Selling on eBay: To Lot or Not To Lot

I once read in some book (I think it was 1000 eBay Success Secrets) that you should never sell in lots what you can sell individually. I don't still have that book for reference, but I think the logic was that you will always make more money selling each item individually than you would putting everything together in one "Lot" auction. People expect discounts for buying in bulk. On the surface, this advise is good, but I find that I often prefer to sell things in lots.

The reason I sometimes prefer lots is simple... it is much easier to sell things all at once. I'm usually willing to sacrifice a couple of bucks to save myself hours of work.

Let me give you an example. Suppose I have come up on a big box of, say, 100 shoelaces. This is a hypothetical... I've never actually sold shoelaces on eBay. The scenario is that I could likely sell each and every one of the shoelaces of $2.00 each. That is, if I was willing to list, sell, and relist a single shoelace 100 times. At the end of the entire series of sales, I would have $200.

The first problem you can see right away. That is a lot of paperwork, a lot of packaging, a lot of trips to the post office, and a lot of potential problems. Even with the ease of one-click relisting the item, it would still take a lot of time and effort, all added up, to make that $200. And don't think that you can just list all 100 shoelaces at the same time, at least not as an auction. You're going to be competing with yourself.

And, frankly, I don't want to list anything that will only make $2, even it that's 100% profit. $200 is great, but not in $2 increments. I wouldn't do this with another item I had only one of, so why would I do it 100 times in a row?

But there is another way. Perhaps these shoelaces will sell nearly as well when divided into Lots. It may so happen that I can sell a Lot of 20 shoelaces for $35.00. Now, $35 is a real decent amount to be making on one auction. And I can do that 5 times in a row and end up with $175, total.

I may make $25 less than if I sold each shoelace individually, but I'll be dealing with 1/20th of the hassle (5 listings instead of 100)! For a guy like me who likes his free time, that sounds like a bargain.

I do this all the time. I'll often collect certain items until I have enough to make a Lot that will fetch enough money to justify the energy of listing it. I've sold many things this way: video game cartridges, pens, pencils mini-discs, action figures, art supplies, audio tapes, DVDs, dice, kids books, and lots of other stuff. These things weren't worth the time to sell individually (some stuff wouldn't even sell at all), but get a box of them together and you'll get some bids.

So, sure, you can often make more money, all in all, if you sell similar items one by one. But at what cost?


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  2. I found your post very well put. I sell on eBay full time, with 90% of my items in lots/collections- it is true- you make less in the long run- but as they say, time is money :) thanks for the great post!