|Tue Apr 2 2013 20:25:07|
eBay Files Patent Application for Selling Collections
By: Brian Cohen
When selling your collection of comic books, Magic cards or figurines, the first question you will be asking yourself is, "Will I get a better price selling my collection as a whole or if I break them apart?"
Collectors Rejoice! eBay just filed patent application 20130080284, "Systems And Methods Of Offering A Collection For Sale."
If you subscribe to what I will call the "Gestalt theory of selling a collection," you believe that selling the collection as a lot will command a greater selling price than selling each item in your collection individually. But how can you know for sure? A collection is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
Selling your collection as a lot can be an easier endeavor than painstakingly taking the time to describe and sell each item individually. But accurately describing the items you have for sale can command a greater selling price. However, packing and shipping a lot could potentially be less labor intensive than preparing and shipping each item piecemeal to different buyers.
With more than 190 million items for sale on eBay, it becomes increasingly chaotic for buyers to find items that they are looking for and that you are selling. eBay has been bringing order to the chaos by developing technologies such as "Methods and Systems for Merchandising Products in Bundles in an Online Marketplace" (see "eBays new Bundle of Joy") and through M&A activity such as its acquisition of Pinterest-like shopping site Svpply.com.
So let's take a look at "Systems And Methods Of Offering A Collection For Sale." In the Background of the patent eBay describes the problem:
"In a situation where a collector wishes to liquidate a collection of items, the collector has no way of knowing whether selling the items individually or as a single lot would fetch a higher price. The collection may include one or more items that are worth substantially more than other items in the collection that would fetch a large profit individually but would leave the collector with the remaining items in the collection. Further, for emotional reasons or simply to reduce transaction costs incurred by the collector, the collector may prefer to sell the collection as a whole rather than selling off individual items."
I find "emotional reasons" to be a bit curious. Perhaps this fits under what I basically described as being lazy vs. making an effort in selling your collection.
eBay describes current industry practice:
"Current online auction systems and marketplaces allow a collector to list the collection as a whole or as separate listings for each item in the collection. As such, the collector is not able to make an educated decision regarding whether to sell the collection as a whole or as individual items."
More specifically, Heritage Auctions, where 764,500 members auctioned 3,485,158 lots for $857,755,595 (at auction and in private treaty sales) over the past 12 months, offers a registry and inventory management for collections called MyCollection which has been available since 2000.
"Collectors can list their (items) in an easy-to-use, secure and confidential database, and instantly obtain population data, current market values, past auction results, and much, much more about each piece in their collection. Demand ratings show how many fellow ...(collectors)... are looking for a particular ...(item,)... and a convenient 'Sell Now' option allows members to contact Heritage should they want to liquidate one piece or a whole group of ...(items)...."
Collector's Universe "the leader in third-party authentication and grading services for high-value collectibles" also offers Set Registries Programs for coins, Trading Cards & Tickets and Autographs & Memorabilia.
And eBay offers its solution:
"...the seller is allowed to publish a listing describing the collection as whole while simultaneously publishing separate listings describing the respective individual items in the collection. The seller provides a description of each item in the collection and then provides listing settings. The listing settings are set independently for the collection and for the respective items in the collection. The seller may optionally set the listing settings to bias the listing towards selling the collection as a whole...The seller...(can)... make the decision ...(after)... learning more about the value of the respective items in the collection or the value of the collection as a whole...
eBay further explains this bias or preference:
"... The bias price is an amount of money the seller is willing to lose by selling the collection as a whole rather than as individual items...
"...a portion of the bias price, may be determined dynamically based on one or more transactions costs imposed on the seller by selling to more than one buyer instead of selling to just one buyer. An example of the transaction costs include, for example, fees charged by the online marketplace to publish the listing or to accept payment from the buyer, or shipping and handling costs."
What do you think about eBay's latest patent? Would you use this strategy? Let us know below!
About the Author
Brian Cohen has been an active member of the eBay community since May 1998. He currently trades under the member name Bidofthis.com. His first AuctionBytes article was published in May 2002. Brian can be contacted through his website at BidofThis.com where he always has a "little Bid of This and little Bid of That."