Monthly Archives: January 2011

Wisdom of the Boards

Many Trade Me users have not yet discovered the Trade Me Message Boards, a hotbed of discussion, argument, rhetoric and often extremely funny comments about a desperately diverse range of topics.

We encourage you to check out the Boards for yourself (especially the topics that interest you). As a taster, here are some useful snippets of information from a long ago and far away (March 2007) discussion thread that sought to explain some of the real meanings behind the descriptions and abbreviations that appear from time to time on Trade Me (contributions credited by user name):
    In My Not-So-Humble Opinion. (wootha)
  • CRS
    Can’t Remember Stuff. . . applies to those of advancing years with short term memory loss when wrapping 50 packages on Saturday morning. (oberkat)
  • BuyNow
    DecideNow and PayWhenever. (wootha)
  • Postage
    second only to religion as a cause of wars. (wootha)
  • Pass the Parcel
    a game sometmes played by NZ Post.The winner keeps it! (raker)
  • Fastpost
    quaint historical custom whereby goods were delivered in the same week they were posted. (wootha)
  • Keyword spamming
    using lots of words not related to what you have listed in an auction. Very useful in really annoying many on TM. Dirty dog, Hermes, Paris Hilton,Gucci, and so on. (raker)
  • S=R
    an alphabet in trouble. (giraffeinfall)
  • S=R=BN
    alphabet in serious trouble. (wootha)
  • Dropshipping
    your purchase is dropped off a container ship in the middle of the ocean and arrives by tidal action. Can also mean parcel comes via Nigeria, China, Middle East, Africa and ….( not necessarily in that order). (raker)
  • pick up only
    ask for it to be posted (giraffeinfall)
  • TYPO
    whne our fingres are tooo fast or fat and we clikc post message before we raed whta we typed… (jalmac_traders)
  • BNWT
    Brand New With Tags (just as soon as I find them & can manage to poke them back though that tiny hole in the garment tag after I’ve washed it cos I wore it out to this rave the other night & some plonker threw up all over it but …..).(mazalinas)
  • One day after winning the auction
    is NOT a long time to wait to hear from the seller/buyer. (bookette1)
  • “happy to combine postage”
    Instead of two lots of $3.50, It’s now only $7.95 for both to be sent together… (andyandlois)
  • Watchlist
    where you keep a list of All the watches you want to buy. Not to be confused with Watchers. They can be imaginary people who never bid on your auctions. (raker)
  • Other stuff you may like
    Other things you can’t afford… (andyandlois)
  • Refund
    When you were supplied with the correct sized clothes you asked for, don’t fit because you are in denial about your real size . (mmm12)
  • Shy Buyer
    “When I’ve paid I will forward you my details” (wisconsin)
  • Broke Buyer
    “Thanks you letting me buy your auction, sorry I can’t pay for two weeks, hope that’s OK” (wisconsin)
  • Affluent Buyer
    Pays but never answers your emails about where to send the goods. (wisconsin)
  • Small Buyer
    “hi, I did a buy now on your auction for 3 *** but I only want one. Can you sell me just one” (wisconsin)
  • Large Buyer
    “Hi, I just won an auction for 24 beads but I actually want 28, can I get 28 for the same price” (wisconsin)
  • Silly Sod Buyer
    “ah I accidently bid on your auction. Can you please remove my bid?” (raker)
  • *Whoosh*
    when someone doesn’t get your underlying message. (bopeep80)

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Seven Smart Trading Tips for 2011

Ready to do things differently on Trade Me this year? These seven tips will help you buy better and sell smarter in 2011.


1. Don’t settle for the first item you find.
When you have your heart set on buying something, it’s tempting to grab the first product that meets all your needs. If it’s a rare collectable (perhaps a handwritten note from James Cook to the British Admiralty with details of a fabulous long-lost treasure stashed somewhere in Gisborne), then by all means grab, grab, grab. Otherwise, do a little homework first, before you place any bids.

For example, let’s  hypothesize that you are looking for a set of petanque boules, to while away those long summer nights (we picked petanque because it was one of the first items we stumbled upon when we began browsing on Trade Me today).

Perhaps you, like us, found this listing:

The product looks good, the price (at $23.99) seems perfectly reasonable for a new set and the seller has a 99.8% rating. All systems should be Go, right?

Well, that would be true if you were browsing in a shopping mall — but this is Trade Me. The rules are different.

How so?

Well, for a start, unlike in a retail environment (where stores need to sell products to make a living), many Trade Me sellers aren’t in it for the money. Sure, most of us would like to make a few extra pennies selling our surplus wares on Trade Me — but that may not be why we’ve listed our goods on the site. Sometimes, we just want to be rid of the stuff cluttering up our attics and garages and shelves (or perhaps our significant other has hinted at GBH “if I have to look at that moosehead one more time”). So items that might be worth a lot more get listed for a low price just to get rid of them.

Secondly (and sorry, there’s no tactful way to put this), not every seller knows what he or she is doing — in other words, they haven’t read TRADE ME SUCCESS SECRETS. As a result, you never know when you’ll find valuable artifacts listed with a low starting price (and no competing bidders). That’s especially true if sellers have done a poor job of describing the product in their listing — or the photos look like they’ve been taken underwater.

Our first smart buying tip for 2011, then: look around before you bid.

And the easiest way to do that? For that advice, turn to Tip #2 (about which more in a moment).

But first, sticking with our petanque example: if you looked around on Trade Me, you would have found quite a few listings for petanque.

Are any a better deal than our original find? To work that out, sort your results by price:

Lo and behold, a couple of potential petanque bargains emerge immediately:

[Even though the second seller shown above has listed a $50 Buy Now price, he/she has still started the auction at $1 with no reserve (the yellow flag indicates that any bid of $1 or more could take home the prize) -- so you could well end up with a very low-cost petanque set.]

Add both prospects to your watchlist and keep your bidding powder dry until just before the end of each auction (see Tip #4 below for more details).

2. Use the Search facility properly.
At the top of the page on Trade Me, you’ll find the Search box. If you’re a Trade Me regular, you no doubt use the Search box all the time — but you’re probably not taking full advantage of all the capabilities available to you.

Trade Me Power Searchers know that:

  • Adding quotation marks around a phrase tells the Trade Me search engine to ONLY look for that phrase, helping you narrow down your search. For example, searching for computer desk returns 2073 listings which feature computer and desk (not necessarily together), including 138 irrelevant listings for computer peripherals and 116 similarly superfluous results for laptops; while asking for “computer desk” narrows down the search to 604, all of which include the words “computer desk” (with just 10 laptop listings now featured).
  • Add an asterisk (*) to the end of a word to search for possible variations on a word, e.g. cup* matches cup, cups and cupboard
  • Use an uppercase OR between two search terms to find either one of the terms, e.g. Canon OR Nikon will give you results for either one of those brands.
  • Use an uppercase NOT between two search terms to find the first term but ignore the second term, e.g. iPod NOT shuffle will give you results for iPods but exclude references to shuffle.
  • By default, Trade Me will find variations of search terms, e.g. fish will give you results for fish and fishing. Use a plus sign (+) immediately before a search term to find only that exact term, e.g. +fish will only give results that include the word fish.

There are more than a million listings on Trade Me every week. Using smarter search strategies to find the items you really want should make life a lot easier and avoid your having to sift through the 999,999 items that really aren’t you.

3. What’s it worth?

Despite the fiscal optimism of many sellers, if a product is priced too expensively on Trade Me it mostly won’t sell. So how do we judge what products are really worth, before we decide whether or not to bid on them?

We use the Trade Me Time Machine and take a look back to see what similar products sold for on the site.

Okay, Trade Me don’t really call it a Time Machine — but it serves that purpose. The path to the time machine is via the little link on the right of the search button labelled “More options”.

Click on that link and you’ll be taken to an Advanced Search options page that enables you to search what Trade Me calls “Expired Listings” — auctions that have closed.

If we search closed auctions for petanque, we find (amongst other results), auctions that closed recently with petanque sets going for $1.50 — so we know we just have to be patient to score a good deal.

4. Hold your breath — and your bid

This is the most important buying tip of all: don’t bid until the last few minutes of any auction. Otherwise you’ll just end up attracting other bidders.

For more information, may we respectfully point you in the direction of Chapter Six of Trade Me Success Secrets. It deals with the topic in far more detail than we can address effectively here.


Finally in our roundup, three selling tips to guide you through 2011. NB: Follow the links to some of our most popular past columns — it may be a New Year, but much of this advice is timeless.

5. The Six Little Words

These six little words, added to your listing, can double the number of prospective bidders for your auction: “add this item to your watchlist”.

6. What should you sell on Trade Me?

So you’ve decided to get serious about Trade Me and make some real money on the site. But what should you sell – and where can you find goodies at the right price to make a good profit anyway?

Start here.

7. When bad things happen to good auctions

Sometimes, Trade Me auctions sell out in a flash. Other times, not so much.

You polish up your headlines, take some great photos and write sizzling words that (you figure) will have people bidding like crazy. You kick-start your auction with great hope and check back in a day or so later.

What? After all your good work, how could this happen? No bids! See here for what to do next.

The Seven Tips

Okay, that’s our lot this time round. If you’d like even more advice, check out the column on the right of this page to:
  1. Sign up for our free newsletter;
  2. Get your own copy of TRADE ME SUCCESS SECRETS; or
  3. Find out about our Advanced Selling on Trade Me online ecourse, starting soon.

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