Can you imagine an international fleamarket, garage sale, and bazaar conducted on a bid board basis with 1000s of buyers and sellers? Can you imagine a friendly community of people trying a new marketing method all together? Can you imagine a bulletin board where antique dealers are working their tails off learning HTML and loving it? Can you imagine a market that includes a Barbie doll which was auctioned for nearly $8000? Can you imagine nearly 40,000 items being auctioned with over 7,000 new listings and sales each day? This is eBay.
The items are listed in a large number of categories. Search engines are available to find keywords, item numbers, sellers, and buyers. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are bulletin boards with lively, and, more often than not, civilized and friendly discussions of the community. Good help files and guides are available at the site. Several of the good netizens who frequent this site have websites which provide additional data for the users. Jeanne keeps excellent resources at The Zoo. Andrew kept another at Auction Web Help Page. These are particularly helpful to the newbies (and provide very useful reference for the old timers). Everybody really believes the only dumb question is the one you don't ask.
To be a seller, you must register and provide a $10 deposit or a valid credit card. Registration is simple and only requires you to list your name, address, phone number, and a legitimate e-mail address. These data are available on an exchange basis by other registered members of the community. When you ask about someone, an e-mail with the pertinent data goes to both the parties with the data about both parties. Once registered you may enter lots for auction.
There are input forms for entering items for Auction. They can be almost as simple as 1 Animal Farm for sale by email@example.com with a minimum bid of $1 to last 7 days. Location of the item is also requested to give buyers an idea of what the shipping costs and time to ship may be. Since the auction pages take HTML, they can be as complicated as your programming skills will let you. Pictures can be hosted on other sites. Links to manufacturers specifications can be used. You can even suggest a visit to your own selling site.
The fastest way for submitting the data to the auction is to prepare the text offline using a text editor (like Notepad) or an HTML editor. When you've got it right, just cut and paste it into the AuctionWeb input form. Slick as can be!
eBay survives by two sets of fees. The first is a listing fee which is dependent on the opening bid requested. For example, items from $.01 to $9.99 are only $.25. eBay sends a notice to you as soon as the item is listed as to the listing fee. The second fee is based on the winning bid. It's 5% for the first $25 and 2.5% thereafter. Really quite cheap. eBay now requires a small deposit ($10) before listings are accepted. eBay will send an e-mail invoice at the end of the month or, if you wish, bill your credit card account. Credit cards or bank debit cards are preferred. And yes, Virginia, they do participate in the Interlink Exchange program so you will see some banner ads on each auction item page.
Buyers don't have to register but, since lots of auctions are limited to registered bidders, you'll miss some of the best items. It really is common courtesy.
Buyers can search through the items page-by-page or on a search to identify things of interest to them. Each auction page has all of the current status as to who is the top bidder and what is the winning bid. To bid on an item, you click on the bid button and an input form comes for you to fill out with your bid and e-mail address. Bids are updated to a new level everytime you make a bid. Remember, this is an auction where the winner gets the item at a fixed increment above the second highest bid. If someone has already bid $20 (bid amounts are hidden until the end of the auction) and is winning at $15 against a $14 bid, your bid for $16 will advance the bid immediately to $17 since there is a hidden (proxy) bid of $20. Unless you're willing to go to $21, you will not become the leading bidder at this time.
Since bidding closes on an item exactly 3, 7, or 14 days (selected by the seller and timed to the second) after the item is entered, you can bookmark the page and come back to it whenever you want to follow up on the progress. Sometimes items go to the first bidder but on popular items the rush to bid in the last minute is a crush.
eBay will keep you up to date on the status of your leading bids, how your offerings are being bid, and the final results with overnight e-mail.
The auction is largely self-policing with regard to dishonest people. There is a feedback system where registered users can give positive, negative, or neutral feedback concerning other users. 5 negatives and eBay shuts you out. 10 positives and you get a star beside your name. On all auction pages the feedback rating of the buyers and sellers are shown along with their names. It's like walking around with a credit rating on your forehead. (Or a scarlet A)
When the auction closes, the auction page shows the final results and there are no further changes. Now the people-to-people work begins. Sellers and buyers contact each other by e-mail to complete the transactions. Money exchanges and shipping charges hopefully have been specified in the terms and conditions of the seller on the auction entry. That leaves a final evening up and mailing and shipping. It is labor intensive but fun.
The place to start is at the eBay home page. Here's where you'll find the gateway to all the information you need. You really should explore a lot of the links. Tons of good advice and suggestions are available. There's advice for buyers and sellers, registration and feedback access, where to find the Bulletin Boards, and where to find the auction's offerings. Be sure to remember to use your bookmarks - you'll find you come back often.
This table give some idea of the categories of items available for buyers and sellers. The number in parenthesis indicates the number of items listed at the time the page was made.
The following are not links but I am lazy and haven't taken the time to undo them.
New Today Ending Today Completed Search!
Collecting Computer Hardware Computer Software Other Antiques (over 100 years) (504) General (515) General (593) Audio Equipment (84) Antiques (less than 100 years) (2909) Books (16) Books (85) Automotive (83) Art (214) CPUs (238) Business (70) Clothing (184) Autographs (504) Drives (281) Educational (144) Consumer Electronics (199) Books, Magazines (1771) Input Periphs. (80) Games (496) Erotic, Adults Only (258) Clocks and Timepieces (266) Macintosh (129) Graphics & Multimedia (92) Jewelry, Gemstones (498) Coins, Currency, Certificates - Non U.S. (276) Memory (97) Macintosh (157) Movies, LaserDiscs, etc. (324) Coins, Currency, Certificates - U.S. (968) Modems (73) Sega, Nintendo, etc. (388) Photography, Video Equipment (299) Comics (706) Multimedia (107) Utilities (49) Records, Tapes, CDs (655) Costume Jewelry (585) Networking (53)
Services (19) Decorative, Kitchenware, Pottery (2365) Printers (96)
Sporting Goods (175) Figures, Dolls (1493) Video (125)
Travel (7) Figures, Dolls: Action Figures (856)
Miscellaneous (326) Figures, Dolls: Barbie & Accessories (832)
Games and Hobbies (243)
Memorabilia: Historical (698)
Memorabilia: Movie (518)
Memorabilia: Other (355)
Memorabilia: Sports (496)
Misc. Collectibles (3388)
Stamps: British Commonwealth (189)
Stamps: Rest of World (360)
Stamps: U.S. (719)
Trading Cards: Baseball (1297)
Trading Cards: Basketball (558)
Trading Cards: Football (719)
Trading Cards: Magic (183)
Trading Cards: Other Non-Sports (448)
Trading Cards: Other Sports (304)
Vintage Sewing Items (309)
This link works! Try it; you'll love it!
March 8, 1997 (limited update July 18, 2003)