Hack 14 Search by Seller


Easy ways to find items sold by a particular seller.

If for no other reason than to save money on shipping costs, you may find yourself wanting to purchase multiple items from a single seller. Although you can't specify a particular seller when typing into a basic search box, there are three other ways to do it.

2.7.1 View Seller's Other Items

Probably the first thing that occurred to you is to just use the "View seller's other items" link on the auction page. If so, give yourself a gold star. This is typically the easiest way to search by seller because you can see an up-to-date listing of all the seller's current auctions.

Although this is good for perusing, there's no easy way to search here. The only thing you can do is use your browser's "Find on this page" feature (Ctrl-F), but this isn't exactly a breeze when the seller has over 1,100 open auctions divided into 47 pages of auction listings.

See [Hack #12] for a way to increase the number of items shown per page, thereby reducing the number of pages.

2.7.2 A Real Search by Seller

The most effective and flexible way to search by seller is to go to Search By Seller and then use the second, somewhat hidden box at the bottom of the page. If you use the first box at the top of the page, you'll get the same thing as "View seller's other items."

The Multiple Sellers search, shown in Figure 2-3, allows you to do an actual text search on the auctions from one or more specific sellers. Simply type your search in the Search Title box and include the seller's exact user ID in the Multiple Sellers box to conduct your search. You can specify up to 10 sellers by separating their user IDs with commas.

Figure 2-3. The Multiple Sellers search, hidden at the bottom of the Search By Seller page, allows you to specify the seller in a standard keyword search

Click the self-explanatory "Find items excluding these sellers" option if one obnoxious seller appears to be dominating your search results. This is also useful for ruling out sellers with whom you've had previous unpleasant experiences.

2.7.3 eBay Stores

Some sellers have opened eBay Stores, an extra-cost option described in [Hack #72], in which all of a seller's auctions are shown in a single place. Unlike the "View seller's other items" page, the eBay Stores interface is searchable. Furthermore, sellers can further categorize their auctions and include fixed-price items that don't show up in normal eBay searches.

If a seller has an eBay Store, a little red "Store" icon will appear next to the seller's name on their auctions. Simply click the icon to display the store and search through the seller's items.

2.7.4 The Obvious

Don't forget the most direct approach of all: if you're looking for something, try contacting the seller and asking. More often than not, a seller will have more than what is currently being sold in active auctions on eBay and will be all too happy to sell you something extra.

Case in point: a few years ago, I sold a model locomotive and a few train cars to go with it. The buyer, not yet owning any compatible accessories in the scale, asked me if I had any track to sell. I happily put together an oval of track and included a power pack (transformer), and sold the accessories for a few extra dollars. I sold something I probably wouldn't have bothered to list on eBay, and my customer got a complete train set!