eBay Buy It Now vs Auction: Which Listing Style Is Best?

Probably the most common question eBay users/sellers (both new and longtime sellers) ask when using the eBay platform is whether to start a bidding war or put a fixed price for their rare, high-demand, and uncommon items.

The question may seem simple, with a really easy answer, but that is actually not the case.

Obviously, sellers want to get the best possible profit for their items. Making the wrong decision could mean losing profit, taking a long time to sell, or potentially having to sell for less.

On the other hand, if you make the right choice, you can sell your items faster and more than you expected.

This entry will talk about all the factors you need to consider regarding which selling strategy to use: buy-it-now listings or eBay auctions.



eBay Buy it Now vs Auction: So which option is better?

The short answer is, there is none.

This is because there is no best way to sell on eBay. No listing is better than the other. This is because what works for others may not work for you, and vice versa. Both listing styles have their challenges, benefits, and drawbacks.

There is, however, a better way for you, your eBay store, and your items. Read on and explore your options.


Understanding the listing options

First things first, it is important that you fully understand the terms and what they entail when it comes to eBay’s platform.

The buy it now listings, simply known as the “Buy It Now” feature, is exactly what it sounds like – fixed price listings that give sellers the option to set fixed prices for their items. Potential buyers can decide to buy items immediately without having to place bids and win a bidding war.

The Auction listing, on the other hand, is a traditional eBay buying format that old heads from the platform are all familiar with and love. With the auction format, item sellers set a starting price. Buyers can place bids until the end of the auction ends.

Obviously, the highest bidder wins.

Hot Tip

Learn more about how to maximize your eBay auctions here.


eBay Auction Versus Buy It Now Listings: Pros and Cons

Now that you know the definition, it’s time to understand their advantages and disadvantages.


Buy It Now: Fixed Price Listings


  • Easy management for bulk editing, cancellation, and automated renewals
  • You can take advantage of the platform’s Markdown Manager and run sales as you, please
  • You get the money upon purchase



  • Your listings can stay up indefinitely, there is no sense of urgency to buy them


Breaking down the pros of fixed-price listing

Easy management

The automated listing process means easy management for the seller. You can adjust your listings using the Bulk Editor feature, automatically renew, and easily cancel the process.

Markdown manager

If you want to dispose of items fast, you can entice potential buyers with a special sale and mark down the prices of your listings. If there is one thing shoppers love, it’s the word “sale”.

Timely payments

You don’t have to worry about late payments or getting left out dry, as you get paid as soon as people purchase your fixed-price listings.


Breaking down the cons of fixed price listing

Lack of urgency

Auctions place a sense of urgency in the mind of the buyers. The Buy It Now method doesn’t have this power. Shoppers may simply click “bookmark” on your products instead of clicking “buy”.


Auctions Listing


  • Works best for rare, uncommon, highly collectible, and unique items
  • Bidding wars can result in higher prices for your items, more money for the seller in a single listing
  • Puts a sense of urgency on buyers, items can sell faster



  • There is a risk of buyers pulling out altogether
  • Limited time for your listings to be in the market, which means a smaller reach
  • Demands a lot of work as the selling process is not automated


Breaking down the pros of eBay auctions

Best for unique collectible items

Baseball cards, old coins, and rare and unique items are great for eBay auctions, much like in real life.

Earn big

Bidding wars mean earning more as people want to beat other bidders for your auctioned items.

Sell fast

Due to time constraints and the sense of urgency, you can sell items faster.


Breaking down the cons of eBay auction

Slow pay

The turnaround time for your listed items can be slower, as buyers can take up to four days to pay. Plus, in auction-style listings, you run the risk of the winning bidder pulling out at the last minute since they are unable to pay, forcing you to do things all over again for the same item.

This could mean slow cash flow.


Limited time in the market

Limited time in the market means smaller reach. Auctions usually only go for as long as 10 days. Those people who may be interested in your rare items, may not be logged in on eBay at that time period.


Demands work

The lack of automation means you will have to work to sell your listings and oversee the auction process. This can take up a lot of your item, especially if you have multiple listings, as this means dealing with multiple buyers.


Auction Listings versus Buy It Now Option; which should you choose?

As said earlier, both listing styles have their own pros and cons. Indeed, there are instances and items where one method can give you the most money.

But as with most things, there are factors that you need to consider, such as the scarcity and rarity of your item, its value, and the overall demand for it.

When used properly, both listing styles can give you the most profit, because, at the end of the day, it all comes down to what you are selling.

In the early years of eBay, the only option to sell items on the eBay platform was through auction-style listings. The buy-it-now listing is a relatively new option.

As a matter of fact, when it was first introduced, sellers and eBay users in general, were reluctant to use it, since most people have seen success from running bidding wars for a long time.

Auctions also added a sense of thrill and fulfillment for the vast majority of both sellers and buyers on eBay. People loved to see the prices, especially those for uncommon items like sports cards, rise over the life of the auction.

Many bidders would wait in anticipation in hopes of winning the item. As with auctions in real life, the last 30 seconds of eBay auctions were purely exhilarating, as many items shoot for higher prices.

Many listed items were able to go hundreds, if not thousands of dollars at the last minute of the auction.

But times have changed since then. The introduction of other e-commerce platforms forced eBay to shake things up, as online buyers prefer to get their items fast and online sellers want to dispose of their listed items as quickly as possible.

This is why the buy-it-now listings were introduced.


Factors To Consider in Buy It Now Listing

As you may have noticed in the pros and cons section, the Buy It Now method factors businesses that consistently list their items.

This means if you have high-priced items that aren’t in high demand, your better listing option is the fixed price since it is likely that there will not be a lot of shoppers interested in that item at the same item.

The key to the Buy It Now option is to find one interested shopper, not several.

Thus, regardless of the price and demand for that item, if you have several of these items listed at the same time, or if you want a quick turnaround for your items, you are better off with a fixed price.

Understand that, not everyone prefers to bid and wait for items they want online. They simply want to purchase it as quickly as possible and go about with their day.


Factors To Consider in Auction Listing

Indeed, the auction format can bring a lot of attention and profit to your listings, but do you have the right products for people to bid on?

If you already have a high-demand item that very few sellers (or none) on eBay are listing, then the auction style is the right one for you. Antique, collector’s items, and rare items are great for this option.

But before you put your uncommon items on the auction listing, make sure you do your research first.

If you see similar items faring well in bidding wars, then go ahead and list your item. If you see they aren’t getting the attention and the bidding, then it would be best to wait for a while.

Remember, the value of collector’s items fluctuates. The key here is to strike while the iron is hot. Don’t give other buyers and potential bidders the opportunity to shop around.


Parting Tips

Again, both listing styles have their strengths and weaknesses, and both can help sellers move products and earn a good living. But at the end of the day, the best method for you is the one that suits you, your store, your items, and your goals.

For rare, uncommon, and collectible items, you can go the auction listings route. If you prefer reliability and consistency in your cash flow, then fixed-price listings are for you.

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