A Guide to the Trading Post
I learned something while writing this article, which may or may not surprise you. The Trading Post is a game. A game different from Meerca Chase or the Stock Market, yes, but still a game. You need patience, skill, and, of course, luck to do well in it just like any other game.
So how do you do succeed on the Trading Post? I spent three weeks researching to find out. Obviously, if I wanted to do any research, I would need to put a lot up, so I scrounged around in my Safety Deposit Box for three relatively valuable items. The items I used were a Mysterious Swirly Potion, a Mystery Island Paint Brush, and Ylanas Blaster. For the rest of the article, I’ll refer to these as a MSP, MIPB, and YB, respectively.
The first week, I put the three items up with no wishlist provided, or, more accurately, a wishlist of ‘None.’
The YB received a total of 8 offers, with 3 offers neomailed to me and 5 offers directly on the Trading Post. 3 of the offers on the Trading Post were withdrawn very quickly after they were made, meaning that I was unable to see what they were. Of the offers I did see, the average value was approximately 612,000 NP. Ignoring the 2 offers that were well under the recommended price, the average offer became 810,000 NP, with the best offer being worth 830,000 NP.
The MSP received a total of 10 offers, 6 via the Trading Post and 4 via Neomail. Of the Trading Post bids, I was unable to see 2 of them. Additionally, there were 4 inquiries via Neomail asking variations of what the lowest price I would accept was, although none of them ended up making any offers. The average value of the offers was 780,000 NP. However, if I ignored the 5 abnormally low offers, of which several were junk, that rose to about 1,540,000 NP. The best offer was 2,350,000 NP, although that turned out to be a mistake on the offerer’s part. When asked about it, they realized their mistake and lowered their offer to 1,750,000 NP, which was still the best offer.
The MIPB during week 1 received the most offers during my entire experiment, with a total of 37 offers, almost all of which were via the Trading Post. There were a total of 5 offers I never saw and 4 inquiries regarding the price via Neomail. The average value of the bids was a measly 328,000 NP. This was primarily due to 31 of the bids being bad bids, many of which were junk. I received only 1 decent bid, which was worth 4,600,000 NP.
So what did we learn from week 1? For one, beware putting up your lot with no given price, especially if it’s a very popular item like a paintbrush. If you’re putting up a more obscure item, then you’ll receive more serious offers. To generalize this, easy-to-sell, also known as ETS, items should have a price provided. With hard-to-sell, also known as HTS, items, the people that bid tend to know what the item is worth and offer more appropriately.
The second week was much calmer than the first week. I put up my lots once again, but this time with what I gauged to be an average or above average price. With the YB, I asked for 900,000 NP. I asked 1,750,000 NP for the MSP. Finally, I asked 4,800,000 NP for the MIPB.
The YB received a total of 3 offers, all via the Trading Post. Interestingly, two of them were withdrawn before I saw them, which meant I was only able to gather data on 1 offer, which was worth 925,000 NP. So the average bid for the YB that week was 925,000 NP.
The MSP received even fewer offers – only 2, both via Neomail. There was also 1 person inquiring about the lowest price, although they never made a bid. The lower offer I received was worth 1,350,000 NP, while the other was worth about 3,000,000, which was definitely well over the expected value. Thus, the average price that week was 2,175,000 NP.
The MIPB received a total of 8 offers and 1 inquiry during week 2, which was a pleasant change from the previous week. I was unable to see 2 of the offers due to them being hastily withdrawn, but the average price of the others was 1,700,000 NP. Ignoring the 4 bad bids, that jumped to an average of 4,700,000 NP, with the best being about 4,800,000 NP.
What did we learn during the second week? For one, if you have a higher price, you’ll receive fewer offers. We also learned that there’s always a possibility of someone making an abnormally good offer, as was the case with the 3,000,000 offer on my MSP. However, if you receive a really good offer, it will frequently be in the form of HTS items. If this happens, it’s up to you whether or not to take it. While you’ll probably make more profit from it, it will also take longer to sell it, during which time you may have been able to make even more profit.
The third week I originally intended to put up my lots with extra high prices, but after seeing how few offers I received the previous week, I instead decided to lower the prices. The YB and MIPB I lowered relatively little and probably should have lowered more, to 850,000 NP and 4,600,000 NP respectively. On the other hand, I lowered the price of the MSP too much, to 1,300,000 NP.
The YB received 13 offers that week, 4 via Neomail and 9 via the Trading Post. I was unable to see 3 of the offers, but the average of the others came to 793,000 NP. Only 1 of the offers was junk, so ignoring that, the average came to 881,000 NP, with the best offer being worth 1,100,000 NP.
Compared to the previous week, the number of offers the MSP received skyrocketed, with a total of 21 offers, 10 of which were via Neomail and 11 through the Trading Post, and I was unable to see only 2 of the offers. There were also 9 inquiries via Neomail. The average of the offers was 1,200,000 NP. Ignoring the 1 junk offer, that then became 1,267,000 NP. The best offer was worth 1,500,000 NP.
Finally, the MIPB received 10 offers during the final week, 5 via Neomail and 5 via the Trading Post, 4 of which I never saw, in addition to 1 inquiry. The average value came to 5,067,000 NP. Only 1 of the offers could be considered low, as it was roughly 1,000,000 NP below the others. Ignoring it, the average rose to 5,340,000 NP, with the best offer being an item worth about 7,500,000 NP.
What did we learn during the final week? Once again, I received an abnormally high offer, the offer worth 7,500,000 NP on the MIPB, and once again, it was a single HTS item. Additionally, if you consistently receive a large number of offers matching your requested price, as was the case with the MSP, then it’s probably a safe assumption that your price is too low.
One thing I noticed was that the majority of offers occurred within the first day, especially with the YB. This is probably because when there are many lots containing the same item as your lot, yours will be pushed far back when people search for lots with the newest first. So if you’re not receiving any offers, it may be a good idea to repost your lot to put it back in front.
On the other hand, if there are very few lots up with your item in them, you will receive many more offers. This was a strong contributing factor to the 21 offers on the MSP during week 3, since during that time, mine was the only one posted on the Trading Post. So if you’re lucky enough to have a monopoly on the item, then you’ll receive many more offers.
A final thing I noticed was that people almost never offered more than the listed price of the lot. Or at least when they were dealing with pure Neopoints. Almost every offer that was more than the listed price contained HTS items, while most of the lower offers were in pure.
You may now be wondering how this relates in any way to the Trading Post being a game. Well, as I said at the beginning, the Trading Post requires three things just like any other game, which are patience, luck, and skill. You need patience if you hope to get a higher price, since you’ll rarely receive the perfect offer instantly. Luck is also needed, since you never know who will bid on your lot or what their bid will be. You may receive exactly what you ask for, or they may bid more than that, or they may bid junk.
Skill is the hardest to pin down, but I’d say that it’s just as important as patience or luck. Skill on the Trading Post relates to the ability to maximize profit and speed. Of course, the two of those rarely coincide, so skill relates more to what your priorities are. I would personally say that there are three basic strategies for the Trading Post.
The first strategy would be the quick seller, a person that wants to maximize speed at the cost of profit. They’re the person most likely to sell at a lower price, and they’ll frequently sell to resellers. If I were to compare this to a traditional game, I’d say that this is the kind of person that plays games like Kass Basher, which gives a nice profit and takes very little time.
The next strategy is a bit more balanced, where people are willing to sacrifice speed so they can get a good deal. They won’t ask for a low price in order to sell quickly. Instead, they’ll post a more normal price, and will probably sell in a few days, depending on what they’re selling.
The third strategy, and the one I would personally use, is one of patience. A person using this strategy doesn’t care how long it takes to sell their lot, as long as they get a good offer. This will, predictably, take a long time, but you’ll probably make the most profit... eventually.
So which strategy should you use? It all depends on what you want to do. If you want to sell quickly, use a lower price. If you want to maximize profit, use a higher price. However, I do recommend you put something in your wishlist, even if it’s just along the lines of ‘neomail offers.’ If you don’t put a price, then you have no control over what people will offer. Additionally, people will have no clue what you’re expecting, which means that you’ll end up receiving a lot of junk offers. Of course, if that’s what you want, then go ahead and do that.
Still don’t think it’s a game? Well, let me put it another way then. The Trading Post is a game in which one person puts up a lot asking for what they think is the maximum people will be willing to pay. Next, a second person makes an offer for what they think the minimum amount the lot owner will accept is. Finally, the lot owner evaluates the bid and predicts if any better offers will come in the near future. If they think there will be better offers, they’ll ignore it. If they think it’s a good offer, they’ll take it. So it’s a game with three phases.
Of course, I haven’t discussed anything related to the bidder yet, partially because I didn’t do any research as one of them. But here are some things I noticed people doing, along with some tips.
Firstly, I noticed several people withdrawing their offers very quickly, sometimes within a few minutes of making them. My guess for why this is happening is because either they’ve reconsidered if they really want the object, or they’ve realized that their bid is off, either too high or too low. So my suggestion to those of you bidding is to know the value of what you’re bidding on. This goes double for the people receiving the bids—Make sure you know how much the bids are worth. Both sides should do look into the values of everything involved so they don’t accidentally make a decision they’ll regret. Check the prices on the Trading Post, Auction House, Show Wizard, or even on the Neoboards if the item can’t be found anywhere else.
Additionally, for the bidders at least, don’t be afraid to Neomail the person with the lot. They might be willing to haggle, or they might not be, but it never hurts to check. On the other hand, I’ll say that I find it annoying when people ask what the lowest price I’d accept for my items are, especially since I tend to not really have a specific price in mind. But then again, other people might be fine with that. If the person says they’re willing to haggle, then it’s probably worth a shot, but if they say their price is firm, then you probably won’t gain anything.
Finally, keep in mind that even if the person doesn’t accept your offer, it’s not the end of the world.You can always resubmit a higher offer, although if you make it clear that you’re willing to pay more, then the other person may take advantage of that. You can also just wait for someone else to put up another item, since unless it’s an obnoxiously rare, retired item, it’s bound to happen eventually. For lot owners, keep in mind that if you don’t receive any good bids, you can always wait, so don’t ever feel rushed.
So to conclude, I hope you found this article enjoyable and informative.
Author’s note: I’d also like to say a special thanks to everyone that participated in my study. I couldn’t have done this without you! ^^
Search the Neopian Times