eBay Auction vs. Buy It Now: Here’s How to Decide

When you list your item on eBay, the goal is to optimize the listings in your eBay store so that your items sell for top dollar. But many ebay sellers question whether the eBay Auction vs Buy It Now is the best way to list on eBay. Both listing styles have pros and cons, and it can be challenging to determine which is right for you. In this article, I’ll dive into the differences between eBay auction and buy it now (aka fixed priced) options to help you make an informed decision.

Auction vs Buy It Now: What’s the Difference?

When populating your eBay store with items, you have two options: auction format or buy it now. Both options have pros and cons, so it’s important to understand how they work before you decide.

How Auctions Work

Auctions on eBay, like traditional auctions, allow you to set a starting price for your item. Buyers then bid on it, and the highest bidder becomes the winner. Auction style listings run for a set amount of time, often seven days, unless you choose a different duration. The draw of auctions is that highly sought after items can go for a lot. of money, and there’s always a chance for last-minute bids, sometimes creating a bidding war.

How Buy It Now Works

Buy It Now is a fixed-price listing option on eBay. With fixed-price listings, you set a price, and buyers can purchase it immediately at that price. Some sellers also enable the “best offer feature,” allowing potential buyers to suggest a price they’re willing to pay if they feel the set price is too high. Unlike auctions, Buy It Now listings can run indefinitely until the item sells or you decide to end the listing.

Is eBay Auction or Buy It Now Better?

When it comes to selling on eBay, deciding between auction and buy it now is a tough choice. But the answer is simple: it depends on what you’re selling.

If you have a one-of-a-kind or rare item that you think will generate a bidding war, then an auction is the way to go. It can create excitement and competition among potential buyers, driving up the final selling price.

Buy It Now is the better choice if you’re selling a more common item or something with a set market value. Buy It Now listings allow buyers to purchase your item immediately at a fixed price without waiting for an auction to end. This can be convenient for buyers looking for a specific item who don’t want to risk losing it to another bidder.

Ultimately, the decision between auction vs. buy it now comes down to understanding your item, its value, and potential buyers. I’ll go over both options in more detail below.

When to Use Auctions on Ebay

  • Uncertain Value: If you’re unsure about the exact value of your item but know there will be a lot of interest, an auction can help determine its market price based on real-time item demand.
  • High Demand, Low Supply: If you’re selling the type of item with high demand, but there aren’t a lot of items listed. An auction may help you sell it at a higher price.
  • Anticipation of Bidding Wars: Items that attract collectors or enthusiasts can lead to lots of bids and may drive the price higher than expected at the last minute.
  • Clearance Items: Alternatively, you can also use auctions to clear items at a low price. Bad buys or items sitting around can often be listed at a low price at auction and generate some interest. Just set your starting price at the minimum price you’re willing to take for the item and see if you can clear those items out!

Pros & Cons of Auction Listings


  • Bidding Wars: If an item is in demand or unique, bidders can compete and drive the price up.
  • Urgency: The time-sensitive nature can encourage buyers to act fast.
  • Potential for Higher Prices: Rare or collectible items may sell for much more than their starting bid.
  • Excitement: The competitive nature of bidding can be enticing for many buyers.
  • Flexibility: Sellers can set a reserve price to ensure they get a minimum amount.


  • No Immediate Sale: Auctions take time, whereas Buy It Now offers an immediate purchase option.
  • Potential for Lower Prices: If there’s little interest or competition, an item might sell for less than desired.
  • Time Consuming: Monitoring and managing auctions can be a little more time consuming, especially if you have many items.
  • Potential for Non-payment: With auctions, you can’t require immediate payments. So there is a chance that the winning bidder will decide not to pay, and you’ll have to send a second chance offer to the next highest bidder or rerun the auction.

Overall, auctions can be a good choice for unique items or items that are hard to price and will generate a lot of interest and competition among buyers.

When to Use Buy It Now on Ebay

  • High-Demand Items: If you have an item in high demand, a Buy It Now listing can be a great way to make a quick sale at a fixed price that you choose.
  • Unique Item: If you’re selling a one-of-a-kind item but are unsure of the demand and don’t want to risk an auction, you can list it at a price you’re comfortable with.
  • You Want to Avoid the Hassle of an Auction: Auctions can be time-consuming, and there’s always a chance a buyer won’t pay. If this bothers you, go with buy it now.
  • There’s a Lot of Competition: If there are a lot of similar items listed at competitive prices, there isn’t likely to be a bidding war, and your best bet is to use a fixed-price format, price competitively, and wait for the right buyer to come along.

Pros and Cons of Buy It Now Listings

Now let’s look at some of the pros and cons of fixed price or buy it now listings.


  • Immediate Sale: Buyers can purchase instantly without waiting for an auction to end.
  • Predictability: You know exactly how much you’ll get paid for the item since you’re setting the final price.
  • Reduced Risk: There’s no chance of the item selling for less than you’re comfortable with, unlike auctions without a reserve price.
  • Multiple Listings: You can list items with multiple quantities once and sell the same item to multiple buyers at the set price.
  • Best Offer Option: If you’re not totally set on your buy it now price, you can add “best offer” to your fixed price listing, allowing buyers to submit a price they’re willing to pay and get you the sale.


  • Pricing too low/high: If you set your price too high, the item might not sell. Set it too low, and you’re missing out on profit.
  • Market Fluctuations: Fixed price listings aren’t as flexible in adjusting to market demand or changes in product value over time. You should double-check your pricing every few months to ensure it’s priced competitively.

By understanding the pros and cons of this listing type and when to use it, you can make the most of your eBay selling experience.

Final Thoughts

​Even the most seasoned ebayers sometimes wonder about selling items via auction vs buy it now. But the truth is, it all depends on your situation and the types of products you’re trying to sell. In most cases, unless you’re selling highly sought after items or rare items with a following, buy it now listings are going to be your best bet. But there is truly no one right way to sell items on ebay. This is something you’ll learn to figure out with time.

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