10 Top Tips to Thrifty eBay Shopping

eBay is still gaining more and more ground in online shopping for both used and new items. Especially kids’ clothes I found very easy to buy on eBay successfully. As kids grow so very quickly, their clothes usually have only seen limited wear and are generally in great condition still. But my positive shopping experience hasn’t been limited to baby clothes (check out my articles “On finding an eco winter coat” Part 1 and Part 2).

Though, I know that the whole auctioning aspect can be a little daunting, it can also be quite exciting. Having only recently re-discovered eBay for shopping, I am very aware of the steps that I’ve taken to buy a few bargains successfully – and all from the comfort of my own home.

Below are my 10 top tips that have helped me to make a bargain or two ;-):

  1. Set up your searches and adjust according to your requirements (for example “Condition: Used” if you want to watch your carbon footprint, or “Sort: Distance: Nearest First” if you’re looking at large items that you’d prefer to pick up yourself)
  2. Think of different search terms for the item you’d like to buy. You might set up searches for “PJs” as well as “Pyjamas” and “Sleepwear”. Or search for “Ladies hat” as well as “Women’s hat” etc.
  3. If you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone or similar, I’d recommend getting the free eBay app as it’ll give you the opportunity to bid on an item when you’re out & about (do set your notifications so that you can be alerted of new opportunities).
  4. When you’ve found something that you’re ready to bid on – be patient! I’ve found it best to wait until the last 30 seconds or so to place my bid. 
  5. Then, be clear on what you’d prepared to pay for it. The price you place as your bid will be your maximum bid. So, if you have already outbid the other bidders it won’t increase your bid to your maximum bid.
  6. Best further is to have researched the price of the item that you’re interested in – it would be pretty disappointing if you actually paid more for a used item on eBay than you’d have to pay for the new item in the shop.
  7. Do take the cost of postage into account. Some of the eBay sellers cheekily ask for extortionate postage costs. So, again, research roughly how much it would cost to post the item to you.
  8. If the price that you’re prepared to pay is say £3, bid £3.13. Psychologically, most people will be thinking in rounded amounts, so you might be in luck if your maximum bid is by that odd bit higher.
  9. If you want to make sure that you’re getting the best bargain, you can watch a number of items similar to the one that you’re interested in. Then watch what price they’re fetched at in the end. That gives you an idea of the top price that you are prepared to pay.
  10. If the auctioning part is still not comfortable for you, you can search for “Buy it now” items in your chosen category. That way you bypass the whole auctioning process and you can still get a good bargain; but nevertheless, do research elsewhere how much the item is actually worth.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my personal top tips for eBay shopping. You may also be interested in eBay’s Top Tips which I found an interesting read too. I’d love to hear what you’d include your top tips in the comments below. 🙂

All the best, Carola.


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