Newcomers find no shortage of choices on eBay. Logging on to the site for the first time is a bit like driving into a big city you've never visited. No matter how hard you look at it, you can't take it all in. There are too many sights, points of interest, events, details, and distractions. You have to savor it in small doses and keep venturing out a little bit at a time.
Fortunately, there is one guidepost you can keep coming back to, just as you might use the tallest building in a skyline as your reference point when walking around a downtown area for the first time. The double toolbars, found at the top of most pages, can get you back to a familiar starting point in a hurry.
The main toolbar offers five key options in click boxes:
The smaller links above the click boxes are as follows:
At the screen's far right, you will find the Search button and the Advanced Search link. These two tools are used heavily by almost anyone on who logs on to eBay.
Let's start with the main toolbar.
Clicking on the Buy link brings up a Search tool and a Browse Categories window. The Search tool can help you find a specific item. Many people are not focused shoppers, however. They like to go inside a store and just wander. Sometimes they don't buy anything, or maybe a small, inexpensive item catches their fancy. Other times, when the shopping mood really hits, they go on a spree, snapping up full bags of new items, sale items, and closeout items.
Another easy way to get to the Browse function on eBay is to click on the main screen's Search button without entering any text in the Start New Search area. This will bring up the All Categories page, which lists all auction categories and subcategories and displays the number of listings currently active in each.
The Browse function is perfect for buyers who are in a mood to buy but “are just looking.” However, many eBay sellers also like to use the Browse feature. They scroll through the hundreds of categories and subcategories to get new ideas for items they can sell. Sometimes they also discover that certain items they are holding in storage are suddenly getting hot again.
The Sell click box will be your entrance portal into the world of auctioning goods on eBay. But don't go there yet, except to satisfy your curiosity. A newcomer to online auctions should be a buyer first, at least for a couple of weeks. The goal is to learn the buying process and start building a good reputation in the eBay community through feedback. You will need positive feedback numbers and a positive feedback percentage to help attract buyers to your first online auctions. The processes for opening buyer and seller accounts are covered later in this book.
Once you are signed up as a member, the My eBay button takes you to your My Summary page. If you are a seller, you will first see Selling Reminders, which summarize:
How many items are awaiting payment.
How many of your listings will end today.
How many items are still awaiting your feedback for the buyers.
How many of your sold items are eligible for Second Chance Offers to runner-up bidders, if the high bidder backs out or disappears.
Farther down the page, you will see Buying Totals, which gives a quick overview of how many items you currently are bidding on and how many you have won and need to acknowledge.
Below that, the Items I've Won display shows the details of your winning bids and the status of payments, shipping, and feedback.
Scrolling down, the Selling Totals window is displayed next. This window gives a quick overview of how many items you are selling and how many have sold, plus the total amount of the winning bids.
Below that, the Items I'm Selling window lists your auction items and shows which ones have bids and which ones do not. Bid prices and the time left in each auction also are displayed, along with # of Watchers. This important count tells you how many potential bidders are watching the progress of your auction. If one of your items has several watchers, you may get a good run of bidders in the final hours and minutes of your listing.
Finally, the Items I've Sold window displays information about each item you have sold, including the winning bid price and the total paid with shipping.
The Community link on eBay's main toolbar opens a Community screen. This screen can take you to:
Discussion boards open to “any eBay-related topic”
Online groups for eBay members who share common interests
An Answer Center, where members can help answer each other's questions
Chat rooms, where eBay members can talk with other members “in a casual setting”
The Community page also has links to eBay news announcements, calendar events, the official Community newsletter, “The Chatter,” and other outlets, centers, and groups.
Whether you are new to eBay or a longtime member, you will use the Help button many times. It will take you to answers for most of your questions. The quality and completeness of the Help screens are one of the key strengths and features of eBay.
The Help screen displays the top five questions about eBay. It also provides the following links as starting points for more focused assistance:
New to eBay
Finding What You Are Looking For
Paying for an Item
Using My eBay
Account Information & Billing
Rules and Policies
Online Security and Protection
The links found above the main toolbar can also help you go places in a hurry on eBay.
Click on this link when you are ready to leave the My eBay area or a search area and go back to eBay's main screen.
This link will take you straight to the Items I've Won page, so you can make payment using PayPal or other means.
This link brings up the Services page, which has links to bidding and buying services, selling services, and general services such as software downloads and creating an About Me page for your eBay account.
If you click on this link, it will bring up a text-based display full of links to eBay pages in the following categories: