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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Buying and Selling on eBay

Some of the best bargains on the Internet come from other consumers, just like you, selling their own items online. The most popular website for individual sales is eBay (www.ebay.com), which is an online marketplace that facilitates transactions between people and businesses that have things to sell and customers who want to buy those things.

The sellers on eBay can opt to sell their products via traditional fixed-priced transactions or via online auctions. An online auction is, quite simply, a web-based version of a traditional auction. You find an item you want to own and then place a bid on it. Other users also place bids, and at the end of the auction—typically a seven-day period—the highest bidder wins.

Bid in an eBay Auction

Many (but not all) of the items for sale on eBay are offered via the online auction process. In an online auction, interested shoppers place bids on a given item; the person who places the highest bid wins the auction and gets to purchase the item.

An eBay auction is kind of like a traditional auction—you know, the type where a fast-talking auctioneer stands in the front of the room, trying to coax potential buyers into bidding just a little bit more for the piece of merchandise up for bid. The only difference is that there’s no fast-talking auctioneer online (the bidding process is executed by special auction software on the eBay site), and your fellow bidders aren’t in the same room with you—in fact, they might be located anywhere in the world. Anyone who has Internet access and is registered with eBay can be a bidder.

The bidding process itself is automated; you don’t have to keep entering higher and higher bids as other bidders enter the auction. All you have to do is enter the maximum amount you’re willing to pay. eBay’s bidding software automatically places a bid for you that bests the current bid by a specified amount—but doesn’t reveal your maximum bid.

For example, the current bid on an item might be $25. You’re willing to pay up to $40 for the item and enter a maximum bid of $40. eBay’s “proxy” software places a bid for you in the amount of $26—higher than the current bid, but less than the specified maximum bid.

If there are no other bids, you’ll win the auction with a $26 bid. Other potential buyers, however, can place additional bids; unless their maximum bids are more than the current bidder’s $40 maximum, they are informed (by email) that they have been outbid—and your current bid is automatically raised to match the new bids (up to the specified maximum bid price).

So, depending on what other bidders do, you may end up winning the auction for less than your maximum bid. You may win with your maximum bid. Or you may lose (and therefore not get to purchase the item) if someone outbids you.

  • circle-1.jpg From the eBay home page, search or browse for an item you want.

  • circle-2.jpg Click the item you want to purchase. This displays the item’s product page.

  • circle-3.jpg If the item is offered via auction, you see a Bid section with either the starting bid or current bid displayed. Enter the maximum amount you’re willing to pay into the bid box; then click Place Bid. (Your bid amount has to be equal to or greater than the seller’s starting bid, or higher than any other existing bids.)

  • circle-4.jpg At this point, eBay’s built-in bidding software automatically places a bid for you. You are notified if your bid is the current high bid or if you’ve already been outbid by another bidder. If you have been outbid, you can place another bid at a higher price. If you’re the high bidder, sit tight.

  • circle-5.jpg At the conclusion of an auction, eBay informs you if you’re the high bidder. You are then prompted to pay for the item (typically via the PayPal service), and the seller ships it to you.

Buy a Fixed Price Item

Not all items on eBay are offered via auction. Many items are sold in a more conventional fashion, at a fixed price.

Fixed-price items are offered on eBay via what it calls the Buy It Now option. In some instances, Buy It Now is the only option offered; you click the button and purchase the item at the stated price. Other items are offered for auction with a Buy It Now option; you can place a bid and hope you win at a lower price, or just click the Buy It Now button to purchase the item now at a higher price.

  • circle-1.jpg From the eBay home page, search or browse for an item you want.

  • circle-2.jpg Click the item you want to purchase. This displays the item’s product page.

  • circle-3.jpg If the item is offered at a fixed price, you see the item’s price and a Buy It Now button. Click the Buy It Now button.

  • circle-4.jpg You are now prompted to pay for the item. Follow the onscreen instructions to make payment, typically via PayPal.


Sell an Item

Have some old stuff in your garage or attic that you want to get rid of? Consider selling it on eBay. Selling on eBay is a little more involved than bidding but can generate big bucks if you do it right.

Before you list your first item, however, you need to do a little homework. That means determining what you’re going to sell and for how much, as well as how you’re going to describe the item. You need to write a full item description, as well as take a few digital photos of the item to include with the listing.

When the auction is over or the item is sold at a fixed price, eBay notifies you (via email) and provides the email address of the winning bidder. Most buyers pay via credit card (using the PayPal service). Once you receive notice of payment, pack the item and ship it out.

  • circle-1.jpg Click the Sell link on eBay’s home page.

  • circle-2.jpg Enter the title for your item listing; then click the Get Started button. (If the item has a UPC or ISBN, you can enter that number instead of a title; eBay then displays information specific to that item.)

  • circle-3.jpg Select the appropriate category for your item; then click the Create Listing button.

  • circle-4.jpg On the next page, in the Describe Your Item section, fill in or select the requested information. You should also upload at least one photo of the item you’re selling.

  • circle-5.jpg Scroll to the Select Format and Price section and then click either Auction or Fixed Price. When prompted, enter the starting bid or fixed price of the item.

  • circle-6.jpg Scroll to the How You’ll Ship It section and enter the requested information about how you’ll ship the item, and how much you’ll charge for shipping.

  • circle-7.jpg Click the List It button to complete your listing and take it live.

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