A Quick guide to best offers

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This is a quick guide to best offers. What to do? How does it work? What is an okay amount to offer? What do do my offer was countered? What are the benefits?


To start off a quick introduction to best offers. Best offers are often used by especially smaller sellers to allow buyers to 'haggle' with them for the prize of an item. (We for example have most of our buy it now items open for best offers as we believe that this is in the spirit of ebay and makes the experience for buyers more enjoyable). The seller has 3 options that can help with the best offer: He can allow best offers, he can specify an amount over which a best offer is automatically accepted (in this case the buyer will automatically win the auction) or he can set a limit under which a best offer will be automatically rejected.  

What to do?

If the seller allows you to make them an offer why not go ahead and make them an offer? Asking never hurts, but keep in mind that if you want that item you should not turn the seller off. Here are a few tips:

  • Send the seller a quick ebay message asking them what they would be willing to accept - this usually will give you a good understanding of how far down the seller is prepared to go.
  • Remember that the seller is most likely making a living off selling items (hence being a seller), so offers that are too low are most likely rejected or the seller may be 'turned off' which will make buying from them more tricky as they may be less inclined to come down in prize. 

How does it work?

If a best offer is available you will be able to see this under the "buy it now" section of that item. It works a just like haggeling at a market - you put in an offer to the seller of what you want to pay for the item. If it is enough for him he will accept the offer, if the offer is not high enough you are quite likely to receive a "counter offer". This is basically where the seller reduced his original prize for you only. If this new amount is OK for you, then you can purchase the item, if not then you can make another counter offer to the seller. Bare in mind that including the first offer you can only make 3 offers in total (that is 1 original + 2x counter offers) and the last counter offer will always sit with the seller. Don't worry though if you run out of best offers and really want the item - just send the seller another polite message and see if you can come to some agreement..... 

This leads me on to the next topic ....

What is an okay amount to offer?

Generally (or personally) I would say if a seller does offer "best offers" he/she will be somewhat flexible on the prize... However how much the seller can go down by obvioulsy depends on a variety of reasons, from cost prize, overhead costs to expenses and required profit margin. As a buyer I would have a look where the item comes from, if it is for example located in the US or UK I would recon that a seller is willing to move by between 5-20%. So in that case if you put in an offer for only 50% of the buy it now prize the main thing you will probably achieve is to annoy the seller which means that if you increase your bid (and really want it) you will most likely end up paying more than you could have if you would have asked the question first. So you should be realistic about what the seller is most likely going to go down by. A seller typically aims for a 40% "profit" on items (of which he still has to pay overheads, rent,....) as a minimum just to make some money. Another good indication of what the seller may go down to is if you do another ebay search for similar items and see what they all go for ... Prizes usually tend to be very similar.

What are the benefits of best offer?

Personally I think that the benefits are in making the ebay shopping experience fun. Since there are either auction or buy it now items the fun part of an auction is pretty obvious: you bid for something and whoever is highest at the end wins, with the winning bids often going in just seconds before the end. For buy it now items it is like going to a shop and just buying something from a shelf.
As I think that this is a bit boring, a best offer allows you to haggle with the seller like on a  good old market stall. You get a bargain and the seller has sold another item - great!
Speaking from a seller's point of view - the best offer option allows you to reach a wider audience. Some people want to haggle for an item and get some money off. What offering a best offer does is simply attract more people to your item. Of course you have to take a flexible appoach to this, selling something for lest say $60 and only being willing to move to $59 is not in the spirit - willingness to move to $50-55 on the other hand is quite likely to see you a sell on that particular item.  


Most importantly what to keep in mind is: always be polite! If you have a problem or issue - send the seller (or buyer) a quick message and be polite about it. Most things can be sorted out and a solution found that is OK for both parties.

Happy shopping!


Guide written by venturebox - it's all in the box

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