I’m a big fan of eBay and am convinced that with some work, attention to detail and a bit of luck, I can create a profitable home business buying and selling on eBay. My question: what are your best tips for getting good deals on eBay?
What a great question! I have actually been a fan of eBay for years. In fact, when I check my account profile, I joined eBay back in August 27, 1998, over ten years ago.
In that time, I’ve bought more than I’ve sold (which is true for most users) but I have sold many dozens of items, ranging from cheap used software to expensive computer hardware and telephony gizmos.
Based on my experiences both buying and selling, I’ll share some of my favorite tips for finding a bargain, with a little help from my friends on Twitter…
First idea is to search for misspellings, especially if you’re in the market for something with an awkward spelling. An example of this is if you wanted to buy the Blu-Ray version of Pirates of the Caribbean. How many people know how to spell “Caribbean” correctly?
Let’s find out! A search for “caribbean” results in 12,031 matches, while a search for “carribean” results in 804 matches, and “carribbean” produces 102 matches.
Why would misspellings be good auctions to find? Because most people don’t think about alternative spellings and will be completely ignorant of the auction, removing almost all of your competition!
Another tip is to pay close attention to shipping costs before you decide whether to bid. Many eBay sellers have figured out that if they want to make, say, $20 on a DVD, they can offer it for $4.99 and tack on a crazy expensive shipping fee of $14.99 or more. Once you’ve won, you’re obligated to pay, so if they charge $14.99 for an envelope and $0.75 stamp, it’s your tough luck.
Many savvy buyers also do research to figure out the going rate for a product, then use what’s called a bid sniper or auction sniper program to place a last-minute bid for the individual item. The benefit of sniping should be obvious: if you don’t bid on an auction until the last 60 seconds, there’s no chance for anyone else to counter your bid and beat you. Net result is that you can win a lot of auctions with these tools.
Having said that, I will also say that many auction buyers feel that sniping tools are cheating, and eBay’s tolerance for these tools ebbs and flows based on complaints and how overtly the tools scrape the site or hit the programmatic (“API”) interface. If you want to learn more about sniping programs, check out Bidrobot.com (which is, coincidentally, run by a good friend of mine).
I earlier suggested doing research to figure out historical sales data. This is a critical step and is done by searching *completed auctions* to see which completed with a sale (more than zero bids) and then averaging the final auction costs.
For example, that Blu-Ray “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl”? A search where I check “Show completed listings only” (click on “Advanced Search” right next to the “search” button on any page: see illustration immediately below) reveals that the winning auctions range from $7.51+$3.00 shipping at the low end to $18.50+$3.00 on the high end. The person who bought the movie for $10.51 got a good deal, and the person who bought it for $21.50 got a mediocre deal.
Knowing that, you could decide that you won’t pay more than $13.00 for this disc, including shipping, and bid accordingly, ensuring you only win when it’s a good deal.
There are plenty of other tips, but I think these will get you going in the right direction. Good luck to you!
My thanks to Eric Berto (@geekgiant) for the tip on misspellings, and Kelly Johns (
@kellyjohns) for the auction sniper suggestion. Want to find me on Twitter? I’m @DaveTaylor and, btw, I have lots of twitter help here too.