I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten some really tremendous deals on eBay before. The general consensus that I’ve found when talking with people, however, is that they normally make impulse purchases before they take the time to see if they are getting a real bargain. Today we’re going to walk you through a 5 step process that can save you a lot of money in the end.
Ashley and myself ran an eBay business for over a year, and it was quite an interesting experience. From it we found ourselves knowing more about eBay than we ever wanted to, and now our friends always poke and prod us for tips on how they can get the most out of the online marketplace.
1. Search eBay
The first thing that you’ll obviously want to do is search eBay to see what kind of prices they have. Don’t get sucked into the low-priced auctions… no, you’re not going to get a $1,500 laptop for $25. Many people wait until the last minute to bid (a.k.a. sniping), and we’re going to show you the best way to do that as well.
What may prove to be helpful is to checkout the completed listings. On the search page you’ll notice the “Completed listings only” checkbox which will show only those listings that have already ended. If the item you’re looking for is rather common then there should be a fair amount of listings that have already completed, and with those you should be able to get a rough idea of what future listings will realistically sell for.
When sifting through the completed listings be sure to also watch for people who are constantly relisting the same item… especially if it never sells. That’s normally an indication that they really want to get rid of it or they have a bunch that they need to unload. In situations like those you might be able to bargain with them even if all you may get is the shipping fee waived.
Believe it or not eBay actually has their own Deal Finder search engine. When you perform a search on there it will only show items that have zero bids, less than 4 hours left, no reserve price, and free/fixed price shipping. So it is actually different than the regular eBay search engine, and can be beneficial for finding those gems that no one else has come across.
2. Search for Misspellings
Ahhh, we’ve all been criticized at one point or another for not proofreading the things that we write. Well, here’s where you can really benefit from the mistakes that others make. Maybe it’s poor typing skills, a genuine mistake, or maybe they are just in a rush to get a listing done. Whatever it is there are quite a few people out there who like to misspell words in their listings.
So how can you capitalize on the mistakes of others? It’s rather simple actually. There are all kinds of sites, such as Fat Fingers, that will help you search eBay for misspellings of any word you specify. A really good example of this in action would be searching for Oakley sunglasses. You’ll quickly find quite a few different ways that people spell it, including Oakly and Oakely.
3. Shop Around
I definitely don’t see this happening enough with people who buy things on eBay. They naturally assume that if an item is on eBay that it’s gotta be a steal, but that’s surprisingly not the case for most items. Be patient and shop around at some other stores for goodness sake. You have to remember that eBay sellers have to pay rather excessive fees for every item that sells, and they will definitely make sure that those fees are recouped.
When it comes to shopping around I normally do a quick run through on Amazon, PriceGrabber, and Google Product Search to see if any of them point to a better deal. More often than not I can find an item brand new for nearly the same price as some used/refurbished items on eBay… so it’s definitely worth doing your homework.
4. Subscribe to Feeds
When Ashley and I were selling items on eBay for a full-time job one thing that we always tried to do was turnover the merchandise quickly. Ideally we wanted to get the things out as fast as we got them in, and to do that we had to slap low Buy it Now prices on them. What this meant is that the people who took the time to find the Buy it Now listings that still have several days remaining are normally the ones who get the best deals. Most people never look beyond the first page of search results, but that’s normally where you’ll find the most reasonable prices.
If you don’t need the item right away it will likely serve you well to hold out for the low Buy it Now listings. If you use RSS feeds I highly recommend subscribing to a feed for any particular search that you perform. That way you’ll be one of the first people to know when there is a new item listed. To do this just look for the orange RSS button at the bottom of any search results page:
5. Snipe the Auction
The art of sniping is becoming more and more popular on eBay. It’s where someone swoops in at the last second to place a bid, and often doesn’t leave enough time for you to counteract their offer. It’s sneaky, pisses a lot of people off, and sellers hate it. But you can do it with little to no effort thanks to JBidWatcher (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux).
We’ve already assembled a more detailed tutorial on how to use JBidWatcher, and it’s been getting some welcomed updates lately. It’s pretty much an automated sniping system that you can easily setup. With it you can even target multiple auctions for the same item, and it will continue to bid on them all within seconds of them ending. What’s nice is that once you win an auction at the price you specify it will not bid on any of the others! This can save a lot of hassle for people who have to work during the day, and don’t have an opportunity to check on their eBay auctions.
It is possible to snipe an auction without using any software, but I’ve ran into some problems when trying to do that before. When doing it manually I try to leave about 15 seconds left on the auction before submitting my offer, but one time I went to do this and eBay unexpectedly made me login before submitting my offer. Needless to say I wasn’t ready for that and ended up not getting my bid in on time. So software like JBidWatcher is definitely nice to have.
These are the five steps that I feel most people should follow when purchasing from eBay, and hopefully they will help you save some money. Be sure to share your eBay money saving tips in the comments below!