Have you heard of the great deals that can be had from finding misspelled listings?
The Ebay search function is great for finding and narrowing down items you are looking for, sorting and organizing them by time left, payment, shipping options, etc, but when sellers misspell the title of their listing, that listing won't show up.
What does this mean?
It means that if the item doesn't show up in a normal Ebay search, it is unlikely that the item will be viewed, bid upon, or sold. Items that are misspelled consistently sell for less. This means that you can find bargains for yourself, or (a lesser known secret in Ebay culture) find some items cheap enough to sell them for a profit. For example, if a cellphone that normally sells for $60 ends up selling to you for only $15 because it was listed as a"clelphone", you could take that cellphone, relist it for sale on Ebay (under the correct spelling, of course) and turn a decent profit This is generally referred to as "arbitrage" and there are lots of people out there making a living off it.
To find misspellings, you have a few options. One is to plug in random possible misspelled variations of the item you are searching for into the Ebay search field. While sometimes successful, this practice can be tedious and (if consistently lacking in results) sometimes depressing.
Another option, and one I highly recommend, is to find a good misspelling search tool, like the one at SpellingSearch.com. By utilizing a free Ebay misspelling search tool, you simply plug in the term you are looking for, the tool generates the misspellings for you, searches Ebay, and brings the results back to you, all on one page.
Never pay to use one of these tools, as there are so many that are already available for free. They already make their money off of affiliate commissions when you buy an item on Ebay that you found through their website, so charging money to use them is just plain greedy in my opinion. I have even seen some "for sale" on the internet, but you get what you pay for - a cookie cutter misspelling search engine that brings back the same results as every other cookie cutter misspelling search engine. If everyone that's using these cookiecutter sites is getting the same misspellings, what's the advantage?
Another form of arbitrage deals with items being listed in the wrong category, or in a very high-level non-descript category. Sometimes, there are certain items that could be listed under several categories, and the seller picks one that isn't the most prominent. At other times, sellers don't find a specific enough category to list their item in. For example, an Ebay novice who runs across some rare comic books in his basement may list them under the "books" category but not bother to list them in the subcategory "comic books", which means that people searching only in the comic books category will miss it. And they're the people who would be more likely to buy it, and perhaps pay more. Find one of these listings and turn a profit (or save yourself some cash).
One other form of arbitrage is to buy items from one local market and resell to another market where that item is more desirable. My father once asked a guy how he could be asking $3 for energy bars online that we could pick up for $1 at our local grocery store. His response was simple - not everyone can get these at their local grocery store, and so, some people are willing to pay a premium. People have been doing this for ages with "import" shops, and Ebay is no exception. Others pick up local goods from shops without an online or mail-order presence, and turn a profit by offering them to buyers who are only willing to purchase that product online. Just be sure to watch the shipping and conversion rates if you plan on getting into international importing and resale.
It may seem cruel to take advantage of people's listing mistakes, but America is all about capitalism and arbitrage is the name of the game.
Good luck and happy bidding!
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July 5, 2010
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