A beginner’s guide to eBay: How to shop smart

I used to enjoy going shopping and hunting through the shiny rails of the season’s new releases. I never questioned buying clothes brand new and at full price.

I used to enjoy going shopping and hunting through the shiny rails of the season’s new releases. I never questioned buying clothes brand new and at full price. That was before I discovered eBay. 

At first, I admit, I didn’t really get it. The site seemed like a vast jungle of anything and everything. Like a lot of things, if you leave something a while and then return to it, it’s much better. I really do recommend that everyone tries eBay. It’s a playground of fantastic, (almost) sparkly new garments, gadgets and everything under the sun.

Despite being able to buy just about anything you could possibly want, let alone need on the site, the clothing available on demand is arguably the most invaluable aspect. Admittedly, the bidding is rather intense, but surely it’s worth it when compared to the alternative – trailing around a congested Topshop store wistfully eyeing up beautiful clothes you really, really can’t afford. 

What’s wrong with buying the same product a couple of months down the line for a mere fraction of the price? It’s ingenious. Often enough, there can be a stigma firmly attached to buying secondhand. Unless you’re minted, or else content with a rather lacklustre wardrobe, then I think it’s about time we all hopped on the glorious secondhand bandwagon.

Simple and Easy

Above all, eBay is simple to use, hence why the site boasts millions of loyal users. Since its foundation in 1995, the US retailer has become a household name.

Everyone has heard of eBay yet many of us choose to shop elsewhere.  Making an account takes barely five minutes, plus, often eBay rewards new members with £5 vouchers to provoke a purchase. Once you’ve logged on, surfing through prospective wardrobe additions couldn’t be easier. 

The site is split into various categories and brands, so if you spotted a dress from Urban Outfitters last month which was painstakingly out of your price range, then there’s every chance someone bought the same dress, wore it a handful of times, discovering it wasn’t for them, and stuck it on eBay. 

Isn’t that dreamy? You can even add interests into your eBay feed, so on logging on; you’ll be greeted with handpicked pieces from your favourite brands, styles and chosen size.  Simply search keywords, such as the name of your favourite brands. 

For instance, typing ‘forever 21,’ into the search bar will result in reams of results, and then you can apply filters, such as the size you want or the condition or price range. It’s undeniable that eBay has heralded a new golden age of access and opportunity. The convenience should be criminal. 

Welcome to convenience paradise

You can create a watch list and wish list on eBay to keep track of your must-haves.  Download the eBay app on your phone or tablet, and you’ll be alerted on the go whenever something is ending. Bidding in the closing ten seconds will almost guarantee you’ll win the item, so beware of bidding days or even hours in advance. There’s little chance you’ll win the item if you do so! 

A wonderful fail-proof way to secure an absurdly reasonable price tag is to watch out for things ending at odd times, such as early in the morning or late at night.

I once snapped up a scarcely worn Topshop khaki jacket retailing at £50 or thereabouts for a few pounds as it was ending around midnight, since far less people are online and raring to bid at bedtime. (7-9pm is eBay primetime.) Suffice to say I fell asleep happy.

Sunday nights, for some reason, are like gold dust on eBay. A lot of people tend to list things of Sunday evenings as the weekend draws to a close, and few are online at this time. A few months ago, I won a Topshop premium coat retailing at £120 for under a fiver. Yes, I did feel evil.

I’d also recommend messaging the seller if you spot something you’re willing to buy there and then. Most people selling items are keen to part with them, and if your offer is a reasonable one, it’ll most likely be accepted. This is particularly useful if you want the item sooner for going somewhere, or if you’ll be unable to bid at the ending time. 

Some items are often listed as ‘Buy now or best offer.’ I’d give much acclaim to this listing format, as often the seller can undervalue the item greatly, simply wishing to get rid of it. ‘One man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ and all that. 

eBay is a treasure-trove of secondhand bargains, and it couldn’t be simpler to get your hands on clothes unaffordable elsewhere. What are you waiting for?

What do you think of eBay? Have your say in the comments section below.

Image: Coolcaesar / Wikimedia Commons