I have been a big fan of buying and selling on eBay for a number of years. As soon as Jared and I started dating seriously, I gradually started taking over his account. What can I say? It just happened.
eBay is fantastic for buying larger home items, furniture, baby paraphernalia, an item of clothing that has sold out in shops (just wait a few weeks), and more expensive wardrobe items like leather shoes, leather boots, coats and jumpers. You can update your wardrobe with quality items, at a fraction of the price. It also counts as recycling and ethical shopping. So – what’s not to love?
I have an ongoing collection of items in our house that I plan to sell, and a couple of times a year I will list everything (which I find takes ages), in an effort to declutter…and this includes my wardrobe. My rule is whatever money my wardrobe items make, that is what I have to spend on a wardrobe update, and this is where the fun begins.
I haven’t always been a fan of second hand shopping. I remember going into town with my siblings, my mum, or my grandma as a teen – I would wait outside charity shops because I was too embarrassed to go in. This has literally just come back to me now (!) and the thought of feeling like that, feels so alien to me now.
The Esther of today adores car boot sales, jumble sales, vintage shops, charity shops and shopping using eBay, but I am quite picky about what I will buy, and I certainly won’t buy something just because it is cheap. When using eBay I will only ever buy items that are new, like new, or used a couple of times. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with buying used items – it’s just a personal thing.
I have put together a few tips for buying using eBay – I thought it might come in handy for newbies, people on a strict budget, or those wanting to grab a bargain. I am by no means an expert, but here are a few things I have discovered along the way:
Decide what you are looking for
- Before having a shopping session on eBay, it is essential to sort through your wardrobe – including shoes and coats. I find myself having a huge clear out about twice a year – when the weather starts to get cold, and when the weather starts to warm up, but I do have ‘mini clear outs’ in between.
- Decide which items you will donate to charity, and which you want to sell through eBay. In turn, this will help you determine exactly what new items you will be searching for.
- Don’t just buy something because it is cheap. It is so tempting when you see a blouse for £0.99 that you like, but don’t love. It is a waste of £0.99 (plus postage) if you don’t absolutely love something. Stick to what you are looking for.
Know your body and the shops that fit you best
- I can’t buy jeans from Zara, or H&M. They are just all wrong for my body shape. Know your size in the shops you love and your eBay experience will be so much easier. This extends to tops, jumpers, shoes and dresses, as all fit differently wherever you shop.
- I tend not to buy trousers through eBay because I like to try trousers on. Exceptions include maternity ones, or a pair I know fit well. For example, there is a pair of leatherette trousers from Topshop that I love from a few years ago (and are no longer sold). I have now bought them twice, brand new for around £7 each.
Use filters and save searches
- I would say that most of my wardrobe is Zara, Asos, New Look and H&M, and these are the shops I look for using eBay. I love Zara for coats and blouses, and I love Asos for shoes and jumpers. My summer clothes tend to be H&M and New Look. Unless I have seen something particular, I rarely look for other shops when searching.
- Use filters because otherwise the amount of choice you have is unmanageable. You can select size, colour, length and many more. Removing the ‘buy it now’ filter can often be helpful.
- I only save searches if I am looking for a large item like a pram, a bike or a piece of furniture. It sends an email when new items have been added. Once you have found your item remember to ‘unsave’ your search so you no longer receive emails.
- eBay is not the place to shop when you are pushed for time. If you’re looking for a last minute outfit to a wedding, the perfect pair of shoes or something for a holiday, you will probably end up getting overwhelmed and buying the wrong thing. I really think patience is the key to eBay.
- Be picky, and you will recognise a good deal when you see one.
Check out a seller’s other items
- If you like something from a certain seller they often have other items that take your fancy, so it is always worth checking out their other items. I love it when I find someone who is selling half of their wardrobe, and I love everything!
- I have bought many pairs of shoes and boots through eBay, and I always know the exact pair I am looking for.
- I always contact the buyer just to ask about fit. I am a 7, but if the shoes are narrow I don’t have a chance!
- Often I will ask the European size as I find this a better indicator.
- eBay makes it possible to buy real leather and real suede shoes cheaper than faux versions. My favourite pair of boots were £16 from eBay, and I’m on my second pair. Another pair were £14. Both never worn.
- If you are buying a big item like a pram, or a piece of furniture, I always ask the seller a few questions. This is to find out more information, but more importantly it is to scope out the buyer – to see if they communicate quickly, and sound reliable.
- Always check where the item is located (!) and look at the sellers feedback.
Weekends or week days
- If you are buying you will probably get a better deal during the week, but if you are a seller it is generally best to list your item over the weekend. More people are online, and it is likely to sell for more.
Buying for children
- I haven’t really felt the need to use eBay to buy children’s clothing – unless I am looking for something really specific. Two things that come to mind are formal trousers and desert boots. Both of which I saved a small fortune.
Bid in the last few seconds if possible
- Bidding in the last few seconds is hard to remember, and you have to be organsied. I haven’t done it for a while, but I have had some fantastic bargains in the past from doing this.
- My ‘magic bidding time’ is 17 seconds. I don’t know why!
Shop out of season
- I know this is quite obvious, but I thought it was worth adding in. Look for boots in the summer, and summery items in the winter. You are likely to pick up some total bargains.
- Some sellers don’t take good photographs and this can be really off putting. However, if you suspect it is exactly what you are looking for ask them to send you a few more photos (or a clearer one). We bought a cot bed from eBay, and because the pictures were awful nobody else wanted it, and we grabbed a bargain.
Good luck, and have fun!
Love this post Esther and there are some great tips here. I love using eBay, particularly for things I couldn’t otherwise afford and furniture. In fact m, furniture shopping on eBay is probably my favourite. Xxx
Thanks Kerry! I can definitely get addicted to it. When we move house in a couple of years time I will be going crazy. There are so many bargains to be had xx
Ooh amazing tips! I also love ebay for a clothing bargain although I rarely buy myself clothes these days. I like the charity shops for clothing too, definitely some diamonds in the rough in there if you’re willing to search. Plus I love that the money goes to a good cause.
I agree charity shops are fantastic. I love them for homewares and children’s books xx
So many great tips, we’ve started selling more on ebay over the last year and although it really is a pain listing things it is such a good way to make a little extra spending money. My last couple of coats were ebay bargains, like you I filter through to find the things I want and my last one I got for just £5!! You really do need the time though, same with charity shops I think, I would love to do more shopping in them but I rarely have the time to spare 🙂
That is amazing Hayley! What a bargain!!! I tell myself that it is far quicker than going round the shops with at least two children. A great way to get rid of things…at least once they’re on there you can just relist them. The initial listing takes forever! xx