eBay auction vs Buy It Now?


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eBay auction vs Buy It Now

A couple shop online together using a smart phone.

What's coming up

In this activity, we're going to learn more about the ways that goods are sold on eBay, including:

  • auction: where you bid against others for an item.
  • Buy It Now: where you pay a fixed price, just like in a shop.
Start activity
The Place maximum bid button on an eBay auction item.

eBay auctions

eBay auctions work differently to regular auctions. Instead of starting with a minimum bid, an eBay auction begins with you bidding the maximum amount you're prepared pay for an item.

eBay then keeps this information confidential and bids on your behalf, automatically increasing your offer to slightly more than the current winning bid until your maximum is reached.

eBay makes bids for everyone in the auction, with the winner being the highest bidder when the auction ends.

eBay bid amounts

In auction listings, eBay makes automatic bids on your behalf, increasing your bid by increments each time you are outbid by someone else. The amount eBay bids each time depends on the current bid, from as little as 50 cents for low-cost items, to $100 for items over $5000.

Auctions can run for between one and 10 days, and this process continues until the auction ends.

eBay makes bids on your behalf in small increases, or increments.
Buy It Now items come with a fixed price.

Fixed-price items

Some eBay sellers want a certain price for an item and are prepared to wait until they receive it. These sellers list their items with a Buy It Now price, which means the items are sold for a set price, like goods in a traditional shop.

Buy It Now purchasing

When you click the Buy It Now button on a fixed-price item, that's the price you pay. Postage or delivery is usually an additional fee, but this should be clearly outlined prior to making the purchase. The seller must accept the price when you click Buy It Now.

Sometimes, auction items will also offer a Buy It Now option. eBay requires that this is 30% higher than the auction's Starting bid, which means even though you'll pay more to use Buy It Now on an auction item, you won't have to compete for the item or wait for the auction process to end.

You can click on the Buy It Now button for an item to buy it instantly.
Some Buy It Now items also have a Make Offer option where you can start negotiating with the seller.

Negotiating with the Make Offer option

Some Buy It Now listings also provide a Make Offer option. This allows you to suggest a price to the seller, which they are free to accept or refuse. The seller can also make a counter-offer.

Which to choose: auction or Buy It Now?

If you're interested in an item but only below a certain price, or are willing to wait and take the chance of getting it for a bargain, an auction listing will be the better option.

Buy It Now items may cost you more than some careful bidding in an auction, but you are assured of getting the item. This is a good option to choose when the item is important to you and you are prepared to pay the asking price.

The choice is yours whether you prefer to buy at auction or pay a fixed price on eBay.
It pays to shop around and compare prices for goods you want on more than one website.

Comparing eBay prices with others

Just because something is listed on eBay doesn't always mean the price is the cheapest available, especially for new items. Sometimes it can be cheaper to buy new things directly from the manufacturer's website than from a seller on eBay.

But checking prices on eBay might give you a good starting point for comparing with other websites or shops.

Well done!

You’ve reached the end of the eBay auction vs Buy It Now activity. You should now know when to choose an auction listing or pay a fixed price for an item, and what is involved with both purchasing methods.

Next up, we'll check out how you can make bids for goods on eBay in the How to bid at an eBay auction activity.

A happy shopper using a tablet to purchase goods online.