Doing the Numbers: Ebay 2013 (Fall Edition)

I promise this is my last post on the subject.  For posterity reasons (and to comply with my Frugal goals for the year), I wanted to do a wrap-up with the final numbers.

  • +1968.18 (final sale price of all auctions)
  • +301.14 (shipping charges collected)
  • -$89.78 (uncollected auction payments –AKA “deadbeat bidders”)
  • -$78.10 Packing Materials (In all actuality, I used a mix of previous materials and new ones, but I was running low on supplies, so I took this chance to restock.  After all of the auctions, I still have a fair bit of materials for a future endeavor).
  • -$328.37 (USPS shipping charges)
  • -$22.62 (USPS shipping charges — 2nd trip)
  • -$84.62 Paypal Fees (to date)
  • -$281.46 Ebay Fees
  • $1384.37 – Total Collected

What I can learn from this:

Again, I didn’t charge enough for shipping.  I collected $301.14 to cover shipping.  The paypal fees on the shipping cost come to $25.53.  Ebay fees one the shipping amount collected come to $27.10.  So, I actually only had $248.50 to play with.  Between packing materials and actual shipping charges, it cost me $429.09 to ship.  So, in shipping alone, I lost  $180.59. 😦  Ugh… that’s completely disheartening.

I could help resolve that by not paying for message tracking on every package.  That’s $.90 for every non-priority mail package–which is probably a good idea for the most part, but it’d only save about $50 at most.  I could also just skip out on combined shipping and/or raise the cost of shipping to balance things out–but that’s effectively raising it $2-3 per auction, and I think there would be a significant negative correlation in sales based upon this.  Who really wants to pay $8 for a model to ship it?  I guess if I broke it down into larger lots?

Actual Costs:

Actual costs are hard to determine in this particular auction

Description MSRP Purchase Price Sell Price % Return % of Retail Known Price Purchased From
Carnivean $35.00 $29.99 $1.25 4.2% 3.6% Yes Thewarstore
Salamander $29.75 $8.00 $1.25 15.6% 4.2% No Ebay
Codex: Space Marines $33.00 $5.00 $6.00 120.0% 18.2% No Local   purchase (3 armies)
Chaplain w/ Jump Pack $19.25 $2.00 $7.50 375.0% 39.0% No Local   purchase (3 armies)
Beast of Nurgle $24.75 $3.00 $9.50 316.7% 38.4% No Local   purchase (3 armies)
Codex: Tyranids $33.00 $25.00 $9.50 38.0% 28.8% No Thewarstore
Screamers of Tzeentch $29.75 $9.00 $9.50 105.6% 31.9% No Ebay
Epidemius $49.50 $8.00 $10.50 131.3% 21.2% No Local   purchase (3 armies)
Codex: Orks $33.00 $5.00 $10.50 210.0% 31.8% No Local   Purchase: Orks
Eldar Farseer $20.00 $6.00 $10.50 175.0% 52.5% No ?
Codex Space Wolves $33.00 $4.00 $12.00 300.0% 36.4% No Local   purchase (3 armies)
Emporer’s Champion $16.00 $5.00 $12.52 250.4% 78.3% No ?
Librarian $16.00 $3.00 $15.00 500.0% 93.8% No Local   purchase (3 armies)
Dreadnought AoBR $46.25 $15.00 $15.00 100.0% 32.4% No ?
Bloodthirster $57.75 $15.00 $15.50 103.3% 26.8% Yes Andrew (trade)
Librarians x2 $38.25 $5.00 $15.50 310.0% 40.5% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Lord of Change $57.75 $15.00 $15.50 103.3% 26.8% Yes Ebay
Lysander $21.50 $8.00 $15.53 194.1% 72.2% No Kent
Keeper of Secrets $57.75 $15.00 $16.50 110.0% 28.6% Yes Ebay
Sicarius $19.25 $5.00 $16.50 330.0% 85.7% No Kent
Shrikes $65.00 $40.00 $17.50 43.8% 26.9% No ?
Harry the Hammer $40.00 $40.00 $19.02 47.6% 47.6% Yes Ebay
Screamers of Tzeentch $49.58 $15.00 $19.51 130.1% 39.3% Yes Ebay
Scout Bikes x3 $40.00 $12.00 $20.00 166.7% 50.0% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Black Templar Sword Brethren $45.00 $25.00 $20.50 82.0% 45.6% No ?
Changeling of Tzeentch $19.25 $5.00 $20.51 410.2% 106.5% No Local   purchase (3 armies)
Screamers of Tzeentch $49.58 $15.00 $21.50 143.3% 43.4% Yes Ebay
Woodland Trees $148.75 $150.00 $21.50 14.3% 14.5% No Bosco’s
Assault Squad x5 $33.00 $20.00 $23.50 117.5% 71.2% No ?
Seraphicus (mint) $16.00 $0.01 $11.50 115000.0% 71.9% Yes Hobbycraft (DV box price)
Seraphicus (painted) $16.00 $5.00 $13.00 260.0% 81.3% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Lizardman Bits $94.50 $15.00 $26.00 173.3% 27.5% No Ebay
Predator $57.75 $16.00 $26.51 165.7% 45.9% No Ebay (three tanks)
Dark Vengeance Book $74.25 $20.00 $28.00 140.0% 37.7% No Hobbycraft (DV box price)
Leman Russ $49.50 $15.00 $29.00 193.3% 58.6% Yes Adrian
Slave Girls $13.25 $8.00 $30.00 375.0% 226.4% No GW Direct
Vindicator $57.75 $8.00 $31.00 387.5% 53.7% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Land Raider (terrain) $74.25 $0.01 $31.00 310000.0% 41.8% Yes Barter Bucket
Scout Snipers $50.00 $8.00 $31.00 387.5% 62.0% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Honor Guard $35.40 $7.00 $31.00 442.9% 87.6% Yes Kent
Avatar $40.00 $31.15 $33.50 107.5% 83.8% Yes Ebay
Deathwing Command $60.00 $5.00 $35.00 700.0% 58.3% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Carnifex $53.75 $0.01 $15.50 155000.0% 28.8% Yes Marshal
Black Templar Emp. Champ $16.00 $10.00 $23.50 235.0% 146.9% Yes GW Direct
Deathwing Term x10 $100.00 $13.00 $39.00 300.0% 39.0% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Dread w/ Acannon $46.25 $8.00 $39.00 487.5% 84.3% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
CSM Land Raider $74.25 $0.01 $43.50 435000.0% 58.6% Yes Bosco’s Painting Competition Prize
Hellcannon $57.75 $30.00 $45.88 152.9% 79.4% Yes Trevor
Land Raider (Sprue) $74.25 $15.00 $46.00 306.7% 62.0% no Adrian
AoBR Dread $46.25 $8.00 $47.02 587.8% 101.7% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Genestealers $30.00 $10.00 $53.77 537.7% 179.2% No Ebay (broken, originally refunded)
FW Dread $46.25 $15.00 $55.00 366.7% 118.9% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Lord of Change $57.75 $15.00 $21.61 144.1% 37.4% Yes Ebay
Helbrecht $20.75 $6.00 $18.75 312.5% 90.4% Yes Kent
Xmas Captain $22.25 $0.01 $18.52 185200.0% 83.2% Yes 3rd Edition Starter box (I bought 10 back in the day)
Devs x5 $35.00 $5.00 $18.53 370.6% 52.9% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Typhoon x2 $60.00 $15.00 $37.00 246.7% 61.7% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
DA Characters $20.00 $2.00 $8.50 425.0% 42.5% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Venerable Dread $46.25 $8.00 $22.50 281.3% 48.6% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Rhino $37.25 $10.00 $21.75 217.5% 58.4% Yes Adrian
Rhino $37.25 $10.00 $21.75 217.5% 58.4% Yes Adrian
LoTD $57.25 $20.00 $36.16 180.8% 63.2% No Joe
Tyhpus $22.25 $0.01 $30.00 300000.0% 134.8% Yes Bosco’s Painting Competition Prize
Whirlwind Tank $57.75 $10.00 $20.50 205.0% 35.5% Yes Derek
Whirlwind Tank $57.75 $10.00 $21.49 214.9% 37.2% Yes Derek
Nurgle Land Raider $74.25 $50.00 $31.00 62.0% 41.8% Yes Ebay
Lotd x6 $41.25 $20.00 $24.52 122.6% 59.4% No Ebay
Firestorm Redoubt $65.00 $52.00 $41.50 79.8% 63.8% Yes Thewarstore
Games Day Captain $22.25 $10.00 $9.26 92.6% 41.6% No Ebay
Predator (green) $57.75 $10.00 $40.25 402.5% 69.7% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Eldar Bits $30.00 $10.00 $37.00 370.0% 123.3% No ?
Skeletal Horseman $15.00 $5.00 $3.50 70.0% 23.3% No ?
Mighty Empires $57.75 $40.00 $25.00 62.5% 43.3% Yes Hobbycraft
Tactical Marines x10 $40.00 $8.00 $20.02 250.3% 50.1% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Tactical x26 $104.00 $12.00 $30.02 250.2% 28.9% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Ezekiel $17.00 $2.00 $2.25 112.5% 13.2% No Joe
Bloodthirster $57.75 $15.00 $20.02 133.5% 34.7% Yes Ebay
Genestealers x12 $49.50 $5.00 $19.00 380.0% 38.4% No ?
Drop Pod $37.25 $8.00 $31.00 387.5% 83.2% No Local   purchase (3 armies)
Thammer Terms x5 $50.00 $12.00 $20.50 170.8% 41.0% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Terms x4 $40.00 $5.00 $17.50 350.0% 43.8% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Assault Squad x10 $66.00 $20.00 $15.51 77.6% 23.5% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Thunderfire $56.00 $20.00 $56.50 282.5% 100.9% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
Thunderfire $56.00 $20.00 $53.00 265.0% 94.6% No Local   Purchase (flyers)
MSRP Purchase Price Sell Price % Return % of Retail    
TOTALS: $3,812.32 $1,195.20 $1,968.18 164.7% 51.6%    

So there are a lot of caveats here, including:

  1. I used MSRP of the current equivalent.  Even if I knew that I had an older crappy model (metal Carnifex, AoBR dread, etc.).  In general, I’d say that MSRP skews down from there.  The one exception I couldn’t bring myself to list at full retail was the box of mangled genestealers because I literally thought they were garbage.  I would’ve been happy throwing them out.
  2. Prices are approximate in most cases (see the category labeled “Known Price” for exceptions).  I also skewed numbers up here.  Though I know that I already made all of the money back from the “3 armies” purchase–and others–I chose to put what I felt was a price that I would’ve reasonably paid as part of the lot.
  3. With those conditions in place, I still hit most of my targets.  Of course, I didn’t set specific goals this time around, but I generally have goals of reaching 50-60% retail value (depending upon condition).  I’m not sure I have a specific goal as to the return on investment, but 64.7% would be something I’m more than happy with (although when you consider ebay fees, and such, the return is more like 31%, which I still feel is respectable (keeping in mind that I suspect it’s actually more than that, based upon #1-2 above).

This particular run-through was actually quite pleasant for me.  It only took me one evening to really pack things up, and though I lost money on shipping, I got some great feedback, and Ebay added me to the Power Sellers group as well as earning “Top Seller Status.”  Both are really no more than a feather in my cap though.  The latter is almost enticing enough, as it entitles me to a 20% discount on ebay final value fees (which would save a little over $50 this round), but I’d have to commit to shipping everything out in one day (instead of five that I post), and pay for tracking on everything.  I’m sure both help me look more reputable when selling on ebay though.

Anywho, that’s it for this time around.  Hopefully you didn’t bother to read this entire post (And I promise not to have another one on the subject–until next year, that is).  This was really designed for me to have some sort of historical records of what I sold and how I did.


16 comments on “Doing the Numbers: Ebay 2013 (Fall Edition)

  1. I actually found it to be an interesting read, and only partly because I’d picked up a couple of those auctions. The shipping issue is tough to pin down – in my own much more limited sales I’ve kept the cost low and for plastics I’m usually fine, but I definitely had a few bite me and end up taking a significant chunk out of the total sale.

    • Well, thanks for the bids. Mind if I ask which ones you won? What did you think of the auctions (photos, quality, communication, shipping charges, etc.)? I’m always curious as to how I present myself on ebay.

      • I picked up the Screamer Killer and LE Emperor’s Champion (and I still need to leave feedback, my bad). I thought the auctions were good, though I honestly didn’t look too closely. I didn’t need to pick up anything and probably shouldn’t have, which is why I didn’t go for more stuff. I mostly skimmed titles and watched ones I was interested in if they stayed low enough. Most didn’t and those were the two I was willing to probably overpay for.

        I love sellers like you (though it gets me into trouble), who have tons of listings which start low. I like being able to skim through a list of items from the same seller and pick up multiple things to save on shipping if possible. My first impression was actually that shipping was a little high, which of course, is interesting since you lost money on it – I suppose we’re spoiled by Amazon. As you mentioned, it’s hard to bump the shipping too much because it will definitely deter some people, but you don’t want to cut into your profit either.

        It would be an interesting statistic to see if lower shipping cost auctions are likely to go for more. I know I calculate shipping into my ceiling when I bid, but not everyone might.

      • Thanks for the feedback. I really assumed I’d take a similar stance as you on this one. $6 seems a little steep for me when I’m bidding on an auction, but I guess I don’t think about what’s going into it. For instance, in your particular auction, I spent somewhere between $3-4 for the postage, $1.50 for the box, and $.90 for message tracking. So, we’re practically at $6 there. When you consider ebay and paypal each take their fees out of that (for a total of somewhere around 13%), that’s another $.70 or so. Assuming the numbers on postage are right, we’re about break-even (but only because you purchased two auctions–had you purchased just the carnifex, I’d have been out $.70 to ship that to you.

        I suspect that actually lowering my shipping charges would increase the number of people that are willing to buy just a single auction, and thereby increase my total sales. Of course, when you do that, it’s a hard pill to swallow as I’ve done that before and actually paid money to send people my stuff.

        What I really don’t understand is how I can order misc. parts from China so insanely cheaply. I’m not talking models per se here, but I do order a fair number of misc. IT cables/etc. You can buy a cable to charge your iphone from AT&T for $20, or you can order that same cable off ebay (from China) for $2 and it comes with free shipping. How is that even possible? I get that AT&T is ripping us off on the materials, but I have a really hard time shipping anything within the states for that much–much less overseas!

  2. I skimmed it, and will go back and readit in depth later. One tip though: postal scale. It’ll help you ballpark your shipping weights, and then get a general idea of how much to charge for shipping.

    • Do you do that sort of thing? I listen to a tech podcast that routinely advertises, but I’m not sure I do enough to justify actually going with something like that. I don’t care to make this into a business, as it’s more of just a side-gig for me. I think I’m straddling the line…

      • I own a postal scale, yes. It’s a dirt cheap model I originally bought to weigh the pewter ingots I sell from time to time. I used to make a good chunk of change buying pewter dishware and such from thrift stores, melting it down into ingot, and selling it to people who cast crafts or ammo with it. But in order to sell it for a good profit, I needed to know exactly how much was there, down to the ounce.
        I think my scale cost me $9.99 on eBay. It’s a cheap model, but accurate. When I sell models on eBay, I throw each lot on the scale just to see what it weighs. I can then use the eBay calculator to get a ballpark estimate for each item.
        IMO, where we lose the most money is on combined shipping. I have mine set as “highest single rate, +$1 per additional item.” If the combined shipping comes out lower than that when I ship, I give the buyer a refund via Paypal because it’s just a matter of a couple clicks to do. Another alternative is to say that “multiple wins ship together using the lowest possible Flat Rate Priority amount.” If you’ve got 3 auctions each shipping for $4, you can put them all into a single medium flat rate box for like $10-12 and not be out any money.

      • It all seems rather daunting to me. Weighing everything gives a good approximation of what the cost will be–though $6 for each package is pretty average (considering I buy $1.50 boxes to ship stuff in). What do you find is your average shipping cost?

        Do you sell on ebay often? Is it 40k stuff, or others? I’d love to hear some of your general insight on things–and if you have overall advice like this. Have you ever done a post on it?

      • My average shipping cost is about 304 dollars, but that’s because I tend to ship small things in bubble mailers.
        I am not such an active ebayer any more. I used to buy and sell stuff constantly, but with the birth of my son, I really scaled back a couple years ago. For example, I used to spend my lunch break 3 times a week shopping for pewter at the thrift shops. I’d wait til I had a good pile of stuff to smelt, and spend an entire night casting ingot. I was doing this in my basement with a rig designed for casting bullets. But, it sometimes filled the house with smoke (like when I’d get lazy and leave too much pine resin inside a chopped up candlestick base). I figured that would be crazy bad for an infant to be breathing, so I moved all my stuff out to the garage, and haven’t touched it in almost two years.
        My last BIG sale was about this time last year, when I found a guy giving away a ton of old metal models on Bartertown. He described it as “old lead”, so I paid his shipping costs and took it off his hands. When I cracked it open, it was all 70s, 80s, and 90s Ral Partha and Grenadier box sets. Complete sets. I couldn’t in good conscience melt that down into base weights (I have a policy never to sell metal I was given for free, I cast that into base weights). I contacted him, told him I was going to try to move it all for cash, and gave him a 40% cut. He ended up with a couple hundred bucks, and so did I. But when I was doing those few weeks of selling, the kitchen/postal scale I was using helped immensely. The first week I just listed 5 kits and guesstimated shipping at $5-$6 per box. Each one cost me 8-9 to send. I made enough on the boxes that the few dollars lost wasn’t huge, but one or two kits only made me 5 dollars profit due to the miscalculation.
        After I started ball parking with the scale, I was only losing a dollar or two here and there after factoring the cost of buying new boxes (I trade on Bartertown fairly often, so I tend to store old boxes for later use).

        The big thing to factor in is effort versus return. If you’re a busy guy who doesn’t have time to spend weighing and calculating, ballparking will work just fine. Better to move product at a smaller profit in less time, than move product at a midsize profit in a lot of time.

        As a final note, I always factor sipping costs into my bids as well. If I find an item I want, the first thing I do is figure out what it’s worth to me. If I only value it at $20, and the shipping is $5, I’ll bid 15. But if the shipping is $12, I’ll bid 8.
        I don’t remember what eBay’s fee structure is any more, but they get you either way since they charge value fees on shipping costs now. IMO, that’s led to an inflation of shipping costs across the site.

      • First of all, thanks for taking the time to give such a detailed response.

        When you say your average shipping cost is 304 dollars, is that a misprint? Did you mean 3-4 dollars? That’s about what the USPS shipping charges were for me, but I had the added cost of tracking and the actual postage. Bubble mailers would help a bit, but those are still about $.50 each, no?

        People are pretty ingenious. It’s odd that you could make more off the models by smelting them down than selling them as is, but it’s great that you thought that up.

        Effort vs. return is an odd thing. As an IT professional, I could easily pick up side gigs making anywhere between $60-100 per hour, but I have zero interest in that (either turning them down because my contract at work as a weak moonlighting clause–that I know I could get out of–or giving the support away for free to friends/family). But buying and selling armies is actually kind of pleasant. Granted, I don’t like the actual selling of them, but I love buying things “for a good deal.”

      • Yeah “304” is a typo. It’s 3-4.
        I save a lot of money by reusing shipping materials. Every bubble mailer I get when I order from Hoard O Bitz or The Bitz barn gets saved and reused when I mail something else out.

        I didn’t smelt down the large lot of models I got from Bartertown. Just the opposite! I made far more selling them to collectors than I would have melting them and selling by weight. The guy who gave them to me had intended me to melt them for weights, but I knew they were worth far more intact. I made sure to let him know that I was going to sell the stuff he gave me for free, and that I was giving him a cut. I figured it’d be unethical to take something for free that was intended for one use, and then sell it at a huge profit without sharing the funds or the information. 😛

  3. Try picking up a digital kitchen scale. They get super cheap when they’re on sale, and with that and a list of postal rates you should be good to go. I think my wife’s scale was about $8-10. Doesn’t take many packages to pay for that…

  4. Nice article. I always see ebay as a means to a end. End selling on ebay and sell from your own web site. Use ebay as a means to access the world but save the bulk selling for your own website and get rid of the deadbeat bidders and the deadbeat selling fees. Good luck and perhaps fortune will shine on you.

    • I think this is spot on. I have a trading page, but I’m too lazy to actually put anything up on it–and I did get some real interest from people during the pre-ebay posts. I just need to inspire myself to do this.

      What works about ebay for me is that I don’t have to worry about setting a price (I start everything at $.01) and I know that after I go through the effort of putting everything up for auction, it’ll all be gone in two weeks and I’ll have finally cleaned off that counter/shelf/etc.

      Still, I think you’re right. Anyone want to buy an Ork/IG army?

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