Love me, love me not, love me …

Sometimes, Trade Me auctions sell out in a flash. Other times, not so much.

You polish up your headlines, take some great photos and write sizzling words that (you figure) will have people bidding like crazy. You kick-start your auction with great hope and check back in a day or so later.

So you’ve decided to seek fortune (if not fame) by selling stuff on Trade Me. You polish up your headlines, take some great photos and write sizzling words that (you figure) will have people bidding like crazy. You kick-start your auction with great hope and check back in a day or so later.
What? After all your good work, how could this happen? No bids! Don’t lose heart — you have not yet begun to fight. First, look at the stats. There are three pieces of information you need to know about an item that’s just sitting there, apparently unloved:
• Is your auction not getting any pageviews?
• Is it getting views but no bids?
• Or are people viewing it and then just adding it to their watchlist?
How do you know the answers to these questions? Go to My Trade Me and thence to your Items I’m Selling section. The three key auction numbers are there for you to see.
ON THE WATCHLIST?
If several people have added your auction to their watchlist, don’t change anything. They’re probably veteran Trade Me buyers and are saving up their energies (as well as their Auto-Bidders) for a sudden flurry at the end.
VIEWS BUT NO BIDS?
If you’re getting views and not bids, you know there is demand and interest in the item, but there’s something wrong with your price, your description or your photos. Tinker with the description, consider changing the photos — but don’t touch the pricing. Time enough for that if you have to relist your item.
NO VIEWS?
If you’re not getting views, then:
• There’s no demand or interest in the item
• You’re in the wrong category
• Your headline lets you down
WHATCHA GONNA DO?
First, head on over to the Advanced Search link and search for recent sales of similar items under Expired Auctions.
If you find a reasonable number of recent sales at acceptable prices, then you’ve established that there is demand for what you have to offer.
Dig a little deeper: click the most successful sold items and confirm they were listed in the same category you’re frequenting. If not — and if you still have at least a day before the auction ends — change categories. If the successfully sold items were listed in the same category, probe even deeper.
How does your headline stack up? Is there anything you can learn from the headlines used by the successful sellers? Nothing that’s immediately obvious? At this point you have two choices:
1. Suck it in and wait for the end of the auction. To all intents and purposes, your listing stacks up. Take your chances on attracting attention as your listing moves into the endgame, passing through the Closing Soon pages on the way to oblivion.
2. Tinker under the bonnet, trying some random changes to your headline and/or your choice of category.
We recommend choice #1. But that just might lead to…
COPING WITH FAILURE
No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The same is true of online auction listings. None of Trade Me’s top sellers achieves a 100% success rate, first time every time. We don’t imagine you will either. For some reason, those consumers out there have a mind of their own.
Sometimes, there’ll be no bids. Sometimes the bids just won’t reach your reserve. It’s a numbers game — and a game of perseverance. Even the professionals fail between 20% and 55% of the time. As for the rest of us: across the whole site, only one in four auctions closes successfully.
However, all is not lost. If your item doesn’t sell first time you can:
• Make an offer to bidders/watchers
• Relist it in a different category
• Relist it with different copy
• Relist it with a changed price offer
• Store it for now and try again later
• Add it to a group of related products (ie, bundled together)
• Add extra value (such as a gift with purchase)
• Add premium promotional options
• Turn it into a publicity opportunity
• Make it a learning experience!
Let’s not be gloomy about failure, though. It gives us a chance to learn new ways of doing things on Trade Me! Eventually, as winter turns to spring and thence to summer, failure will blossom into success.

What? No bids? After all your good work, how could this happen?

If you find your items left at the altar, here’s a little advice.

First, look at the stats. There are three pieces of information you need to know about an item that’s just sitting there, apparently unloved:

  1. Is your auction not getting any pageviews?
  2. Is it getting views but no bids?
  3. Or are people viewing it and then just adding it to their watchlist?

How do you know the answers to these questions? Go to My Trade Me and thence to your Items I’m Selling section. The three key auction numbers are there for you to see.

ON THE WATCHLIST?

If several people have added your auction to their watchlist, don’t change anything. They’re probably veteran Trade Me buyers and are saving up their energies (as well as their Auto-Bidders) for a sudden flurry at the end.

VIEWS BUT NO BIDS?

If you’re getting views and not bids, you know there is demand and interest in the item, but there’s something wrong with your price, your description or your photos. Tinker with the description, consider changing the photos — but don’t touch the pricing. Time enough for that if you have to relist your item.

NO VIEWS?

If you’re not even getting views, then either:

  • There’s no demand or interest in the item;
  • Your item is listed in the wrong category; or
  • Your headline is letting you down.

WHATCHA GONNA DO?

First, head on over to the “more options” link in the Search box, and search for recent sales of similar items under Expired Auctions.

If you find a reasonable number of recent sales at acceptable prices, then you’ve established that there is demand for what you have to offer.

Dig a little deeper: click the most successful sold items and confirm if they were listed in the same category you’re frequenting. If not — and if you still have at least a day before the auction ends — change categories. If the successfully sold items were listed in the same category, probe even deeper.

How does your headline stack up? Is there anything you can learn from the headlines used by the successful sellers? Nothing that’s immediately obvious? At this point you have two choices:

  1. Suck it in and wait for the end of the auction. To all intents and purposes, your listing stacks up. Take your chances on attracting attention as your listing moves into the endgame, passing through the Closing Soon pages on the way to temporary oblivion.
  2. Tinker under the bonnet, trying some random changes to your headline and/or your choice of category.

We recommend choice #1. But that just might lead to…

COPING WITH FAILURE

No battle plan survives contact with the enemy. The same is true of online auction listings. No top seller on Trade Me achieves a 100% success rate, first time every time. We don’t imagine you will either. For some reason, those potential buyers out there have a mind of their own.

Sometimes, there’ll be no bids. Sometimes the bids just won’t reach your reserve. It’s a numbers game — and a game of perseverance. Even the professionals fail between 20% and 55% of the time. As for the rest of us: across the whole site, only one in four auctions closes successfully.

However, all is not lost. If your item doesn’t sell first time you can:

  • Make a limited-time offer to any bidders or watchers. However you should note that because it’s so much easier these days to add an item to a Watchlist, you’ll attract many watchers who have only a mild interest in your item. So don’t get too disheartened if nobody bids.
  • Relist your item in a different category. Your research amongst Expired Items might have unearthed appropriate alternatives. If not, just think creatively.
  • Relist the item with a different description. Sometimes you can achieve success just by changing how you describe an item (refer the Trade Me Success Secrets book for advice on writing effective descriptions).
  • Relist your product with a changed price offer. Maybe you were too ambitious with your pricing. Try again.
  • Store it for now and try again later. Maybe this is a bad time to sell widgets.
  • Add your item to a group of related products (ie, bundled together). Sometimes people don’t appreciate what goes with what (especially with fashion or design items). Combine and attempt to sell the new collection as a unit.
  • Add extra value (such as a gift with purchase). The Gift With Purchase strategy is a tried and true sales tactic for retailers. It just might work for you.
  • Add premium promotional options. Maybe enough people didn’t notice your listing. Add pictures and pay to have one featured as a Gallery image. Pay for your auction to be listed at the front of the category.
  • Turn the whole thing into a publicity opportunity. We can see the headline now: widget that didn’t sell first time round on Trade Me now reaches record sales figures (see our earlier story “Five essential ingredients to make your listing famous” to see what can be done).
  • Make the whole thing a learning experience! Use it to explore Trade Me in greater detail than you ever have before (and, ahem, may we suggest that a great way to master Trade Me is to read our Trade Me Success Secrets book).

Let’s not be gloomy about failure, though. It gives us a chance to learn new ways of doing things on Trade Me! Eventually, as winter turns to spring (soon, surely!) and thence to summer, failure will blossom into success.

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4 thoughts on “Love me, love me not, love me …

  1. Lillybeth Melmoth

    Cute ending. I like blossoms. :-)

    Hey I’d never seen/noticed the ‘more options’ link by the search box, silly me. But that is SUPER helpful when you need to know what’s a realistic price to expect your auction to sell for.

    But it only works if you actually type a keyword to search for in the box (hint to the other newbies reading this).

    Thanks again.

  2. Jan FitzGerald

    All good advice. May I add something that may help – DON’T GIVE UP OVER THE SCHOOL HOLS (or even, perhaps, save your listings until AFTER the school hols!) With a slump every year at this time in my sales, usually popular items, I figured the money that was usually spent on T M was going on feeding and entertaining the kids. Well, obviously some of this is true, but then the penny dropped – 99% of my customers are adults and the kids are on the PC at the times Mum and Dad used to be bidding! So hold out, and just be aware of those dates! Good luck everyone.

  3. Cathy

    Like Lillybeth, I didn’t know about the ‘more options’ link and after reading this page and going to that link, I have now changed the way my auctions are presented and headlined.
    Thanks heaps

  4. Mother Inferior

    The only laugh I’ve had all day is your bit about goods being left at the altar – the ALTAR-ATIONS are SO “moving along”, like the Vicar of Dibley! (Did you marry her on the sly?) Great reading, with mind-stretching ideas thanks.

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