After my last post, reader Chuck wrote back to clarify that he was interested in learning how to provide the customer the ability to choose more than just the quantity.

“What I want people to be able to do is select weights, package types and quantities.”

eBay calls this “creating a listing with variations” and it looks something like this:


eBay offers listing variations in the following categories:

  • Baby
  • Clothing, shoes and accessories
  • Health and beauty
  • Home and garden (some sub-categories excluded)
  • Jewelry and watches
  • Pet supplies
  • Sporting goods

What is a Variation?

Instead of creating a number of separate listings for a product that has a choice of options, you can create a single multi-quantity fixed price listing that includes all the variations you offer. For example, a T-shirt might come in multiple colors and sizes. Buyers can select which variation they want to purchase from the single listing.

How To Create a Listing With Variations

To create a listing for beef jerky that offers variations in flavors I would first select the option (located near the top of the Sell Your Item form) to create variations:


Upon clicking the Create Variations button, I’m presented a page where I can tell eBay what kind of varieties I’d like to offer my customers.  After clicking the link labeled Enter Your Own Variation Detail, a pop-up appears where I can name the variation (flavor) and enter the first option (barbecue):


After clicking Save, I’m presented with the opportunity to enter the next flavor (teriyaki):


Create SKUs

I would click the + Flavor link to add more.  Clicking continue will provide the opportunity create additional variations.  After I’ve finished this process, eBay asks me to create a SKU for each variation:


Add Pictures

Next, I can enter the pictures that are applicable to the specific variations and shared pictures that apply to all:


Price and Quantities

Finally, I can enter the quantity of each variety I have in stock and available to sell and specify the price for each variation:


You’re Done!

Clicking Save brings me back to the Sell Your Item page where the Variations table now shows the fruits of my labor:


This is actually a pretty neat feature that eBay offers.  If your category and your inventory support variations, you might just give it a try.

Chuck writes:

I’ve run into a situation where I have access to some product people order over and over and over.

I’ve perused eBay and ran across a listing where the seller had it set up where the buyer could select order quantities right there in the eBay listing.

For the life of me I cannot figure out how to replicate this.

I’m sure with your experience you have heard of this type of thing.

How do I do it?

I’m assuming Chuck wants something like this…


To enable the multiple quantity feature, simply select the fixed price selling format and enter an appropriate number in the Quantity box:


That’s all there is to it.

A letter to AuctionBytes a few weeks ago warning sellers that eBay was displaying links to my competitors’ auctions on my listings had me concerned. I immediately tubed up my listings and was relieved when I found that this issue was apparently not impacting me.


It wasn’t until I wanted to make a quick check on my listing description from my work that I discovered that eBay conveniently does not display competitors listings to me (on my auctions) when I’m logged in. Here’s what the bottom of the listing I PAID FOR looks like after I’ve logged out:


Pretty sneaky if you ask me. I’m always logged in when I look at my listings.

How to Stop Promoting Your Competitors

To opt-out of this click on My eBay and log in if prompted.

Click on the on the “Account” tab and select “Marketing Tools” from the menu that appears.


Next, click “Promote Similar Items” from the menu on the left and opt out.


Next, click “Promote Similar Items” from the menu on the left and opt out.

By declining this option:

  • You’ll be missing out on reaching thousands of eBay buyers who are interested in items like yours
  • Your items will only be displayed on pages and emails directly related to your listings
  • Items from other sellers will not be displayed on your listings and emails related to your items

Of course eBay wants you to think you are missing out on cross-promoting your items on other seller’s listings, but read the fine print:

Items are chosen based on popularity–the items in the same category most watched by buyers.

So, unless your listings is one of the five most watched items in your category, you’re really not getting any additional exposure are you?

Of course, if your listing does garner a lot of watchers, it would be prudent to opt back in to this program. Until then, count me out.

Earlier in the fall I experienced a rash of unpaid bidders. It gets really frustrating when an auction-style listing closes at a higher final bid price than I expected but the high-bidder does not come through. While I can send a second chance offer to the next highest bidder, completing the the unpaid bidder process takes a long time. By the time it is resolved, the runner-up bidder has either made a purchase from somebody else or lost interest in my product. All you can do is relist and hope for another bidding war.

However, I recently discovered that you can edit your account preferences to insulate yourself from habitual unpaid bidders. Here’s how: Log in to My eBay and click the “My Account” tab and select “Account Preferences” from the drop-down menu


Next, scroll down and find the row labeled “Buyer Requirements” and click show:


Click the link labeled edit that appears under where you just clicked.


Now you can set the eligibility requirements potential eBay bidders/buyers must meet before they can make a purchase from you. After my recent experiences I’m pretty stringent with these requirements now.


This only works if sellers take the time to follow through with the unpaid item process. I’ll do my part — hope you do yours!

This is the third part in our series on Understanding Bid Increments and Proxy Bidding



Proxy Bidding Can Protect Against Snipers

In the previous post, I discussed a proxy bidding scenario in which I placed a bid on an item and declared my maximum bid to be $7.00.  A competing bidder came along and placed a bid with a maximum price of $6.00.  A round of proxy bidding ensued and, upon completion, I was the high bidder with the current bid standing at $6.50.

It’s worth reemphasizing it the fact that although I entered a maximum bid of $7.00, if the auction closed with no additional competing bids, I would only pay $6.50 for the ball cap.  This is an important point.  Always enter the maximum amount you are willing to pay for the item being auctioned – you won’t be forced to pay your maximum bid unless a competing bidder forces the price to that level.

How it Works

Your max bid is not necessarily the amount you will have to pay, but will protect you from eBay snipers swoop in at the last second and ad outbid you because you had no time to react with a manual counter bid.

I’ve received scores of comments from bidders who have lost auctions to snipers who ultimately paid less that the losing bidder was willing to pay for that item.  That’s often because the losing bidder was confused about the concept of proxy bidding and thought they would end up paying their maximum bid at auction’s close if they won.

The original bid was just enough to make them the high bidder at the time they made the bid.  Because sniping involves submitting a bid extremely late in the auction, the losing bidder did not have the opportunity to manually enter a counter bid and they can’t win.  Proxy bidding is the simple solution to this dilemma.  Even if you don’t win (because the sniper entered a higher maximum price than you), you can get some satisfaction in the knowledge that you forced the sniper to bid more than they had probably hoped for.

Practice Proxy Bidding

eBay actually has a page where you can practice with the proxy bidding system without actually logging in and placing a real bid.  Here’s the link:

The page details the current bid and asks you for your maximum bid.  After clicking enter – the proxy bidding happens instantly and you learn if you’ve been able to outbid the current high bidder’s secret maximum bid.  If not, your are provided the opportunity to bid again (try bidding significantly higher this time) and you can see how you will be become the high bidder without reaching your revised maximum bid.

So now that you understand the proxy bidding, don’t be afraid to enter the maximum you are willing to spend on that auction next time you make a bid on eBay

This is the second part of the series on Understanding Bid Increments and Proxy Bidding.

Understanding Proxy Bidding

Proxy bidding is where eBay’s server automatically places counter-bids for you (up to the maximum price you predetermined) when a competing bidder places a bid on an auction you’re attempting to win.  The proxy system will place bids on your behalf using the lowest possible bid increment required to out-bid your competitors.

Proxy Bidding Example

I’ve got my eye on a new John Deere ball cap and find one just listed on eBay with a starting price of $3.00.  I decide to bid and resolve that the most I am willing to pay is $7.00.  I enter a bid and set my maximum price as $7.00.

Two days later, my wife decides to finally break down and get me the John Deere cap for my birthday that I’ve been hinting about for a month.  By some ironic coincidence, she decides to buy it on eBay and happens to bid on the same listing I’ve bid on (suspend disbelief for a moment and assume that she does not recognize my eBay user ID).  Not placing the same value on a John Deer ball cap as I do, she enters a maximum bid of only $6.00.  eBay’s proxy bidding system will now automatically start entering competing bids for each us until one of us is outbid.

The bids are increased by the bid increments detailed in the previous post’s chart.  So, the first proxy bid placed for my wife is for $3.25 (because the bid increment for auctions with a current price between $1.00 – $4.99 is $0.25).

The next proxy bid is placed on my behalf in the amount of $3.50 ($0.25 over my wife’s proxy bid).

The proxy bidder automatically places another three $0.25 bids for each bidder until the auction price reaches $5.00.  At this point, the bid increment increases to $0.50.  The proxy bidder increases both my wife’s and my bids accordingly and the automatic bidding continues until my wife is finally outbid.

This round of bidding ends with me still the high bidder and the current bid standing at $6.50 – my wife’s maximum and final bid ($6.00) plus the minimum  increment required to outbid her ($0.50).  Notice that if the auction ended at this point, I would not have to pay my maximum bid ($7.00).  I would only pay the minimum required to win the auction.

The proxy bidding process happens almost instantly.  In the scenario above, my wife would have learned that she was outbid immediately after clicking the place my bid button.

Your Maximum Bid is Secret

The maximum price a bidder enters is kept secret from other bidders and the seller.  In the example above, my wife would have no idea what my my maximum bid was (other than the fact that it exceeded hers).  She would not know that she would only need to bid another $0.51 to surpass me as the high bidder.

Ties are awarded to the buyer who bid the earliest – if my wife bid only $0.50 more, for a total of $7.00, I would still be the high bidder because I placed my max bid of $7.00 before she did.

Part III of this series will discuss how proxy bidding can protect you from auction snipers.

This is the first part in our series on Understanding Bid Increments and Proxy Bidding


  • Part II discusses the specifics of Proxy Bidding
  • Part III discusses protecting yourself from snipers with Proxy Bidding


Many bidders who fall prey to eBay snipers and lose auctions because they do not understand the proxy bid system.  This can sometimes be confusing to beginners and experienced auction users alike.  Unfortunately, eBay doesn’t do a terrific job of explaining how this system works and the consequences of not understanding it can mean the difference between winning and losing an auction or paying more than you should have.   To understand eBay’s proxy bidding system, you first need to have a good grasp of bid increments.

Bid Increments

On eBay, a bid increment is the minimum amount the current bid must increase in order to outbid the previous high-bid.

Any new bid must be greater (by a certain amount) than the current high-bid.  The additional amount you must bid depends on the current price of the item being auctioned.  In other words, bid increments are determined by the item’s price.  For example, if you want a leather iPod case with a current bid price of $16.00, you must place a bid of at least $16.50 to out-bid the current bidder.

eBay’s Bid Increments are detailed in the chart below:

Current Price Bid Increment
$ 0.01 – $ 0.99 $ 0.05
$ 1.00 – $ 4.99 $ 0.25
$ 5.00 – $ 24.99 $ 0.50
$ 25.00 – $ 99.99 $ 1.00
$ 100.00 – $ 249.99 $ 2.50
$ 250.00 – $ 499.99 $ 5.00
$ 500.00 – $ 999.99 $ 10.00
$ 1000.00 – $ 2499.99 $ 25.00
$ 2500.00 – $ 4999.99 $ 50.00
$ 5000.00 and up $ 100.00

The next article in this short series will delve into the details of eBay’s Bid Proxy system and explain how bidders can use it to defend themselves against auction snipers.

What It Is

  • Sellers employing multiple user ID’s or enlisting the assistance of others to place bogus bids on an auction in order to raise the number of bids and the final bid price.
  • Artifically increasing bidding activity and inflating the going bid.


  • Watch for recurring ID’s used to place bids on several of the seller’s auctions. These bids are rarely, if ever, the winning bids.
  • Look for a recurring pattern of last-minute bids by the same bidder or bidders.
  • Shill bidding is harder to detect now because eBay will only show first and last couple of characters of another eBay bidder’s ID in a listing’s bid history.
  • Look for bidders and sellers who regularly bid on each others auctions.

What to Do

  • Report suspected shill bidding activity to Safe Harbor for investigation.
  • Bidding at the last moment is your best defense against shill bidding. Learn and employ auction sniping techniques.

ebay-fraud-victimWell, it happened. It looks like I’ve been a victim of eBay fraud. I got the email today from eBay informing me that:

Our records show that you were a bidder or buyer of one or more of this seller’s items. We recently removed this seller’s active listings and suspended the seller’s trading privileges. Due to privacy concerns we cannot share further details about this seller.

I was attempting to buy a used hard drive from a Canadian seller. Looking back, the eBay fraud warning signs were obvious:

  • The seller was new – Feedback score was only 1 (earned as a buyer)
  • Even though the seller was new, he/she had a pretty sophisticated listing which included a checkout service. Even when I made the bid, I thought this must be an experienced seller starting over under a new identity.
  • Even though the seller was new, he/she had a significant number of listings.
    The seller was selling hard drives for a penny, but charging a significant shipping & handling charge. Obviously trying to milk eBay for every penny while they were milking me.
  • The seller was slow in sending checkout instructions. I had to email the seller requesting the instructions.
  • The seller did not accept PayPal (even though the listing implied that he/she did – I didn’t learn this until I checked out).
  • The checkout service was less than professional in appearance. (Of course this was only apparent after I submitted my bid and won the auction)

Looks like I’m out about 17 bucks due to eBay fraud. I could request a charge-back, but I’m not sure it would be worth my time. I am concerned that this crook has my PayPal debit card information. Therefore, I’m going to cancel that card and request a new one.

I’ll post more of my experiences here as they transpire. One of the purposes of this blog is for you to learn from my experiences – both positive and negative. Hopefully this will help you learn to protect yourself from eBay fraud.

Sell Coupons on eBay

August 28, 2007 | How To's  |  Leave a Comment   Share!  

Here’s a new trend that I’m interested in trying:  There are a number of people who sell coupons on eBay.  Even more fascinating is the fact that there appear to be an equal number of people who buy coupons on eBay!  Think about it.  No inventory storage issues.  Shipping is as easy as a regular envelope, a first class stamp and your mail box – no boxes, packing materials, scales or special trips to the post office!  And in many cases, your source of inventory is free.

Coupons are normally sold on eBay in lots (see the restrictions below).  The listing can be a simple template that includes information on the store/product, the expiration date, any restrictions or requirements specified on the coupon, and a scan or picture of the coupon (altered with a “watermark” so the scan cannot be printed and used).  Sources include coupon inserts from your Sunday paper and free coupons sent via the mail.  Depending on the coupon, bids currently seem to fetch about 25% – 50% of the their total worth.

Because coupons technically have no cash value, eBay coupon auction listings typically include a statement that specifies that the coupons are free and the bidder is paying the seller for the service of procuring, clipping and compiling the coupon sets.

Selling coupons on eBay is permitted, however the auction site does have some regulations that must be adhered to.  Currently, these include:

  • No expired coupons
  • The coupons must be physically delivered (i.e. via mail).  No scans sent by email.
  • Free coupons (with no purchase required) are limited to 2 per auction listing.
  • No more than 20 coupons for the same item.  Additionally, no more than 5 coupons per item if they originated from a newspaper coupon insert.
  • No more than 100 total coupons per listing.
keep looking »