Since joining eBay nearly a decade ago, I’ve had my fair share of amazing and awful transactions. Below are some tips that I’ve picked up over the years. If you have any other questions, feel free to ask and I’ll get back to you ASAP!
eBay Buying Basics
I’ll start off by saying that sometimes buying on eBay can sometimes be more trouble than its worth. When you start browsing eBay, know what you’re looking for. Are you looking for a specific item and hoping that it eventually pops up? If so, check out the section below on Saving Searches. Are you just browsing, waiting for some unique treasure to catch your eye? If you are, check out the section on Search Modification and Saving Sellers. "Look for deals on BINs with immediate payment required in the days and weeks before Christmas"
eBay definitely has ups and downs. In general, December is a good time to search for some really great deals on clothing, shoes and accessories (especially used). People are willing to let their mid to high-end items go for a great price so they can fund purchases of their own. Look for deals on BINs with immediate payment required in the days and weeks before Christmas. Come January, it seems that people tend to to more self-shopping. There are less deals to be had, but they can still be found. Another big trend that I’ve noticed is the summer selling lull. Look for amazing deals in those summer months!!
Oh, and be realistic. You won’t find a like-new Chanel Flap for 50% off. If you’re set on a big-ticket item, do your research. See what the item goes for new. See what it goes for in consignment stores. And see what it typically goes for on eBay (tab over to “completed listings” and “sold listings”). After you get the feel for what a “good deal” is for that item, put in that snipe (after you’ve authenticated it, of course)!!
Try these techniques for filtering out what you don’t want:
- Think of a search criteria, whether that be a certain designer (ex: Helmut Lang) or an item type (ex: silk cashmere scarf).
- Click on the “used” filter on the left side bar (or “new“, or “new with defects” for a good deal).
- Depending on your preference, filter your results with the pull-down tab for “newest listing first” or “lowest price first” (or the other options!).
- You can further filter your results by tabbing over to “Auction only” or “BIN only.” I personally love auctions because they give me an extra few days to consider if I really want the item, and how much to spend on it.
- I usually use the price bar on the side to set the maximum price I am willing to pay. No use looking at items that are more expensive then you’re willing to pay!
FIND SAVE-WORTHY SELLERS: This can be a bit of a challenge at first. There are three types of sellers that I generally consider saving.
- First, I think its worthwhile to save and intermittently check out large-volume sellers (see list below). These are the guys that sell tons and tons of stuff all the time. They are either resellers/ consignment or affiliated with department stores and sell overstock, returns and damaged items. You can really get some good deals. Most of these sellers only sell authentic stuff, but if you’re buying something that’s commonly faked (ex: Herve Ledgers, Loubs, etc), its not a bad idea to gets these checked out (see authentication).
- Next, I’ve found some great established sellers that have a constant flow of high-end merchandise, but just don’t have quite the volume of the huge sellers. These are really fun to check out!! (see list below) I’ve found these guys just by browsing items. When I find an item I like (especially if its a good deal!), I click on the see seller’s other items button on the right in the seller info box, and I see if they’re a seller worth saving!
- Every so often I’ll come across a seller that’s my size. These are usually just out-of-my-own-closet sellers, like I am. I’ll save the seller and check back every once in a while to see what they have. You can even become familiar and end up doing a lot of business (buying, selling and trading) with them. eBay still can be a friendly place. Sometimes.
WHO HAVE I SAVED?? This list is constantly growing. These are some goodies I’ve found:
I’m sure that by the time you read this I will have found a dozen more sellers to save! Sorry if the ones I posted aren’t quite your taste
I don’t typically use this feature, but its a good one if you want to try it. Typically this would be used if you’re searching for something in particular (like a specific handbag or shoes). What you do is type the search into the search field (ex: Celine Mini Luggage Camel). Click on the button to the right of the Search tab, entitled Advanced. Up pops the extensive advanced search options…
- Search for listings containing and words or phrases
- Exclude listings with certain words or phrases
- Auctions or BINs or both?
- Price range
- Item location
And the cool thing about the saved searches? You don’t have to constantly log in to eBay to see if your search has any new results. You can actually set it up to get email notifications when a new listing comes up. Pretty nice, actually.
I search for numerous designers on eBay. The annoying thing about designers is that their sizing is so wonky!! I may be a 00 in J. Crew, but I’m a size 0 in DVF, 2 in Burberry, etc. Not only that, there are so many brands that are french or italian sizes. And they are even more all over the place. I just got a Prada cardigan that fits perfectly in a size 46!! Yikes, so you see what I mean?
You want to have all of this info before you buy any piece of clothing:
- Fabric Content… no surprises
- Any defects
- Sufficient, clear pictures
If the seller is lacking in any of these areas, scroll to the bottom of the listing and click on the “ask a question” button! Sellers are generally really helpful as long as you’re polite Of course, not all of them are.
Some overall tips:
- For the majority of designer clothes, you really don’t have to worry about the items being fake. Use caution if you’re going for big name brands like Burberry, Herve Ledger, Isabel Marant, etc. And check out what else the seller is selling (and what they’ve already sold by clicking on the feedback number by their seller id). If they’re selling multiples of the same item, its a red flag.
- Don’t get your hopes up too high!! Not uncommonly my items will have flaws, incorrect measurements, or other problems. Cover your bases by asking lots of questions. If you really have problems you can always contact the seller or eBay.
You would think that shoes would be one of the hardest items to purchase on eBay. There are issues of sizing and fit, hygiene, and even just finding a shoe you’re looking for. Here are my tips on buying shoes, start to finish.
FIND THE SHOES– Easier said than done. Its nice if you have an idea of what you’re looking for. If you’re just fishing for a good deal, this is what I do:
Search European sizes. Most designer shoes are in European sizes, so I start there. I’m a tts 36, but because many designers run on the small side, I’ll also search 36.5 or even 37 if I’m looking for boots or something. So, I put the search “shoes 36” in the search box.
Narrow down what you want. See the search modifications above!
ARE THEY AUTHENTIC? See “Authentication” (below) for more details on this!! The most faked shoes are probably Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin, but I’m sure you could find some fake Jimmy Choo or Manolo out there, too (among other designers).
SIZING & FIT… TRICKY!
If you’re familiar with the brand, then you have a definite advantage. If not, try searching for the actual item on retail sites, if you know the actual item name. If you don’t know the item name, type in a Google search for something like “Prada Flats Sizing.”
Next, I’ll ask the seller how they think the item runs. Many sellers are quite knowledgeable and helpful, and will give you their opinion. Note that its just an opinion and you can’t hold them responsible if the item fits you differently!
Lastly, get as many measurements as possible. Get the heel and platform height, if applicable. Get the insole and the width, especially if you have a wider foot. Compare these measurement to shoes you already own. You need to match up the shoe shape, height measurements and material as well as you can for these to be accurate.
CONDITION- If there is not a thorough description and a good amount of pictures, you need to ask. Do not count on the seller describing all defects. You don’t want to be in for a gross surprise!
FIX THEM UP!! Ok, we now have some used shoes. Take an alcohol swab and clean the inside of the shoes. I don’t know if there are any studies saying that this is effective in killing the wart virus, but it’ll make you feel better. Now try those shoes on. How are they? If you are struggling with the fit, there are tons of helpful tips out there… but that’s a whole different topic!!
I’ll post more on this in the future. For now, my best advice is to use the Purseforum or another authentication service to help determine its authenticity!
There are lots of services out there for sniping, but the one I currently use is Gixen.com. Its a free service. You log in with your eBay username and password. Gixen offers a “mirror” service for $6-7. I used the service for a while without the mirror and it worked fine. I did eventually spend the extra money, though. I know that it’ll be that one item that I’m in love with that gets the faulty snipe!! So far, with the mirror, I’ve had 100% success.
To enter your snipe, all you need to do is find the item number (below the seller info box on the right hand side if you’re using a non-mobile device), enter it in the appropriate box, and enter your desired highest bid amount. I think Gixen uses a 6 second window, but it can be modified if you have the mirror service. I never go below 4 seconds, just to be on the safe side.