Bid Now! Top 10 Tips to Conquering Ebay Purchases

by molliepaige

1. The Key to Keywords:

When choosing the words for what you’re searcing for, remember to think like a seller. Sellers (especially the least expensive ones) usually include as many descriptive words as possible. If you’re looking for knock-offs, don’t expect the original designer’s name to be included in the title, so try to describe the item rather then put a name brand on it.

For example: In a search for knock-off JC Lita boots, first maybe try searching Lita then read some of the descriptive words people include in their titles:

These are the lowest priced boots offered, and not super cheap at all (for Ebay that is). Next, try searching platform lace up boots:

There you have it, a cheaper price on the first go! It takes some practice to learn the best keywords, but you get the hang of it.

2. Category Shopping:

If you’re looking for something specific, keep your category options open because some of the best items can hide in the incorrect category. If you’re browsing for something more broad, try opening a few different categories with the same search term, to see which one seems to have the most or cheapest of the item you’re looking for.

Take pyramid studs for example:

5,313 is a pretty huge number, so let’s narrow it down. Click on the top few bold Categories to narrow down your search. I narrowed it down by  Crafts > Home & Art Crafts > Leathercraft > Accessories > Spots

Narrowing it down this far is helpful when you’re searching for more than one similar item. If I want to find cone spike studs, I can search in this category and not have to worry about narrowing the search results down again.

3. Organize Your Searches:

Searches can be sorted in a variety of ways:

I usually search by lowest price or ending soonest. I like ending soonest because I know I’m more likely to win, and less likely to be away from my computer when the bidding dwindles down. Most items are listed for 7-10 days, so if an item says it has 6 days left, expect the bids to go up between now and then.

The Price menu on the left lets you cap your max spending limit, so you can sort by ending soonest without having to wade through the items that are out of your budget.

4. Narrow it Down:

You can narrow down your searches by choosing options in the left side menu. Once a category has been chosen, options will display on the left for you to pick from. You can choose specific sizes, colors, condition and more!

But be careful: Most Asian shops don’t specify most of their selections, so you may be weeding out some good options. I like to choose my size, then also select “not specified” just to be safe.

5. Don’t Be Afraid of International Items:

Most items I buy from Ebay are from sellers in Korea and China. Why? Because they’re loads cheaper! Most even offer free shipping! You just have to know where to look. When you come across an item you love that’s at a great price (take the Lita knock-offs), browse the seller’s other items for even more great bargains. Some Asian stores sell a wide variety of products at incredibly low prices!

6. Save Sellers & Watch List Items:

You can save your favorite sellers and return to them later! You can even subscribe to receive emails with updates about new products from your favorite sellers.

When viewing an item, click “add to my watch list” to save a specific item without bidding on it. Then, from your watch list, you can check up on the auction and even be notified by email when it’s about to end.

7. My Favorite Word: “lot”

When searching for a large quantity of the same item (or for a huge group of the same sized clothes for example), use the word lot in your search. You’ll be suprised how cheap things can come in lot form. 100 piercing balls for $.99!? Sure, why not. My ultimate favorite lot search (not sure if I should give this away and increase my competition but what the heck) is Men’s T-Shirts. I simply search the word “lot” then click on the Men’s Clothing category, then on T-Shirts. I’ve bought tons of vintage band tees on the cheap just by getting them in “lot” form rather than purchasing them one at a time.

8. Check Shipping Prices:

I mostly aim forfree shipping” but Ebay won’t sort by shipping prices for you unless you’re in a specific store or category, so watch out when sorting from “price: lowest to highest” because a $.99 item can have $49.99 shipping costs attached. Also read the seller’s policies to see if they offer combined shipping at a discounted rate. You can even select to view only free shipping items in the left side menu.

9. Check Seller Policies and Feedback: 

Most sellers will list their policies within their item description (check towards the bottom). There, you can learn about shipping and color options that may require prior seller notification. You can also learn about estimated shipping times, shipping service options, return policies, size conversions, seller info and more.

Be sure to check seller Feedback to see if they’re trustworthy. Read through the testimonials and ratings from other buyers. Even if there are a ton of great ones, click the little blue number next to the “negative” button to read the not so great ones. Remember not to believe all the negative comments either, sometimes Ebay sellers deal with some psycho buyers who are just out to scam (ignore the resentment as I typed that; hence the reason I moved to Etsy).

10. Bidding:

When bidding, enter a median price you’re willing to pay for an item. Ebay will automatically make your bid the lowest possible while still naming you the winner. If you get theYou’ve been outbid notice, bid again until you’re either the highest bidder, or until you’ve exceeded your comfort zone. Don’t go crazy and overbid just to be the winner; remember you can probably get the same item at a lower price elsewhere on Ebay.


  • Be careful of the new “Shopping Cart.” While it allows you to rack up your purchases before committing to buy, if you press “Pay Now,” be prepared to pay for everything in the cart unless you’re specific.
  • Sometimes, the Buy it Now sales are a great option. You don’t have to worry about bidding and can receive your product right away without having to wait for an auction to end.
  • Watch out for sellers who have little or no description to their items. Read their Feedback carefully to see it they’re worth trusting.
  • Use Quotes With Caution: Ebay works just like a search engine, so if you use quotes it will search the entire phrase Be careful because this could help or hinder you depending on what you’re looking for. I always go without quotes first just to be safe.
  • Most people bid in the last few seconds to ensure a win, so make sure you’re around for the auction end if it’s an item you can’t live without.

If you’re still with me, thank you for your time. I hope I’ve been helpful. If you have any more questions leave them in the comments and I promise to get back to you!
Good luck and happy bidding!