How Long Should Your eBay Auctions Run? - dummies

By Marsha Collier

Another debatable philosophy for eBay sellers is auction timing. People are always asking how long to run auctions and what’s the best day to end an auction. You have to evaluate your item and decide which of the following is the best plan:

  • One-day auction: Did you just get a load of an item that sells as fast as you post it on the site? A Buy It Now feature on any auction can bring great results, but that will work only if the item is super-hot!

    If people are aggressively bidding up an item — and they really gotta have it — you may do best by starting the bidding low and listing the item with a one-day format.

    The best way to use a one-day listing is if your item is time-sensitive, for example, event tickets, airline tickets, vacation packages, or tee times. A one-day listing gives you the immediacy — and the time to ship a physical ticket — if necessary.

    To list an item for one day, you must have a feedback score of at least 10. If you don’t, the option to list for one day won’t show up on the item listing form.

    When you list in a one-day format, your listing goes right to the top of the Time: Ending Soonest sort. Many savvy shoppers view their searches by Listings Ending First (rather than the eBay default of Best Match). With a one-day format, you can pretty much choose the time of day your item will be at the top.

    If your competitors start their auctions at $.99 with a reasonable Buy It Now price, you’ll find that bidders negate Buy It Now offers pretty quickly by placing a bid — which makes it no longer a Buy It Now item— and the item goes to auction.

    Retaliate by listing your item with a starting bid at just a dollar or so below your Buy It Now price (and make that price at least $.50 below the competition’s), and your items may be snapped up more quickly. Keep in mind that for this strategy, your item needs to be in demand!

    Buy It Now pricing must be at least 30 percent over your listing’s starting price.

  • Three-day auction: If, the item’s price will shoot up right after you post it, a three-day auction works just fine. And it’s great for those last-minute holiday shoppers looking for hard-to-find items.

    A three-day auction is good, for the same reasons that a one-day auction is good — only it’s better for the faint of heart and nervous Nellies (like me) because it gives your item more time on the site — more of a chance to sell.

    With the Buy It Now feature, you can pretty much accomplish the same thing as you would with a short-term auction. When you list your item for sale, set a price at which you’re willing to sell the item immediately; this is your Buy It Now price.

  • Five-day auction: A five-day auction gives you two days more than a three-day auction and two days less than a seven-day auction. That’s about the size of it. If you just want an extended weekend auction or your item is a hot one, use it. Five-day auctions are useful during holiday rushes, when gift-buying is the main reason for bidding.

  • Seven-day auction: Tried-and-true advertising theory says that the longer you advertise your item, the more people will see it. On eBay, this means that you have more opportunities for people to bid on it. The seven-day auction is a staple for the bulk of eBay vendors. Seven days is long enough to cover weekend browsers and short enough to keep the auction interesting.

  • Ten-day auction: Many veteran eBay sellers swear by the ten-day auction. Sure, eBay charges you an extra $.40 for the privilege, but the extra three days of exposure (it can encompass two weekends) can easily net you more than your extra cost in profits.

    A ten-day auction is good for special collectibles or an expensive item that isn’t normally on the site. Putting up a ten-day auction (start Friday night so you get exposure over two weekends) is a near-perfect way to attract bidders.

Your auction closes exactly one, three, five, seven, or ten days — to the minute — after you start the auction. Try not to begin your auctions when you’re up late at night and can’t sleep: You don’t want your auction to end at two in the morning when no one else is awake to bid on it.

The specific day you close your auction can also be important. eBay is full of weekend browsers, so including a weekend of browsing in your auction time is a definite plus. Often auctions that end late Sunday evening through Monday close with high bids.

You’ll need to do some research to determine the best times to run your auctions and for how long. The best person to figure out the closing information for your auctions is you. Use the tools and, over time, you’ll work out a pattern that works best for you.