How to Shop on Ebay

In between study sessions, getting violently ill, and preparing for Spring 2012’s horrendous clinical final exam, I was anxiously awaiting the Ebay auction of a J.Crew silk printed clutch.

I absolutely love Ebay. I would say that around 60-75% of my clothing is purchased resale, either through consignment/thrift stores like Crossroads Trading Company, or through online auction sites like Ebay.

Portlandia’s Put A Bird On It  song would have been appropriate for this clutch’s design, but I just loved it! The clutch was inspired by a collection of Italian silk ties for men that J.Crew was heavily promoting. The bags were advertised as being taken straight from the same material, and something about it was very appealing to me. All I could think of what was the juxtaposition of carrying this interesting print with a plain trench coat and some rain boots.

Not every purchase that catches your heart on Ebay will be mainstream fashionable, but that’s what I think Ebay is about! Those little things that make it interesting (and if you do it right, more affordable)

Put a bird on it!

So, I’ve been a fan of the company for a while, and I tend to observe their trends as they come and go.

In this case, I remembered a specific item from a specific time that I liked, and I was lucky enough to narrow down my search on Ebay to try to grab it!

So, some Ebay for beginners:

1. Do a thorough search and find what you like!

What are you hoping to score? A purse? A new dress? A signed copy of your favorite book?

Thankfully, Ebay is good at helping you narrow down by categories.  Once you type in what you’re looking for, generally your search will have suggestions.

If you see in this screen shot, I’ve typed in Banana Republic. From there, it gives suggestions for a variety of Banana Republic items. Since I’m shopping for myself, I can narrow to “Women’s Clothing” and go from there.

EBAYsearch[click on photo to enlarge]

2. Look for items that are within your price range & set your timing by “ending soonest”

If you look in the photo below, I have typed in J.Crew Dress (not pictured) and several options appeared on the screen. Sometimes folks will type out “dress pants” which will show up in your search, even if you’re looking for an actual dress.

From there, set your price range. Keep in mind that Ebay will show this price range at the highest bid at the time you set it. So, if the auction isn’t ending for another 3 days, there may be more bidders which bump the price out of your price range. Shipping cost is NOT included in this setting.

Similarly, by selecting “ending soonest” as your criterion at the top right, you are able to see which auctions are ending within a few minutes, to several days from now.

ebayTIMEandPRICE [click photo to enlarge]

3. Create a Watch List

Once you have seen some fabulous items within your price range( and when their auctions end) put them on your Ebay Watch List (see photo below).

This will help you bid strategically.

In the age of smart phones, I find it very rare that a bid that is place 6 days prior to an auction ending wins. Rather, it is smart to be vigilant and watch your item within the LAST HOUR OF AUCTION’S END.

This may seem a bit extreme, but in our technology age where people can have access to Ebay at their fingertips, bid wars continue into the last few seconds of an online auction…

EBAYWATCH[click on photo to enlarge]

My former roommate was looking at a pair of TOMS shoes (leopard print, super cute!). And she placed her bid earlier in the evening. Unfortunately, the bid was ending around 2:00AM. I urged her to wake up right before the auction ended, just to monitor the highest bids. Thankfully, the bid she had placed was not contested.

However, there are moments when Ebay bids change within seconds. I was watching a skirt that Michelle Obama had worn several years ago.  The bidding price went from $15.00 to $40.00 within ten seconds, and my bid of $25.00 wasn’t even registered in the crossfire! Alas, sometimes this happens.

Generally speaking, I try to think of a maximum amount of money that I would like to bid on the item, and I typically place this maximum towards the end of the auction (within the last 30 seconds or so). This technique may or may not work, depending on the previous bidder’s highest bid. To learn more about what happens when you bid a certain amount, click to this Ebay article about automatic bids. This is the essential process behind what happens differently in an online auction versus what you might see at an in-person auction.

4. Check out the “Buy it Now” sales!

Sometimes, you can find a winning bid, even without an auction!

Still do your search as you normally would and see if any items are within a decent price range.

I hope this has helped you get an idea about how to get out stuff on Ebay!

Feel free to comment with any questions!



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