8 Things to Know Before You Buy or Sell on eBay

The process can be a bit confusing.

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If you're a savvy eBay user, congratulations. Because I'm definitely not. I know how the site works, sort of, and I've sold products on there in the past—a blue Kate Spade wallet and a pair of purple Hunter rain boots. But, I've never bought anything. What's holding me back is the sheer amount of products available. I get overwhelmed with choices! (It's the same feeling you get when you're scrolling through 50 pages of dresses on ASOS.)

According to Renee Paradise, senior director of fashion at eBay, there are more than 1.1 billion (yep, billion) listings, which means, while you can find anything you're looking for, actually shifting through those billions to find said perfect thing requires some know-how.

Because I'm not the best eBay shopper, I turned to Paradise, guru that she is, with all my questions about buying and selling. She tells me that her saved searches clock-in at 80 and she checks her lists almost every night before bed, waiting for the right deal. Paradise has found gems from luxe brands including Ganni, Maje, and Isabel Marant. And like a true royal fan, when she spotted Meghan Markle in a pair of Mother jeans, she added the "black runaway" denim style to her eBay saved list immediately. Days later she snagged the exact jeans for $40. Whatever her tips and tricks were to scoring discounts, I wanted in.

Ahead, Paradise shares the 11 most important things to know before you buy or sell. (Hopefully, there are a few new shopping secrets for you expert eBay users.)

  • Use the save function in your eBay app or on desktop. After you type an item into the search bar (i.e. "Ganni callie white leather ankle boots size 7") hit the little heart next to your results. This puts the item you're searching for into a "saved" list, where you can receive notifications via mobile or email alerts anytime that item gets posted for sale.

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  • Don't ignore eBay's curated homepage or special categories. Paradise works with eBay's top trusted sellers to curate products into "event pages," where you can buy jewelry, clothes, or bags for specially marked prices for a limited time (like, David Yurman pieces up to 40 percent off). For example, all items on this boot events page, are handpicked by the site's fashion experts.
  • Sellers, be sure to upload *real* photos of the item you're selling, as opposed to product shots. Paradise suggests keeping a white poster board in your house, so you can shoot the items you're selling on a clean background. An iPhone camera will do just fine.
  • Send in your designer gems to be verified before selling. eBay launched its authenticity verified program this year, starting with handbags and watches, and now it's rolling out jewelry, too. Once a product passes this authentication process, a note is included on the sellers page. (Though you aren't required to go through this process in order to sell designer goods.) For buyers worried about fake items, eBay protects you with its Money Back Guarantee policy.

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  • Look out for these two things when buying designer goods: Positive feedback on the seller's account and/or for the authenticity-verified mark, both strong signals this account is trustworthy. Als, be sure to look carefully at the photos and descriptions so you know what you're getting. Being more descriptive in the search field can result in stronger options, but if you want to do a broad range, you can type in something like “chanel boy bag” and then filter your results down by owned or pre-owned, buy or auction. If you know what you want, definitely get more specific. If you don’t, be more general.
  • Go with the automated process for determining the best listing time and date. If you're not sure how much to price your item or for how long (bidding vs. buying), eBay can provide guidance on the best possible options; just fill out the title and add a photo into your seller page. All choices, of course, can be amended manually.
  • Be as descriptive as possible when selling an item. The more key words you get in there, the easier it is for someone to find your product. Think about what you’d personally search for and apply the appropriate descriptors.

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  • Don't assume you can't score super-trendy items. The top three most searched brands right now are: Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Dior. "We sell about 126 Gucci bags a day and nearly 500 Gucci logo belts per month because of celebrity influence," says Paradise. "The search for a Dior saddle bag also went up from July to August. As more celebrities wear these brands, eBay is one of the first places people come to search for them." 

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Marina Liao
Fashion Editor

Marina Liao is the former fashion news editor at MarieClaire.com, where she covered celebrity style (from Meghan Markle to Katie Holmes), fashion trends, and shopping advice, plus conducted original interviews with industry insiders. She's also had many opportunities to write content in other areas such as beauty, food, tech, and even home. Her previous fashion stints include POPSUGAR and Cosmopolitan.