Your New Secret to Majorly Discounted Shopping
Tips to get everything for a fraction of retail price… and the nasty secret behind sites like Gilt.
If you want deep discounts on clothing, the best way to get them is to shop on eBay. This is how I get all my clothing at 90% off. Don’t just buy the first thing you see. Here’s my 6-step process, and how to get the best prices (I go into more detail below):
- Figure out what brands you like and what size you are.
- Search for it and narrow down the results until the descriptions for the items showing up are basically what you want. Select a price range (keep it low) on the left, and specify your size.
- Click “save search”, so it’ll email you daily with the new listings. In your email, filter them into a folder and check that folder every few days.
- When something good comes up at a low price, copy the Item ID.
- Paste the Item ID into www.myibidder.com (it’s free), and it’ll bid for you in the last few seconds, so you don’t have to wait around for the auction to end. Say the item is at $50 and you’d pay a max of $120 for it, well MyiBidder will bid $51, and if someone else has a max of $80, then the price will go up to $80, then MyiBidder will bid $81, and you’ll win it for that.
- Pay via PayPal using your AMEX (which has great buyer protection), and wait for your item to be delivered. Fun!
Here’s everything you need to know, in more detail:
Know the value of the merchandise
It is important to know if an item on eBay is listed at less than its regular price. You will be upset if you pay more for an item online than it sells for at a department store. Peruse catalogues and visit shops to know the retail price of an item. When shopping online, read the item description closely to find the material, as well as whether it is new or used. Both help determine its value.
Look for keywords
When buying designer items, look for the word “authentic” in the item title or description. Beware of descriptions that say “designer-like” or “designer-style”. Most likely these items are knock-offs. Also, locate misspelled listings – they are likely to have fewer bidders.
Set saved searches
I search for items I like, in my size, and narrow the search down until I think it’ll capture when someone lists the items I want. Then I save the search. eBay will then send me a daily digest of the new listing that fit that search. I filter these into a box in my email (so they don’t clutter up my InBox), and look through them every so often. I usually find what I’m looking for after a week or two.
Know your measurements
Most power-sellers include size charts with their garments or will have exact measurements in the item’s description. I personally prefer to stick to brands I know fit me well. Keep in mind that a used item may have stretched or shrunk from its original size.
Always look at the seller’s feedback. This feature rates sellers on service. They don’t need to have 100 per cent positive feedback. For example, a seller who has sold more than 500 items and has 98 per cent positive feedback is more credible than a seller who has sold three items with 100 per cent positive feedback. Their rating should be at least 95 per cent and the more items they’ve sold the better.
Check delivery charges and payment methods
An item usually lists delivery charges. Keep this in mind when bidding. If a listing does not specify the delivery charges ask the seller BEFORE bidding. All auctions require the buyer to pay for shipping and handling unless stated otherwise. As for payment methods, PayPal is the most common. Again, check which payment methods are accepted before bidding.
Check the location
If possible, bid only on items that are from the country where you reside to avoid being slapped with a customs surcharge. Be cautious of sellers from Asia as they produce a lot of replica (fake) items.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
eBay shopping is straightforward to find exactly what you want because a photograph and description accompanies almost every item. However, if you are not provided with enough information, feel free to ask questions about an item. Ask questions BEFORE bidding though. This is proper eBay etiquette and will save you and the seller from frustration.
Use a sniper
Bidding too early can raise the price of an item. It also decreases your chances of winning the auction. I learned this the hard way a year ago when I bid on a fabulous Roberto Cavalli dress three days before the auction ended. I was outbid in the last half-hour of the auction. I wanted the dress so badly that I entered a higher maximum bid. I was outbid again in the last five minutes of the auction. I bid again. I won the auction but spent much more on the dress than I intended. You can avoid all this by using an eBay auction sniper. It’ll bid for you (automatically) in the last five seconds. That way you’ll keep the bids low and you won’t have to be by your computer when the auction ends.
Look at the seller’s other items and eBay Stores
Many eBay power-sellers have an eBay store where you can find great items at low buy-it-now prices. Look at the seller’s other items or their eBay store if you need an item in another size or color. Also, if you have interest in buying more than one item from the same seller, ask for combined shipping to save money. Periodic visits to eBay stores help me find exactly what I want. You can buy styles that are impossible to find anywhere else. This is ideal for anyone who lives in an area with limited access to stores and outlets. I always do an eBay stores search in addition to a regular search because sometimes different items pop-up. Some of my favorite eBay stores include bm-co, prada-m and designer-exchange.
Pay using AMEX
American Express also has fantastic chargeback policies that favor the buyer (you). If PayPal fails to do a chargeback on an item that the seller won’t refund you for, AMEX is a guaranteed backup.
Remember that eBay shopping is safe. Both eBay and PayPal have fraud protection programs that are effective. I recommend that you do NOT make any purchases outside of eBay as you will not be protected, regardless of how attractive an offer from a seller may seem. Remember that eBay works on an effective feedback system and that the majority of fraudulent transactions are reported to the eBay community.
Once you get into it, you’ll find that the reward is well worth the effort. At first, I was hesitant to shop online. But now that my entire wardrobe consists of designer shoes and brand name clothing, I am hooked. Shopping for clothes on eBay costs a fraction of original prices without having to waste time rummaging through sales racks at department stores. Your eBay shopping experience will be uncomplicated and valuable, and you’ll have the best wardrobe imaginable.
I got an email from GILT’s PR / media relations, who wanted us to change this article. This was the rationalization:
“We take this very seriously at Gilt.com, and have many processes in place to verify retail. [The “retail/original” price listed on GILT’s sales] of all products on our site reflects […] the price reported by the manufacturer [and] may not always represent the prevailing price for retailers or department stores on every day or in every community. For international sales, the Full Retail Price is based on what such items would be sold at in the US market or in the worldwide online market, plus taxes, shipping and additional international surcharges, if applicable.”
So it sounds like they basically figure out how they can make it sound the highest, between what the manufacturer says, the highest price it’s selling for anywhere, and what other charges they can add to the “retail” price like tax, duty, and shipping that some customers may have had to pay depending on where they would have bought it (but the sale price doesn’t include that, of course). Hmmm….
I personally think that strategy is very misleading at best, and I replied and said that the only price that people care about is the item’s current price at other stores — not the absolute maximum price it has historically sold for anywhere, including duty and tax, etc!
What experiences with online shopping have you had?
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