Whether you're new to eBay or a seasoned shopper, these insider tips can help you bid and buy safely. Plus we reveal the top 10 best items to sell on eBay.
eBay buying tips
Do your research
Learn all you can about the item. Read the item description carefully. Make sure you understand details about P&P and payment options. Don't make assumptions about information that isn't included in the description.
Find answers to your questions
If you have any questions or are unsure about something, click the Ask a question link in the listing. Common questions include "Do you accept returns?" and "How will you deliver the item?" If you've already bid on an item and you're having a problem communicating with a seller through email, you can request the seller's contact information.
Check the eBay seller's Feedback profile
From the listing, click the seller's Feedback score. This is the number in brackets next to the seller's user ID. On the Feedback profile page, you'll see what other buyers have to say about doing business with the seller. Make sure you look through the seller's overall ratings and detailed seller ratings, as well as Feedback comments.
Research the item's value
Look at similar completed listings by searching completed listings. You can also visit online shops that sell similar items and talk to friends to help determine what the item is worth.
How to buy on eBay
- Determine the maximum amount that you're willing to pay for the item. Take into consideration what the item is worth to you, how difficult it will be for you to find another one and how soon you need it. Then decide the highest price that you're willing to pay
- Understand what entering a maximum bid means. Our automatic bidding system means you can enter your maximum bid once and the system will automatically increase your bid only as much as is needed for you to stay the highest bidder without going over your maximum bid.
- Make every bid a serious one. Make sure you don't bid on multiple similar items from different sellers if you only want one. If you're the winning bidder in more than one auction, you're obliged to purchase all the items you've won
- Consider Buy it now. Does the listing you're interested in have a Buy it now option? If so, consider whether you're willing to pay the Buy it now price in order to guarantee that you get the item without having to wait for the auction-style to end
- Consider Best Offer. If the seller offers Best Offer, come up with a price that you believe would be the best price for both you and the seller and make an offer for that amount. In some categories, you and the seller can send each other counteroffers until you come to a price you both agree on.
Plan ahead & use the eBay app to stay on top of bids
- Make sure your contact information is up-to-date. Check your personal information to make sure it is correct. Also, check that any spam-blocking software that you have installed doesn't prevent a seller from communicating with you
- Start early if you want to buy with Best Offer. The way to win with Best Offer is to start early in the listing so you can allow time for the seller to respond
- Plan for alternate access. To help you stay on top of your bidding and purchasing while on the go, make sure you've downloaded the eBay app - for iPhones and for Android - for your mobile device.
eBay selling tips
Use descriptive words for your eBay listing
- Take the time to get your keywords right and bidders will come. When buyers search, eBay automatically looks for words in the listing's title only, so it's crucial to write your listing in your customers' language, and use the keywords they search for - especially brand and product names
- Consider "stylish plunging neckline plum dress". No one's going to search for "stylish", "plunging" or "plum". Instead, consider the practical search “new size 10 purple silk Whistles dress”
- There are some keywords that are sure draws including old, vintage and sexy. If relevant – use them, they build traffic to your sales.
Choose the right category for your product
It might sound obvious but it’s very important to always choose the most specific category to sell in. If you think it should appear in more than one category, you can pay a fee to do this and maximise your product’s visibility.
How long to list your item on eBay
- When listing an auction, you can choose whether it lasts one, three, five, seven or 10 days. The longer your item is listed, the more chance of people seeing it, so unless it's time-sensitive, pick 10 days
- For Buy-it-now listings, you can choose three, five, seven, 10 or 30 days. They cost the same, eBay advises selecting the 30-day option
- There's also the "Good 'Til Cancelled" option, which renews automatically until you score a sale.
Upload photos to sell items on eBay
The vast majority of users will not bid on items they cannot see. Upload a photo and provide several views of the product, as well as close-ups and feature details. For best results, take photos in natural light against a neutral background. It allows people to see what they are interested in and that you actually have it. Remember, a good picture often holds up a less than perfect listing.
How to get your selling price right on eBay
- Check out the best of the competition to understand the marketplace you are operating in. There is no worse feeling than to have sold a very expensive item for a very low price because you did not know its value
- Consider your pricing strategy carefully. Follow the eBay pricing recommendations and check other eBay listings for similar product prices
- Browse online shops to find out how much the product sells for new. Making your offer as attractive as possible will make your listing stand out from competitors
- Do searches for items similar to yours. Take a critical look at the listings and pricing – especially if there are more bidders and higher prices. You can learn much from your competition.
When to sell at item on eBay
Get the timing right. The busiest time for buyers is Sunday evenings, so schedule your bids to end around that time. Avoid times when most people will be busy, such as weekday mornings, or any big events such as sports matches or TV finales.
Work out postage costs in advance
Consider the impact of postage costs in advance. If you don’t offer free postage, you will need to pack your item, then weight and measure it so you can calculate postage costs. Use the eBay postage estimator service to check your pricing – you don’t want to be out of pocket having to cover excess postage once the product has sold.
Top 10 best-selling items on eBay
1. Branded technology
Anything with Apple, Samsung or Sony on it is hot eBay property – with eBay selling an iPhone related item nearly every second!
Average sale price: £13
2. On-trend fashion items, such as women’s dresses
Particularly popular brands include ASOS and Topshop.
Average sale price: £9
Casio, SEIKO and Swatch are among the most popular.
Average sale price: £30
Forget second-hand, stick this in your description for more hits.
Average sale price: £17
This children’s classic has enduring appeal.
Average sale price: £13
6. Chest of drawers
The ‘chest of drawers’ is the most searched piece of furniture on eBay
Average sale price: £13
7. Garden furniture
Garden chairs, armchairs and parasols feature highly within this category.
Average sale price: £89
Brands Apollo, Raleigh and Shimano are particularly sought after.
Average sale price: £40