this feature. The issues you need to think upon are, how much money do you have tied up in this item or items and what happens if it doesn't meet the amount of money that you need to get to just break even, should I add a reserve onto my auction, should I start it at a low amount or start it at the high minimum I want for the item and lastly can I take the stress of watching the auction not knowing what the final amount will be until the very end if I don't list it with a reserve.
More and more Ebayers are waiting until the last few seconds to bid anymore and there is no telling what the final price will be until the end if you've listed your item with no reserve. If you decide to add a reserve please note that your Ebay fees go way up. You need to counter this with the fact you will have Ebayers emailing you wanting to know what the reserve is. I personally have no problem answering people with my reserve. I feel like if they are asking than they are interested and now know the minimum they will have to bid to win the item and they will than need to strategically think about what their high bid is going to be. Sometimes your item will reach the EXACT reserve and sometimes the item will go way over the reserve, it's just a matter of who's watching!! . If I don't have alot of money tied up in the item I'm selling I will start my auction at 9.99 and just let it go. I personally don't like to start auctions at high amounts because I think you lose alot of people right away with the high price and the potential buyer won't even put the item on their watch to remember it. If you've decided to set the minimum price at the lowest of what you will absolutely take for the item history shows most of the time it goes for that high starting bid or a dollar or two over it. By starting your item at a low price you will find yourself getting more bids as the item is affordable and people feel the competition in bidding. When someone bids on an item it's now something the potential buyer will remember because it will show up in their My Ebay.
We've all seen this mentality before at a live auction. The auctioneer will start the bidding at a certain high amount for an item and no one will bid. He will then start lowering the starting bid amount until someone bids and then the bidding takes off quickly going over the amount he wanted to start the bidding at in the first place. Same thing happens in a live auction on Ebay.
If you are basing your auction on the amount of watchers you can forget it. That is a bad forecast of how well you'll do at the end of the auction. Lots of times I'm shocked at the price my item sells for at the end and I have no watchers and lots of time I'm shocked for how little it sells for at the end of the auction with lots of watchers and lots of emails. I sold a very nice pair of doll shoes for 9.99 when I probably had $50.00 invested in them. I took a chance and started my listing at 9.99 and that's where it stayed. Another day I might of sold them for $50.00 or more but not that day. That's what I mean by it all depends on who's watching. You have to be able to deal with your loss as much as your gain so this option is not for the faint of heart if you have an investment in the item you are listing.
Should you decide to start your listing at 9.99 then you should be able to live with the amount you get for the item which may stay at 9.99 or not sell at all, this happens all the time. I would say you need to start your listing if you chose to do a straight auction at the beginning price you can live with in case it stays at this amount at the very end of auction, which happens alot. This brings me to one other issue that can be used in the straight auction and that's the reserve price. I believe in using the reserve on fairly expensive items ONLY. This protects your investment while still allowing you to start the auction at a reasonable price. Personally, I like to start my straight auctions at a low price whether I use a reserve or not. This makes it much easier for potential buyers to bid and helps them remember my item as the bids are recorded in their My Ebay rather than having a starting price high enough you don't get any bidders until the very end; again, most of the time your auction will sell for that high starting price or a few dollars over it. Also if I receive interest emails on my item and I do have a reserve, yes, I share my reserve most of the times with the potential buyers.
My good Ebay friend does her auctions this way; she will first list an item with a high BIN taking a chance on it selling on the first go around. Should it not sell, she feels like lots of potential buyers have seen the item and then she will go back and relist with a lower BIN with a best offer or start with a straight auction at the lowest price she can live with. She feels like when she's listed it at the BIN price, even though it's high, she does get quite a few buyers or potential buyers who are interested and then when she relists it these potential buyers will receive an email from Ebay letting them know that she's relisted it and she sells it this way. Of course we have to take into consideration what your items is. If it's a house, car, boat, glassware, doll, figurine, etc.... makes a big difference on how you are going to list it and of course the price you are going to list it for. If you really need to sell your item, flexibility is the name of the game and also keeping a good communication going with potential buyers. By offering free shipping, layaway, etc...your item will get alot more interest You can offset the free shipping by marking your item up enough to cover the shipping or by offering a short layaway you've opened your item up to alot of people who wouldn't give it a second glance. Putting information like this in your title or in the second line Title is really a cheap way to let potential buyers know what you are offering.
One other point, 7 day auction as opposed to a longer auction. My rule of thumb, expensive item, longer auction and lots and lots of pictures. A longer auction doesn't really cost that much more and nor do extra pictures and can really give you an advantage as far as more people seeing it so keep this in mind.