Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Buy It Now or Auction? How To Choose The Right Selling Format For Your Items

So you want to sell your items on eBay and you're sitting at your computer and are ready to list.  You may have noticed that eBay offers several options on how to sell your items. Choosing the best format for your eBay auction is an important part of making sure your item sells for the best price. There are several different platforms; so let's look at all of your options so that you can pick the best one.

Starting Price
First, let’s look at the starting price. You should have an idea of the average selling price from your item research. However, it’s always worth double-checking with the most recent Completed Listings before selling your item.  If you are unsure about market research, please refer to my post on market research.

When you first start listing, eBay will offer to look up an average price for you based upon your keywords. Do NOT use this. eBay only looks at items that have similar keywords to yours. If you are trying to sell a camcorder, for example, eBay will not only factor in camcorders, but will also include auctions for camcorder batteries, cases, and so on, not just the camcorder unit itself. That can skew your results dramatically.  The best method is to look at the items that have sold.  You do this by entering a keyword, then click the advanced tab and go down to completed listings, and hit search. You will then be able to see the completed listings yourself. You can then adjust your starting price accordingly.

Reserve Price
Here's the Golden Rule of eBay: Lower starting prices attract more (and earlier) bids. In general, a low starting bid will increase your chances of success. However, if after you do your research and find that the averages are too low for you and your pieces, then you will want to protect yourself by setting a reserve price. There is a non-refundable fee for setting reserves, so proceed with care.  Once you've set a reserve price, and if the bidding doesn’t reach the reserve price you set, then you’re not under any obligation to sell the item to the highest bidder. You can offer it to them if you want to (using a Second Chance Offer), but you don’t have to.

When setting your reserve price, consider both the average selling price and what you want to get for the item. Be realistic, though. At the end of the day, your objective is to sell the item, so don’t list a ridiculously high reserve price. You won’t end up with a bidding war at the end of your auction if the reserve has still not been met.

Buyers expect to see reserve prices on expensive items, but not on cheap ones. Most buyers prefer auctions with no reserve, but that is more risky for you. On expensive items, I recommend that you always use a reserve. On less expensive items, use your discretion to weigh the risk versus your expected selling price. The more popular an item is, the less risk you take by not using a reserve. Hot-selling items or highly collectible pieces usually get enough bids to end up selling at their true value. Slower-selling items or obscure goods that have a limited market can be very risky to start at a low price without a reserve.

Most buyers bid in whole increments ($15, $50, $200, $325, and so on), so it’s wise to list your reserve price just below one of those increments. If you want to set your reserve at $700, instead set it at $689; instead of $75, use $68. Once someone meets the reserve, the real bidding begins.

To add a reserve, click Change next to No Reserve price set for this item and enter your reserve price. Remember: the fee for adding a reserve price is nonrefundable.

Buy It Now Pricing
You don’t have to set a Buy It Now price. If you choose to, it will cost you between 5¢ and 25¢, depending on the price you set.  You can avoid these fees by starting an eBay store, or wait until eBay offers Free Buy It Now Listings, which is quite often.

If the first bidder chooses to place the starting bid instead of using the Buy It Now option, the auction usually reverts to a standard auction and the Buy It Now price disappears (unless there is a reserve price on the auction). Just like the reserve price fee, the fee to add a Buy It Now price is nonrefundable, whether or not the buyer uses it.

When you are setting your Buy It Now price, you should always set it significantly higher than your starting price; otherwise, there is really no point. eBay requires the Buy It Now price to be at least 10 percent higher than the starting price, but I recommend that you go higher and list it around the average selling price, or possibly a fraction higher.

Here's a little pricing tip for Buy It Now:  Let's say you have an item you want to sell for $300.  Try pricing it a couple of dollars lower that the $300 price.  Using $297.70 rather than $299.99 for the Buy It Now price may seem a little pointless, but there is a logic to it. Buyers will always see $299.99 as $300 because of retail store prices. $297.70 is only $2.19 lower, but it seems much lower because it’s not a common price point. So you are more likely to get the buyer over another seller who priced his item at $299.99.

One tactic that can really attract sellers to use the Buy It Now price is offering free shipping. Simply add the shipping cost to your desired Buy It Now price, and add another 50¢ to pay for the subtitle. Then say “Free U.S. shipping with Buy It Now” in the subtitle.

Fixed-Priced Listing
Determining the difference between a Buy It Now auction and a fixed-price listing can get a little confusing. Buyers can make an instant purchase on either listing type, but a fixed-price listing does not have an additional bidding option. The Buy It Now price is the only option. The buyer either buys it for that price or doesn't.

If you want to sell in a fixed-price format, click the Fixed Price tab. The only amount you need to enter here is the Buy It Now price. Use the same reasoning as you do for a Buy It Now option in an auction to determine the price you set. You can also use the free shipping tactic to increase your fixed-price sales.

If you have easy access to your computer, consider using Best Offer. If you want to use this option, set your Buy It Now price a little higher to allow for haggling down with your buyer. That way, she feels like she got a deal and you don’t actually lose any money.

If you select the Best Offer box, you will be given an opportunity to enter an amount that you want to be automatically accepted and an amount to automatically reject below. Going back to my $300 item example from earlier, I might set it to automatically accept an offer at $275 or higher, and automatically reject anything below $245. I will still receive notification of offers submitted with a Best Offer of $246 to $274 for my own review.

In summary, there are a variety of ways that you can choose to list your items.  My best advice is to try them all.  Experiment with different listings and tactics and see which ones work for you. Soon you will find your personal formula for getting the maximum prices out of your items.

Be sure to check out my eBay store, featuring vintage jewelry items starting at a ridiculously low 49 cents!

The Importance of Market Research and How You Can Use It To Grow Your Online Business

As you progress in your online business, you will start to notice that you spend a lot of time on Google or Yahoo researching. It is something that you cannot avoid as research is a, if not the, most vital tool in order to effectively market your products.  However, if you are not careful, or if you are not experienced in marketing, you can spend all your time researching.

To avoid this common trap and to begin learning how to better manage your business productivity, it will be necessary to take a brief crash course on marketing.  These tools are necessary to help your business grow so settle in and let's begin.

Marketing and market research defined
The concept of marketing as a business philosophy defines marketing as a process that is intended to find, satisfy and retain customers while businesses make a profit. But central to all this definition is the role of the customer and their relationship to the product (i.e. whether they consider the product or service to meet a need or want).

Market research consists of a plan that charts how relevant data is to be collected and analyzed so that the results are useful and relevant for making marketing decisions. Once the research and the related analysis are complete, the results are used to make better decisions regarding the marketing of your products.

Therefore, market research is imperative for you as a business owner to know what type of products would be profitable to sell online. In the case of selling jewelry, you need to know what is in demand, what is collectible, what the current fashion trends and colors are, etc.  Also with respect to what you are currently selling, good market research enables you to know if you have been able to satisfy customer needs and whether any changes need to be made in areas such as the packaging or shipping of your pieces. In short, research enables you to make a viable marketing plan or measure the success of your current marketing efforts.

Types Of Market Research
Essentially there are two types of research, primary and secondary.  Primary research is information collected through monitoring sales levels and measuring the effectiveness of your business practices such as customer service, your availability to your customer base through email, instant messaging, telephone, etc.

Secondary research is the gathering of already published data to create a 'database' of sorts that serves to provide a benchmark for where you need to be.  Secondary research helps you to identify your competition, perform a strategy for benchmarking and to determine what areas you should target in light of contributing factors such as demographics, population, sales and usage rates, lifestyle and behavior patterns.  Both primary and secondary research are essential to fulfill your business goals and promote growth.

Data Collection Methods
Data collection methods for marketing research are divided into quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative studies use mathematical analysis, which can disclose differences that are statistically significant. The sample size used is quite large.  In our cases, we won't have to focus on quantitative methods of research.

Qualitative methods are used to provide a base for quantitative research and help in quantitative research design development. They target problem defining, generating hypotheses and identifying determinants. They consist of one-on-one interviews to probe for personal opinions, beliefs and values and serve to uncover hidden issues. The sample size in this method is small.  The emergence of social media has made it easier to collect data qualitatively by engaging followers through blog posts, YouTube videos, and Facebook likes. The use of social media makes it easy to get a feel for what your potential or current customers want and expect from you as a business and what would keep them loyal to you.

In summary, you can't have a successful business without having the right data about customers, products and the market in general. Market research is an essential management tool for a viable business plan enabling you to survive and thrive in today's fiercely competitive market conditions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How To Make Money Selling Your Jewelry On Ebay

Unless you've been living under a few cyber-rocks, you know that hands down, eBay is the world'd largest online auction site, allowing people to make money online.  Since it's inception in 1995, eBay has brought the time-tested business model of flea markets, yard and garage sales, and antique shows to your PC.  One of the reasons for its massive success is eBay's philosophy of connecting people, which is the 'secret sauce' to any business's success.

With today's ever-plunging economy, more and more people are turning to this online business model to supplement or even replace their current income. The biggest draw is that you can start your own business for literally pennies on the dollar and can instantly have a global marketplace for your goods and services.  As a result, thousands of people have made some SERIOUS money in a relatively short time.

While there are no guarantees that you can repeat the success of certain eBay gurus, you can increase you chances of success by incorporating the following tips into your business model.  Although for the purposes of this post, I am talking about jewelry, these tips can be translated into any niche you prefer.

Research is King
This cannot be stressed enough! Product knowledge is the most powerful method to sell your goods.  If you sell jewelry, before you even sign up for an eBay account, I highly recommend that you spend time researching your pieces.  Study every vintage jewelry book and visit every vintage jewelry website you can find. Familiarize yourself with period styles, the work of well known designers, hallmarks, metals, stones/gems. Note how the descriptions are written. Commit these to memory, make them a part of you.

Branding is Key
A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It's important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. It's a foundational piece in your marketing communication and one you do not want to be without.  Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.

The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

Delivers the message clearly
Confirms your credibility
Connects your target prospects emotionally
Motivates the buyer
Concretes User Loyalty

Read and study current eBay descriptions and prices
Create your eBay account and begin to familiarize yourself with how eBay works and its CMS platform.  CMS stands for Content Management Software which, in a nutshell, means they have a certain way of adding content to your pages.  There is a learning curve involved so take the time to learn how to maneuver your way around the site. You can find a wealth of tutorials and how-to videos all over the internet.  Some people sell courses, but if you are patient enough, you can teach yourself for absolutely no cost.

Although they improve the CMS aspect all the time, there are third-party alternatives to listing on eBay should you find eBay too complex.  The most popular is Auctiva, which is what I personally use to list items.  It is a subscription service, but they do have a 30-day trial for free.

Auctiva allows you to upload and list multiple items, design custom templates, even schedule listings.  This can help free up your precious time to be more productive in your business.  You can try them out for free by clicking this link.

Stock up on Inventory
Buy a jeweler's loupe (what I like to call the All Seeing Eye - The little magnifying glass a jeweler uses to examine pieces of jewelry) and go shopping at flea markets, yard sales, estate sales, auctions and thrift stores. Check your local newspaper for sales. Buy only a few pieces. Make sure each piece is marked with the company hallmark, usually found on the back of the item. Check item carefully with your jewelers loupe. Examine each stone for clarity and chips. Do not buy items that have defects or appear to have been repaired. Be sure all clasps and closures are in good working order and that all stones are securely set.

Subscribe to an image storing site
Unless you don't mind investing in an external hard drive, you will soon find that photos take up space - LOTS of space.  You will definitely need to subscribe to an image management site.  Most are free and there are plenty to choose from.  My personal recommendation is Picasa since it is owned by Google, thus making integration to and from websites seamless and easy.  Picasa allows you to upload, edit, store, and export your images all from one location.  While it is free, there is some software to install on your PC and a learning curve so be sure to view the tutorials they provide.

Invest in your equipment
No business is without overhead.  Even if you have a mountain of vintage jewelry, you still need equipment to sell it.  The six essential pieces of equipment/supplies you will need are a digital camera with macro-zoom, tripods, a postage scale, a computer, a jewelers loupe and packaging supplies.  As time goes along you will want to invest in marketing tools and better equipment so consider your overhead/profit ratio wisely.

Show Me The Money
Now you're all set to begin the fun part. Photograph your items, list your items and begin making money.

Be sure to check out my ebay store, which features auction items starting at an unbelievable 49 cents!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Using Jewelry To Accessorize Your Outfit

Every woman wants to look their best, especially when they are out in public.  We also know that buying a fashionable outfit alone won't cut it, so we learn early on how to accessorize.  No matter how superficial it may seem, it's just a fact of life for us that having the right accessories with the right outfit makes us feel better about ourselves.  Along with clothes, bags, shoes and makeups, jewelry is also considered as a girl’s best friend. However, some women tend to wear too many accessories, while others do not know how to pick out the right accessories to go with their outfit.

So to help us girls out with this malady, I have some jewelry accessing tips that will help you put your best fashion foot forward!

Be consistent
Stick to one type of metal or one color palette. For instance, do not wear a gold necklace with a silver necklace. Your pieces will end up clashing with one another. The best thing to do is to first determine which would go best with your outfit. Once you have decided which material to use, use it all the way. If it’s silver, wear silver necklace, earrings ring and the likes.

Avoid wearing too many accessories 
If you are already wearing a bib necklace or a necklace with a big pendant, never pair it with chandelier earrings. Always remember that you should only let one piece of jewelry be your focal point. This should be the piece that will catch people’s attention. If you wear more than one attention-catching pieces, people will be confused as to what fashion statement you are trying to achieve. Plus, you will end up looking like a Christmas tree.

When choosing a gemstone, take note of your skin tone and eye color 
It is best that the gemstone complements your skin and eyes, so that your look will be perfect. For example, peridot earrings go well with hazel eyes while gold colors are best for people who have darker skin.

Try turning your necklace into a bracelet
Have you seen those layered bracelets? Look again – it’s likely that they are not even bracelets at all. The trend now is to use necklaces as bracelets, which adds funk and an unexpected flair to your outfit.

Vintage is so in 
Instead of buying brand new pieces every now and then, why not opt for vintage ones? Vintage accessories adds drama to simple outfits, and a simple touch of vintage accessories brings elegance and style. Vintage is making a comeback.  In my eBay Store, I have hundreds of very affordable vintage pieces to choose from, some starting at an unbelievable 49 cents!

Never wear loud prints with massive jewelry 
Remember that loud prints and patterns are accessories themselves, so if you want to wear large pieces or multiple layers of jewelry, wear plain clothes and solid colors instead. This will allow your jewelry to be the highlight of your outfit.

Accessorize for the occasion
Unless it’s a simple pearl or diamond stud earrings, do not wear pearls or diamonds if you are just going to the mall. Also, simple silver jewelry will not look stunning when you wear it to a formal party. Just like finding the right outfit, you have to know which styles of jewelry are the most appropriate for the occasion.

By mastering these tips, you will always look your best and your outfit will make the best statement possible.   Be sure to check out my store.  These pieces are available now at unbelievable bargains:

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How To Sell Your Costume Jewelry For What It's Worth

Previously we talked about determining the quality of your costume jewelry. If you own some vintage costume jewelry and have determined its quality, you may have decided that you want to sell it.  Below are some steps you can take to ensure that you get the best deals for your pieces.

Take time to read books and search the Internet to learn how much you can get for your pieces. The prices will vary according to your geographical location, the condition of your jewelry, current fashion and color trends, designer signatures, and your pieces’ uniqueness.

Go Forth and Conquer
Once you arm yourself with a little knowledge, take your jewelry to an antique store or dealer to learn the art of negotiation.  jewelry wholesalers and online dealers can be another option, but before contacting an online dealer, be wise and check their website, making sure to their “About us” and “Testimonials” pages to understand what they stand for and how they work.

Contact these places to see if they would be interested in buying your pieces.  You can show them your pieces in a number of ways:

  • Scan the pieces front and back
  • Take quality close-up pictures of the front and back
  • Send the pieces to be inspected by the dealer

Since the dealer’s main interest will be in the jewelry’s condition in terms of plating, prongs, and rhinestone clarity, make sure the images you send show these characteristics clearly.  To enhance the images, take the photos over a light colored piece of fabric, for example, light gray.

Be sure to the dealer about any signatures or markings that your pieces have on the back.  Make sure you check every piece thoroughly with a loupe under a bright light.

Tell the dealer your price. To avoid being taken advantage of, never tell them you don’t know how much to ask for or insist that they make you an offer.  If you truly don’t know how much to ask for, you can ask them to tell you their best offer. The problem is that you won’t be able to make a counter offer.  Personally, I go to several dealers and ask for their best offer while at the same time informing them that I would like to get "x" amount.  After I get a few offers, I take the best one of the bunch.

Let Someone Else Do The Dirty Work
You can also sell your vintage costume jewelry through consignment.  Many dealers offer this option; just make sure to ask for information about their terms.  While you can get more money selling on consignment, it can take longer to see a return because you have to wait for the sale to occur.

No matter why you are selling your jewelry pieces, realize that they are valuable, not only monetarily but sentimentally too. Following these tips will ensure that you sell your vintage jewelry for what it is truly worth.

Be sure to check out my eBay store, feature fantastic deals on vintage jewelry starting at an amazing 49 cents!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Determining The Value of Costume Jewelry

We all know that costume jewelry has little inherent value as it is not made of precious metals or gemstones. Therefore you cannot measure its value based upon the standards of gold and diamond jewelry.  The value of costume jewelry is perceived in relation to its collectibility or wearability.  Thus, the condition of your pieces as well as its desirability are the two biggest factors in determining its value. Other factors affecting value will be in what venue it is sold, such as antique store, mall, cyber auction, etc., geographic area, Current trends and fads, and supply and demand.

While it is possible to comparison shop your jewelry by looking in antique malls, on the internet, or in published price guides, you need to know that all of these venues can be inaccurate.  Prices are often determined by the owner of the pieces rather that being based on actual sales.  The collectible value of a piece can change rapidly based upon fluctuations in supply and demand.  In addition, the books themselves may be dated.

Ultimately, regardless of what some book or Antiques Roadshow says, your jewelry is worth what someone will pay for it, if you are selling it. If you are keeping it, then it is worth whatever value you  wish to place upon it.  

Should you decide to sell your pieces, the following is a breakdown of factors that afffect the value of costume jewelry:

Inspect your pieces for conditions that will have an impact on desirability and value:

  • Wear and scratches   
  • Chipped or peeling paint, plating, or faux pearls  
  • Dark spots, graying, yellowing of stones  
  • Missing parts   
  • Poor repairs 

The following factors impact a piece's desirability in a re-sale market:

  • Color  
  • Condition  
  • Size  
  • Era   
  • Style and Design  
  • Designer and/or Manufacturer   
  • Current fads or collecting trends 
  • Supply & demand   
  • Price  

These factors will have an impact on value in a re-sale market

  • Desirability
  • Condition 
  • Geographical area  
  • Sales venues such as thrift, re-sale, antique shop, internet (website or auction)


  • Sentimental Value - Priceless
  • "Book"  Value - What value guides indicate
  • Antique Value - as seen in an antique store/jewelry store
  • Secondary Market Value - as seen in a Resale Store
  • Thrift Value - as seen in a low end Resale Store
  • Fair Market Value - what you can, as a willing seller,  sell it for to a willing buyer
  • Estate Value - what it can be sold for easily & quickly in order to dispose of an estate 

As the places to check for jewelry values are numerous, so will be the value you get for your specific piece. Let ebay be your friend. You can search ebay's closed auctions to see what your item is selling for as well as the completed listings to see what they actually sold for.  Alternately, doing a Goole search will take you to some web sites that have similar pieces of jewelry.  Your local library and bookstore will have many books with price guides on Costume Jewelry.  Check your local antique stores for similar items.  If your piece of jewelry is difficult to search for because it is very non-specific, or a custom piece, browsing through antique stores, resale stores, and on line web sites is probably the best way to go about it.

There are some online appraisal services available and these are usually  fee based.   You may wish to seach the internet for these services.  One such service is  My opinion of online appraisals?  Personally, I have never used one as most of the items I sell are relatively easy to appraise with a picture. Other categories I admit, can be more difficult, such as fine or costume jewelry which might  need to be seen and examined closely and then researched.  Given that there are inherent problems in an appraisal given from a picture only, you may still find it an option when the fees are reasonable and the experts are professional and well versed in their subject.

After doing the research to price your jewelry you can sell it yourself.  If you wish to sell at  retail prices you must establish a website, or rent a mall space, or find some other way of  disposing of it, such as a neighborhood jewelry party.  You may find that you enjoy the challenge of finding creative ways to sell your jewelry and the learning experience can be invaluable.  Plan to spend a fair amount  time,  a good deal of effort, and a little bit of seed money in making this a profitable venture for you. Also keep in mind that there will be a percentage of pieces that will never sell.

If you are looking for some excellent pieces for your personal collection or even some inventory to re-sell, be sure to stop by my eBay Store where I am having a Jewelry Extravaganza, with pieces starting at an unbelievable 49 cents!  Here are a few items I have for bid right now: