How to Win an eBay Auction: Tips for Last Minute Bidding
There are two theories to successful bidding on Ebay:
1. Enter your maximum bid at any time during the auction and allow proxy bidding to manage your bids. If you are willing to spend more than some other bidder is willing to spend, then you'll win that Ebay auction.
2. Snipe it! Auction Sniping is the term used for to describe swooping in at the last possible moment and making your first and only bid just as the auction is ending.
Both of these bid methods will work if you are the maximum bidder, but only one of them will get you the item at the best possible price and that, my friends, is sniping. So let me explain why.
Bid Early, Pay More
If you decide to use proxy bidding to manage your Ebay bids, you will generally wind up paying more for the item if there is anyone else interested in winning that item.
The reason why is most people bid incremently, gradually increasing their bids as they sit there and figure out just how badly they want the item. Sometimes someone will put in an incremental bid slightly higher than your current visible bid just to test how badly you want an item.
For example, if I come along during an auction and see that someone already has a bid on something I want, I will normally bid a dollar more than what they have showing just to see if that person is using proxy bidding.
Early bidding always encourages nibblers, people who don't generally care one way or the other if they want that item, but if they can get it at a good price they'll take it, so they'll bid just to see how serious you are. If they see that you are, then they may wander off and never come back to that auction at all, they've just driven up your bid and therefore the final cost of your item. Sometimes someone will place a bid just to have one in there because they liked the item when they saw it, but they won't follow up on it. They've just driven up your bid.
Using proxy bidding basically tips your hand early by indicating interest in an item. By indicating your interest, you indicate to other browsers that an item has value. Just due to our psychology,your interest in an item can spark interest in another bidder who might have otherwise remained neutral over the particular item's desirability and therefore passed it by.
Snipe and Win for the Best Price
A Snipe is bidding the takes place in the last minute or so of an auction. The intention is to leave no time for a reactionary bid from another bidder. A true snipe bid will usually be handled by automated software during the last 20 seconds or so of an auction, but generally Ebay sellers refer to "sniping" as any bid that takes place within the final minute of the auction and they can easily be achieve manually. That is the only way I do them.
Ebay sellers hate sniping and some like to go so far as to call it unethical, a patently ridiculous notion since Ebay's system is designed to allow sniping. It is a savvy bidding process for bargain buyers. Ebay sellers hate it because it works and it favors the buyer over the seller. Ebay sellers hate it because it also protects buyers from unscrupulous sellers who use shill bidding to drive up the price on a proxy bid. It is also no disadvantage to a serious early proxy bidder who has entered his maximum bid. If his maximum beats mine, even if I swoop in at the last minute, he will still win the auction.
A sniper's goal is to win the auction at the lowest possible price. A seller's goal is to sell the item at the highest possible price. Naturally these two goals are mutually exclusive, but this does not make my goal, to pay less, unfair or unethical.
How to Snipe on Ebay
1. Never place an early proxy bid. If you cannot be around for the auction's close and you don't want to use 3rd-party services to snipe for you (I never use them), then at least wait until the final day of the auction before placing your proxy bid. Leave it as late as possible.
2. Put the item into your watchlist and make sure you actually watch it. If If I really want something on Ebay, I don't just rely on email notices to remind me that there's an auction I need to keep an eye on. I'll actually set an alarm on my cellphone to remind me to get my butt back to Ebay.
3. Decide your Maximum Bid I've nibbled away at some auctions during the last minute because I was still dithering over what I was really willing to pay and ended up losing the auction to another sniper. If you're going to snip, it's usually a good idea to just bid the maximum price you are really willing to pay for it. This will ensure that you will WIN THE BID as long as no one else is willing to pay more. I could kick myself for losing auctions that I really would have easily paid another $10 for simply because I was pussy-footing around with the bid amounts.
4. Be Logged into Ebay I missed a bid once because I wasn't logged in like I thought and had to enter my password before moving to the bid screen. Make sure you are logged into your Ebay account. Have the auction open on your browser.
5. Bid During the Last Minute I normally will enter a snipe bid at the 50 second mark before the auction ends. This gives my fingers enough time to fumble around on the keyboard. I'm a touch typist, but sometimes those number keys are trickly. At about two minutes before the auction ends, start refreshing the page. The moment you see "50 seconds" place your bid. If you place your maximum bid once, it should be unnecessary to place another one. Even if another sniper comes in with an automated bid, you'll take it if your bid is higher. I have also successfully placed bids during the last 30-20 seconds in the auction, but that makes me sweat. If there are already bids on an auction, then I may place a small incremental bid earlier than the one minute mark to see if the current high bidder has a proxy in place. If they don't, I always bid again with my real bid anyway.