Online shopping has transformed the way we buy things, but eBay in particular is a marketplace unlike any other. Businesses and individuals with second hand items are found side-by-side. “Buy it Now” items from countless independent sellers alongside the auctions which form eBay’s flagship feature.
The auction and selling site can be a great place to find bargains, but it is also easy to get stung or carried away with an auction and end up paying over the odds. Tactics you can use to help make sure you get good bargains include:
Don’t Rely on eBay Alone
Very often, the cheapest prices can be found on eBay – but this is definitely not something you can assume. Look on other sites like Amazon to see if there are better prices out there, rather than relying on eBay alone to look for bargains.
Sort Your Results
Always sort your search results instead of leaving them on eBay’s default “Best Match” ordering. Which order you choose, however, depends on what you are looking for:
- Cheap Auctions: Sort by “Time: Ending Soonest” to bring auctions that will finish soon to the top of the list. Look for items that are going to finish in minutes or hours and are still at low prices, and then items that you might want to add to your “Watch List” for later.
- Buy-it-Now Bargains: Simply sort by “Price+P&P: Lowest First.” Don’t confuse this with “Price: Lowest First” which excludes postage charges and therefore doesn’t reflect the amount you will actually pay. With some items such as gadgets, however, you may find yourself sorting through pages of 99p accessories before getting to the item you want.
- Second Hand Items: This is a little more complex. Most second hand bargains are listed as auctions, so sort your results accordingly. Buy-it-Now listings can and should also be checked as you would at any other time. However, if you have had a good look through the items and want to wait and see if you get a better deal another time, in future you should sort Buy-it-Now listings by “Time: Newly Listed.” This will bring listings that have been placed since you last looked to the top, and help you find bargain Buy-it-Now prices that might not last for long before being snapped up.
Don’t just bid at any old time – think carefully about when and how to bid. If you think the item may go for the starting price or not much more, it may be worth placing a bid as soon as you are sure that you want to. Other people are less likely to bid if they see that a bid has already been placed than if they see that nobody has bid yet, and this can put off competition. If you think other bids are inevitable, wait until the last day. This will help you see whether the price stays low enough to be of interest, and give other bidders less time to outbid you.
If you are outbid shortly before the auction ends and want to bid back, leave it until the most last-minute moment you can stomach. This significantly reduces the chance that the other bidder will simply, instantly outbid you again. However, don’t get carried away and pay more than you intend, or more than you would pay if you simply bought the item elsewhere.