There is a rather well known strategy to winning any auction: bid more money than anyone else. However, this will often mean that you end up paying more than you are willing for an item, or more than it is worth. There are several things that bidders on eBay often do not take into account - some are fairly intuitive while others seem completely illogical. In this guide I shall first address the more obvious, well known strategies and then detail some that are often overlooked. I am by no means an expert, but this is simply my opinion based on my experience. The methods below have worked very well for me, and continue to do so.
Firstly, on which item should you bid?
Due to eBay's huge scope of items for sale there is usually many items very similar to the one you want. However, there are several factors that people don't consider when searching. Firstly, unless your search is netting too many results, always use the search description option. Some listers simply don't put any relevant information in the title of their item.
In example, compare a standard search of "Faerie Magick" with the search title and description of "Faerie Magick". At the time of this document being written, the former gave 4 returns while the latter gave 177. Were I interested in Faeries, I would be more than willing to look through the longer list on the chance I might find something.
It is this which brings me to the next important point of searching: read the listing titles - don't just click on the links with gallery photos. Some auctions, rather than having a lovely picture of the item next to the title, have this -->next to them. There will still usually be a picture in the actual auction page, but there are dozens of items that remain virtually unviewed simply for a lack of gallery visibility. So, if you want less competition when you bid, do check the links that don't have images. This will vastly increase your chances of finding that steak amongst the the fish heads, for want of a better metaphor.
There are two issues that shall be addressed in regard to bidding: maximum bid and bid timing.
You should consider what you are willing to pay for an item before you click "Place Bid". The factors affecting this are things such as retail value, rarity or novelty. Check the retail value of an item, and take into account your current finances, and you should get an approximate figure for your maximum bid.
There are three more considerations regarding this price:
Since the price will usually be a round number (for example $25.00), add a small amount to your maximum. The amount added is relative to you maximum bid; e.g. for an item that you would bid $20.00, make your maximum bid $21.50. For an item on which you were going to bid $500, bid $515.
How flexible your maximum bid is depends on the nature of the item. If you are bidding on a quite common item, such as many items listed in the electronics section, keep your maximum bid (i.e. do not go more than a few dollars above your original maximum. For items such as these, there are generally many, many more opportunities. You are best to be patient, and save your money.
If, however, you are bidding on a rare item, such as something found in the collectables section, your maximum bid may go higher if you decide you are willing to pay more. Some items are very rarely listed, so when they come up you should bid more than you usually would.
The last two points do not apply for every item in the electronics and collectables sections, they were just chosen as examples. The rarity of an individual item can only be determined with a bit of research on the part of the bidder.
Timing Your Bid
It is well known that the best bids are made at the latest possible stage of an auction. It prevents people from being able to bid back, and gives that nice element of beating all the other bidders in the dying seconds of an auction. You can do this manually, waiting until the last minute to bid, or use Bid Sniping software.
While Sniping is frowned upon by some, it gives a greater degree of precision in last minute bidding, with bids being made with only three seconds to go. Again, simply enter your maximum bid, adding a small amount, and a time at which to bid. And you will have a last minute bid that will dramatically improve your chances of preventing a bidding war between two or three bidders from occuring. Sniping software is not particularly hard to find - there are many different options that can be found through a search engine.
There is, however, a down side to last minute bidding. When bidding on rare items, you may not have bid enough, and if your bid is made with only five seconds remaining it is virtually impossible for you to raise your bid. This is why for uncommon items it is sometimes best to bid manually with about 60 seconds remaining, giving you time to counter higher bids.
SummaryIn short, there are several steps to take in more successful bidding on eBay.
- Be thorough in your searches. Include descriptions, and try different keywords if you cannot find what you are looking for
- Be willing to look at the less looked at auctions. Items without pictures are often ignored, when the product is every bit as good.
- Don't bid round numbers. They may look nice, but if you bid the same amount as someone else, the first bidder wins.
- Be patient. Don't bid too early, you are only creating more interest in the item, thus more competition.
- When bidding on common items, be willing to lose a few auctions. Conversely, be willing to raise you maximum bid on rarer items.