7 Tips to make you more efficient on eBay as a Buyer
The auction site and marketplace ebay is a popular destination when it comes to buying things online. I use it predominantly to find items that are not available in shops anymore, e.g. old console games, Lego stuff, or even the odd TV remote that you cannot get anywhere else from anymore.
While ebay is relatively easy to use, it is often the case that you can get better deals and be more efficient on the site if you understand how it works better. In this guide, I'm listing seven tips that could make you a better, more efficient, buyer on eBay.
Tip 1: Efficient ebay Homepage searching
While you can type a search term to find things of interest, it happens quite often that unrelated items are returned on eBay. Search on eBay provides you with a handful of options to narrow down results.
- Use the minus-character to exclude items from search, e.g. ITEM -ITEMB, to only return results that don't match ITEMB.
- Limit the results by category. Ebay runs searches across all categories by default.
- If you get only a few results, check the "include description" option.
Tip 2: Advanced search options on ebay
Ebay's advanced search page provides you with options to define additional parameters for the search:
- Include and exclude keywords.
- Search by category.
- Search titles and descriptions.
- Set a price range.
- Set a buying format.
- Set item conditions.
- Set shipping options.
- Define location boundaries.
- Search specific sellers.
- Show results with certain characteristics, e.g. best offer or sale items.
While you can make these changes on the results page as well, it may be faster to set them right away.
Tip 3: Sort options are your friend
Ebay displays results by relevancy and may display sponsored results on top as well. The sort options that are provided by eBay let you change the default sort order. You could change them to sort by lowest price (including shipping), highest price, ending soonest, or by nearest.
Tip 4: Filters are even better
Filters are probably the most useful option to narrow down results on ebay. You find them on the advanced search page but also on search results pages.
You may use filters to list items by category, platform, type, model, condition, location, price, seller or buying format.
Tip 5: Save Searches
Ebay has a handy option to save searches to open results at a later point in time using the available items at the time as the base. It speeds up things tremendously when you buy items of a kind regularly, or if you could not find an item of interest but want to continue searching for it.
You can check out our guide on using ebay searches for additional details.
Tip 6: Research prices before you buy
Did you know that you can look up for how much items sold on ebay? It is an excellent option to find out how much an item is worth before you make a buying decision; it is also great for sellers who don't know for how much they should sell an item on ebay.
Basically, what you do is open the advanced search page, type the name of the item that you are interested in, and check the "sold listings" option before you hit the search button.
Check out our research item prices on ebay guide for additional details.
Tip 7: Best Offer means you can get the item for less
Many items that are offered on ebay have a best offer option enabled. It is called "make offer", and you can even enable the "has offers" filter to only display these on ebay.
Best offer means that you can suggest a price for the item. It is up to the seller to accept the offer, make a counteroffer, or decline it right away.
Sellers may enable auto-accepts as well. Select "make offer" on eBay and suggest a price for the item. Some sellers set lower thresholds for the price so that offers lower than the threshold are rejected automatically.
Often, it is possible to get 5% or 10% off the item, or even more. It depends on a number of factors, but it is always better to use the make offer option if it is available as you will save money when using it.
See our how to buy items for less on ebay guide for additional tips.
Now You: do you use ebay? Have other tips?
I like ebay. Once you learn how it works, what an item should cost and develop a feel for the sellers, it works well. I don’t buy too many auction items, mostly fixed price or make an offer listings. Auctions can be fun if you have time to pay close attention.
Similar to Amazon, there are always some beyond crazy prices such as game consoles this holiday season for $30,000 when list was $300 or so. I’ve always wondered if somehow those things sell, the prices are math errors or they serve some other purpose.
I do use eBay frequently, mostly to sell items that I don’t need anymore, but sometimes also to get items that you cannot get anywhere else. I think it is essential that you research prices before you buy something on the site, or on Amazon for that matter if not provided by Amazon directly.
I prefer but it now items as well; auctions tend to be very unreliable. You can make a huge bargain sometimes, but at other times, final prices exceed what you would have paid in a regular shop or a buy it now offer.
Thanks for tips. I mostly use Ebay to buy photography gear. It is ok, but sellers are well aware of the value of good old manual focues lenses for example. Difficult to find a nice price. I do not participate in auctions.
Useful tips for buying photo gear from Ken Rockwell: https://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/ebay/index.htm
He also says do not expect bargains for lenses, bodies etc.
WELL, I Used to USE AMAZON BUT IT SEEMS EVERYTHING THEY SELL IS MADE IN
CHINA. YOU WON’T KNOW WHERE THE ITEMS THEY SELL COME FROM BUT THE MAJORITY ARE MADE IN CHINA. THAT BEING SAID. I SWITCHED TO E-BAY BECAUSE THE STIFF AMAZON SOLD ME DID NOT WORK AFTER ABOUT THREE WEEKS. AND ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE A RETURN POLICY LIVING OUTSIDE THE U.S.A. MADE RETURNING ITEMS EXPENSIVE. E-BAY ON THE OTHER HAND Lets YOU CHOSE THE REGION WHERE THE PRODUCT IS MADE, I ALWAYS PICK THE U.S. AND NEVER HAD TO RETURN A ITEM FROM THERE. LETS YOU CHOOSE THE PRICE RANGE, GIVE YOU CHOICES ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO BUY. E-BAY IS THE BEST/
Some people believe the astronomical pricing on some items is a way of laundering money.
I also find the ebay buying tips from Ken Rockwell useful.
Yes, choosing by region is very helpful.
Thank you Martin for the tips. I used to only do the auctions, but haven’t now for several years. But lately I have been using “Buy it now.” I have found that EBay has gotten more competitive with Amazon, and they do little things that matter. For example, if I query a vendor about an item, I will often get a coupon sent to me for that item. Also, the vendors are more careful about packaging when shipping.
I sold something on eBay. The buyer claimed that I shipped an empty box (which, of course, I did not). eBay gave them their money back. I looked at their reviews, and they had been making that same claim for years. I spent much time pointing this out to eBay, but eBay still gave them their money back.
PayPal was even harder to deal with, and their support was atrocious.
I don’t bother with eBay or PayPal after that mess.
As a seller, never ever use PayPal on eBay.
How do you exclude the tons of ‘multi-item’ listings? The cheapest option is never what you actually search for.
I tried for instance (without the quotes)
“32gb usb drive – to ”
and “32gb usb drive -to”
but, neithor worked.