Sniping with BidRobotWhen it comes to buying fixed-price items on eBay, there’s really no magic formula other than knowing how to use eBay’s search. Using some searching tricks can help you ferret out the best of deals.
But what about auctions? There is very little more frustrating than losing an auction by a dollar or so. When I first started writing about eBay, I began to use the word “snipe” — loosely (and generally) defined as “to shoot at individuals as opportunity offers from a concealed or distant position.” So, to snipe at an auction (metaphorically speaking), you lie in wait and catch the competition off-guard.
Sniping is a favorite way to win an auction. It makes the entire auction experience even more entertaining. When I have the time, I enjoy battling it out in the last few moments of an auction, bidding fiercely, even if (often) unsuccessfully.
There are quite a few auction sniping services on the web. With BidRobot.com (shown in the following figure), you can quickly get responses to questions and queries.
When you find an auction that you're serious about, go to the BidRobot website, log in, and place your future snipe bids. All you have to do is type the item number and your high bid, and that’s it. You can shut off your computer knowing that BidRobot will do your bidding for you. Nobody on eBay will know what item you're desperate to have, because the magical BidRobot doesn’t place your bid until a few seconds before the auction closes. If you're the high bidder, no one will have the chance to bid against you! Bwah-ha-haaa!
It’s easy to use BidRobot to snipe single auctions. For single auctions, just type the item number and bid by using only the yellow top section under the BidForm title. You can ignore the entry forms in all other sections.
But what happens when you find that a bunch of sellers have auctions for the same item at low bid amounts? You’d like to take a chance on each item — and only win one. That’s where the BidGroups feature comes into play. It will allow you to bid on multiple eBay auctions for the same type of item. When you win any one auction that you’ve put into a BidGroup, BidRobot cancels the remaining bids in that specific group automatically.
BidRobot’s services are reasonably priced, based on the amount of time that you want to use the service. As of this writing, BidRobot has placed bids for hundreds of thousands of eBay users since 1998! You pay a flat rate for all the snipes you can handle. You don’t pay any extra charges for the service. For a free trial, visit BidRobot’s website at this special URL for my readers.
Find out what it’s worth at WorthpointHave you ever watched a show on the History Channel, American Pickers? If you have, you’ve no doubt marveled at the stars’ (pickers’) talents to recognize value in the most common items. I wish I had their breadth of knowledge because so many great items appear at estate sales, but I never know which is the best to purchase for resale.
Enter the online collectible database Worthpoint, the brainchild of William Seippel. After seeing his family members sell heirloom-quality antiques for a pittance, William decided to put his economics degree to work and develop a tool so that no one will (hopefully) be taken advantage of again.
Will has been an avid collector since 1974 and dealer of just about all things antique since 1984. In 2006, he began to build what most consider to be the world’s largest database of over 500 million items — and their sold prices online. This database, the Worthopedia, gives subscribers a chance to discover prices, descriptions, pictures, and sale dates from hundreds of auction houses. Genius, right?
Worthpoint also has a mobile app so you can check out items you might want to buy for resale directly from your smartphone at an estate sale or auction.
If you’re going to buy or sell collectibles, the cost of a subscription will pay for itself many times over. There’s so much value to this site that I could spend hours on it. You can go to the site for a 7-day trial (or seven price lookups).
Buying a warranty through SquareTradeThe people who founded SquareTrade were friends of mine back in the day. They founded the company in 1999, selling a trust seal that would appear in eBay listings after they had vetted the seller. They performed online negotiation and dispute resolution long before eBay integrated these services into the site.
Perhaps they had bigger ideas. In 2006, they began selling consumer protection plans on electronics and devices. I’ve been buying SquareTrade warranties ever since. You can purchase their extended warranties for far less than retailers’ warranties as well as warranties for eBay and online purchases.
They’ve covered my purchases for phones, computers, washers, dryers, and my refrigerator. The one time I actually needed service, they performed immediately and my washer was fixed within a few days.
In 2016, they were acquired by Allstate, who added other services to their site. They offer a Standard policy or a Standard Warranty that includes accidents.
The Standard SquareTrade Warranty protects eBay purchases from mechanical and electrical failures during normal use.
- One to four years of coverage, as indicated at the time that you purchase your warranty
- 100 percent parts and labor coverage
- Item repairs, or the full item price paid back to you if SquareTrade can’t fix it
- Covers new, refurbished, and used items — even if there’s no USA manufacturer’s warranty on your item
eBay fee calculator: SalecalcPrior to listing anything on eBay, I run the numbers through a fee calculator. Knowing your fees and expenses ahead of time is a best practice that leads to profitable sales. Air-balling your selling price may cost you money when the item sells.
eBay no longer has a calculator in the site. Knowing a pure picture of your bottom line in advance will help you price your items so that your profit is built in. (You can also estimate how low you can go with a Make Offer option on your listing.)
I’ve found a site that will do the calculations for you (not only for eBay sales but also for other online venues) with a few clicks of your mouse (or taps on an app). Simple to use, Salecalc allows you to run different pricing scenarios and will help you decide on the best format for your sale; see the following figure.
I like using this because I can work to figure out gross profits or just see the fee breakdowns. There’s a lot of options here, and I’ve found it to be very reliable.
Salecalc also has an iOS mobile app, available in the iTunes app store.
Kabbage: Working capitalDo you need cash to grow your online business? Since I’m a fan of bootstrapping a startup, I don’t recommend you go into debt until you have a positive cash flow and know what you’re doing with your online business.
So, after you’re up and rolling, you might come across a great deal on the latest hot-selling gizmos, but find yourself short of cash because they are sold only in lots of 50. All businesses need capital to grow. Kabbage provides working capital to online merchants through a short application process that can take under ten minutes (see the following figure).
Kabbage provides funding only to online sellers. Online sellers are generally misunderstood by banks and financial services because traditional underwriting and funding criteria do not account for a virtual-commerce (e-commerce) business model or the value of recently sold inventory. When you apply, they look at many factors (other than your credit score) to determine how much they can advance, including your seller rating, time in business, transaction volume, and other feedback measurements.