Friday, June 12, 2009

Inside the mind of a customer

My wife fished up a few stacks of Dragonfin Angelfish for me over the past few days, which I turned into Dragonfin Filet and sold using my AH broker. Last night, before I log off for the evening, I check my broker’s mailbox.

Click…click… Click…click… Click…click…

“Did any of my fish sell”

“Yep, 3 or 4 stacks of 5”

“How much did you post them for?”

“20 gold each stack”


“Are those unsold auctions, or are you picking up money?!!?”

“This is gold from my ammo sales”



My ammo sales are interesting. First, I love being able to make money with engineering. Sure, it’s not an Inscription Empire, but it keeps me from farming when I don’t want to and I make enough gold to more than pay for my weekly upkeep and my wife’s never ending quest for 100 mounts (she’s up to 80 now). Sales can be spikey, usually every 2 days or so I sell a ton, but in between only a few stacks.

I often wonder why people would by ammo in stacks of 200, or why they would buy anything in lower stacks at a higher cost per unit. I think trying to get inside the mind of your customer is a good idea. It could really expand how you sell on the auction house and open up new selling opportunities.

First, let’s look at some of the items I sell on a regular basis – Mammoth Cutters, Saronite Razorheads, Saronite Bars. For the ammo, I was surprised that people would buy it and not just the ammo maker. When I started selling ammo by the stack, I could only sell it stacks of 200. Then, there was a change to ammo and it stacked up to 1000 per stack as a way to help hunters. I decided to continue to sell in stacks of 200. Why? Because most people aren’t good at doing even simple math. They probably don’t even have a calculator in the house and don’t know that you can minimize WoW and use the Windows calculator (it even has a Scientific mode!). I also know that most players don’t use Auctioneer, so the % of market value isn’t displayed for them. Lastly, most players sort by lowest price. So, I put these three things together and I have a formula for ammo success. Sell ammo in stacks of 200 for over 2x the cost of materials. Buyers will sort by lowest price and see pages and pages of my ammo at a cheaper price than the stacks of 1000, even though their cost per unit is lower than mine. Of course, since they lack simple math skills and calculators, most won’t even notice that my ammo is more expensive. I sometimes feel guilty about this. I’m not as cold hearted as Gevlon seems to be. Whenever I do feel guilt, I tell myself these very real facts: I’m not holding a gun to anyone’s head forcing them to buy my ammo and there are other, cheaper options on the auction house. Plus, I really do hate blatant laziness so if someone can’t figure out how to find a better deal, it’s not my problem. In many cases, these are the same people who come to raids unprepared, do substandard DPS and “stand in the fire.”

For saronite bars, there are a few different reasons for buying a stack of 2 bars for a higher price per unit than a stack of 20. A buyer most likely only needs between 3 and 6 bars so they can have something crafted for them, be it a ring, weapon or armor. If they bought a stack of 20 saronite bars, then ¾ of them would “go to waste” after they had their gear crafted. So, in this case, selling bars in small stacks is kind of like selling boneless, skinless chicken breast. Sure, I could buy a whole chicken and butcher it myself, but my wife doesn’t like legs/thighs and it’s a time saver to not have to dismantle a whole chicken. So, I pay a little more for convenience.

Sometimes I sell crystallized fire/earth/whatever in stacks of 1. They don’t sell fast, but I can sell 10 crystallized fire for more than the cost of an eternal fire, which can be broken down into 10 crystallized. Why? Well, given that they don’t sell very quickly, they are probably being purchased by players who are farming their own eternals and after spending 2 hours don’t want to farm any longer for that one or two more crystallized to convert to an eternal. Again, it’s a time saver or in this case, they don’t want to waste any more time waiting for elementals to spawn.

Get to know your customers and tailor your sales to meet their needs…or to take advantage of their shortcomings.

Oh and thank you Jederus for the kind words and inspiration!


  1. I have been selling alot of ammo too suprisingly. Before the market was way flooded and undercutting was horible, but I guess with not as many people leveling the profession/ dropping it or plain not wanting to craft(that was me before) supplies are lower. I have been selling 200 stacks for about 9g75s, Ive had the market to myself for a while until recently someone starting selling again and undercutting but mine still sell eventually. The kicker is there 1000 stacks posted for 35g-40g, guess like you said no math skills. The reason for the 200 stacks selling Im guessing is similar to the crystallized fires, the people buying the 200 stacks are likely topping off ammo stacks.

  2. If people are too lazy to do their own math, then they get exactly what they pay for. I harbor no sympathy for them as well.