Ebay Tips: How Auctions Work

Learning how eBay auctions work isn't difficult. Knowing just a few tips will put you on your way to becoming a successful eBay bidder or seller.

EBay can seem a bit overwhelming for the novice navigator. EBay is an online auction website where sellers can provide and sell products at the highest bid and where buyers can come to shop for almost anything under the sun from clothes to cars. Learning how eBay auctions work is not difficult. Knowing just a few simple tips will put you well on your way to becoming a successful eBay bidder or seller.

For sellers, the process is pretty simple. When you have an item to sell, it's a good idea to take a picture of the item so the buyer can actually see the item. Pictures help increase the legitimacy of the seller. You will then have a few steps to follow on a "Sell Your Item" form. Here is where you will fill out information such as the item's description, the opening bid price, shipping information, etc. Upon completion of this form, your item is officially listed. Some charges, such as picture display fees, can apply. EBay's website lists all of the fees a seller might incur.

The seller's only role at this point is to wait and see how much his item or service will sell for. Then, after the auction has ended, the seller is of course responsible for getting the item shipped. Be prepared to ship the item as soon as possible or else risk unhappy customers. Also, potential buyers are always entitled to send the seller an email if they have any specific questions about the item. The seller therefore needs to be available on a regular basis to answer questions. As in any business the more helpful and friendlier you are to the customer, the more likely you will make a sale and generate future business.

From the buyer's perspective, there are a few more tips that you must know in order to ensure that you are getting a quality product and to increase your chances of being the winning bidder. First off, there are really two ways to search for items on eBay's website. If you are looking for a particular item, it is easiest to type in the item's description in the "search" box on the homepage. This should greatly narrow your search. The items that fit the description will appear immediately. If numerous items were found, you will have the option of narrowing down your choices by filling out additional information on the left-hand side of the page. This will filter out what you don't want.

Another option from the homepage is to search by category. This type of search is best used when you don't have something specific in mind and would like to see a variety of similar objects. Once you have clicked on the category you want, the next page will present you with different subcategories. From there, you will go to a list of the items for sale.

From this point, the next step is finding an item on which you would like to bid. Before placing an actual bid, be aware of a few things first. The items are usually put on sale for seven days. So pay close attention to when the auction ends. For items that do not yet have a bid, there is a starting price that the seller designates. You cannot bid lower than the price listed. If there is already a bid, then you must bid higher than that price in order to become the highest bidder. Obviously, whoever has the highest bid at the end of the auction "wins" the item. Of course, winning means that you must pay for the item. Once you attempt to place a bid you will be asked whether you are certain you want to do so. EBay stresses placing serious bids. If you win the item, you are committed to paying. So only bid if you are serious. That is the golden rule of eBay auctions.

Sometimes a seller will place what is called a reserve on the price of his item. This means that there is a lowest possible price the seller will accept. The buyer does not see the reserve price, although buyers can place whatever bid they will like. If the bid is too low, the price will have the phrase "reserve not met" next to it. If you see this, then you know you must bid higher. The seller is not obligated to sell the item if the reserve is not met, so don't think that you will be able to talk him into selling at a lower price. Just keep bidding until you have hit the reserve price.

One other option a seller has is what is called a "buy it now" option. The seller can choose to list a price that he will accept immediately. That way if the buyer thinks the "buy it now" price is reasonable, he can accept the price and the auction will end immediately. This is a great feature for people who know what they want and what they want to spend. It saves you the trouble of getting into a bidding war with another buyer.

Some people are leery of buying items from eBay. This is quite understandable. There is a no-return policy for the items you buy, and you can never guarantee that something is what it says when you have never seen it in person. One way that buyers can greatly increase their chances of getting a good product is by buying from a seller with a high feedback rating.

The feedback rating is listed in a box on the upper right hand side of the item's page. Click on the number next to the seller's name and you will be able to read what other customers have to say about the seller. This is a highly valuable tool and one you should definitely use. The higher the feedback score the better. You can see the percentage of positive feedback underneath the feedback score. A general rule of thumb is to stay away from sellers with less than a 90 percent positive rating. In fact, you may even go as far as 95 percent. Anything below 90 means that the seller has gotten too many complaints. Again, you just never know for sure who you are dealing with.

EBay might be a little scary for people who have never used it before. While not every transaction turns out well, the vast majority definitely do. The company wouldn't be so successful if fraud was an every day occurrence. EBay provides consumers the opportunity to find the products they want and buy them at substantially lower prices than you find anywhere else. With some helpful tools under your belt, there is no reason why you shouldn't give eBay a try. You'll probably find yourself hooked in no time.

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