10 tips for Shopping on Ebay

I am certainly not an expert on Ebay, but I’ve learned a trick or two about how to find (and win) really great clothes, shoes and accessories, so I figured I could share a few tips.

  • Tip #1: Know what you are looking for ahead of time. Ebay is not really a place for serendipitous browsing unless you have a lot of time on your hands to sift through a ton of crappy items to find that one elusive gem.  When I go on Ebay, I am always in hunt of something very specific.  Perhaps I am looking for a pair of Fluevog boots, or a J Crew cashmere sweater, or a pair of non-black leather gloves.  If you just search for something extremely broad and non-specific, like “red dress”, you are going to have to look through tons and tons and tons of items that you have absolutely no interest in.
  • Tip #2: Search for brands you already love.  Not everyone on Ebay offers returns, so it isn’t really the best place to experiment with new brands you know nothing about.  Google reviews on a new brand if it’s something you haven’t tried on in a physical store before.  Try to have a good idea of what your size in that brand is before you start searching.  I always keep saved searches on several of my favorite brands that I know work for me, including Dansko, Fluevog, Boden and J. Crew.
  • Tip #3: Save your searches!!! I cannot emphasized this tip enough.  I would say that about 95% of my Ebay purchases have been found through saved searches.  This saves lots and lots of time for you, and allows you to make sure you don’t miss anything that you’re interested in.
    • To save a search, enter your search in the search bar, such as “Dansko boots”.  Once you get your results page, you can limit your findings to what applies to you.  In my case, I select “women’s shoes” on the side bar, and limit the sizes to 8 and unspecified (sometimes sellers don’t check the size box).  Then, look for something like this:
      “18 items found for dansko boots in Women’s Shoes: 8 [ Save this search ]”.  Just click “Save this search” and Ebay will e-mail you anything new that turns up in those search parameters for a designated amount of time.  I get about 20-25 of these e-mails every day for different things I’m interested in, and looking through  those e-mails is so much easier than searching for 25 different searches manually every day. (Note: the e-mails will only show you nine of the most recent items posted.  To see everything, there is a link in the email that you can click on)
  • Tip #4: Add items to your watch list. Whenever you are interested in an item and think you might buy it, add it to your watch list.  If you want to get an idea of how much a certain item goes for, add it to your watch list.  I check my watch list a couple times a day to remind myself of what items I’m considering.  Generally, I never end up bidding on many of those items, but I still like knowing what I’m interested in.
  • Tip #5: Search general and broad. Maybe you know that exact name of the shoe that you’re looking for.  But maybe a seller doesn’t.  And maybe, you are itching to get a pair of Fyre 8R Engineer Boots, but a seller simply lists them as “Black Frye boots”.  If you have searches going for both “Frye Engineer Boots” and “Frye Boots”,  you’ll find that posting either way.  And sometimes, if a seller doesn’t put the name of the item in the listing, it doesn’t get as much attention, and you could end up scoring your dream item at an excellent price.
    • Added tip:  if there’s a certain term that you want eliminated from your search results, put a minus sign in front of it.  Thus, searching for “Dansko -clogs” will show all listings that contain the word Dansko but do not contain the word “clog”
  • Tip #6:  Read listings very carefully and ask questions early. Always read every section of a listing.  Look for measurements, fabric content, imperfections.  Look at the photos.  Check the seller’s feedback ratings.  If you have any questions about an item that aren’t answered in the listing, send the seller a message as soon as possible.  If they’re good, they’ll get back to you before the listing closes.  If they don’t, it’s not worth biding on anyhow.  Most sellers are very willing to work with you and will gladly provide details about the item and additional pictures if you ask.
  • Tip #7: Determine the absolute maximum you are willing to pay for an item, and stick to it. It’s really easy to get sucked into the thrill of online auctions.  Someone outbids you, but you really want that item, so you bid again, and again, and again.  Next thing you know, you’ve won that item, paying three times more than what it’s worth.  Before you bid, decide on how much you are willing to spend, and stick to that, even if you get outbid.  Sometimes, you have to be willing to let stuff go.
  • Tip #8: Never bid until the last five minutes of the listing. Now that you’ve saved all your searches, that perfect pair of vintage Fluevog pumps comes up.  And you want them desperately.  So you bid several days before the listing ends and you are massively outbid.  You sulk for several weeks.  What you could have done is waited til the last five minutes of the listing (preferably the last sixty seconds) before putting in your maximum bid, so other bidders wouldn’t have much time to outbid you.  I’ve won many, many auctions this way.  Bidding early just ends up raising the price most of the time.  Wendy B. swears by “sniping” services, and while I haven’t tried it yet, it sounds like it would be very effective.
  • Tip #9: Resolve any problems with seller before leaving feedback. Did your item not turn out to be what you expected?  Was it mis-represented in the listing?  Always send a message to the seller with your concerns if something isn’t what you expected it to be.  Many will be willing to work with you, offering a return or refund, rather than getting bad feedback.
  • Tip #10: Always leave feedback.  Did you get your item in a timely manner?  Did the seller answer all communication?  Did they resolve any problems you had?  Then go leave some positive feedback.  Ebay thrives on feedback, and leaving sellers positive feedback when they do a good job helps them, and it’s just plain nice to do.

What are your favorite Ebay shopping strategies?


About Diana

Style maven, knitter, crafter, seamstress, one who does not walk the beaten path.
This entry was posted in Outfits and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to 10 tips for Shopping on Ebay

  1. Maura Deluca says:

    Saved searches with emails are a must. Browsing eBay is always tempting to buy something you might not totally be looking for, and you can go a few days forgetting to check.

    If you want something specific, set an email alert on it, and just check 5 seconds every day. Works great!


  2. Struggler says:

    Very interesting, and you’re right, browsing without a firm idea of what you want can be totally soul-destroying.
    I know the ‘sniping’ services have come in for a lot of flack, but, if you honestly have decided the very maximum you’re willing to pay, even those don’t have to cause too much heartache.


  3. eyeliah says:

    those snipers have got me many a time lo., I am a last 30 second bidder for sure. Though I haven’t bought anything there is months, I’m really enjoying etsy and the lack of panic bidding.
    .-= eyeliah´s last blog ..Erin =-.


  4. WendyB says:

    I wouldn’t bid on anything I seriously wanted without sniping. It’s ridiculous to try to compete manually against sniping. Also, why run up the price by putting your bid out there too early?
    .-= WendyB´s last blog ..Minx Manicure #4: Silver and Gold =-.


  5. Suz says:

    I agree with all of the above, especially the one about wide and narrow scope searching. I bought a pair of Tsubo Acreas for under $30 because the seller didn’t list them as Acreas, only “brown Tsubo pumps”.
    .-= Suz´s last blog ..Presto change-o =-.


  6. Amy says:

    Great tips! I couldn’t live without a sniper gadget – it’s great for getting things when you can’t get to a computer. I also use http://www.goofbay.com to search for mispelt items. I’ve been looking for skis recently, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of people who have listed them as “skies”!!!


  7. EmilyCC says:

    Oh, this is SO handy! I’ve never been able to figure out how to do effective clothing shopping on Ebay. Thanks!


  8. Patricia says:

    For your next post like this, will you give us tips on how to sell on ebay?


  9. Meg says:

    These were very helpful! I needed to read these. I’ve been considering trying to do a little ebay shopping recently, but I’m always so skeptical of the website as a whole to follow through. But these will make me wiser if I choose to take the leap! Thanks Diana!
    .-= Meg´s last blog ..IQ Enhancers =-.


  10. Adrianna says:

    I am such a “sniper”. As an eBay addict I can tell you all of these tips are extremely important to know! Especially in knowing what you want. It WILL save you time & $$. I’ve found so many items for more than half off by following these tips.


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  17. gina says:

    Great advice! Congrats on being featured in the IFB roundup.
    .-= gina´s last blog ..T-shirt and Suit =-.


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  21. Leia says:

    Really great tips! I love eBay!


  22. M says:

    great advice, I always find Ebay a bit overwhelming but will try your tips sometime soon


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  34. Sarah says:

    This is a great list! The only thing I would add is to always shop through a cash rebate site. You won’t find many discount codes for eBay, but you can get cash back rebates from a couple of different sites. My favorite is http://www.myfrugalfriend.com The toughest part is remembering to go there first before placing your bid. I’ve been using it for a couple of years and love it.


  35. Jack says:

    Thank you for the great advice – i was doing most of those things but never actually utilized the saved searches feature – next time i need something i’m going to give it a shot. Thans!

    Acer 3050-1535 Power Board


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