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Fixed Price, Best Offer or Auction-Style? How to Choose the Right Format

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Verified Blogger
Last Edited 02:11:24 PM by News Team

“How do I choose the right listing format for this item?” It's a question we hear often. Picking the right listing format is critical to getting your item sold. We looked at eBay data about buyer behavior, what makes a successful sale and compared selling formats to develop our best guidance on how to decide between fixed price, Best Offer or auction-style listings.


Generally speaking, fixed price is the right format for the majority of items listed on eBay. Choose fixed price when:

  • You know the value of your item or know the exact price you need to get for it
  • You have multiple items that you can place into one listing
  • You have a lot of inventory, subscribe to an eBay Store, and want to minimize your upfront insertion fees
  • You want your items to be available to buyers for more than 10 days
  • You’re willing to negotiate. Use the Best Offer option if you want to allow buyers to send you offers. Remember, you don't have to accept every offer, but it's a good opportunity to reach a fair price with a buyer who’s actively interested in your item.

Good Til’ Cancelled  (GTC) is ideal for fixed price, as it allows the item to stay live on eBay without relying on manually relisting. It also helps in search as it keeps all the “engagement data” (how many people clicked or searched for the item, how many watchers it has, etc.) This data is especially helpful for "long-tail" items, i.e. obscure or specialized items that need some time for the right buyer to come along. But don't just “set it and forget it” with GTC listings. If it’s not selling after a period of time—we recommend a few months—you should review the listing to see if the price, title, or photos can be adjusted to increase its chances of selling.


You should choose auction-style listings when:

  • You’re unsure of the value of your item and want the eBay Marketplace (i.e., the buyer demand) to determine its value
  • You have unique and hard-to-find items that could attract demand and spur a bidding war, which could maximize profits from your listing
  • You have items whose market value may fluctuate
  • You want to attract bidders AND buyers. If you sell a variety of items and want to attract both bidders and buyers, we recommend using a listing that combines the benefits of auction-style and fixed price features by adding the Buy It Now feature. Some buyers prefer to score a great deal via bidding on auction-style listings, while others prefer the convenience of knowing exactly what they’ll pay. Be sure to price the Buy It Now much higher than the bidding start price.

auction-vs-fixed-price_FB.jpgSome tips to get the most from auction-style listings.


  1. Choose a longer format. While it may be tempting to do a very short auction-style listing duration, we recommend longer durations to allow more buyers the opportunity to engage with the item (bidding or watching). Another benefit: when the listing is about to end, more buyers are notified to participate in the final bidding. For example, if a buyer is watching an item or is outbid, they will be notified via the mobile app or email, driving more bidding action in the final minutes.
  1. Start with a low price. This can also attract more people to engage which helps the final sale price. It may be tempting to start an item at the minimum price you’re willing to take, or to add a reserve. But eBay data shows that both of these tend to dissuade buyers from bidding or watching the item. Many sellers find if they start low enough, and forgo the reserve, they will actually end up with a higher price simply due to the number of people who engage with the listing.
  1. Relist unsold auction-style items using fixed price with Best Offer. Chances are that if your item did not sell the first time at auction, it likely won’t sell the second time at auction, so mix it up. Fixed price plus Best Offer allows you to negotiate a price that works for both you and your buyer, and avoids selling the item for too little, which can happen in the dreaded one-bid auction.
  1. Use caution with one-day or three-day auctions. Many sellers think these durations will give you a boost in search, but that is often not the case. Search results serve up the most relevant items, with the greatest value from trusted sellers. In other words, are you delivering on Value (priced competitively), Relevancy (do you offer what the buyer is looking for?) and Trust (are you a reliable seller?)? These three factors are much more important than duration when it comes to getting your item in front of the right buyer. One-day or three-day auctions can make sense if an item is time sensitive, or the value can fluctuate greatly from one day to the next. But even then, the five-day duration option is sound. Longer durations have the benefit of more buyers being able to engage with the listing.
  1. Understand the market. Do your research to understand how items similar to yours have sold in the past. eBay “sold” items and Terapeak are great sources of information on recent sales. Also remember that supply and demand for your items can fluctuate, impacting which listing format is best. Griff, Dean of eBay Education, illustrates this point well in this video.

The advice above is based on years of eBay data about buyer behavior. But, as always, we encourage you to experiment with listing format to find out what works best for your items and your business.


If you’re an experienced eBay seller, what have you learned about listing formats? Share your tips in the comments below. 


That's not data - that's opinion.

by cmetametta · Adventurer

I will often not bid on anything in a long auction. I generally only wanty one of a given item, know what I'm willing to pay, and I often can't/won't wait 5 or more  days to see if I've won the item when other sellers have them too. I can't risk bidding on more than one of the item since I can't afford and/or don't want more than one of it. Short auctions make a lot more sense for to  buyers who aren't rolling in money.