Trading in ESO is a bit different than other games. As in every MMO you can trade directly with players. You can advertise what you wish to sell or buy in zone chat, and meet up in person (using the f-wheel to open the trade window) or mail the items cash on delivery (to which the game adds a 7% fee, which disappears into the aether).
Unlike other MMOs there is no centralized auction house. Instead, offline/impersonal trading is done through guilds.
Every guild over 50 players has a guild store. Items can be listed in this store for a set price. Everyone in the guild can view this store from any banker in Tamriel and purchase items. The items are mailed to the buyer and the gold gets mailed to the seller, minus a 7% cut (3.5% of the cut is deposited directly into the guild bank and 3.5% disappears into the aether, which is still better than CoD).
Needless to say selling to only people in your little social/raiding/PvP guild isn’t very efficient. There’s a better way… trade guilds!
So the way trade guilds work – if you want to sell to anyone outside your guild, you have to hire an NPC (non player character) trader. If you want to purchase something from a guild you aren’t a part of, you have to visit their NPC trader.
If you want anyone to actually visit your npc trader, he has to be in a place people go. There are a set, limited number of traders, and guilds compete to hire them every week (on Sunday at 1 am GMT (8 PM EST), in case anyone cares). The hiring is done as a secret bid. Basically, you place what you’re willing to pay for your guild, and if it’s the highest amount, you get the trader; if it’s not, you get the gold back in mail.
In order to get a trader in a decent spot, most guilds have to bid at least 1 mil per week; in the best spots it’s more on the order of 10 mil per week. (The traders in shitty spots might be more like 100k).
If a guild makes sales of 40 mil, they only get 1.4 mil in taxes; a bid for a spot where your guild actually makes 40 mil in sales might cost 3 mil or so, so the rest has to be made up somehow. Most guilds are set up so that you either have to sell a certain amount, or donate/buy raffle tickets worth a certain amount (not both) usually it’s set up so that each member is contributing around 1-3k per member, which makes up the difference in sales and is enough to keep the trader.
Guilds in cheaper cities should be requiring less, whereas guilds in the most expensive cities may require as much as 15k per member. (So if you have to contribute 1k per the guild, you can donate 1k, buy 2k worth of raffle tickets, or sell 28k, is pretty much how the math works).
Location is everything! Traders close to wayshrines in cities people go to a lot get the most sales by far. Traders in outlaw’s refuges and zones that most people don’t go, do not get any sales. People are lazy and are willing to pay a premium for getting their item faster. I can set prices 20% higher on commodity items in my trade guild on top of the wayshrine in Mournhold and have them still sell faster than the same items at a lower price in my trade guild far from the wayshrine in Wayrest.
The top locations on PC-NA are:
Rawlkha (Reaper’s March) – typical trader fees 10 mil+, typical dues 15k+
Mournhold (Deshaan) – typical trader fees ~5 mil, typical dues ~3k
Wayrest (Stormhaven) – typical trader fees 3-4 mil, typical dues ~2k
Elden Root (Grahtwood) – typical trader fees ~ 1 mil, typically no dues (~1-2k recommended)
Belkarth (Craglorn) – typical trader fees ~ 1 mil, typically no dues (~1-2k recommended)
Other good cities (in no particular order) include Clockwork City, Vivec, Windhelm, Shornhelm, Baandari trading post, Skywatch, Daggerfall, Ebonheart. Stuff won’t sell as fast as in the major cities but it will move eventually, and guilds here typically charge no dues.
Knowing your market is important. In Rawlkha, Mournhold, and Wayrest, people are looking for end-game mats and items. In Daggerfall and Skywatch, they’re more likely to pick up low level crafting items. If you have something fairly rare, people may come specifically to your trader looking for it.
Keep in mind that trade guilds are not social guilds. They’re there to make you, and them, very rich. Don’t join “just because” if you have nothing to sell and don’t intend to farm things to sell.