How Efficient is the Web at Selling High Priced Items?

I wanted to get my wife something cool for her birthday, but the gift I wanted to buy proved nearly impossible to find from a trustworthy source. I was going to get her a high end autographed item, but who should I buy it from?

  1. The not for profit site that is down, requiring you to buy through the payment link inside of Google's cache
  2. The site with Google Checkout and Google AdSense on their home page
  3. The site with a sleazy Clickbank affiliate ad for how to steal stuff
  4. The site with no money back guarantee
  5. The site with a design that looks like I created it in January 2003 (my first month on the web)
  6. The eBay member with 0 reputation
  7. The eBay member that takes a month and a half to ship
  8. The eBay member selling authentic lithographs
  9. The eBay member selling the item used

While I listed the above faults as though each was a different site, many of the sites actually suffered from multiple trust eating offenses. I consider myself a savvy searcher and yet these were the best sites I could find for what I wanted to buy. Because of the price-point I was unwilling to trust any of them enough to buy.

At lower price points we are more likely to let little things slide, but almost every site undermines conversion rates. A year from now I will probably look back on this post and laugh at some of the things I was screwing up today.

Published: November 11, 2007 by Aaron Wall in marketing


November 11, 2007 - 6:35am

What was wrong with number 9? Was it just too expensive for a used item?


November 11, 2007 - 6:45am

Who knows if it being used meant some undisclosed wear and tear. Also #9 was #7 too, which meant the gift would have at best been a month late.

Collin LaHay
November 11, 2007 - 7:36am

All of them are risky except for #5. Craigslist does just fine for being one of the ugliest websites on the web. I recommend that you just make sure to send an email to the seller before hand; make sure he is up to date even if his website isn't. The other 8 I would say are too suspicious to try.

November 11, 2007 - 10:00am

at the end of the day better take her for a romantic dinner .. and do not search for a good restaurant "online" :)

Andrew Johnson
November 11, 2007 - 7:50pm

I think this is a case of a specific market where there are no dominant players with a solid reputation. (a very, very, good sign for entrepreneurs who look for what company to start next.)

Alternatively, did you try

November 11, 2007 - 11:31pm

Hi Andrew
Yep, I tried there too, but they did not have it.

November 12, 2007 - 12:25am

Were you using search to get the above results... what types of queries were you using? In going for luxury or high-priced items, I usually just go for trusted, well-known brands, rather than relying on search.

Autographed items and memorabilia are not usually sold under "brands" though, so perhaps starting with references from trade associations for the most reputable dealers.

Finding and sourcing authenticity is the most important thing so I'd look for trade association references for authentic goods.

Very interesting post - thanks for sharing.

November 12, 2007 - 1:24am

Hi Jake
I was looking to buy a U2 autographed guitar, and Google search didn't lead me to anything trustworthy.

The fact that autographed items and memorabilia are not usually sold under "brands" indicates that there is a HUGE opportunity in the marketplace to create one. Although I am not sure that I have enough interest in the idea and capital to create it. I already have too many ideas that are half done.

November 12, 2007 - 2:21am


"Google search didn't lead me to anything trustworthy"

I'm not surprised, at all.

I agree there is a huge opportunity for branding memorabilia trade. Steiner is the only one that comes to top of mind for me, but that is in sports (I have NO affiliation with them - I promise)

Good luck with the gift hunt. That's an amazing idea!

November 12, 2007 - 4:26am

Make everything as simple as possible, but no simpler.

1. Call Bono's philantropy group about helping them online.
2. If you find anyone credible there, ask about where one might buy said item.
3. End up with a discount on the item and more exposure.
4. Blog about the experience hilighting the importance of philantropy online and their utter failure at it thusfar -- include a funny image of your wife fake playing her gift.

November 12, 2007 - 4:37am

You know I need to start being more aggressive with that sort of stuff Cygnus.

November 12, 2007 - 2:56pm

IMHO 'The site with a design that looks like I created it in January 2003 (my first month on the web)' is probably your best bet... ive bought many things from poor looking sites. usually created on the cheap by tinkerers who wanted to have a go at making a site through using 3rd party software... everything else looks suspect and WTF are you doing surfing caches of sites man thats just weird! lol.

November 12, 2007 - 4:20pm

I might have given #6 a shot. It is an autograph that you're looking for, and it's very possible that the person selling it with 0 feedback was thinking, "Hey, what else am I going to do with this autograph, why don't I just put this one eBay?" I'd send them a message and see how trustworthy and genuine their response seems.

November 15, 2007 - 12:48am

He got me a DS lite with tons of cool games (cos he knows I love gadgets) and signed a U2 album of Joshua Tree (Im a huge U2 fan) instead.

Ahh, so thoughtful.

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