Archive for May, 2015

How to sell valuable items on eBay – Chapter 2

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

Chapter 2 – How to Authenticate Your Item

If you have something that may be of great potential value, you’ll need to be sure to properly authenticate your item prior to attempting to sell it. This step is crucial to ensuring a smooth sale and maximizing the sale value of your item(s).

First, does the item have any provenance? Provenance is the history of ownership, which may include prior sale / auction receipts, photographs, or written documentation. Items with historically significant provenance or that have been owned by famous individuals can have their value increase greatly as a result.

If your item doesn’t have well documented provenance, then perhaps it’s possible to authenticate the item on your own using well-documented references (much like you did in your 8th grade term paper). Identical / similar items shown online and in print publications can be used to authenticate your items. I once did this with a rare piece of presidential china that I received from a client. After purchasing the reference book, I learned that the provenance the client had provided was incorrect and that the plate that she had provided me was actually older. It ended-up selling for $3189, which thrilled the client, the collector, and myself!

3189

If don’t have provenance or access to a good reference source, then professional authentication and/or appraisal may be necessary. This can be done for items such as jewelry, art, autographs, sports memorabilia, comics, coins, and even toys. Use your favorite online search engine to research different forms of authentication / appraisal for your item(s). If you’re still unsure as how you should proceed, look at which third-party companies major auction houses / dealers associate with as well as how they make available the authentication certificate prior to the sale.

3 Smart Shipping Strategies

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

Since I started selling on eBay full time several years ago, I’ve shipped several thousand packages that have gone to every US state as well as 50 international countries. Here are a few useful tips that you may want to incorporate into your own shipping practices.

1.     Keep a shipping “cheat sheet”. This can be a simple spread sheet that has the dimensions, weight, and cost of all of your boxes and shipping supplies. This will save you a lot of time when it comes to calculating shipping costs.

2.     Let the pros pack the crazy stuff. Simply get the (approximate) weight and dimensions of any oversized item that you’re trying to sell and call a local shipper to get a quote (I usually ask for a quote to ship to both Los Angeles and New York). Then, include the shipping cost in with the cost of your item and offer “free” shipping to make the item more appealing.

3.     Why not self insure? Shipping insurance is expensive, especially if you ship in high volumes. If you track the amount of shipping insurance you purchase versus the actual amount of claims that you make, oftentimes, the companies that sell you the insurance are earning hundreds or thousands of dollars extra, even after paying out claims.

Domestic shipping insurance is roughly $0.90 to $1.50 per $100 of coverage. So, for every $100,000 worth of goods that you ship, you’re spending $900 to $1500 on shipping insurance, but you’re probably not making claims in that amount (at least not if your packing and shipping items carefully.)

My advice is that for every $100 in sales, set aside $1 in a separate escrow account for insurance. Have a maximum amount that you’re comfortable self-insuring (say $500 to $1000) and purchase insurance if you’re shipping high-value items, so you don’t wipe out your escrow account or impact your bottom line significantly.

The benefits of self insurance are two-fold. One, you can process claims much faster yourself than waiting for someone else to do it, which means it will improve your customer service & retention. And two, any money left over at the end of the year can be reinvested back into your business, or can even serve as a nice year-end bonus to the shipping department for a job well done!

How to sell valuable items on eBay – Chapter 1

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

Over the course of the next few weeks / months, I’ll be writing about how I go about selling valuable consignments. This information was gained through thousands of hours of selling on eBay, as well as a lot of trial and error. I welcome any questions / feedback that you have and hope that people out there will find these articles useful.

 

Chapter 1 – What is the market for my item?

The first thing I do whenever I have something that I think is valuable is to try to research current sales trends for the item. This means that you want to find out what an identical or similar item has sold for recently (ideally, two years or less), as that can be a good indicator as to what others are willing to pay for the same item.

Please note, this does not mean that you will go straight to Google or eBay and look-up the current listed price for the same item. Oftentimes, items that are currently listed for sale may be vastly overpriced (hence, that is why they are listed for sale and not already sold!)

Here are some different venues that are helpful in researching your items:

eBay – eBay is the largest online marketplace in the world, where you can find everything from Russian meteorites to vintage underwear, (yes, people collect both,) all under one “roof”. It’s also an incredibly valuable and FREE resource that you can use to research almost anything for sale. All it requires are a few small modifications when you use the search feature

The easiest way to research recently sold items on eBay is to click on the “Advanced” button. Next, enter in a few keywords to describe your item. The scroll down a bit and be sure to check “Sold Listings” button, then click search.

To explain what this does, imagine if eBay was a huge store with everything currently for sale being in the front of this store. You can quickly search for most items by using the standard search bar on the eBay homepage. However, by searching the “Sold Listings”, you’re now getting to peak in the back of the store, where they keep records of everything that’s sold in the last 6-8 weeks.

Why is important? Because not only will you be able to see the pricing information for the sold items, you can see how the format in which it was sold (auction vs. fixed price), how the items were photographed and written-up, etc. I usually organize my results by price (highest to lowest), so I can quickly understand which items are selling for the most money (and why). Be sure that the condition of your item matches the condition of the items that you’re looking at (otherwise it may sell for less if it’s in poorer condition, or perhaps more if in better condition).

Terapeak is a subscription service (currently $25 per month) that can be accessed either as an app through eBay or through its standalone website or smartphone app. Terapeak essentially stores a huge amount of sales data from eBay, allowing you to research sales trends back to a year (or more) from eBay. Additionally, you can see the sales price for any item (even those annoying “Best Offer Accepted” items), research “hot” sales trends in many categories, and even get an x-ray view of competitors (which includes their top sale items, total listings, total sales, and sell-through rate!)

Christie’s & Sotheby’s are the two largest and most well-known international auction houses. They tend to have the highest profile art and jewelry sales in the world. Both auction houses provide the ability to search through completed sales as far back as 10+ years, providing pictures and sales descriptions in addition to pre-sale estimates and hammer prices.

Live Auctioneer is an auction website that serves as an online platform for a number of regional auction houses throughout the United States and Europe. In addition to being able to view upcoming auctions, Live Auctioneer maintains a database of previously sold items, ranging from $5 in value to several million dollars. The website is free, but registration is required to search the database.

Heritage Auctions is the third largest auction house by volume in the world and does particularly well selling coins and sports collectibles. They receive an interesting array of consignments and maintain a past sales results database that includes excellent pictures and descriptions of most of the items sold. The website is free, but registration is required.

Worthpoint is a subscription based service that aggregates both eBay sales data as well as data from a number of regional auction houses in the United States. The database goes back as far as 12 years. I find it particularly helpful when researching obscure or hard-to-find items without a lot of information elsewhere.

Ask Art is another subscription-based service that serves as a database for art. Artists can be researched by their last names, with results that provide full names, birth / death information, bios (if available), as well as examples of works sold and their hammer prices.

There many other databases / subscription services available online or in print, but these are the ones that I found myself using most frequently while selling on eBay.

Now that you have an idea of whether or not there’s a market for your item (and assuming that there is), does the item meet your sales expectations? In most instances, the retail price (original purchase price) of the item will be much higher than the resale price that you’ll find online. Additionally, be aware that appraisal values (particularly for jewelry) are often much higher that what may be possible if you resell your item, as most appraisals were conducted for insurance purposes and not for resale purposes.

 

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