Today we have a slightly different, and I hope very interesting post, all about eBay Snipers!
For those of you who have never come across the term before, what exactly are “snipers”? No, it’s nothing to do with war or police – snipers are tools that allow you to bid on eBay auctions, at the very last possible moment.
And that’s actually where the term “sniping” comes from, when you steal an item with a last second bid.
The process is extremely simple, once you’ve registered an account with one of the many eBay snipers online all you have to do is enter the item number of the auction you’re interested in, set your maximum bid and the sniper will take care of the rest! It really couldn’t be easier.
“But why!?” I hear you asking… Isn’t is easier to just set your bid and leave it – after all that is the whole point of how auctions work on eBay.
Yes technically that is true but in practice there are some clear disadvantages to bidding for items in the conventional way:
- If an auction has no bids you don’t want to be the first! Herd/sheep mentality is strong on eBay so an auction with no bids makes people think something is wrong. It’s best to leave it like that and swoop in at the last second when there’s no competition for the item.
- Many people DO NOT set a maximum bid as you’d expect! Instead they bid a certain amount and see if they’re beaten, and then they might bid more. This sniping method doesn’t give them the chance to do so, meaning you win more auctions and at cheaper prices.
- Bidding wars! Bidding wars are great when you’re selling an item, but not when you’re buying! Once again the sniping method removes this worry as there simply isn’t time for other bidders to react.
- Human error! How many times have you added an item to your watch list with the intention of bidding on it but then completely missed the end of the auction? And how annoying is it when you later check and see that the item went for peanuts, and you’ve now lost out on some easy profit…? Or how many times have you set a max price and then bid more than that so you can win the item (the bidding war syndrome that I just mentioned). Sniping removes all of these human errors by automating the bidding process and that by itself would probably make it worthwhile for most people.
- Shill biding! This is a much more specific benefit, and not something that I consider to be widespread on eBay, but snipers do also stop shill biding. This is when the seller (through another/a friend’s account) bids on an item until they’re the high bid, therefore knowing what your max is, then retract those bids and then use yet another account to bid on the item again so that it reaches your maximum bid amount. With snipers they can’t do this of course, as your bid isn’t placed until seconds before the end of the auction.
So now that we’ve covered what eBay snipers are and the main benefits of using one, who exactly are they for? Well the main groups that come to mind are:
- Anyone using my How to Become a Top-rated Seller in 30 Days method
- Anyone using my Used Goods Concept to get started on eBay
For either of the above, then eBay snipers are an invaluable tool! Of course this isn’t an all-inclusive list and anyone who buys items from eBay would benefit from using a sniper, for all the reasons that we’ve just discussed.
But which sniper!? After all a quick search on Google for “eBay sniper UK” yields over 500,000 results so which of the many available options should you use? Well that’s what we’re going to find out today!
I have researched countless options and narrowed it down to three well-known and highly regarded sniping tools, and it’s time to put them to the test!
First up we have Auction Sniper
Now let me quickly point out that I’m not going to go through all the features and differences between each sniper. This is because they are all very similar and you can find all of that information easily on their websites anyway. What we’re interested in today is an actual real-life test, not copying and pasting their sales patter.
The only thing I will mention is pricing, as that’s obviously a very important factor.
For Auction Sniper, their charges are simple:
As you can see their fee is calculated in US Dollars, and not Pounds. On their site they note that all “foreign currency auctions will be converted to American dollars at the daily exchange rate before the 1% fee is determined.”
For simplicity’s sake, I suggest you just use 1GBP = 1.5USD.
You may be slightly surprised that this service costs anything at all? A lot of people I speak to expect snipers to be free, as it is a fairly simple tool at the end of the day.
But don’t fear as the other two sniper tools that we’re testing are both 100% free, and that’s exactly why I wanted to include Auction Sniper as well – it’ll be interesting to see if it’s any better than the free alternatives!
The second sniper service that we’re testing is Gixen
One quick point that I’d like to mention in regards to the free vs paid options: I had a problem when creating an account with Auction Sniper and it said my username was incorrect:
Knowing that it wasn’t, I clicked the Contact Support option to get it sorted out, but was greeted by this page:
I then tried to create an account on Gixen and got an error there as well (turns out it was because I had recently changed my eBay password) but in this case I was given the correct error message which actually solved my problem:
We’ll have to see how the sniping goes, but so far it’s not looking great for the paid Auction Sniper!
Last but not least in our showdown we have Goofbid. Goofbid isn’t only a sniper tool, but actually has a lot of Buyer Tools and Search Tools that are supposed to help you uncover bargains on eBay.
Of course the focus of today’s post is all about the free sniper they offer, but if there is enough interest I might re-visit Goofbid in the future for a full review of all its features and tools.
Let’s get to the results!
First up is Auction Sniper, and after creating an account their site is very easy to use and quite well designed. The sniping process itself is extremely easy – you just enter the item number (copy and paste it from the eBay listing), your max bid, and the lead time (how long before the auction ends that you want your bid to be placed), which I left at 3 seconds:
The first snipe that I set up, for an A Walk Among the Tombstones Blu-ray, lost but everything seemed to have worked fine. My maximum bid did register, without me having to do anything, but someone else happened to bid more:
This is probably a good time to point out that the items I’m bidding on are for the most part completely random. I am NOT looking for bargains or things that can be resold for a profit so please bear that in mind – this is just a test of the snipers.
To continue the test of Auction Sniper, I set up a second snipe, this time for a Man of Steel Blu-ray that had a starting price of £2.80 and no bids.
This time I won the item, being the only bidder!
Comparing the bid times to the auction end times, I can see that my first bid was placed exactly 4 seconds before the end of the auction, so not quite the claimed 3 seconds but close enough! However the winning bid was placed 7 seconds before the end of the auction, which is more than two times longer than it should have been…
You may think I am nitpicking needlessly here but at the end of the day these tools are all about their accuracy and 7 seconds is probably enough time for another bidder to manually react, defeating the whole purpose of using a sniper!
Considering the fact that it did at least place the bids and the first one was only a second out, I will give Auction Sniper a pass, but I am not overly enthused with the results, especially as it’s not a free tool.
Next up is Gixen and I’m now very interested to see if the free options are more accurate!
Gixen’s site is really built around simplicity and is incredibly easy to use. Yes, it’s not the prettiest design but for ease of use it’s very well made, right from the log in (which just uses your eBay details, so you don’t need to create another account) to the actually sniping set up, which asks for the item number, your max bid, and lastly if you want to “group” it.
Grouping is actually a very useful tool, as it allows you to set snipes for multiple items, when you only want to win one of them.
Let’s say I am sourcing a specific PS4 game that usually sells for £15+. I set up snipes for 15 upcoming auctions at £10, and put them all into Group A. As soon as I win one of those auctions, the others will be cancelled so I don’t end up with multiples of the same item that I didn’t want.
Simple but very effective and I’m surprised that I didn’t see any mention of this or a similar feature at Auction Sniper.
On to the actual snipes and once again I lost my first one, a Game of Thrones Blu-ray and won my second, a Blu-ray of The Omen:
I’m happy to report that the bids were placed exactly 3 seconds before the auction end time!
So a pass for Gixen as well, with special mention to the overall simplicity and ease of use.
Last up we have Goofbid and my initial impressions are fairly positive. Once again it is a very simple process for setting up snipes but the Goofbid site is also well designed and has less intrusive adverts than Gixen:
On this occasion it was first time lucky as my snipe for a Batman Blu-ray steelbook won, beating out another bidder by 50p:
And as you can see from the above screenshots, the time of my bid was exactly 3 seconds before the auction’s end time, so I’m confident in the accuracy of Goofbid.
Overall, there was nothing at all that went wrong, so that means 3/3 and another pass for Goofbid.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I wanted to pit all three snipers against each other for the final test, and to do this I wanted to find a product that nobody has bid on – to keep things simple and easy.
Thankfully this wasn’t a hard task as I came across this item, sitting with no bids at a £0.99 start price and just under 8 minutes remaining:
With much pain I placed my bid (a £2 max) and left the auction to finish, eagerly watching to see who would come out on top.
Unfortunately the result was very anti-climatic, with all 3 snipers claiming they won the item!
After some investigating I found out this is just due to how these sniping tools work, by actually logging in and placing the bid for you – so all three registered the bid as being placed…
Which means I am now needlessly the owner of a Never Say Never Blu-ray. The things I do for my blog readers! 🙂
But this actually does bring me to an important issue, and something that I did want to bring up in today’s post. So far we’ve covered all the benefits of using a sniper; how they can make things easier for you, and most importantly how they can make you more profitable.
So it wouldn’t really be fair if I didn’t mention some of the negatives, and our failed final test actually illustrates one of these points perfectly – you have to give full access to your eBay account to the sniper.
Yes, that’s how it works – they need both your eBay username and password to be able to place these bids. Of course it isn’t an individual on the other side, this is all automated, but I can completely understand if this makes some of you feel uncomfortable, as I myself never like to give access to my eBay account to others.
Though having said that, I haven’t really come across any mention of things going wrong in that way from using eBay snipers and the three we’ve covered today are all highly regarded and reputable services.
And really that brings us to the end of today’s post and our final question – which of these three snipers do I recommend?
Actually that’s a tough question, as usually when I do these reviews there is a clear winner and best option, which isn’t the case here.
I can start off by eliminating Auction Sniper, for 3 main reasons:
- Problems with creating an account
- Inaccurate bid times
Point no. 1 I can easily overlook, point no. 2 is not ideal but wouldn’t have been a deal breaker if other factors had made up for it. But my main issue is I don’t see anything to justify paying for this service vs using one of the free options. Maybe if I used them extensively I would start to notice some worthwhile differences but at this point I just don’t and Auction Sniper actually performed worse than the free options…
Which leaves us Gixen and Goofbid and overall I would say it’s a tie. They both did their jobs as advertised, they were easy to use, all snipes were editable and cancellable, they both kept a record of lost snipes, won snipes, and upcoming snipes, the bids were placed to within a second of accuracy etc. They just worked!
Gixen wins out on simplicity and ease of use but Goofbid has a nicer design and some people might find the ads on Gixen too obtrusive.
If I was pushed for an answer, I would personally go for Gixen, as I really like the grouping feature, but I will let you make the final decision between the two!
I hope you found this post useful and for those of you who hadn’t previously heard of snipers, I hope this gives you something to consider as we all know how important sourcing is in any business!
Using a sniper should allow you to buy your products more efficiently and for less and that just means more money in your pocket at the end of the day. It’s as simple as that.
As always if you have any questions or just want my advice on anything mentioned in this post, then please don’t hesitate to post below in the comments section and I’ll personally get back to you asap.
Otherwise, until next time!
All the best,