Although Amazon is now the king of e-commerce, eBay is still around and may offer the lowest price for certain items. Like anything online, there are people who will attempt to mislead you with their items or steal from you. So, a thorough vetting process for sellers is just as important as your bid strategy.
If a sale looks too good to be true, it probably is. Before committing to an auction, research the average cost for the product in new and used conditions. A good place to compare prices for electronics is either Best Buy (if you are in the United States) or the manufacturer's website.
Best Buy is great because they offer new products at competitive rates. Another offering they have is their "Open Box" sales. These are similar to buying a used product from Amazon.
Best Buy has Geek Squad examine all returned products prior to selling them. Those that meet their standards of quality are sold to the public with a limited warranty.
A seller's reputation is important. eBay will normally list the seller's rating next to their username. The higher the score the better. However, a high score does not mean the seller is completely trustworthy.
Look at reviews that previous customers have posted. Don't just focus on the good ones, take a deep dive into the bad ones. Pay special attention to reviews about the condition of the product when it arrived and if the product matched the description the seller provided.
Once you have vetted the seller and thoroughly researched the price of your item, it's time to put your bidding strategy into practice.
Setting a high bid early on means your bid will need to withstand the test of time. This can be a bit nerve-wracking as you are now the target for a number of days. People will be trying to outbid you and your high bid may have driven the cost up significantly, thus negating most or all of the savings.
eBay gives you the option of adding an auction to your watchlist. This is a way for you to receive status notifications about bids. Keep an eye on your emails for a couple of days to decide if the auction is worth pursuing.
This is a great way to prevent overbidding and it allows you a stress-free, non-committal way to engage in an auction.
Towards the end of the auction, those who have been bidding will be feverishly checking their emails to see if they have been outbid. This means that any bid you place will likely be beaten. Don't let this deter you.
The point of setting this bid is not to win but to gauge the enthusiasm of your competition. If you place a bid and immediately receive a notice that you have been outbid, this means someone is watching like a hawk. As such, you will have to be even more vigilant to win.
Now, if you do not receive near-immediate notice that you were outbid it either means the competition is not that engaged or your rivals are engaging in "Snipe Bidding". This strategy involves a person waiting until the final minutes of the auction to launch a flurry of bids in an effort to win at the last moment.
To master the art of Snipe Bidding you will need to employ the right tech to ensure you receive timely notifications. Here is a list of tech products that will help you win on eBay.
Wearable tech is great for near-instant notifications. You probably won't be in front of a computer at all times but you will likely have your watch on most of the day. Enable email notifications on your phone and sync them with your watch to ensure you don't miss a notification.
Just be sure to have Bluetooth enabled on both your phone and your watch. Also, set an audible notice to go off for notifications on your watch. By default, this may be disabled. If you can't have noise in your environment, set a strong vibration to trigger. If your watch is completely silent, you are going to miss the notice.
If you have had your email for any number of years, you are likely inundated with messages. To date, I have well over 5 thousand emails unread in my inbox. If your email is like mine, eBay notifications can get buried fast.
You can set up a free Gmail account and use that for notifications. Just be sure not to use it for anything else or you will end up with the same clutter you got in your main inbox. With this method, I have been able to hone in on eBay emails instantly.
Within Outlook there is a function that allows you to take action on messages you receive if they meet certain conditions. If you use Outlook, you can set a rule that flags all messages received from eBay as urgent so they won't go unnoticed or accidentally set to unread.
Here is an article that goes over setting up Outlook rules in detail.
This is a great alternative for those who cannot set up another email.
During the final 5 minutes of the auction, get in front of your fastest computer, tablet, or phone and bid away. Be sure to be in a place with a strong, stable internet connection. If at all possible, use an ethernet connection (wired directly to your router/modem) to avoid spotty Wifi issues. It would be terrible to lose a bid just because your internet went out!
eBay is still around and providing savings for thousands of products. Bidding is tricky but with the right tech and strategy, you'll be winning be in no time.