1. Be specific – over 1.5 million items match ‘party dress’ on the UK website; there is just so much on ebay you can’t trawl through it all! So try typing in specifics e.g. colour, style or brand. I find this is better than using the filters on the side as some sellers don’t use them.
2. Know your size – this is the main issue with online shopping, but especially with ebay as you can’t return it for not fitting! I tend to err on the larger side as it’s easier to take something in than take something out (although it is possible). If you really want an item, try it on in an actual store if possible. I recently did this with Topshop jeans (they’re not very ethical, cost too much but are good jeans) so I knew exactly what size to bid on.
3. Location – one of the filters I would recommend using is restricting the location to Europe/your own continent. Firstly because shipping costs would add up! But also, there are quite a few sellers who are based in China selling goods at really low prices… I have no proof but I suspect these are from sweatshop workers.
4. Bid at the last minute with your maximum price – in order to win any auction style item you have to be savvy with your bidding. I always ‘watch’ the item, that way I get an alert when it is about to end and I can sweep in at the last minute with my maximum price. If you bid before then you risk others outbidding you before the auction ends.
5. Ask questions/pictures – sellers want to sell their items! So they should be more than willing to answer any questions or take more pictures for you. I wish I had known this when I started as there are a few items I can think of that turned up and were a different material/colour/shape than expected!
6. Be patient – wait for the perfect item and spend more on that than multiple 99p ‘bargains’ that you probably won’t wear! I’ve been guilty of this and it’s not so bad because after a couple of months it can go to a charity shop, but it’s just wasting your own money.
7. Fat Fingers – this website finds items that have been spelt wrong (from all ebay sites) and therefore other people won’t find them and there will be fewer bidders to compete against. I’ve used this a few times – it’s pretty useful!