So you want to save some money on back to school shopping by purchasing clothes on eBay? Between running our eBay store, and Hubby himself having purchased 500 items over the span of many years, we’ve learned a lot about how eBay works. If you want to shop for back to school clothing on eBay, here are 29 tips from two insiders.
If you have never shopped on eBay, don’t be intimidated. We’ll walk you though all of the scary how-to’s. And if you are a frequent eBay shopper, hopefully you will pick up a few tips and tricks.
1. Sign up for an eBay account and a PayPal account.
2. Spend some time surfing around and becoming familiar with the search mechanism, item descriptions, and read some of the Help articles.
3. In the same token, you may want to buy something of minimal dollar value as practice first before jumping into some more expensive items.
Conduct Your Research
4. Search for your items and see what comes up as active. eBay sellers don’t believe in flashy titles, they will give you the bare bones basics. “Lucky Brand Skinny Jeans Size 8”. Don’t judge the item based on a boring title. Get a rough estimate of the price range for your item.
5. Click on “Advanced Search” and then click on “Sold.” This will show you the actual sold prices of the item. A seller can list a pair of jeans from WalMart for $200 all day long, but they won’t sell. This option will show you the more realistic (and purchased) value of the items.
6. Conduct research outside of eBay. Where else is this brand sold? Is it sold at Kohl’s or Nordstroms? The type of store the brand is carried in will also give you a rough estimate of value.
Examine the Items
7. NWT = New With Tags. Don’t assume that NWT = perfect. Be sure to read the condition, description, and study the pictures to determine any wear.
8. Read the description twice. Look through each of the pictures at least twice. Make sure you know everything there is to know about that item. Don’t make assumptions on anything.
9. If something looks off, don’t be afraid to ask. The seller is “obligated” to disclose any defects. Be sure to match the defects listed in the condition and/or description and match them to the pictures. Is the hole at a seam in which you can sew and fix or is it in the middle of the garment? Always look at wear and tear spots such as sleeve cuffs, the bottom of pants, knees, and underarms. Look at the buttons. Are they all there? If all but one button is buttoned in the picture, how do you know if it’s missing one? If it’s not stated… ask!
10. Size does not equal size. Especially for women! Sellers will give you different kinds of measurements. Make sure you understand exactly what they are measuring and where, and ask questions if you don’t understand. Take three similar items that you own and measure them the same way. I like to use three since it’s a good average. If the waist on a pair of jeans is 15″ flat, then take three pairs of your own jeans, lay them down on a flat surface, and measure them. If your measurements are 14 3/4, 15, 15 1/2, you are probably safe. Make sense?
11. Not all cameras take great pictures. The color of the item will depend on the lighting in the room, the type of camera, and a lot of other variables. Look at all of the pictures to determine it is the color you want. Again, if you aren’t sure, ask.
12. For tweens, check both kids and men’s/women’s listings. eBay charges extra to list in more than one category, and a “cheap” seller may only list in one. For example, an Aeropostale Hoodie that is listed as an XS Women’s could either be bigger or smaller than a Child’s Large. At this age, it’s not only important to check multiple sizes, but also multiple categories. And measure!
13. Keep expectations in check. There’s a seller’s saying “Don’t expect a Ferrari to arrive in the mail if you ordered a Chevy.”
14. Check the seller’s feedback profile. How many items have they sold? How many 5-star ratings have they received? Look through the comments to see if anything unusual stands out. Look for a feedback score of 95% or greater. There is always going to be someone in the crowd who is not happy, but go with the majority and don’t worry about the one-offs.
15. Ok so I’m saying this out of pure shameless self promotion for anyone starting a new eBay store. Don’t ignore the new stores that don’t have a lot of sales under their belts. New stores (like ours) are eager to earn your business and may even price items lower than the competition to help build sales.
16. Don’t be afraid to contact the seller with questions. Here’s the deal. You are not asking a stupid question. You are not bothering the store owner. You deserve an answer to your question. You are spending your hard earned money at their store and you have the right to know everything there is to know about that product. The beauty of eBay – if you find an uncooperative seller, move on to the next one – there are plenty out there!
17. Some sellers will advertise a “pet free and smoke free home.” If you have allergies or sensitivities and they do not mention this, ask. You may receive an item in pristine condition but is covered in dog hair or is saturated in cigarette odor.
18. Look at a seller’s entire store. If they have items and sizes you like but not exactly what you are looking for, ask them if they have your item in inventory. It may be in the queue to be listed.
The Sales Process
19. After you have conducted your research, determine your budget. How much are you willing to spend on this item? What is your absolute maximum amount?
20. Urban legend has it that eBay’s algorithms favor the larger stores. If your search comes up with 50 listings, don’t be afraid to scroll through and look at all of them. Sometimes the smaller or newer stores’ items are listed at the end, and that may be where the best prices are.
21. Sunday nights are typically when a good majority of auctions end. Many sellers do a 7 or 10 day auction, which means they will list on Thursdays or Sundays.
22. Take advantage of eBay’s Advanced Search and save your searches. Start wide and then narrow your search to a more manageable return of listings. Take advantage of the eBay app for your phone.
23. According to eBay, “Make every bid a serious one. Don’t bid on multiple similar items from different sellers if you only want one. If you’re the winning bidder in more than one auction, you’re obligated to purchase all the items you’ve won.”
24. Auctions – You will bid against other customers. When the auction ends, the highest bidder wins. According to Hubby who is the king of winning bids at the last second, if you are in a bidding war, you want to place your last bid at 15 seconds left. It works for him! According to eBay, “Understand what entering a maximum bid means. Our automatic bidding system means you can enter your maximum bid once and the system will automatically increase your bid only as much as is needed for you to stay the highest bidder without going over your maximum bid.”
25. The Buy it Now option is more of a traditional purchasing option where you… um… buy it now. You may also be able to negotiate your own Best Offer. For example, if the Buy it Now price is 49.99, you may want to offer 42.00 and see if they accept it. This is also a bit of a gamble. Once, we listed an item right before bedtime, and in the morning, we woke up to having received two Best Offers, but someone had come in right away and purchased the item at full price.
26. Don’t give up – there is a second chance offer. We didn’t even have 10 sales under our belt before we ran into our first buyer who didn’t pay. After the case closed about a week later, we were able to offer the item to the next person in line, who had put in for a second chance.
27. Pay ASAP. Not only is it good business practice, but if you don’t pay right away, the seller has the right to open a case against you. Think of it this way… if you were to purchase an item at a store in the mall, you don’t walk out of the store without paying, right?
28. Leave feedback! You can leave a generic comment and that is sufficient. If you were extremely pleased with the process, by all means, leave a more personalized feedback. This is always good karma.
29. When you receive your package, open gently! Remember your item is more than likely coming from someone’s home or close thereof. It’s not going to be boxed like it’s from Tiffany’s. Take extra time and caution when opening so you do not damage the merchandise.
Now that you are a pro, enjoy your shopping experience on eBay! We would love for you to check out our store while you are shopping and let us know what you think.
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Have you ever purchased clothing on eBay? What are some of your tips and tricks?
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