If you're a buyer that's tuned into the eBay community at all, you may have heard sellers complaining in recent years about the performance of their auctions, the number of bids they've been receiving, and their placement (or lack thereof) in best match search results. To put things bluntly, a lot of smaller sellers find that eBay auctions are not performing nearly as well as fixed price listings, and some have been fairly bent out of shape about it.
Whatever isn't good for sellers, though, is good for buyers, and if auction format listings are something that many sellers are considering avoiding, that means that auction format listings are probably a buyer's market these daysand in many cases, that turns out to be true.
There are some serious deals to be had on auctions, items that sell for winning bids that are 30-50 percent less than they are selling for in fixed price listings on eBay. But you have to know how to find them. Here are some tips to help you:
- Get out of best match search results. One of the things that has
hurt bid frequency the most for smaller sellers is a disadvantageous best
match search placement, which in more practical buyer's terms means that
there are a lot of small sellers' auctions that almost nobody is seeing
because they're buried on page umpteen-plus of search resultsor, some
claim, are not appearing at all. To get out of best match results, click on
the "Best Match" that is the default selection of the "Sort by:" drop-down
list at the far right of your browser and select one of the other options
- Don't bother with "Top-rated seller" auctions. Because of the
placement and marketing advantages that these sellers enjoy, most
top-rated seller auctions are going to do fairly well, which means that as a buyer you won't
be getting a ridiculous steal on them. Instead, look for sellers with
feedback profiles and reasonable
feedback scores that nonetheless aren't
getting any special treatment from eBay.
- Don't look for and bid on currently ending auctions during your free
time. Most people share the same blocks of free timeevenings,
weekends, and holidays. That's why sellers have long known the importance of
listing timing for maximizing winning bid values. If you want
to score with an underbid auction, you need to focus on those that are
ending when nobody is looking, and that have low bid counts (which means
that no-one has found them yet). Try weekdays during working hours and the
wee hours of the morning.
- Focus on older models rather than the latest and greatest. If
you're looking at consumer goods that come in editions or models of some
kind, search a couple of models back to find listings that have fewer
bidders searching for them. No need to go so far back that you're shopping
for obsolete goods, just far enough back that the model you're searching for
isn't the one on the tip of everyone's tongue just now.
- Keep searching for hidden deals. Auction listings that are
misspelled, miscategorized, or misrecognizedif you can find themare
still the best auction listings to pursue if you want to pay pennies on the
dollar for something. They're not exactly common these days, with selling
tools both on eBay and off eBay improving constantly, but they're still out
- Be patient and don't lose your head. Know how much you're willing to pay beforehand and don't exceed that. Don't get discouraged if the first listing you bid on ends up selling for a reasonable market price. If you're determined to buy low, then bid low and stick to it. It might not happen for you on the first auction or even the fourth or fifth, but it will happen.
As always, some buyers will doubt whether there really are any good deals to be had on eBay these days (or, in the case of some buyers, whether there ever were in the first place). But ask any seller that used to post lots of eBay auctions and they'll likely tell you that these days a small but bigger-than-it-used-to-be percentage of their auctions end up giving some lucky buyer an alarmingly good deal.