Typo Hack Making Savvy eBayers Hefty Profits
Traders on Wall St. aim to buy low and sell high. Likewise traveling merchants of a bygone era bought goods in a geographical location where prices were lowest and sold where they could get the most.
While the methods change, the concept remains the same.
Shrewd people capitalize on price fluctuations to make a mint on sites like eBay.
While everyone loves a good deal, it is the enterprising minority that considers buying items at a deep discount then unloading at retail price, or higher, when demand has outstripped supply.
The first roadblock is that although ecommerce heavyweights like Amazon offer great deals throughout the year, the discounts often aren’t low enough to be worthy of a flip. You’d have to buy a large quantity of items with the hope of selling for more in the future, which is risky.
Luckily eBay has a loophole that allows clever bidders to gain an unfair advantage.
eBay’s Hidden Marketplace
Misspelling a brand name is a surefire way to sink a careless seller’s auction. First, the majority of eBayers use search rather than browsing by category, and second, they’re almost always searching for specific brands and models, not generic terms.
So when a seller has a typo in their listing, far less people pull it up with search.
Since users only bid on items that catch their eye, you can guess what happens to the auctions that don’t even have a chance to. These listings are nearly off the radar, with far fewer views, and thus far less bids than warranted.
How Typo-hunting Is Done
Now you may ask, how do savvy buyers find these hidden auctions with typos?
They’re using online apps that streamline the process while taking out the guesswork.
TypoHound is a popular tool used to uncover auctions with spelling blunders on eBay. Simply type in a term and it will automatically generate common misspellings then link to an eBay page with a list of results that match these terms.
Even with the use of a typo search tool, finding the best deals is a process that takes patience and tenacity.
Having a solid strategy is also important. Some brand names are frequently misspelled while with others it’s very rare that you’ll come across a mistake.
Reselling The Steals
Many are happy with a great deal and stop here. In other situations people go on to the next step, which involves correcting the typo, then crafting a polished promotional effort, which instills greater confidence in buyers and thus garners higher bids.
A remarkable example of this flipping technique gained attention from the media when a museum quality bottle of Allsopp’s Arctic Ale, bottled in 1852, was bought and resold for an amazing profit due to a typo. The seller left off the second ‘p’ in Allsopp’s, which made it near impossible for potential buyers to find the auction. When the item was relisted on eBay again with the typo corrected and a far better pitch, the winning bid was $503,300.00.
Granted opportunities like this are not only once-in-a-lifetime but also only apparent to people with a deep knowledge of a niche of goods. Searching feverishly with a typo-hunting tool like TypoHound or FatFingers will only get you so far. As Louis Pasteur noted, chance favors the prepared mind.
Bringing It All Together
If you’re an individual with a passion for any type of rare collectable or niche items, you’re already halfway there. If an average Joe or Jane can’t recognize an amazing deal in the area you specialize in, that also eliminates a slew of competitors.
While deals of the century are needles in a haystack on eBay, with more in common to the lotto than bargain shopping, more typical typo auctions are very attainable and will save you enough to be worth the time investment.
At any given moment there are one billion active listings on eBay. This huge opportunity for buyers is tempered by the fact there are so many new items and inexpensive goods from Asia. Exceptional deals aren’t a reality in these categories, as it’s the garage sale treasures that can carry value more than eBay built-in market rate adjusts for.
With the right tools and knowledge this is a great sideline for the budding deal explorer. It’s also great for bragging rights or to fire up conversation; if someone complements what you’re wearing or a cool vintage item on display at your home you’ll be able to tell them you used a clever eBay hack to snag it cheap.