5 Secrets You Need to Know Before Shopping Ebay


If you're brand new to shopping on Ebay, there are some important things to learn before jumping right in.

Ebay can be a great way to get super deals online, but it's a totally different animal than Amazon!   Get savvy about all the ins and outs with these 5 Secrets you need to know before shopping Ebay.

5 Secrets You Need to Know Before Shopping Ebay



1 . Know How to Search for an Item

 – First of all, searching for items on Ebay is a little different than other shopping sites.  Ebay can be a little overwhelming due to the sheer volume of listings popping up all the time.  In order to clear out the stuff you don't want to see, be as specific as possible!  As an example in the screenshot above, I searched for: “Women's Chacos Size 8”.

 – Next decide what type of listings to shop – All, Auction or Buy Now (Read more about those below!)

 – Finally, head to the left sidebar and use the tools there to narrow down your search.  You can click on “More Refinements” at the bottom to see even more options – like choosing a seller that has an Ebay Store. (See the screenshot below)



2 . Decide Which Listing Type To Shop

There are two basic types of ebay listingsBuy Now (which are items that have a fixed price) and Auctions.

Buy Now is for purchasing an item outright, while auctions pit you against other bidders trying to score bargains.

Are you looking for a new item?  Buy Now is probably the way to go.  If you're searching for something that's used but in good condition – let's say a pair of barely worn Chaco's – check the used listings.  You'll be able to specify what condition you're looking for in the left hand sidebar.

Of course – if you're up for either, just choose All Listings 🙂



3 . Buy Now Listings

Buy Now is the easiest way to buy an item – because you simply add it to your cart and checkout.  It's a lot like regular online shopping. (But still do your research on the seller!!)

Things to look at in a Buy Now auction:

  • Price
  • Shipping Cost
  • Returns or Refund options
  • Accepted Payments
  • How many the seller has sold of this item (the more the better!)
  • How many are left (might not want to wait around on this one…)

If everything looks good – then proceed with confidence!



4 . Bidding on Auctions

Auctions are more complicated because you'll be bidding against other buyers and doing so in a specific window of time.  You'll need to watch the item, set your highest bid, and be present near the time the auction is about to end – in case you're being outbid and you decide to go higher.

When searching for Auction items – sort by “Time: Ending Soonest”.  That way you can get in on auctions that are about to end – a great way to get last minute bargains!




Bid “Smart”

Once you've narrowed down your choices and researched the seller, it's time to place your bid.  The bid you enter is the highest you're willing to go during the course of the auction – don't worry, it doesn't mean that you bid that amount right away.

So in this case (above), the Chacos I'm looking at have been bid on 10 times and are up to $41. I've placed my highest bid at $49.51 – and there are 32 minutes left in the auction.

At this point I can walk away and Ebay will keep competing with other bidders in small increments until it reaches my highest bid – and then it will stop bidding for me.

***NOTE: Once you click the Bid button – you've basically promised the seller to buy this item for this price.  You can't back out now, without communicating with the seller and getting them agree to release you from the transaction.   If you're just interested in an item – choose the Watch Item option!

In addition – sometimes the seller will have set up a “reserve” price that remains hidden.  If noone bids high enough to meet the reserve – the seller will just relist later on


5 . Do Your Homework!!!

Ebay sellers are individuals – not companies with quality control and easy returns.  Before buying anything on Ebay – make sure you research the seller of that item and read over the reviews for the product very carefully.

Research the Seller

To check out the seller, click on their profile in the top right hand corner of the listing and see what kind of feedback was left by previous customers.

In this case – the seller I was considering had excellent reviews and has been an ebay member for a couple years.  There were 4 negative reviews – so I went to check them out.  Three were from the same person who was upset about a tracking #, and one review was claiming the sandals were fake – which seemed kind of out there since everyone else was perfectly happy.

Read the item listing carefully

Go over the description thoroughly and know exactly what you're going to get from your purchase.  If you're buying a used item – look at all the picture to see if stains, scratches or other blemishes are present.

Check shipping times and costs

If you're buying something overseas, that free shipping might take a couple weeks.  Make sure you know what to expect

See if you have recourse for returns or refunds.  Just in case!



Tips & Tricks:

Shop at the Best Times

If you're shopping auction listings – think about times when you'll have the least competition from other bidders.  In the middle of the SuperBowl or the night of 4th of July for instance – might be a great time to shop.  And looking for auctions that end in the middle of the night can often mean you're the only one up to slip and bid.

Spelling Errors are Your Friend!

Type in the item you're looking for, but with a small spelling mistake.   Lots of time sellers will mistakenly title their item and you could score big because no one else is finding it!  Chacos is such a well-known name that I didn't find any mistakes in my search.


Goodness – I love learning about new ways to find bargains and save money – even if sometimes it requires a little research!  Do you have any other tips for shopping ebay?  We'd love to hear them!  

Print Friendly and PDF


  1. I paid over a hundred dollars for a Mother of the Bride dress at Dillards. I was not happy with the color, I wanted plum but they only had lavender in my size. Came home with it and within minutes found the identical dress , in plum, same label, new with tags on auction for $19.99. The auction was ending in hours, I was the only bidder. I won and with $7.00 shipping, I still saved mega bucks. It was a huge score.

  2. Shirlee Beach says

    What about selling on ebay? Do you have any updated tips?

  3. Tips for selling on ebay:
    Be specific in your descriptions.Be honest about flaws and the condition of the item. Then price it accordingly.
    Take pictures of as much of the item as you can. Snags, dents, tears and other item wear should be shown to buyers. I have had people buy name brand items with small flaws but lots of life left. They get them for cheap and I made a few bucks.
    State how item will be shipped, return policy, and what payment you accept.
    Remember there could be tons of listings for items just like yours. It may take a while to sell, or you can try to lower the price and see if anyone buys it.
    If you want to fully take advantage of Ebay list the maximum number of free listings. Be focused and do a few a day. A little effort can mean a nice profit.

Speak Your Mind