Is Presale selling a good idea on eBay?

By Dan Wilson September 30, 2015 - 1:39 am

I spoke to a seller recently who had been terribly stung because of a presale cock-up. He put his hands up to his own failings in the incident in question but eBay made it much worse with the inflexibility of the Defects system. The echoes of which are still resonating nearly a year or so on.

Presales. Read eBay’s policy here. It’s where you sell something that you don’t yet have but will. It could be something like a video game or a fashion item. Or an event ticket. You have the right to sell the item but you don’t yet have it in your possession. eBay allows a 30 day window for such things.

It’s a minefield though. The seller I spoke to was let down by his supplier. He fulfilled all the orders but some were longer than 30 days. He received more than a few defects and this has stifled his selling since despite the fact that he clearly signalled the nature of the sales and all were fulfilled as quickly as possible. Throughout the process he offered refunds to anyone who was unhappy.

There will always be something of a risk involved with presales but the rewards can often be good too, especially if you have a good relationship with a supplier an can sell something that enjoys great demand.

But it seems to me that there’s scope for a much cleverer presales/pre-order system on eBay. It could be a spinner and satisfy sellers and buyers alike. Payments made could easily be held in something akin to escrow so that buyers were reassured. And specific features could keep buyers informed on the status of the purchase and protect sellers from defects related enquiries from buyers before the item is supposed to be available.

Do you ever presale? Does it work? Or does it represent too much of a risk?

  • Stuart
    6 years ago

    It can work if the system is there for it too work, simply using the current ebay system is a bad idea. Amazon offer pre-sale of items, often with them being months away.

    If you can guarantee the delivery date then great, if you can’t you can easily get in a mess like the above seller.

  • Leno
    6 years ago

    We pre-sell and have some great successs with it. Ebay’s system though really doesn’t aid any of this, with Ebay sending out mixed signals to the buyers.

    When we used to have an account manager they were fully aware of this and mentioned that this was an area they were looking into. Sadly, but not unsurprisingly, nothing happened.

  • Toby
    6 years ago

    We’ve used it before & set a 30-day Despatch Time, so no INR cases can be opened before the arrival date.
    Once the stock arrived, this was reduced down to 1 day.

    I had recently had an issue with this as a Buyer of a new DashCam, where the seller’s stock had not arrived from China in time & he had placed a 1 day despatch time, which caused him issues with his other buyers.

  • james
    6 years ago

    bloody terrible idea on ebay, you’re just asking to get stung, and sooner or later you will.

    theres definitely room for ebay to do something, but that would require ebay to perhaps accept some degree of responsibility for something, so it’ll never happen.

  • Richard
    6 years ago

    Selling stuff you don’t physically have will at some point severely bite you in the backside, whether it’s pre-release items such as DVDs/CDs or drop-shipping. Seen traders of all sizes get stung by this too many times over the years. It’s always going to be gambling with your business.

    • richbkk
      6 years ago

      Somewhat baffling as selling something you don’t have and needing to cancel is one of ebay’s cardinal sin, in fact one of the only things that will earn you a defect point.
      A gamble. Seller beware on this one. Though ebay’s stance is somewhat dualistic.

  • Sarju
    6 years ago

    Its a great idea and we used it a lot last year, is also great for cashflow as you get paid way ahead of time. However you need to execute is well otherwise you can get yourself into a pickle.

    We used to use it for our category leading items if we were out of stock before next container arrived, it can keep your listing up there.

    This year we have a bigger warehouse and plenty of stock 🙂

  • Mark_H
    6 years ago

    If you are giving customers the chance to pre-order items before their release date then they would expect delivery on/soon after the release date.

  • dan
    6 years ago

    i have a similar thought on this,

    i have some items, which will be made (and my supplier), in around one working week.

    i had planned to make all possible listings / variations. and then when order comes in, to make on demand of the order.

    do you think this is a bad idea, or are there any people on here that do just that??
    as some advice would be appreciated!


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