TIPS FOR BUYING + SELLING ON EBAY

I’ve wanted to write this post for quite a while as Im always getting asked questions on how I go about putting things on eBay, or how I always manage to buy things at such low prices. By no means am I an expert on the subject, and my way of doing things may not be the best or the correct way, but I thought I would share with you how I do things and some tips I’ve picked up along the way. This is primarily based on buying and selling clothing, as that’s what I mainly use eBay for, but that doesn’t mean to say these tips and hints can’t be applied to other items. I did briefly touch on eBaying in a post I wrote a while back here, but this will be in a lot more detail.


SETTING UP

Before you plunge into the world of eBay, you need to make sure you have everything set up correctly. You will need a Paypal account to be linked to your eBay account, which I would recommend setting up early as there are numerous steps you have to take to get this right and ‘eBay compatible’. Basically, if you haven’t used Paypal before (and I’m sure many of you have) it’s a secure way to pay online where no-one’s card details are exposed. You simply go by an email address. Paypal is eBay’s preferred payment method, so you kind of NEED it to buy and, in particular, sell. There are steps you have to take to confirm your identity, which may seem tedious an pointless, but remember this is a way of dealing with money. Better to do it properly and be safe than sorry. Everything else in setting up for buying and selling is pretty straight forward, but if you need tips on this part just google whatever it is you need help on and you will find an answer!

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BUYING

Ebay is great for finding something in particular. For example, say you had your heart set on that popular dress from x brand and x season that sold out. Search for it and you will more than likely find it on there. However it’s also great for a quick scour, like you would browse any other online shop. That way you can find great items without actually looking for them, if you know what I mean! I tend to do the latter, and tend to search a few times a month, maybe more. Here are some tips on searching that I have found really help find those gem items:

– I start off by searching wide, so only using one or two words in the search bar, such as ‘Topshop’ or ‘Vintage Dress’ as a lot more will come up in the results than if you were more specific. You might see a lot you dont like, or irrelevant items, but chances are you will spot something you would have missed otherwise!

– I then chose to order the search results by ‘Time Ending Soonest’ to show what is ending in the next few minutes incase there are any last minute bargains to be had. 

– I will also select ‘Buy It Now Only’ and order these listings by ‘Price + P&P: Lowest First’ to see what is available at low set prices, where you can buy straight away without bidding.

– Once I’ve done this, I’ll then be more specific in my search if I’m after something in particular. For example, I might choose to type in ‘Topshop Maxi Skirt’ or ‘Vintage 60s Dress’ to reign in my search and bring up more relevant search results. 

When you have found what you are after, there’s then the whole bidding aspect, unless of course you chose to ‘Buy It Now’!  Depending on what you are looking for, there are lots of ways to go about getting the best price possible.

– Before you buy/bid, be sure to check the sellers feedback profile. I always try to go with a seller who has at least 90% positive feedback. You can view their feedback comments from recent buyers and see how people rated their accuracy and postage time/cost. Some one with a lot of recent negative feedback is a no-go. Avoid at all costs! There are scammers on eBay, so be aware of who you are buying from before parting with money.

– If you are wanting to bid on an auction item, wait until the last couple of minutes before you decide to place your bid. Make sure you choose to ‘Watch Item’ so that you can keep your eye on bidding activity and price. Most bidding happens in the last 5 minutes of an auction, so hold back (I know it’s hard to resist!) and wait to see how high the price goes. That way you won’t waste your time. If you’re still willing to pay more than the current bid in the last few moments, then bid. 

– Remember to enter you highest bid, so the amount you are willing to pay at the most. That way, if someone bids after you, eBay will automatically raise your bid for you until it exceeds your maximum amount.

SELLING

Selling on eBay can seem daunting at first, as there seems to be so much to do from taking photos, and uploading images, to writing descriptions and posting items, but really it’s all really straight forward. When I want to sell, I try to collect together a pile of things to eBay, and wait until a Sunday to list the items. First of all I will scour though the items, rewash anything that needs a freshen up, and check all seams for holes, check zips are working, make sure no buttons are missing etc. If there are faults then I will make judgement on whether or not I think someone will still buy it. If for example it’s by Primark and has a hole in it, it isn’t really worth it as I probably won’t get that much for it in the first place, but if it’s a desirable item that cost quite a bit and could easily be fixed, I will try to sell. Always make sure you state any damage and if possible take pictures of the faults too. Here are my tips on photographing items:

– It may take a while, but try to make sure everything is ironed as it will look so much more appealing.

– If possible, take pictures of yourself or a friend wearing the pictures as this will demonstrate what they look like on. If you do this then state your size in the details. e.g ‘Model is a size 10’.

– If you don’t want to take pictures of the clothing on a person, then hang them up neatly with a plain hanger on a clean backdrop so that the item is the main focus.

– eBay has an iPhone app, which is great for keeping up with bids, but awful in my opinion for listing. The photos you upload become grainy, cropped and not great at all for showing detail, so I personally try to steer clear of using the app for listing items.

– Uploading photos for clothing is free for up to 12 images, so by all means use those 12 slots up! Remember to take detail shots, photos of the back and as I said before, any damage.

Once you’ve taken your pictures, you’re ready to write your listing. The listing ‘form’ on eBay is quite straight forward and self explanatory, with boxes to fill in with your item specifics. You will be asked to picked a category, e.g Women’s clothing > Tops & Shirts, and then write a title. Your title can only be a limited number of characters, so you need to get your point across in very few words. Think Twitter but selling a product. Get the most important info in your title. This in my eyes should be brand name, a brief description (black pleated maxi dress, for example), the size and if it is new or unworn I like to add that too. Other things you can then add into the listing depend on your category, but tend to be things like size, colour, measurements, brand, washing instructions, material etc. You don’t have to fill all of these in but it does help. Then you need to write a description. Here is an example of one of my more recent items to give you an idea of what to write:

Finally, all thats left to think of is postage, price and length of listing. For the price, I tend to start things at around £2 – £4 depending on the brand and the condition. You can add a reserve but I don’t tend to do this unless it’s something very valuable. Buy it now prices come at a cost, so if you want to add one, think about  whether you think someone would actually pay the price you choose. for the length of listing, I usually upload them on a Sunday evening around 7/8pm and choose to have them running for 7 days, to end at the same time a week later. This isn’t necessary, but I always seem to get the most bids on a Sunday evening as a lot of people will be online at that time.

Now, last but not least (well done if you have read all this!) is the matter of postage. You need to get this right as you can lose big points on Feedback scores if buyers are unhappy with this service. From my experience I will now never send untracked, as I have had so many buyers complaining that items haven’t arrived. Without a tracking number you have no idea whether they are being truthful. Therefore I always choose to post First or Second Class recorded. State which you will use to send the item, and then state a price. I try to weigh everything to work out how much it will cost – use Royal Mail’s price finder for help with this. That way you’re not out of pocket. Do the same if you wish to post overseas too. I choose to send within Europe only to avoid any problems with shipping taxes. You will also have to state when you aim to post the item. I always say within 3 working days to give me chance to pack and post, but that’s entirely up to you. Just remember to post within the time frame you say otherwise you risk getting negative feedback. Oh, and you don’t need to spend a lot on postage materials. I buy postage bags on eBay for really low prices, which will help keep the costs down.

On a final note, remember eBay is not free to use, even if there are Free Listing weekends (you will be emailed about these a couple of days in advance). You have to pay a small percentage of the final value of the item once sold, and adding extra pictures/extra categories/Buy It Now prices will push the price up per listing. You can set up your account so that the fees come out as a Direct Debit from your Paypal once a month, but remember to try and keep track of it so you don’t get an unexpected bill at the end of the month.

Phew! I never thought I would write so much on the subject of eBay, but there we have it. If you think there’s something I haven’t covered or have any questions, please comment and I’ll reply ASAP. I hope some of you find this useful and answer most of your queries. Let me know your thoughts!

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4 Comments

  1. March 23, 2012 / 10:43 am

    A very timely post, I've just listed things on eBay for the first time this week so fingers crossed it all goes well! I've only listed a few 99p items to start with just to see if I can sell them. I think the postage thing will be the most difficult, just hope I don't loose out with postage costs!

  2. March 23, 2012 / 7:41 pm

    i have been buying and selling on ebay for more years then i wish to recall and i've just read your whole post on it. It is a brillaint overview for beginners and you have covered everything! I too only send via recorded, but even with tracking number and proof, ebay and paypal do favour the buyer regardless sometimes. So that is one to watch out for! I have found that you get good and bad buyers too, just the same as the sellers. Like you said checking feedback both ways is essential to the whole process!
    Really enjoyed reading your post 🙂 x

  3. March 23, 2012 / 11:02 pm

    that's so true about posting items on a sunday evening, I always get higher prices for my items when I have it ending then!

  4. March 24, 2012 / 1:01 pm

    Great post, I just sorted through my wardrobes today and have about 50 items for ebay, hoping to make back something to put toward my new wardrobe!

    joanne from jimmilou.com

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