I love eBay. I hate the idea of paying full-price for something when a slightly used, just-as-good option exists. Carl and I have found no end of deals on eBay. We’ve purchased furniture, my sewing machine, clothes, electronics and more.
As the chief shopper of the family, I’ve honed my technique for finding deals on eBay, and I’m going to let you in on how I approach it. Go ahead, save yourself some money.
1. Search sold prices to get an idea of what a bargain really is.
When you have a rough idea of what people are paying for an item you want, you’ll be able to gauge how much you should bid on an item, or whether the ‘Buy It Now’ price is really a deal.
2. View your results three ways.
Depending on what you are hoping to buy, you can end up with hundreds of results. When this happens, I always sort my results three ways:
Filter: Buy It Now; Sort: Lowest Price + PP
This view shows you the cheapest option to buy your item right now, without waiting for an auction to end.
Filter: Auction; Sort: Ending Soonest.
The trouble with sorting auction items by price is that the bidding for the least expensive options probably doesn’t end for days, and there is plenty of time for the price to go up. While you may want to add them to your watch list, the auctions that are nearly up are more interesting. If you know what a bargain price is, you can see if any auctions are closing soon and still low. That’s where you can grab a bargain.
Of course, if the Buy It Now price + PP that you already found is less than the current bid price of any of the auctions, then you may want to go back to that listing to purchase.
Filter: Buy It Now; Sort: Newly Listed
If you’re really looking for a bargain, to the point that you’re checking eBay on a fairly regular basis, then I recommend checking Buy it Now: Newly listed. (Obviously you can set up email alerts, but somehow I like to check personally as well). This option shows you if someone has undervalued their item, and lets you know that you should grab it quickly.
Two years ago, Carl and I were shopping for a bike trailer. The specific one we wanted was selling on eBay for roughly £350-£400 – quite an expense. I checked on a regular basis, and one morning looked to see if there were any new Buy It Now listings. Minutes after it was listed, I saw the bike trailer listed, Buy It Now for less than £200. I bought it ASAP. I had done my research, I knew it was a deal, and I didn’t need to hesitate.
3. Collect in person to save on postage.
I often sort results by location: nearest first in order to see if anything is available for collection, thus saving money on postage.
When you do this, it’s worth looking a bit beyond where you are willing to drive, because some listings include multiple locations for collection, or offer delivery. Since eBay only allows one official location in the listing, it’s worth clicking through to read the details of the item.
You should also think about other places you drive, to see if you can make a small detour to collect something that is a bit farther from home. I will occasionally tell eBay to sort relative to the post code of Carl’s work, since it’s quite a drive. We’ve also collected a fair amount of eBay purchases between our home and Ikea. We’ve needed to go, so we line the trip up with those collections.
We once collected an item that the seller was planning to ship for £20! We won the auction by bidding slightly over the average ‘sold price’, but by collecting in person, we ultimately paid less than what other people were spending in similar auctions.
4. Make an offer.
I’ll be honest, I’ve felt a bit wary about doing this in the past – there is a chance of someone else coming in and buying the item before you agree a price with the seller, and somehow it feels a bit cheeky. But really, what have you got to loose? It’s the internet, and, even if you collect in person, it’s unlikely you’ll meet them again after that. If there is a chance for a bargain, go for it.
5. Check out the seller’s other items before you check out.
I always click through to a seller’s eBay store, usually before I bid, and definitely before complete my payment. If they have something else I like, then they may be happy to combine postage – creating savings for you (and frankly, less hassle for them).
At one point I was following two items from the same seller that were ending on different days. After winning the first item, I messaged her to say I was waiting to bid on the next item the following day. She very kindly took the item off eBay, sold me the item at the price of the starting bid (no one else had bid so far), and combined postage.
6. Make it even more of a deal by earning cashback on your purchases.
I’ve already mentioned that cashback websites are a good way to save just a bit of extra money on purchases. TopCashback (affiliate link) currently offers 1.05% cashback on purchases from eBay. I’ve had some trouble actually using the site correctly and earning cashback, but you just need to be sure that you login to TopCashback, search for ‘eBay’, click through to eBay from their link, and then locate the item you want, and add it to your cart or bid.