When you sell an item at a fixed price, your buyers have the convenience of buying the item immediately at a known price.


When it first introduced the Buy It Now option, eBay created a new way of using the site that would revolutionise its offering forever. In broadening its scope to add the functionality of a traditional shopping marketplace, eBay moved away from only hosting auctions and became a viable tool for all online sellers - even those who'd previously given the site a wide berth.

Now, Buy It Now has become as ingrained a part of eBay as the auctions upon which it first made its name. Despite this, some prolific eBay users have still not quite managed to get to grips with the feature, or decided it doesn't quite suit their needs. To think this, however, is to discard some of the huge opportunities that Buy it Now could offer.

Options within an option


The first point to note is that Buy It Now isn't a rigid tool with only one way to be used. The most common misconception is that sellers simply think of the total they'd ideally (and realistically) like to sell their item for, then list this as a Buy It Now price. Whilst this may be the main thrust of Buy It Now, to think this is everything it offers is to gloss over a wealth of opportunity.

First, sellers have the option of listing their item as only Buy It Now, or to do so in parallel with an auction. The former simply turns a listing into a typical online retail page, where people can purchase an item there and then, if they decide to go ahead, they can buy it. The latter, meanwhile, encourages people to bid on an item and keep watching it, knowing they can cancel the auction and buy it outright if costs start escalating quickly. A Buy It Now price that runs in parallel with an auction needs to be at least 30 per cent higher than the initial starting price.

For this second option, there is also the chance to put in a reserve that adds yet another dimension to an auction. In this case, the Buy It Now option will only be available until the reserve price is met, at which point the option to buy outright is removed. This will encourage buyers to make their choice, knowing that time is of the essence. If a Buy It Now price is deemed reasonable, they might wish to simply make the purchase rather than risk entering into an auction that could prove stressful and even more costly.

The last option melds the Buy It Now and auction offer into one homogeneous offering. 'Buy It Now or Best Offer' is one where sellers make their ideal price known to buyers, but also acknowledge they might be willing to accept a little less, depending on the total offered and the length of time into a listing it comes. For this, buyers who think the asking price is a little steep can make a slightly lower offer. If refused, the listing remains in place in the hope of a higher offer, whereas if the price is agreed upon, the listing comes down and a typical buying agreement comes into place.

Buy It Benefits


One way of using the Buy It Now option to its full potential is to deploy it when the listing dictates. Of course, sellers don't need to exclusively use Buy It Now or auctions, but can veer between the two with great effect.

Take for example a supremely niche listing that may prove very popular indeed with a small number of individuals, but is unlikely to have mass appeal. Typical examples of this include less popular but also less common collectors' items, such as an old train set or memorabilia from a minority sport or team. The community for these items is very engaged, but for the layman they hold little to no interest whatsoever.

With these, an auction can go a number of ways. If this engaged community finds out about the listing it could provoke a bidding war that drives the price way beyond what anyone had expected. On the other hand, it could be the case that too few people will be aware of the listing and therefore it gains precious few bids. In this scenario, one lucky collector might have secured a very valuable piece for just 99p.

This could be remedied, of course, by listing the item as Buy It Now, so that anyone who is willing to pay a great deal for a particular item doesn't manage to get it with change from a pound.

Bide your time


For sellers with time on their side, Buy It Now also provides the chance to gauge public opinion on an item's worth before putting it up at a price deemed more attractive. Of course, everyone has a price in mind they'd like to achieve - or one which they think the item is worth - but there's the old adage to consider of products only being worth what people are willing to pay for them.

This also proves beneficial for one-of-a-kind items for which pricing is little more than a shot in the dark.

Under these scenarios, sellers can list an item with Buy It Now at the top end of what they'd like to get or think it's worth. If someone buys it - good news - the seller ends up hitting the top end of their price range. If it doesn't sell, no problem, just re-list it at a lower price, more certain of it then being at a cost which buyers are willing to meet. An added benefit here is that any buyer who saw the item on its first listing may then be inclined to buy as the price has come down - making them think they're getting a very good deal indeed.

There are, of course, a vast array of options, benefits and opportunities for using Buy It Now, which all depend on the seller, their item, the target audience and external influences, such as time constraints. What some of the above should show is that eBay doesn't start and end with auctions, but instead that there's a whole new world of opportunity on offer outside them.