Ebay 2012: The Aftermath

I know this post won’t interest most of you, as I’ve already spammed the blog far too much on the topic; however, I wanted to put my thoughts down in a place where I can come back and revisit them, should I consider purchasing armies and ebay’ing them again in the future.

Gross Sales (According to ebay) were $2525.54–that’s excluding the two auctions that sold, but I never received payment for.   I also sold a few items for a friend (whose total came to $224.94).  Still, that’s a total of $2300.06, which is still pretty healthy.  If you recall back to the goals I had originally set for myself, this officially topped the “Huge Success” threshold, and coming dangerously close to the “Insanity” threshold, which I was certain was impossible.

So, by no small stretch of the imagination, this was a successful endeavor.  Despite some of the items not selling for nearly enough (I was sad to let custom chariot conversions go for only $15 each), the overall totals were far higher than I thought they’d be.

Packaging & Shipping:

Chariots that didn't sell well

Chariots that didn’t sell well

The total payments for all auctions came to $2880.94 gross (which is essentially the selling price of the models, plus any shipping fees I included).  In total, that’s $355.40 in packaging & shipping costs that I collected from buyers (though after paypal and ebay take their cuts–yes, eBay now claims a percentage of the shipping charges), brings the actual total I collected for shipping to $312.75.  It should be noted that I generally charged $5 per auction for shipping, and combined shipping as best as possible in most cases.  There were also a few auctions where I accidentally wound up charging $0 in shipping, due to some confusion and mindless automation when sending out the invoices.

The actual cost to ship?  Well, the base fees were $85 in packaging fees and $303.34 shipping (post office fees).  Of course, there were several hours in packing everything up, driving to and from the post office, gas money, etc.  Not that any of that matters, as the packaging/shipping fees are already more than I’d collected.  Lesson to learn?  Had I charged $1 more per auction for shipping/handling, I’d have just about broken even (86 total auctions, and ~$76 debt)–there’s just no feasible way to pay myself for the time/effort involved and still be reasonable in shipping charges–though $6.00 per auction seems fine to me.

Ebay & Paypal Fees:

Above I mentioned that eBay and paypal take a cut of every auction.  This is nothing new, as I used to sell on eBay all of the time.  Back then, eBay took a gradated amount of the total sale based upon the initial listing price, and total sale price.  I can’t recall precisely how much it averaged out to, but it seemed reasonable to me.

Now, they have a more simple solution, where they take a flat 9% of the total auction.  While that’s easier to understand (and predict), it seems like far too much to me.  So, Ebay sucked $314.89 out of me for listing/final value fees.

Despite the fact that they own Paypal, and no longer allow people to pay with cash/check/money order, they also charge you 3% per transaction for a credit card processing fee.  Chalk up another $86.42 in charges there.

In total, that’s 12% of the final value in fees, plus the initial listing costs.  That comes to $401.31 out of my pocket.

Joe’s Auctions:

As I stated before, I listed a few auctions for a friend of mine.  The final auction value of those items came to $224.94.  Between the flat fees charged by eBay & Paypal, plus an average of the initial listing costs and the total overages in shipping (based upon % of gross revenue), it seems that his portion of the fees comes to $42.48 (or 18%).  That brings his total to: $182.46.

Numbers Breakdown:

Ok, with all those numbers I can finally tell how much I actually made:

  • +$2525.54 (Total Sales)
  • +$355.40 (Shipping paid)
  • -$388.34 (Actual Shipping)
  • -$401.31 (Ebay/Paypal Fees)
  • -$182.46 (Joe Sales)

To save you some time doing math, that comes to $1908.63.  Since my original investment in the models was estimated at $911.60 (again, see my goals post for where these numbers came from), that means I  made just about $1000 for my efforts.

While I wanted to whine about it not being enough for my level of efforts, that’s an absurd argument.  I really should’ve kept track of how long I spent during each part of the process, but I didn’t bother.  If I was to estimate, it probably took around 10 hours to take the photos & make the listings, another 3-4 hours for packing everything up, an hour or so to do the shopping (I had to hit multiple stores to get all of the necessary packing material), and 1-2 hours for multiple trips to the post office (including travel time).  That comes out to about 17 hours of work on my part (excluding the actual time/effort of purchasing the items, but I can’t count those, as I enjoy the thrill of getting good deals too much).

That still comes out to $58.82 per hour, so that’s hard to scoff at.   Since I don’t have to pay taxes on that (everything I’ve found on ebay indicates that you only pay taxes after at least 200 auctions and $20,000 earned in a year), that’s more like $73.53 (assuming I fall into the 25% tax bracket).  Nope, nothing to scoff at…

Of course, I didn’t include all of the intangibles either: Storing models for years, listening to the wife about storing so many models for years, the time spent writing the obligatory blog post…

Overall, I’m happy with the result.  I really should dig a little deeper though to determine what price I should really be paying for models.  At first glance, it looks like I’m effectively making twice the original purchase price.  The question would be really, what percentage of retail is that?  If I knew that, then I could know when purchasing, what I can reasonably expect to sell things for, and thereby know what I should pay.  Historically speaking, if I don’t need things, I generally offer about 80% off retail.  If that holds true, that would mean they sold on ebay for about 60% off.  Is that true?  I’ll have to do some research to find out.

Until then, happy holidays to all…

Borat Image of Sacha Baron Cohen likely owned by 20th Century Fox.

6 comments on “Ebay 2012: The Aftermath

  1. I’d be very interested to see you break this down a little. It’s all very well saying that you made ‘$X’ per hour, or ‘X%’ of retail… but averages can conceal a lot. Never mind all the maths (unless you want to do it), could you list all the items you sold and just put them in to one of three categories?
    – Pleasantly surprised: made a decent profit on this.
    – Broke even (more or less): glad to be able to free up storage space with this.
    – Made a loss and/or far below what I was banking on getting: damn.

    It might be handy for you to know when you’re making purchasing decisions “I may love this model range, but nothing I’ve ever tried to sell from this army made back the equivalent of what I paid out” or, alternatively “I’m willing to pay more than I would normally for second hand because not only do I love this model, I know I’m guaranteed to be able to make my money back whenever I might choose to flog it on ebay”. But it would also be interested (for me, anyway) to know what kind of models sell well.

    On a separate note, what items ‘sold’ but then you didn’t receive payment for? There were a couple of things you were selling that I wanted, but I didn’t bid as I’ve never used ebay myself, couldn’t work out how much I’d end up forking out for postage etc. (made more complicated by living in the UK), and had a lot on the week you were selling things, so didn’t really have time to think about it.

    • The two auctions that sold that I didn’t receive payment for were two lots of bloodletters, which have since sold to a local player. There’s also a bit of a debacle with a squad of blood claws that I’d sent to Singapore that the buyer is apparently not happy with (evidenced by the paypal claim he started). It’s been a couple of days since he’s done anything on that, so those models may or may not come back–we’ll see on that one (though I’m guessing those aren’t the ones you were interested in).

      As far as your breakdown ideas go, you have good suggestions. While I don’t particularly care to break down every auction, some generalities based upon army types/condition of models, etc. could be helpful in the future. I was thinking that a breakdown comparison of those armies that I had purchased this year (And thus, had a clear record of how much I paid) vs. how much I got out of them.

      Historically speaking, popular armies and powerful units sell well. This seems obvious, though, as there’s just more demand for that sort of thing. Older models have high potential to sell for alot, but they’re really hot and cold. I’m sure I’d be better on average to put a Buy-it-now price on that sort of thing, but I’d rather get rid of it than haggle over $5. Custom converstions/etc, in my experience, are usually cheap. Though they can go for a lot, it’s a matter of finding multiple people that love the conversion enough to bid it up to a high value. That’s pretty unusual. I’d say the same goes with paint jobs. While a great paint job can fetch a high price, it’s likely to only have a moderate effect on the overall outcome.

      Conversely, poorly painted/assembled/converted models, or models from inferior units/codicies tend not to sell well. Likewise, (recent) older versions of models, particularly those that aren’t as dynamic, tend to sell for less. The exception here is metal vs. finecast. Metal models seem to be selling for more than retail value as compared to finecast models–and I can’t say as I blame people for that.

  2. If you want to mess with your statistic even more, or just receive the money I owe you meet me at an undisclosed location tomorrow around 6ish. Preferably Muldoon Elementary and a game or your place Sunday. Says the aforementioned local player.

    • I plan on being there, but I can’t stay tonight: I’m on babysitting duty. Sunday also works.

      I won’t bother adjusting my statistics though–technically those items didn’t sell through ebay, so no reason to adjust this up. It’ll still affect the frugal gaming balance for the year, but not this particular article.

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