Casual eBay users tend to stick to the Buy Now option, because they don’t want to deal with bidding, or use the online shopping platform rarely or occasionally. More experienced eBay users and those who want a more dynamic shopping experience engage in bidding, an option that can save a ton of money, although it may well create a significant profit for the seller.
Auctioning in real life or online, however, isn’t a simple thing. That is, unless you merely want to have fun. Essentially, there are two main theories behind successful bidding on eBay: Winning the eBay Auction and Auction Sniping.
Winning Any eBay Auction
Essentially, this school of bidding focuses on the ‘bid early, pay more’ philosophy. It is fairly straightforward: find an item, enter the maximum bid, and use proxy bidding to manage your bids. Essentially, this will automatically place larger bids as soon as a bid that tops yours is placed, meaning that you will most likely win that auction.
You’ll Pay More
This bidding theory is based on the fact that you’ll pay more. If you really want an item, and money is not an issue, this is definitely the way you should go. Essentially, you see the current bid and place the higher one. But exactly how much higher should you go?
The term proxy bidding refers to the bidding style, where you incrementally try and top the current winning bidder’s bid. The biggest question here, however, is how much should you bid. Well, it all depends on how badly you want the particular item. If the current top bid is $100, you might place a $101 bid. Of course, this will likely be instantly topped by another bidder.
On the other hand, if the current bid is $100 and you place a $1,000 bid, it’s highly unlikely that anyone will top that. Of course, this means that you’re going to pay significantly more. These two extreme examples are used purely for the sake of showing you how the system works: if another proxy bidder is observing your behavior, they may decide to stay and try to compete or give up, depending on the size of the bid increments.
Bidding on an item early will probably encourage people who really don’t care about the item, but don’t mind winning the auction. These eBay users are referred to as ‘nibblers’ (go figure), and they are the ones who tend to seemingly unnecessarily inflate the price. If it weren’t for them, however, the seller’s incentive to use eBay’s bidding system would be lower.
Some nibblers like to place a bid just for the sake of it, because they liked the item. This increases how much the bid winner will pay at the end. Other more legitimate bidders will analyze how much the item is worth to you by carefully examining your bid increments and bid a dollar more than you did, just to see if you’re using proxy bidding. It’s really an art form, bidding.
Auction sniping is a much more sophisticated approach to eBay bidding. As a rule of thumb, snipe bidding takes place in the last moments of a bid. To snipe means to place the winning bid in the last minute or seconds of an auction, rendering the ‘sniper’ the winner, and leaving everybody else empty-handed. True snipes happen in the last 20 seconds of the auction!
Why All the Hate?
eBay users tend to hate sniping and some even consider it absolutely unethical. On the other hand, some users find it completely ok. The latter actually makes sense when you take into account the fact that eBay’s very system is designed to not only allow sniping but to encourage it. Additionally, when you consider how savvy, sophisticated, and difficult sniping is, the very notion of all the hate directed towards snipe bidding becomes ridiculous.
The Goal of Sniping
Essentially, investing more research, time, and energy, and paying less is the goal of snipe bidding. Swooping in at the last minute and winning the auction at the lowest possible price is the name of the game here. Sniping, however, takes a lot of practice and some “theory.”
The “Theory” Behind Snipe Bidding
Essentially, this is more of a list of tips, than an actual theory. However, knowing the nooks and crannies will not only ‘not hurt’, it will serve as an awesome addition to your snipe bidding arsenal.
- Do not place an early proxy bid – That is, unless you really cannot observe the auctions close, or use 3rd-party services to snipe bid for you. If you are sniping properly, check frequently on your computer/smartphone for eBay notifications. Wait until the final day of the auction, at the very least, before stepping in with your proxy bid. Place it as late as possible.
- Use the watchlist – Simply putting an item onto your watchlist is pretty much useless if you don’t actually watch the item(s). Set an alarm/reminder on your phone to remind you to get back on eBay. Calculation and planning are of key importance.
- Maximum bid – Nibbling isn’t always the best way to go when it comes to bidding (sometimes it really is, depending on how badly you want an item). Typically, if you want to snipe, you should bid the maximum price you are really willing to pay when putting your last-minute bid. If you lose the bid, bummer, but at least you didn’t pay a ton. If you win, congratulations! Sniping prowess is where the gamblers are set apart from the bidding pros.
- Never log out – This may go without saying, but many people have lost their bids for simply not being logged into their eBay accounts.
- The last minute is what it’s all about – As mentioned earlier, most snipes happen within the last 20 seconds of bidding. Enter your bid no earlier than 50 seconds before the end of the auction.
The Art of Bidding
Anyone can go and buy an item on eBay. Also, anyone can place a bid. But bidding with focus, dedication, and cunning, now that’s something else, that’s an art form.
Have you ever won a bid on eBay that truly made your jaw drop? Tell us about your bidding experience in the comment section below.