As supply chain challenges threaten to derail holiday gifting plans, many turn to online marketplaces to buy gifts for friends and family.
Surprisingly, about 80% of items for sale on eBay are brand-new, the company says, making it a no-brainer to buy something and have it shipped to your door – or the gift recipient’s doorstep, if preferred – for those concerned about timing around the holidays.
Those not interested in bidding for auctioned items can tap or click on a “Buy It Now” option for nearly 90% of products in the marketplace, eBay says.
You may not know about a growing interest to buy “certified refurbished” products – yes, even as a gift. Sales of certified refurbished products are up 25% since June, including small kitchen appliances, home entertainment and outdoor power equipment.
Largely insulated from supply chain disruptions, other popular categories include consumer electronics, video games and apparel (especially sneakers).
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“Certified” refurbished, by the way, means “like-new” condition by the manufacturer, plus a one- or two-year warranty and free shipping. There are other gradients of refurbished quality (“Excellent,” “Very good” and “Good”), all of which include a one-year warranty. eBay launched this program a year ago and has seen a 170% year-over-year surge in sales.
Online classified sites – such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist and Canada's Kijiji – have also been busier during the pandemic, for both new and previously owned items, but guarantees are a rarity on these platforms. There have been issues with potentially dangerous recalled products still available for sale by owners.
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Gifting a refurb item?
Purchasing a like-new item for oneself is one thing, but many may be reluctant to gift a refurbished present, no?
“With the emerging trend of the ‘circular economy,’ it is becoming more common, accepted, and rewarding to add reused items into the mix,” says Angie Cardona-Nelson of eWaste Direct, whose e-commerce division of her company, Angies GreenGo Surplus, sells refurbished tech items out of its San Francisco Bay Area facility.
“Plus, eBay is famous for ‘hard-to-find items,’ which can be the best gifts for unsuspecting recipients. Equally surprising would be receiving an item that perhaps would have otherwise been outside of their budget,” Cardona-Nelson says. “We also do our best to pack our items as if they are receiving a special gift, too.”
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Cardona-Nelson acknowledges global supply chain issues, including chip shortages, have helped her business: “We source material that is already in the market, so it is not caught up in the supply chain process.”
Established since 2004 and employing about a dozen workers, Angies GreenGo Surplus has 99.9% positive feedback.
Tips to scoring a good deal on marketplaces
A few suggestions for ensuring a smooth shopping experience on these platforms:
Review shipping timeframes. We’re getting close to “crunch time,” so start shopping now if you haven’t already, and make sure shipping times and costs are clearly posted along with the product. If not, don’t be shy and ask. Many sellers share estimated shipping times, but if you're in a last-minute holiday rush, triple-check that the item will ship and arrive quickly. No one wants to receive a Christmas gift in January.
Research your product. You may be excited to pick up a hard-to-find vinyl record or Air Jordan 1 sneakers, but don’t buy the first product you see. Compare prices, shipping charges and return or refund policies for the same item, from multiple sellers. Read the product description carefully and look at the photos. Look at other sites, too, and if you find it cheaper, tell the seller to match or beat the price (and send them a link as proof).
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Buy instead of bid – and counteroffer. Time is money, as they say, so if you don’t want to go through the process of bidding on an item, look for a “Buy It Now” icon, which means you pay the listed price instead of beginning the auction process. Don’t stop there: Though a Buy It Now listing is supposed to be a fixed price, it doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate a bit. Go ahead and suggest a lower price than the posted amount, and you’d be surprised how many sellers will take the offer.
Check the history. Did you know you can easily find out what others have paid for that product? This might give you an indication of what you can pick up the item for – regardless of what’s posted. Here’s how to do it: Search for a product, such as Apple iPad 8th Generation, and after you find a bunch of listings, scroll down the results page to the section on the left, where it says “Show only.” Choose “Completed Listings.” Prices in green show the sold price, while prices in black show items that didn’t sell.
Sell your stuff, too. Don’t forget these marketplaces are ideal for selling unwanted items in your home. You can use that cash to buy holiday presents or pay off your credit cards in January or February. For your posts, it’s recommended to use eye-catching words in the heading to grab a buyer’s attention. Give clear descriptive headlines. Inside the listing, provide a good description, including model number and condition. Take good photos of what you’re selling.
Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at https://marcsaltzman.com/podcasts. The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Holiday shopping: Why you shouldn't overlook online marketplaces