Don’t lose out on bargains with these nifty tips and tools to get the most out of your eBay trawls.

Do you ever wonder if those hidden treasures and ‘mis-listed’ bargains are just an eBay myth? Knowing your way around the online auction site can take patience, a few in-the-know tricks and a lot of focus. With 1.2 billion eBay listings globally last year – it’s very easy to feel like you are searching for a needle in a haystack of other people’s cast-offs, but learn the ropes and that steal of the century could be yours…

Search Savvy

If you type ‘women’s dress’ into eBay, you’ll return some three million products. The reason many users get ‘scrolling fatigue’ and don’t find what they’re looking for is that they don’t take advantage of the advanced search function. Narrow it down to really hone your criteria and reduce the millions down to a few hundred relevant buys. Searching by size will immediately make the results more relevant, as will specifying length, colour, fabric, new or pre-loved. The variables are endless. If you're not getting the results you want, try including the item’s description in your search. Ebay will automatically search for results for your specific words in the product title only. By ticking 'include description' under the search button it will search listings, too.

Typo Tricks

It happens quite often that products are listed with typos in their titles. That then means that they go under-the-radar on eBay’s searches and truly are ‘hidden gems’. Mui Mui (as opposed to Miu Miu) and Anthropology (rather than Anthropologie) are common examples. Using Bay Crazy’s misspelt tool allows you to monopolise on these slip-ups to uncover a bargain. Simply type the correct spelling into its search engine and it will find you links to all the hidden products listed.

Get The Measure

A common complaint is that if buyers are disappointed when things arrive, private sellers have a no-returns policy (business profiles have to offer a 14-day returns policy by law). To avoid any errors, check the description carefully. Got all the measurements you need to buy confidently? If not, ask! Check fabric composition, or if you need clearer/more photos, then message the seller well before the listing ends. If they’re motivated, they should be able to provide you with all the details you need. Get to know sellers you buy from regularly and check their other items – chances are, if you like one item they’re selling, especially if they’re a dealer, they may have other treasures to discover. Finally, don’t be afraid to use the ‘make an offer’ button. If a seller has added it as an option, it’s a clear signal that they are open to selling at a lower price. You have three chances to haggle but remember, putting in an ‘offer’ is the same as a bid and if the seller accepts you are obliged to buy.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Another grumble from eBay users is the ‘collection only’ criteria, whereby a listing is only available for collection, often on the other side of the UK. Frustrated? Don’t be. Shiply, the transport marketplace, is a great solution. Once you’ve bought an item, simply add the eBay listing number into Shiply and let couriers ‘bid’ to deliver your item in a Dutch style auction process. Once you’re happy with the price, simply share the details with the seller and let them know when it will be collected. Worth the hassle for larger pieces of furniture, but always factor in the additional costs of delivery when thinking about what you’re willing to pay.

Last Min Win

Always getting outbid at the last minute? Not anymore. Use free auction ‘sniping’ tools like Goofbid and Gixen, which swoop in on your behalf at the last second and put in your highest bid for you. Great if you’re not available when a listing ends (or you just forget) – simply sign up, enter an eBay item number and authorise the app to bid on your behalf. Let it know the maximum price you’re willing to pay and it will do the rest. Great if you’re the type that’s tempted to getting into a bidding war at the last minute. One word of warning: don’t rely on automated bidding tools if you’ve really got your heart set on something as they can sometimes play up.

In It To Win It

Another tip on bidding: when entering your maximum bid, go for an odd number. Most bidders will have a ceiling price of £20, for instance; do go that extra 5p and you could win it for a matter of pence. Another tip is to look at items ‘end time’. Those ending at peak times, namely evenings and weekends, tend to go for much higher prices than those ending in the middle of the night. No need to set your alarm, use Bay Crazy’s ‘night time bargain tool’ to find the twilight listings and then automate your bidding using one of the tools above and bargain hunt in your sleep!

Do Your Research

Not sure if a listing is a real steal? Type an item name into the search bar and under advanced options, click ‘sold listing’, which will give you a back catalogue of similar products and their sold prices. This should then give you an idea of what you could hope to pay. It’s all good research if you are planning on haggling with a seller, as you will have clear figures to back up your bid.

By Lydia Mansi
March 2020


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Lydia Mansi

Lifestyle Editor

Lydia is an all-round lifestyle guru, tireless champion of women in business and our resident expert on beauty.