Buying stuff on eBay sounds simple. Set up a PayPal account, check out the offers, and purchase the items you want. But there are specific strategies you should follow if you want to get items at the right prices, lower the cost on Buy It Now listings, and be the winning bidder on fast-paced auctions.
I'll assume you've set up a PayPal account and are ready to dive in for some good deals on eBay. Whether you've already dipped your toes into the waters of eBay shopping or haven't yet taken the plunge, these tips should help you better navigate eBay's marketplace.
Research the Price of an Item
Don't assume that the prices you see on eBay items are the lowest around. Many eBay sellers jack up the prices on their items or just don't price them realistically. Assuming the item you want is available elsewhere, check out the price among other sellers. There are a number of shopping apps to compare prices, but you can also head to Amazon, where you'll find items for sale from the retail giant and third-party sellers. Then snoop around online shopping sites, such as Etsy, HSN, and Overstock. You can also search for your item via Google Shopping, which shows you the price among a variety of retailers. And don't forget retailers with online and physical stores, such as Walmart, Target, and Best Buy.
Discover What People Have Paid in the Past
You can easily find out if a certain item has sold in the past and at what prices. After you conduct your search, scroll down the results page to the section on the left for "Show only." Click the checkbox for Completed Listings to see all final listings for an item. Prices that appear in green show items that sold at that amount; prices not in green show expired items that didn't sell. Click on the checkbox for Sold listings to see just listings that sold at specific prices.
See If a Buy It Now Seller Takes Counteroffers
A Buy It Now listing offers an item at a fixed price. But that doesn't mean you need to accept that price. Many sellers allow for best offers from interested buyers. Suggest a price lower than the asking amount, and you can often win the item at a cheaper cost.
Try to Haggle for a Better Price
Even if the seller of a Buy It Now listing doesn't accept counteroffers, it doesn't hurt to ask. Send a message to the seller asking if he or she would accept a lower price on the item. Be polite and friendly, and be reasonable with your counteroffer, and you may just get the item at your requested price.
Sign Up for Alerts on Your Desired Items
Looking for a specific item but can't find it, or think the price could be better on an item you did locate? Instead of continually searching for the item, set up an alert to email you if it becomes available. To do this, search for the item you want. Don't worry if few or no results appear. Click on the link to "Save this search." By default, you'll then be alerted via email when any new items that match here your search arrive on eBay.
Check the Shipping Cost
Don't look at price alone; remember to check the shipping cost. Many buyers offer free shipping on items. An item with a higher price but free shipping may be a better deal than the same item at a lower cost but with a shipping charge.
Use the eBay Mobile App
You can more easily stay on top of listings via eBay's mobile app. iPhone and iPad users can download the app from Apple's App Store; Android users from Google Play. Through the app, you can search for items, keep track of watched items, place bids, and purchase items via Buy it Now listings.
Check eBay Local for Nearby Sellers
Looking for a piece of furniture or other large item that can't be shipped? Consider checking out pickup-only listings. You can find these in a few ways. In the search field, type the item you want followed by the words "pickup only," as in leather sofa "pickup only." Alternatively, scroll down the results page to the Item Location section. Click the checkbox for Within. Type your ZIP code in the second field and click on the first field to select the number of miles you'd be willing to travel to get the item. Scour the listings for the ones that say "Pickup only."
Bid Your Maximum Amount
If you want an item but can't keep returning to eBay to continually raise check here your bid, think about the maximum price you'd pay for it. Then bid that amount. Remember that eBay doesn't necessarily increase your bid by the amount you entered but rather by whatever amount is needed for you to remain the highest bidder. For example, you could bid £50 on an item, but if the previous bid was
£40, then your actual amount is only high enough to beat the £40. If other people bid on the item, they would need to top your £50 bid to take the lead. The greater the amount you bid, the website longer you put off having to manually counter with a higher bid to remain in first place.
Wait Until the Last Few Seconds to Bid
Resist the urge to bid too early. If the item you have your eye on is really hot, then that will just drive up the price as other bidders swoop in. Your best bet is here to wait until the clock is ticking on the last several seconds of the auction, a strategy known as sniping. Some pooh-pooh this approach, but it's worked for me many times. Prepare your offer price ahead of time (keep it high enough to outbid the last bidder) and then click on the Place bid button. Wait until the countdown is somewhere between 15 and 30 seconds and then click on the Confirm button. I like to jump in at around 30 seconds to give me enough time to make another offer if I've been outbid. But waiting until about 15 seconds gives you a better chance on a truly hot item.