ebay shopping tips

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Today I’m sharing my top ten eBay buying tips!  I would love it if I could afford to shop from ethical labels all of the time, but sadly this is not the case.  This is where secondhand shopping comes in – it’s ethical, good for the environment and cheap!  And as a working mum I don’t always have the time or patience to visit charity shops until I find something I want with a toddler in tow, so when I need new clothes, then more often than not I head straight to eBay from the comfort of my sofa.

I’ve been buying and selling on eBay for 10 years now so I like to think I know a thing or two about shopping online on eBay and getting a good bargain.  So here are my top ten eBay buying tips:

ebay shopping tips clothes

Me in a bargain eBay outfit.  The cardigan (99p), dress (£4.71) and belt (came with another £2 dress) are all eBay finds.  

Ten eBay Buying Tips


1.  eBay can be a bit daunting if you just type in say, size 12 dress.  A search like this will throw up thousands and thousands of results (557,498 at time of writing!).  One of my best eBay buying tips is to use the advanced search function on the sidebar to narrow down what you are looking for. This saves you from scrolling through hundreds of pages.  For example, say I want a green dress, in a size 12, that’s knee length with long sleeves.  I can specify all of these things  in the advanced search bar, rather than doing a generic search for a green dress. I can even specify my budget, if I would prefer it to be secondhand or unworn, if I want it to be a specific brand, and if I want it to be located in the UK only.  I find this to be a much more effective search method that’s much quicker in narrowing down what I want.

To do this, search for “green dress”.  Select women’s clothing in the left hand bar, and then select “women’s dresses”.  From here you can then specify a whole number of variables, as in my example below:

ebay search tips

I got 65 matches, which is a much more manageable number to view!

2.  Another of top eBay buying tips is if you find something you like then have a look at the seller’s other items.  They might be selling some other clothes that you also like!  It’s often a lot cheaper to package several items together and post them, than it is to post two separate parcels, so a lot of sellers will offer a postage discount for multiple items.  If it’s not specified, email the seller to ask.

3.  One of my top eBay buying tips is to consider buying out of season.  For example, if you know you will need a new pair of winter boots then buy them in the summer.  Less people will be looking and bidding on them out of season, helping you to get them for the best price.

4.  If you are looking for something on eBay and are unable to find it you can set up an alert, whereby you will be contacted when someone lists an item on eBay that matches your search criteria.

5.  When it comes to buying baby clothes on eBay I would tend to avoid buying individual items of clothing as postage costs don’t make it particularly cost effective.  For best value stick to buying bundles of clothing – just type in, for example “boys bundle 9 12 months” to search for all the boys 9-12 month bundles.  I also find buying bundles of basics such as vests and sleepsuits very cost effective – once I bought 15 vests for 99p and £3.00 postage.

6.  If you normally shop in charity shops, and still would like to support charities through your shopping habits then there is a special eBay for charity page.  Here you can search through all the items for sale, where the seller has specified that they will donate all or some of the final sale profits to charity.  You can also see items listed by charities themselves.  They’ll often list items on eBay that they think will achieve a higher selling price on eBay than in their shops.


Some of my eBay finds from over the years.

Watching and Bidding

7.  Add an item you like to your watch list, and set a reminder on your phone for a few minutes before the item ends – that way you won’t forget about it.

8.  Another of my best eBay buying tips is to bid in the last few seconds of the auction – that way you won’t push the price up unnecessarily.  This is known as sniping.  I tend to bid in the last six seconds of the auction ending.  I type in the absolute maximum amount I’m willing to pay and hope for the best!  This way there is also less chance that you’ll get carried away and bid higher than your budget.  Seven times out of ten I win the item for much less than my top budget.  Of course sometimes I’ve lost the auction, but such is life.  I knew my budget and didn’t go over it, so in the end I’m a winner even if I didn’t get the item I wanted.

9.  If you can, look out for items that end on weekdays during the day.  They tend to go for less than items that end at the weekend.  Of course, this is only effective if you are able to bid during these times.

Other Useful Advice

10.  If you’re substituting visiting charity shops with shopping on eBay, and not purchasing the eBay charity items, then it’s only right to include a donation, no matter how small to charity.  Thankfully eBay allows you to donate to a charity of your choosing at the checkout.

There you go – these eBay buying tips are how I keep my wardrobe stocked up without it costing the earth or a ton of money.  If you think I’ve missed anything then do let me know in the comments below – I would love to hear your eBay buying tips too!

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