Welcome to part one this guide to markets and selling in The Elder Scrolls Online. I am @elffromspace, former Guildmaster of Elder Scrolls Exchange, the leading guild in a network of 3 top trade guilds with Dead Nirn Dealers and Red Nirn Reserve. Prior to this, I was Trade Lead for Dominion Imperial Guard and helped organize the Council of Nirn, a group of guildmasters and other ESO community leaders who work towards improving The Elder Scrolls Online game and community by sharing resources, information, and providing feedback to ZeniMax through meetings and official forums.
This is a detailed guide to the ESO economy. This guide covers basic topics in sales as well as trends and tips to help improve any player's income. This guide was written for the members of the Elder Scrolls Exchange family to boost sales and has helped our guilds remain among the top sellers in the NA server. There are dozens of ways to make gold in ESO, so each player will be able to find their own personal style. Nearly everything players pick up around the world can be sold or players can work on farming specific items.
Thanks to @noxit, @Pharstrider, @AzraelAcid, @JHartEllis, @Nagarjuna, @SaSa2112, @Atropos and many others in the Elder Scrolls Exchange trading guild network for helping me put this together!
Addons are crucial to being competitive in the ESO economy. This is a short list of a few of the most important player-created addons for sellers that will help you gain a needed edge as you work to corner the market.
- Master Merchant shows sales data with suggested pricing. This addon also helps re-sellers find deals to buy and resell for profit.
- Awesome Guild Store makes the store interface more manageable. This gives sliders and filter options along with an more intuitive store interface.
- Advanced Filters makes inventory management much easier.
- Dolgulban’s Lazy Writ Crafter makes crafting writs easy.
- Craft Bag Extended shows craftbag on mail and guild bank screens and fixes many of the annoyances with craftbags auto depositing.
Acquiring Items to Sell
Most players pick up items to sell as part of their daily game activities. Pick up EVERYTHING. The best sources of income are generally consumables, crafting materials, motifs, and popular gear. The crafting passive skill Hirelings can be unlocked on all of your characters getting you an easy supply of crafting materials when you log each character twice per day. Daily crafting writs convert basic materials into rewards that often give gold upgrade items or surveys to replenish materials; these are very easy to do with the addon Dolgulban’s Lazy Writ Crafter. Players wanting to farm can develop paths through zones like Craglorn and the DLC zones for the best materials, fish for Perfect Roe, farm world bosses and daily quests for motifs, and do trials and vet dungeons for gear.
Selling: Guild Kiosks and Zone Chat
Most sales are done through trading guilds and their store kiosks. Players can join trade guilds by watching for recruiters in zone chat, or by searching forums for info about trade guilds and who to contact. Trading guilds raise gold to place bids each week to get kiosks for players to access their store. These kiosks can be in highly contested trading hubs or in remote locations in the Tamrielic countryside or inside illicit outlaw refuges. Each guild can have up to 500 members who can access the guild store at almost any bank location. Members get 30 slots to list items in the guild store and pay a small listing fee to post the item plus a 3.5% tax when the item sells. Choose items carefully to make the most of the 30 slots. Selling in guild stores allows players to post their items and let the store do the selling.
Selling in zone and guild chat lets players avoid the listing fees but can incur a COD fee in its place if mail is used. Some trade guilds will discourage chat sales since they do not help the guild pay their bids, however it is the best way to sell crafting services or bundles such as kits and item sets that can’t be posted together in a store. Direct sales allow for haggling and buyers generally expect a discount below store prices. Use whispers to negotiate pricing and don’t be afraid to ask for a discount or get offended by players making counter offers. Do not mail items without using the COD feature unless the buyer is known and trusted. MailR addon is recommended to keep a copy of all sent mails.
Buy Low, Sell High
Players who enjoy playing the markets or who just want to make a little extra gold can make a healthy profit by simply re-selling items. Don’t forget that you lose 7% to listing fees and taxes when you re-sell in a guild store, so be sure to factor that into your resell price! Players will use market addons to run from store to store checking for items that are listed below value. The best deals are often found in the small, out of the way stores.
The best items for flipping are typically standard items with steady sales such as consumables, materials, reagents, recipes, and popular max-level gear sets with good traits. Lower-level set gear can often be resold at a profit but tend to be slow sales, so this is best done in larger hubs. Items with low demand may sit in your store too long to make a good flip. Poor traits or items subject to market changes tend to be riskier since even if you buy at a large discount, the items value may drop before you can re-sell it or may sit in your store for a long time if demand is too low.
Suppliers vs. Botters
Finding farmers who will sell you items in bulk for cheap is a great way to increase sales. Players in low level zones often don't have trade guilds and are willing to sell materials cheaper to get gold now. Some simply like to farm but don't want to bother with guilds and playing the market. Often deals can be made with set prices per item sent to you by COD. If you can build a network of suppliers you can stock your stores without all of the farming.
Be careful of anyone who seems too good to be true. ZOS will issue warnings or even ban players who buy too much from botters. Things to look out for: if a supplier has more than a few stacks at a time, if they refer multiple other suppliers to you with names that seem randomly generated, or if you start getting CODs from people you don't know with messages that sound generic, these are all warning signs and it is best to stop buying.
Recognizing Market Trends
Pay attention to market trends. Newly released items such as PVP gear, or items that are being impacted by upcoming changes to the game are very risky to resell. For example, the item to the right might show up as being a great deal at 2,000g, but the price is dropping rapidly so it may not sell unless it is reduced even further to match the new, lower value.
Common trends are caused by updates to the game. Items that get changed in a patch may go up or down in value. Newly available desirable gear and new motifs start very valuable and decrease in price as the supply catches up to demand.
The speed of this decline is impacted by how easy the items are to get. Ones that can be farmed easily will drop rapidly, ones that drop rarely or only in the hardest content retain value much longer. Tempers and materials tend to increase just before and after each major update due to players re-crafting their gear.
Average Sale Price vs. Optimal Price
Many players mistakenly believe they have to sell their goods below average price to make a sale. This pricing strategy leads to deflation of the market. For a number to be an “average” there must be sales higher than the average to balance the ones below the average; it's obviously preferable to be making these sales rather than those below the median price. This average also includes all of the fast sales that are bought up in bulk by other sellers almost immediately so they can be relisted at a higher price. The fast sales items don’t stay in the store for long, so most buyers must purchase slightly more expensive items if they don’t want to spend too much time shopping around. On the other hand, items priced too high simply don’t sell. Since there is no sale for Master Merchant to record, the listed price won’t be included in the average and these overpriced listings fail to balance out the under-priced sales. You can improve your average by using the Master Merchant option to “Exclude Outliers” which will not drop out any sale too far away from the average, but it only cuts the extremes.
I define Optimal Price as the selling point balancing ensuring that the item will sell without needing to be relisted, while generating the most gold for the seller. This is best for average players who have limited items to sell and have enough guild store space to post all of their goods. Most sellers run out of items and or time for selling and thus may as well make the most of each sale. You can often post an item for 10-30% above the average and still get a steady sale at the same time as getting more gold for your items.
Some sellers will find the Fast Sales range more desirable. If you have high volumes to move and restock often you may want to price below market average so you can move your stock several times a day. This is best for players who do a lot of farming of materials or players who flip or refine items and materials in bulk.
Know Your Location
Most sales typically come from players outside of the guild who go to your kiosk. Players who are leveling up tend to look for supplies in the same zone as they are questing. Tailoring your items to the level of an area can boost sales if you provide gear, crafting materials, foods, drinks, potions, repair kits and soul gems that match the level of most players in that area. The size of the trade hub also impacts the sales. Major guilds in prime hubs have more traffic but also more serious sellers and competition. This can drive prices down particularly in guilds with high sales requirements. This price decrease is seen most often with commodity items such as upgrade materials.
In the image to the right, notice how the green and orange guild have significantly lower prices on Embroidery than the red or yellow guilds. There are more total sales in these larger trade guilds so sellers with lots of stock can make up in volume what they lose in price per item. If you want more gold for your common items, try smaller guilds. Players will pay for convenience, so any city with crafting locations can make steady sales.
In contrast, rare items sell best in the large guilds! Set gear pieces, rare recipes, and new motif pages will get the best exposure in major trade guilds where players who are seeking these items will usually check first. Many players choose to become members of a variety of trade guilds in different locations to give the best options to move their items.
Choosing stack sizes carefully can help to maximize sales. Players usually prefer convenient quantities of items when purchasing. For example, upgrade materials are used in quantities of 2, 3, 4, or 8 depending on the color. Most players upgrade 5-10 pieces of gear at a time, so many sellers will sell in the matching quantities. Some buyers may already have most of the items they need and will pay extra per item to get a smaller stack with just enough. Other items, like reagents and materials, often sell better in larger stacks of 25-200 because members usually will craft at least 1 stack of potions and foods at a time. Check your stores to see what stack sizes are already listed and try other convenient sizes to maximize selection.
What to Sell
Hot Sellers - These items are where the majority of gold is made!
- Popular set gear (Best in slot and other gear from high-end content and PvP can be hot, but the trends change rapidly)
- Raw materials
- Nirn traits
- Rare style and trait materials
- Purple motifs
- Tempers / upgrade materials
- Intricate gear (for deconstruction)
- Recipes (Primarily purple and lower / mid level recipes)
- Glyphs and Runes
- Alchemy Ingredients
- Poisons (These sales are still building up as players get used to the confusing naming system)
Moderate Sellers - These items create steady sales if priced right.
- Research trait pieces
- Refined materials
- Foods and drinks
- Common set gear - gear sets that are very easy to get, or considered not the best available.
- Provisioning ingredients
- Blue motifs
Low Value Items - These are a great way to fill extra slots and clean inventory. Stackables should be in sets of at least 10.
- Basic trait and style materials
- Green recipes
Not Recommended - Please vendor or deconstruct these. Most buyers and guilds look poorly on these listings.
- Gold value gear
- Trash items
- “Sell to merchant” items
- Negative effect potions (not poisons, but potions with undesirable effects)
- Icky and white foods and drinks
- Traitless gear under CP160
To keep items moving it is recommended to never exceed 5x the average sale price unless you are speculating on a serious market shift. Some guilds may assume excessive listings are a sign of gold-sellers/exploiters/market manipulation.
Put lower-value materials such as trait and style stones in stacks worth at least 99g so they don’t look like clutter. Keep your listings fresh - pull and adjust the price if they're up more than 10 days. This will also help your listings show up higher on search results.
Have fun and get rich in the exciting Tamrielic economy. Feedback and suggestions are appreciated. Stay tuned for Part II, which will go into more specific details on the various types of items you can sell.