The No-Intimidation Guide To Stylish Shopping On eBay

Shopping on eBay can be a smidge overwhelming—there’s so much to see!—but it can also be a magical experience that gets you loads of great deals. Our suggestion for maximizing your haul is simple: don’t enter the world of eBay with a blind eye. Scroll through to see our tricks for getting the best buys on eBay, and that dream designer handbag or those sold-out, must-have shoes may soon be yours.

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    Search Pointers:

    Brands to look for: Equipment (so many deeply discounted blouses!), J.Crew, J Brand, Current/Elliott, Isabel Marant (especially shoes), Loeffler Randall, Rag and Bone, Alexander Wang, Jennifer Zeuner, Vita Fede, Christian Louboutin, and Clare Vivier.

    Hard to find items, such as Mansur Gavriel bags, garner a huge mark-up, so be prepared to pay up if you’re desperate for one. Celine and Chanel bags often sell for above retail prices as well, since they’re not sold online.

    Be as specific as possible when typing in your search, and try variations in the search wording. For example: Chloe Susanna boots, Chloe Susan boots, and Chloe studded boots all yield slightly different results.

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    Have A Budget In Mind:

    Are you hoping to score an item for a below-retail price, or are you in the market for a highly sought-after item that’s sold out everywhere?

    If it’s the former, keep in mind that some sellers are very motivated to sell, and therefore may be willing to negotiate. Try sending the seller a message with an offer.

    If it’s the latter, you might have to pay a pretty penny to acquire your dream item. If a seller holds the key to a hot-ticket item, they’re looking for a big profit from a desperate buyer, and they’ll probably get it.

    Tip: You will need a PayPal account to purchase anything on eBay, so make sure that’s set up before you start buying!

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    Buying Options:

    Bidding

    When most people think of eBay, auction-style listings first come to mind. While the low starting price can be attractive, chances are the price will go way up, especially if it’s a hot-ticket item.

    One option is to partake in automatic bidding (you set a maximum amount, and eBay bids for you every time you’re outbid until you hit your max). While helpful, you won’t know what the other automatic bidders’ highest bids are, so you could easily be outbid in the last second. If there are numerous automatic bids on the item, the price will climb very quickly.

    Auction snipers are hard to avoid as well. They are new bidders that swoop in at the last second and win the item. There are even services that will do the sniping for you, like Auction Sniper and eSnipe. It’s every woman for herself on eBay!

    Best Offer

    Best Offer is a great negotiating tool. You get three shots to make an offer with the seller, which they will counter, decline, or accept. Even better: buyers can retract a best offer before the seller responds, so you have a little leeway.

    Buy It Now

    Buy It Now is a set price for an item. Auction listings often include the option to Buy It Now, which is always a higher price than the bidding baseline, or Buy It Now might be the only option offered. Buyers sometimes have luck messaging a seller directly with an offer, and the seller may agree to go in and lower the price so that you can purchase immediately. It’s hit or miss, but worth a shot. Buy It Now is great for an item that you can’t live without, but you might have to pay a higher price than with the other buying options.

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    Do Your Homework:

    PHOTO: Emily Weiss of Into The Gloss

    Checking the seller’s feedback score and return policy before purchasing, offering, or bidding is essential. If their score is less than perfect, read the negative reviews. Sometimes they’re from obviously unreasonable buyers and can be disregarded. But if the negative reviews consist of consistent legitimate discrepancies, you probably don’t want to give that seller your money. If you do end up having a problem with a seller and you can’t work it out with them, open a case. Items usually include eBay buyer protection, and eBay usually sides with the buyer when deciding the verdict of a case.

    Tip: It’s best to avoid international sellers. It can lead to customs charges and a long waiting period from purchase to possession.

    Tip: For clothing purchases, be sure you know your size in the brand you’re purchasing. Even if the seller accepts returns, it can be often be a hassle.

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    Authenticity Alerts:

    PHOTO: Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad

    If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. There’s a good chance that the item is counterfeit. See below for our helpful tips in determining authenticity. We’ve learned from experience!

    1. Many designer handbags have item number tags. Ask the seller for a photo of the tag if one is not included in the listing.

    2. Many sellers include photos of the item’s original receipt. Again, ask for a photo if it’s not posted.

    3. Pre-owned and vintage items usually aren’t counterfeit. Just be sure that you read the item description thoroughly and examine the photos, so that you know what you’re getting. Gently used items are often an amazing deal. They usually look new, but are deeply discounted, as tags have been removed and they’ve been worn at least once.

    4. Use the most caution when shopping for popular designer items. They’re the most frequently counterfeited items. If the item is more obscure, it’s unlikely that anyone would take the time to replicate it.

    5. Look for items with very detailed item descriptions and multiple photos. Counterfeit items often include very few photos and have brief descriptions.

    What are your favorite fashionable items to shop for on eBay? Have you ever scored an amazing deal? Sound off in the comments below!

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