Online auctions – Trade Me Advice

We have been Trade Me members since November 2001.

During this time we have learnt by trial and error the best ways to present an auction, to pay for a purchase, to deal with postage and much more.

We have had the privilege of trading with wonderful people up and down this beautiful country also the profound privilege of trading with overseas buyers too.

Over the years we have used Trade Me as a Sales and Marketing tool for our business too. With products Trade Me can be an interesting a fun vechicle to reach customers. It is more difficult to auction services because there is no tangable item but an inventive marketing type could create something that could work for you.

I would like to outline just a few things we have learnt as part of the Trade Me community. 

12 Things we have learnt

FEEDBACK First and foremost..Always give feedback for every single trade. 
This is how the Trade Me community knows who to deal with and who to blacklist. This is how you will determine yourself who to trade with.

RULES Read the Trade Me rules and abide by them. 
You can\’t do any trading if you break the rules. If you see some else breaking the rules use the Community Watch and report what you see. This is how the Website stays safe for the whole community. It is everybody\’s responsibility to look after the running of Trade Me.

USE THE HELP information that is provided on the Website, as a phone call to Trade Me will cost $1.99/minute + GST. 
Don\’t waste your money asking questions that are already answered for you. The Help feature even has a calculator to work out the Success Fees which stays open even if you close out of Trade is excellent.

PAYMENTS The best way to pay and receive payment for an item is on-line banking. 
If you don\’t already have internet banking arrange it, it will save you a lot of time, money and hassle. Fantastic not just for Trade Me too. For international trading the best payment method we have found is Paypal..I am not keen to except Credit Cards from Overseas buyers but using Paypal they handle all of the exchange and banking for you. Very worth it and very easy.

POSTAGE When listing an auction always have the buyer pay for postage and packaging.. 
You are not a charity and you can\’t guarantee the final selling price.This caught us out a goodie when we listed one of our first auctions for $1 and it sold for $1…the catch was .it was a printer and had been sold out of town.

PACKAGING When packaging goods that you have sold always pack them like they are going to be thrown out of a plane to their destination. Neither a courier company nor NZ Post are 100% infallible but don\’t let this stop you. Know what insurance your postal company provides so you can take advantage of it if required. A pair of scales can come in handy for weighing parcels that go by NZ Post. The NZ Post has a weight, price, destination calculator. Use it so you can get the right money for the postage and do not forget to add at least $1.50 to cover the packaging. Some sellers add more, it depends on what the item is. If you think the postage and packaging is unreasonable, say so but consider the costs first.

AUCTION LENGTH I tend to stick with the 7 day auction offered for free. 
It gives a good amount of time for many different buyers to find and bid on your auction. Use the other date options if you are going away and need a sooner finishing date. Don\’t list an auction and then go away on holiday when it is about to close. This will get you bad feedback as a buyer wants contact within the first couple of days of winning. The same goes for buying..don\’t bid on something that you are not able to complete the transaction the Trade Me rules.

START PRICE Start your auction near the price that you want for it. 
I have found the most effective auction is one where the start price and the reserve price are the same. It also means that the first bid is a buying bid and you will not lose the sale because the reserve price has not been met. With Trade Me there maybe only one or two collectors for your item so if you start your price too low it will not go any further unless there is more than one interested party.

BUYER QUESTIONS As a buyer ask as many questions about an auction as you need to decide if you will bid or not. 
If you have no intention for making a bid refrain from asking questions. Only ask for a Buy Now price if you intent to buy the item straight away and be prepared for the seller to say no. It is an auction not a shop! It is important that your questions are relevant and appropriate. When you ask a question you are added to the list of interested buyers that an offer can be given to after the auction has completed.

SELLER ANSWERS As a seller try and answer all the questions HOWEVER you do not have to answer questions that break the Trade Me rules. 
You also do not have to answer any questions that are inappropriate. You do not have to add a Buy Now price if asked, it is your choice. Describe the item you are selling warts and all. This will earn you respect and good feedback

FREE LISTINGS Don\’t be tempted to do a Free Listing.. 
While this sounds great you limit severely who will look at your listing. A .45cent gallery listing will very much improve your chances of selling your item. A buyer will search for key words but will look at the pictures first then the words in the title and then the listing itself.

RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH Finally, research what you are buying and selling. 
Know what you are dealing with it is key to getting the best out of a system like this. $1 Auctions can make you some good money if you did not want anything for your item in the first place.but if you do want something for your item research it\’s value so you can choose a good starting price. Some good places to do research are:

  • Google search engine or indeed any other search engine
  • Trade Me
  • Ebay
  • Local shops that sell your item already
  • Trade and exchange

So, with all the above advice under your belt.. don\’t forget to research, measure, describe and photograph your item. Add maker\’s marks, stamps, certificates and anything else that will prove authenticity. Be courteous in your questions and answers. Be generous in your feedback. Most of all treat others, as you would like to be treated and expect nothing in return. You will be pleasantly surprised at the kindness and generosity that exists in New Zealand and in the Trade Me community. Finally, do not exclude overseas customers as they bring a Global Market dimension that does not exist in normal retail shop or auction house. Some of my best money has come from Overseas buyers.

We continue with Trade Me as a vehicle for our endeavours and recommend it to all as a great place to buy and sell. Have a go it could work for you too.