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Shop and Sell Better with RSS

From RSS feeds through Twitter, use eBay feeds to enhance your trading

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Shop and Sell Better with RSS

RSS can help land you better deals and more sales on eBay

Photo: J0sefino / Dreamstime
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, the RSS feeds that are increasingly available as eBay tools can help you to use eBay more effectively. If you’ve never used RSS before, now may be a good time to start.

What is RSS?

RSS stands either for “Really Simple Syndication” or for “Rich Site Summary,” depending on who you ask, but at the end of the day RSS is basically both of the following for eBay users:

  • If you’re a buyer: RSS is a way of monitoring lots of different “collections” of items on eBay that will interest you—all of the items matching one of your searches, or all of the items sold by a specific seller. You get to choose how these collections are put together and how often you check in on them.

  • If you’re a seller: RSS is a way of making your own wares available to buyers as just these kinds of “collections” that they can easily watch. It’s also a way of automatically spreading your current eBay listings around the web and its search engines.

In practical terms, an “RSS feed” is a special link or URL (a web address, in short) that points to one of these kinds of collections for you. You get to create all the collections that you want through eBay, and describe what should be in each collection. eBay then supplies you with a link that will contain the collection in question.

RSS for eBay Shoppers: Setting Up

If you’re a serious eBay shopper—the kind that’s constantly on the lookout for certain kinds of goods or prices, or the kind that’s always open to a great deal—RSS might be just the thing you’ve been looking for.

To use RSS feeds, you’ll first need to set up or sign up for an RSS reader. The most common one is the little “headlines” sidebar on the Windows Vista desktop. Yes, you can have the newest items from your favorite eBay searches and sellers appearing here all the time using instructions like these with the links below.

If the Windows desktop isn’t exactly your cup of tea, or you’d like to have eBay watch lots of different collections for you, there are other more sophisticated readers, some online and some that are free to download and install, that can help you to manage your “collections of current eBay listings.” Three of the most popular are the Firefox Live Bookmarks, the Google service called Google Reader, and the software application NewsGator.

RSS for eBay Shoppers: The Feeds

With your RSS reader ready to go, you can point your reader toward several types of collections simply by pasting the addresses of the links below into them.

eBay’s Daily Deal RSS feed summarizes the items that eBay selects every day and actively markets to shoppers as special or great buys. This is the collection for deal hounds and comparison shoppers extraordinaire.

More interestingly, you can turn any of your eBay searches into an RSS collection that will automatically stay up-to-date. When you do this, any time a seller lists a new item that matches your search, the item will automatically be added to the RSS feed.

eBay automatically creates an RSS feed for every search you or anyone else runs. To create a “collection” of eBay listings that you’d like to monitor from now on, automatically seeing any new listings that fit into it, follow these steps:

  1. Run a search. This can either be a regular search or an advanced search that specifies things like price ranges, items from a particular seller, particular geographical location, etc. Make the search as specific as you want; eBay will remember these properties as it assembles your collection and keeps it up-to-date with new listings.

  2. Scroll to the bottom of the search results. Once you’ve run your eBay search and generated a list of results that suits your needs, scroll to the bottom of the search results page and find the orange RSS button. This is the link to the RSS feed (collection) created for the search you’ve just run.

  3. Save the link and add it to your reader. Right-click on the RSS button, choose to copy the link location or the URL, and paste the address into your RSS reader or RSS desktop tool’s configuration. You’ll now automatically always see the current results for the search you’ve just run, quickly and easily accessible.

Beyond Shopping: RSS for eBay Sellers

Of course if you're an eBay seller, there's even more at stake for you than finding great deals—your business could depend on your ability to use RSS well. Read on for tips on how to make the most of eBay's RSS feeds.

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