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Learn How To eBay!
A Guide To The eBay Online Auction Place.

Part 2 - An Overview of eBay

Learn How To eBay!

eBay Article Content:

Part 1 - Introduction to eBay
Part 2 - An Overview Of eBay
Part 3 - Evaluating What And Where To Buy
Part 4 - Buying On eBay
Part 5 - Avoiding The Serious Scam
Part 6 - Selling On eBay
Part 7 - Auction Terms, Abbreviations, And Some HTML Code
Part 8 - Authentic Items Verses Fakes


An Overview of eBay

There is a wonderful, virtual marketplace on the Internet called eBay. While there are no requirements to surf around in eBay, it is a web site where anyone who registers (individual or company) can sell most anything (so long as it is legal) for either a set price or an auction price (the seller's choice).

There are several facets to eBay. A fixed price "auction" is obvious, if a seller wants $10 for an item, then that is the price they ask for. On the other hand, set up as an actual auction, an item will sell for whatever price the bidders are willing to pay. There are also Dutch auctions in which large quantities of the same item are for sell individually or in quantity to several different buyers in one auction. eBay also has live auctions (on line "live"). There are eBay stores where sellers can list items for sell at a set price and their store can link to their auctions.

There is no cost to browsing around in eBay, and even if you never buy or sell anything it is still a great way to waste some time. Aside from just being plain fun, eBay is sort of like having an up-to-the-minute valuation guide to almost any item you can think of and tons you never thought of. That knickknack that belonged to your grandmother, hiding away just collecting dust, is probably listed out on eBay or on some other on line auction site. With a little browsing, you might discover that the dusty little figure is worth several hundred dollars. If you want to buy or sell a used computer, you can check out the on line auctions to learn what a used computer is currently worth. However, remember this, items listed at on line auctions have a floating value, meaning that what the price is today can be changed and affected by national news, new model releases, the time of year, the economy, and just simply the day of the week along with how many people are shopping that day. It is constantly amazing that a collectible toy model might sell for fifty dollars on Thursday and yet the same model might only brings twenty dollars on the following Saturday. Even more astounding is that there can be five of the same item, in similar condition, closing on the same day within hours of each other and the final bids for each on can vary drastically.

We all know that, contrary to the TV commercial, we will never finish the Internet just as we will never finish browsing eBay, but we can have a great time trying. The point is that eBay is a mega huge web site, the best way to try and understand it is to take it in small bites.

The first bite is, what is eBay? There is no mystery here, eBay is simply a very big web site residing on a large computer working as a server, running an intricate software program that allows people to share information about various items and hopefully buy and sell these items to each other.

The second step is just learning to browse eBay (browse is synonymous with look around, get a feel for the eBay site). Before you starting buying and/or selling on eBay, you need to browse around and discover what it is all about; learn your way around because it is a monster big site. But don't let the size of the eBay web site put you off, you only need to use small portions of it at a time.

All of the information that you need to either list or buy items on eBay is available at the eBay site, there is a help section and a site map, but it is because the site is so large and complicated that this article was written (along with a lot of books). There are pages and pages of information on buying and selling at eBay, and as you get more into the eBay game you will want to study those pages. For now, just to get started, the basics are in this article so sit back and relax; just browse the auctions and get a feel for the fun and excitement that is eBay (you do not need to register to simply browse the eBay web site).

Browsing And Searching:

There are two ways to surf through eBay, "Browse" and "Search". Searching is looking for specific items, browsing is more like window shopping, just looking around, checking out what is new.

Let's take browsing first. Once you learn how to eBay you will probably do searches, looking for specific items, but browsing is a good way to get a feel for all the millions of things you can find to look at and/or buy on eBay.

You can reach the Browse pages one of two ways. If you type in the eBay URL "" you will be taken to the home page with lots of options, including a list of categories you can browse through. Or, if you are looking at a page with the results of a search you requested, at the top of the page there are several options one of which is "Categories". The Browse/Category page has a number of categories you can select to browse through: Antiques, Books, Collectibles, Movies, Music, Toys and many, many more. When you click on a category, a list of subcategories will come up. There may even be subcategories to subcategories for several layers. For example, from Toys you could select "Electronic" and from there, "Classic", and from there, "Star Trek". Now you can browse Star Trek electronic, classic toys.

Browsing is more of a general type of search, if you want to search out a particular item, eBay has a "Search Box" on most pages (the search box only searches eBay, not the Internet). The search box is generally located near the top of the page to the left (at this writing). You can use the search box to find just exactly what you are looking for by typing in the words that describe what you want to find. When you click on "Search" eBay will display a results page with listings that match your search words.

The search results pages will display the title of each item that is for sale along with some basic information such as how many bids each item has and what the current bid price is. There may be only one page of results returned for a search or there could be two hundred, depending on how plentiful the item is. To limit the number of results, use more words in your search description or use the "Search Options" or "Advanced Search" filters. Then, for more particulars on a particular item shown on a search results page, click on an individual title and you will be taken to a listing page that has all the information that the seller has given about that item along with information about the seller and the current bidding information.

To "Browse" for items is simply a matter of selecting a category and subcategories until you reach the items that you are interested in checking out. "Winnie The Pooh" VHS videos would probably be under DVDs & Movies, VHS, Children & Family (or Animation, depending on where sellers choose to place their listings). However, when browsing there will be a thousands of movies under Children & Family so at some point, if you are looking for something specific like "Winnie The Pooh", you will have to do a "Search" to eliminated those other movies.

To "Search", you need to be fairly specific with your search words so the search doesn't come back with thousands of items. A general search looks at the "titles" that sellers provide for their listings (advanced search has more options) titles such as "VHS Winnie The Pooh video tape good condition". For example, if you are searching for "Winnie The Pooh" VHS videos, and you just enter "winnie the pooh" (do not use capitals) the results will include Pooh bed sheets, figures, stuffed animals, pictures, clocks and on and on. Instead, enter "vhs winnie the pooh" so that the result will only include listings that contain "vhs" as well as "winnie the pooh" or "dvd winnie the pooh" if you are looking for DVDs. Most eBay sellers know to provide search words like "vhs" and "dvd" in their listing titles, only a few sellers do not write accurate titles. If you are just interested in one particular "Winnie The Pooh" video, then enter the movie title "vhs winnie the pooh's great adventure" and the search will only return "vhs" titles which also include "great adventures". Please note that the quotation marks used here are for punctuation and should not be used in an eBay search.

eBay searches generally ignore punctuation marks. For example, e.t. will return et, and don't will return dont; however, e.t. will not call up e t (e space t - at this writing). While there was a time on eBay when a singular would not give results for a plural or possessive and vice versa, eBay has made a lot of changes over the years and this is one of the best, singular and plural searches will give the same results. For example poohs (plural) or pooh's (possessive) is the same as pooh (singular) and vice versa.

On the other hand, if you are not getting any results with your search you may have back off some and be more general with your search terms. Say you are looking for a certain "Winnie The Pooh" title but you are not finding it, for whatever reason, including seller's typing errors (and sellers do typo), you might just have to enter "vhs winnie" or "vhs pooh" and sift through all of the Pooh titles. You could search on "vhs disney" as Pooh is a Walt Disney product, but if you search on "vhs disney" you will get literally tons of Disney video results.

"All Categories" is a selection bar to the right of the search box that helps reduce the number of items that are returned in a search that have nothing to do with what you are looking for. If you are looking for a movie, you can select "DVDs & Movies" so that you eliminate electronics and all other categories.

On eBay you can alter your browsing and search results and the way they are displayed using several options that are available on a results page including: Advanced Search, Sort by, Matching Categories, and Search Options.

Advanced Search - To the right of the search box there is an "Advanced Search" option. While there will be some occasions when you would want to use Advanced Search, you probably will not use it very often (if at all). For such things as zeroing in on a price, especially on real estate searches or looking for those large/heavy items, where you only want to search listings that are close to where you live, you can do that quickly under "Search Options" (on the left side of the search results page) which will be discussed below. One of the best uses for "Advanced Search" is to eliminate words, for example if you were searching for cards - there are playing cards, trading cards, card tables and so on; if you want playing cards you could reject the words trading and tables in "Advanced Search". I want to share with you an easier way to eliminate words from a search, just put a minus sign before words you do not want to search on. For cards, eliminate trading and tables with the minus sign. Example search: "cards playing -trading -table". This is great if you are looking for used items, not new ones. Example "purse brown leather -new -nwt" (nwt is new-with-tags) will filter out all ad titles that used the words new or nwt.

The "Picture Gallery " option is truly great if you are searching for something that requires a visual look-see while you are skimming item titles. Many sellers include pictures of their merchandise in their listings (denoted by a little green camera icon), but a Gallery picture shows up on the search results page (gallery pictures are an extra charge to the seller). The "Gallery Picture" option can be found at the bottom of the "Advanced Search" page. If you click on "Gallery View" the results will switch to only those listings that have a gallery picture and the pictures will be shown slightly larger than they are on a normal search results page.

Sort by - Once you have the results for your product search, there are several ways to view the results. You can use the "Sort by" selection bar (at this writing, part way down on the right side of a search results page) to sort by highest price, lowest price, or ending soon, which are basically self-explanatory (auctions have time limits and "ending soon" is when the auction time is almost up). If you click on one of the "Sort by" options, the search results page will change to be organized by the highest or lowest price or by which items are ending the soon. Many people keep a close eye on auctions that are about to end hoping to find good bargains.

Matching Categories - In the far left column, under the search box area, are the categories that your searched for item is listed in. "Matching Categories", has the various categories listed and you can further request (by clicking on a category) that another search be done in just one category to reduce the search results that are returned. For example you are looking for a toy figure and your search was for "Star Wars", whoa, way too much input, eBay found listings in video, dvd, books, bedding, toys and on and on, just click on toys to limit your search and you can eliminate Star Wars videos, dvds, books, bedding and so one.

Search Options - There are a number of search options, but some of the most popular are "Completed listings", and filters for price and distance. If you are looking for a two hundred pound rock that can not be shipped affordable, you can reduce the search results to just your local area. Under "Search Options" you can use the filter - "Items within ___miles of___". Or to eliminate expensive items, you might use the "Items priced___to___" filter, also under "Search Options".

There is one filter under "Search Options" that is an often missed, but it is a very valuable search option, "Completed listings". Normally when you are searching for items on eBay you are searching through items that are "Active listings", items that are currently for sale. If you switch your search to "Completed listings" your search results will return recently sold items and listings that have expired (listings normally run for 3, 5, 7 or 10 days). By reviewing "Completed Listings" you will discover what items are selling and what price people are paying for these items. This feature is good for getting a feel for what an item is selling for on the open market

There was a time on eBay when you could not tell if an item had sold just by looking at the "Completed" results page, but this is another update that eBay has implemented that is very helpful, the price of a sold item now shows up in green (as of this writing). You can get more information about a completed listings by clicking through to the actual listing page. In the top portion it will say if the item sold, for how much, who won the bidding and how many bids there were. Note, the number of bids does not reflect the number of bidders, for that information you need to go deeper by clicking on the "Bids" icon; three people could have posted twelve bids as they wrestled each other for the winning bid. Additionally, if an item does not sell, there is information to be gained such as did the item get any bids, if so how high did the price go before bidders gave up (if it was blocked by a reserve price) and so on, and there is a small note on the auction listing page that will tell you if the seller has used that same ad to re-list the item.

As a buyer you will probably use the "Sort by" filter the most. As a seller you will probably use the "Completed listings" filter pretty often to see where to set your pricing.

Please remember when reading this article that eBay can and does change the layout of their web site and web pages; also, search choices and their exact location can change.
With this overview of searching and browsing eBay, you are ready to take the next step - you need to dip your toes into the water and test the temperature, you are ready to decide what and where to buy stuff on eBay.

Disclaimer: For obvious legal reasons I need to make a few things clear. The ideas in this article are simply my opinions. I can not guarantee that reading this article will save you money, make you money, or prevent you from loosing money. This article was written for adults (minors should not be entering into on line purchase agreements) and I expect adults to be responsible for their own actions and the actions of their children when it comes to Internet conduct. Before trying to follow my opinions you should check with your own authority, such as an attorney. While I did my best to do research before writing this article, errors are possible and eBay and other auction sites make changes to their web sites which could make some of my references obsolete or incorrect. As always, shop, read, and compare before you make your own decisions.
Part 3 - Evaluating
What And Where To Buy

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