A Sellers’ Guide to eBay Arbitrage

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Arbitrage. It’s not a word you hear every day, but it’s essentially just a fancy term for buying low in one area and making a profit by selling higher in another area, sort of like flipping houses. But as RepricerExpress will show you, there’s a bit of an art when it comes to eBay arbitrage, so let’s put on our selling hats and pick up a new skill.

How eBay Arbitrage Really Works

If you’re a cynic, you’ll look at eBay arbitrage as a sort-of ‘get rich quick’ scheme. And in a way, it kinda is. There’s definitely a lot less work involved than would be with something like creating and marketing your brand, but calling it a get-rich-quick-scheme is only scratching at the surface.

For starters, the most successful arbers are relative experts in the product area they’re dealing with. It’s a bit like finding world-class artwork at a yard sale. Unless you’re intimately familiar with what a Chagall or Degas painting looks like, you won’t be able to ascertain its resale value or even tell it apart from a talent mimicker. Plus, being highly informed about the category enables you to sell products on eBay with much more authority, leading to higher traffic, hits and conversions.

Best Practices of Arbitrage

Let’s take a look at that last point, being informed. It’s one of the biggest reasons why arbitrage exists on eBay, as potentially valuable items being sold cheaply are because the original seller just isn’t aware of their value. Let’s say you love Faberge eggs. You’ll likely know that there’s a strong niche market for them and as such, should be accorded their own marketing techniques so they can be found easily and by the right people.

For example, keywords. The vast majority of buyers use one keyword and rely on simplicity instead of advanced search techniques, so you’ll want to use that keyword in the title so it appears prominently in search results. And if you’re a buyer looking to become an arbitrageur, try expanding your keyword searches in the opposite way so you can hit upon products that have fallen through the cracks.

Another tip you’ll want to employ is purposefully misspelling your own searches to capitalise on sellers’ mistakes. There are basically two ways sellers misspell things, either by accident (i.e. English isn’t their native tongue) or deliberately, like running out of character space in the title.

When you’re looking for deals to snap up, try shifting around some of the letters or leaving one or two out (or even a whole word entirely) in your title keyword search. Your aim is to hit upon those items that don’t traditionally make it onto the search results page, so play around with your searches until you strike gold.

Lastly, ignore quality and deliberately seek out some of the worst listings you can find, particularly when it comes to images. Buyers want to see sharp, high-quality pictures accompanying product descriptions, but as an arbitrageur, you want otherwise excellent listings that get passed over because of bad images. There’s just a lot less competition that way, and you can jump on a listing that has hardly any traffic because its pictures suck (and you’re able to look past that).

Related: 2 Free Tools to Help Your eBay Product Research

Just Remember to Follow These Steps

As with anything in life you want to be good at, eBay arbitrage will take a bit of practice. So as a recap, remember to follow these steps so you can snap up hidden treasures and start making a cool profit.

  • Research: Become an expert in one or two categories, and don’t be too broad, either. For example, if cars are your passion, you’ll have better luck if you narrow your field of expertise to American muscle cars or Ford cars. That’ll help you become deeply familiar with the range of prices associated with the products and how to instantly recognise if something’s a deal or not.
  • Misspell: Develop a part of your brain that can mentally ignore that squiggly red line that indicates misspellings, and become creative in all the ways you can misspell an item (i.e. character switching, character omission, word omission, etc.).
  • Keywords: Once you’ve gotten the misspelling part down, start inputting in as many keywords as you can possibly think of to cover as much ground as you can. You’re looking for that metaphorical iceberg that’s under the water’s surface, not the tip that everyone else can see.
  • Images: Temporarily let go of your refined tastes and sensibilities, and learn to embrace horribly-taken pictures. After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and your arbitrage eye finds beauty in blurry, poorly-lit photos.
  • Descriptions: As a bit of a bonus tip, instead of just searching for titles and images, expand your search into more advanced territory by looking at descriptions. You can access this part by clicking on the ‘Advanced’ option on eBay’s home page, where you might just stumble across other treasures hidden behind a well-written, correctly-spelt title.

Related: 10 Hacks to Instantly Boost Your eBay Profits in 2024

Automated Pricing for eBay Sellers

Yee-haw, we’re excited about delving into the area of eBay arbitrage! It’s a territory not regularly covered by eCommerce sellers, but likes to venture off the beaten path and find sales where not many other merchants care to look. And oh! If you decide to become a full-time arbitrageur, you’ll need software to take care of the increased load of sales if you choose to flip your finds online, so get the ball rolling with your 14-day free trial right now.

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Related: Online Arbitrage vs Retail Arbitrage on Amazon


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