Welcome to the new eBay, where as auctions decline, haggling is encouraged.
eBay sellers can now make offers to watchers - and to shoppers who ask them questions. On the flip side, buyers can make an offer to a seller even if the seller doesn't have Best Offers enabled on their listings. Here's a rundown on some of the latest features that let eBay buyers and sellers cry, "Let's make a deal!"
1) eBay Sellers Can Make Offers to Watchers
The latest move in eBay's haggling strategy: eBay is running a new pilot
where sellers can initiate Best Offers to up to 10 buyers who are watching their items. Here's how eBay explains it:
"Only one offer is allowed per watcher (for up to 10 watchers) and the offers will expire after the standard 48-hour duration. The message a buyer receives will clearly indicate that others have also received the same offer and the first to accept will get it. Once one buyer has accepted, the others will be notified that the seller's offer is no longer available. Buyer's who do not wish to receive these kinds of offers can opt out by changing their communication preferences."
However, this particular feature is available only to sellers who use "My eBay > Selling" - in other words, it's not available to those using Seller Hub.
2) Buyers Can Make Offers to Sellers
On July 28, a reader spotted a "Make an Offer" option when sending a seller question. We tried it - when you click on Contact Seller in a listing, you'll see an option under "select at topic" called "Make an offer." We clicked the radio button and here's what eBay displayed:
"How do I make an offer? The seller hasn't enabled offers for this item. See if they'll consider - send a message with your best price."
3) eBay Sellers Can Make Offers in Response to Questions
Sellers can make offers whenever anyone sends them a question - eBay calls it Reply with offer - here's an excerpt, you can find more information on this Help page
If a buyer sends you a question about an item you have listed in a fixed-priced format, you'll have the option to reply with an offer... The offer you send can be for more or less than the Buy It Now price, and you can send a buyer up to 3 offers. Each offer is valid for 48 hours or until the listing is sold, whichever comes first.
The option to reply with an offer is available to all sellers, whether you use Best Offer in your listing or not. However, this feature is unavailable on auction or multi-variation listings, and in the Motor Vehicle category.
Other Ways eBay Puts Downward Pressure on Pricing:
Sellers Can Lower Prices of Items in Buyer Shopping Carts
eBay is testing a feature
to allow sellers to lower the prices of listings in a buyer's shopping cart to entice them to complete the purchase.
Encouraging Best Offers
eBay recently made it easier for buyers to filter search results
to see only listings where sellers accept Best Offers.
And it ran a test in which it displays a message inside listings showing how long it takes the seller to respond to Best Offers. (For example: "Seller responds to offers in 1 hour.")
Pros and Cons of Make Offer Features
There are advantages to letting buyers and sellers communicate and engage in a little give-and-take over shipping or price. But some buyers might find being bombarded with offers annoying, and some sellers may fear it "cheapens" the site.
But like it or not, eBay is turning from an auction site where prices rise to a marketplace where buyers expect prices to be negotiable.
Let us know what you think of the haggling strategy - should eBay embrace it even more? And be sure to indicate if it makes a difference depending on the type of item - new commodity versus used or collectibles.