* You have to know what you are looking for. Are you looking for a certain designer? A certain color? A certain size? A certain fabrication? A certain cut? Never been worn or slightly used? The eBay experience is different than a physical store...you can't just walk in and browse. You need to either search for specific items, or browse narrow categories.
* You have to be patient. You may have to wait several months before a garment by the designer you like and in the size and color you are desiring makes its way to the auction. And if there is no "Buy it Now" option you may have to go head-to-head with other bidders, which means you'll need to be vigilant.
* Unless you are 100% certain you are buying something you know will fit, make sure the seller accepts returns. Fit is everything. Because you can't try something on before buying, you won't know how it fits, how it drapes, how it looks on you, nor can you test the hand of the fabric. But if the seller accepts returns, then you actually *can* try on the garment before making a final decision.
And here's some BONUS advice from a real eBay expert:
Craig Ernst is a friend of mine who also happens to be a retired Gold Powerseller who made over $1M selling on eBay. I asked him if he would please give my readers what he considers to be the top three most important things to know when choosing to shop eBay, and he kindly agreed. So here is Craig's "inside scoop" on buying off eBay:
Always remember that eBay is nothing but an enormous conglomeration of big businesses, small businesses, and individuals selling their wares. In some ways this is fantastic, because the variety of merchandise available is virtually unparalleled. In other ways, it's less than fantastic, because you have to be much more careful than you would just buying a sale item on Macy's website. Caveat Emptor.
I guess the three major bits of advice are:
1.) Be sure you're buying what you think you're buying,
2.) Do a little comparison shopping so that you don't pay too much.
3.) Be sure you're buying from a reputable seller.
1 - Never assume anything about the item that's not explicitly mentioned in the description. Better yet, if applicable, make sure you can verify any important features by sight in the product photos. I would think hard before buying an item with poor or no photos. If you're not certain about any feature of the product, ask the seller *before* you bid on or purchase the item. Also, be aware that eBay's had problems in the past (and probably continues to) with a small minority sellers selling name brand knock-offs and passing them off as the originals. Be especially suspicious of this if the seller if offering brand-new designer merchandise at too-good-to-be-true prices, and they are located in either Eastern Europe or (more commonly) in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, or other East Asian countries.
2 - It is true that there are great and even better than great deals to be had on eBay. In fact, sometimes you'll see something that's a steal and decide you'd better buy it this very second before anyone else gets it. But, hold on. First of all, see #1 above.
Second, take a minute to see if any other sellers are offering the same item at an even lower price or perhaps, with cheaper shipping. In the case of surplus merchandise, where many of your best deals will be found, several sellers may have bought "lots" of the same merchandise. Natural competition will force some sellers to lower their price. I can't tell you how may times early on that I quickly bought something without checking the the competition and wound up buying a $25 item that had originally been $50 (a good deal), but missed out on another auction that was offering the same merchandise
at $15 (a great deal, if I would have gotten it). Again, always check the total prices, including shipping, when checking competing offers.
3 - There was a time very recently when anyone who had done any significant amount of purchasing on eBay had at least one story about how they'd been ripped off by some seller in one way or another. The good news is that eBay has taken great pains in the past couple of years to crack down on unscrupulous sellers, and buying on eBay is honestly, safer than it ever has been. However, you still need to be mindful of exactly who you're purchasing from. If you're new to buying on eBay, I'd strongly suggest
buying only from Power Sellers (they have a logo next to their user name) who
have 98+% positive feedback, and preferably a total feedback score of at least
500. This shows that they've been at things for a while and have maintained a good reputation. Does that mean that you shouldn't buy from a newer, less established seller? Not all. You may find some of your best deals there, but be more cautious when doing so. One last thing... be sure to always read the seller's terms of sale or policies. Each seller will be somehat different, as far as returns, etc.
Bonus Recommendation - eBay has buyer protection guarantees, as does PayPal (their in-house and preferred payment processor). However, as with any form of "insurance," there are always loopholes and exceptions. The most bulletproof payment method you can use to pay for merchandise on ebay is to pay via PayPal, using your *credit card* as the funding method (as opposed to your bank account). This gives you a double layer of protection. IF you have a bad experience with a merchant, and IF you can't get satisfaction from them, AND you can't get complete satisfaction from PayPal, you can then go directly to your credit card company, who will almost certainly see that things are resolved in your favor. This may sound overly cautious (even paranoid), but when you eventually have a poor experience after buying an expensive item, you'll thank me. :-)
Thank you, Craig!!
See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....
(For more information on wardrobe planning, or to sign up for my free e-zine, please visit my wardrobe planning website.)