Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Buying Used Baby Items on Kijiji and UsedEverywhere

Baby items can be very expensive. Moreover, some items are only useful for the first 6 months of their lives! While you're working on your baby registry, I recommend deciding which items you'd be comfortable receiving used, and setting up automatic searches on the most popular used sites in your area. In Ottawa, Kijiji is more heavily used so I set up a number of alerts and have purchased a significant amount of the items on my registry this way.

Using alerts

Alerts are daily emails which list all items that were posted in the past 24 hours and match your search criteria. When used with good search criteria, these are very easy to manage. They all arrive around the same time, I find usually very early in the morning, so you can easily make it part of your morning routine to review new items and respond to the ones that you're interested in purchasing.

To activate an alert in Kijiji, you first have to search for the item you're looking for either using search criteria or by browsing in a category. Once your search is set up with all of the criteria you;re interested in, press the yellow 'Sign Up' button on the left hand side, and then confirm in a dialog that you do indeed want to receive an alert for this search.

Kijiji will allow you to set up alerts without creating a Kijiji account, but you'll then need to activate each subscription via email, so I personally prefer to log in using my account when setting up alerts. UsedEverywhere requires an account.

Using RSS feeds

RSS (Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. If you're not familiar with feeds, this option is kind of like keeping the search page open and hitting the refresh button whenever you feel like it. The advantage of RSS feeds is that they can be checked at any time, and they don't generate additional email. If you're after a highly coveted item, checking search results often can sometimes be the only way to obtain it, especially if its listed at an unbelievable price.

I personally have not used this method, but I do recommend it as there are a few items I obtained by sheer luck of having searched within moments of these being posted. As the first responder, willing to pick up the item right away, I was able to secure my Uppababy Cruz stroller and bassinet at great prices because of some well-timed searching.

To subscribe to RSS feeds, you'll need to use a reader, such as Feedly. Once you have an account set up in the reader, you can start subscribing to feeds. To subscribe to a Kijiji RSS feed, use the orange RSS link found near the bottom right of a search or category listing page. Right click the image and copy the link from that button into your RSS reader.

I highly recommend categorizing all Kijiji or UsedEveywhere feeds into a single category, so they are easy to manage, hide, etc should you decide to use your RSS reader for useful reading as well.

Search criteria

The key to successful alerts and RSS feeds is specific search criteria which doesn't return a large amount of results. Don't be more specific than someone posting an ad would be, but specific enough to filter out anything that you wouldn't be interested in.

Keep in mind that you'll be receiving email or new hits in your RSS reader for anything you subscribe to, so you're better off being more specific and missing a hit, unless you're really desperate and willing to sift through a huge amount of items!

Some criteria you might want to filter on to reduce hits:

  • Search words
  • Category
  • Offering only (filter out Wanted)
  • Distance

Here are a few example searches for which I set up email alerts, after which I successfully purchased items. Note that all of these searches are also limited in location to Ottawa/Gatineau.

Oxo Sprout High Chair

  • Kijiji search:
  • Search words: Oxo Sprout - Notice I left out high chair or chair, because I don't trust that everyone spells it correctly or the same way. Some people write highchair. 
  • Category: Buy and Sell - Oxo is an uncommon word unlikely to have false positives outside of the baby item category, so I decided to limit the search to Buy and Sell but not any further. 
  • Offering only

This search proved to be perfect -- I received no false hits. The only results I received were for the exact chair I wanted, and I only had to look at the price and the condition of the item to decide whether I wanted to buy it. By responding to an ad after receiving my daily alert, I was able to purchase this $350 high chair for $125!
Tip: You can subscribe for an alert even if your search has no hits! Just because an item matching your criteria isn't posted now, doesn't mean it won't be in the future. This is what I did for the high chair.
Jolly Jumper Rocking Bassinet Stand

  • Kijiji search:
  • Search words: Jolly Jumper Bassinet Stand - Note that I was more specific than I was with the high chair here, because jolly jumper makes a number of other items I wasn't interested in purchasing. 
  • Category: Buy and Sell - Not any more specific because this way I still get garage sale hits and jolly jumper won't pick up any false positives in categories like electronics!
  • Offering only

This search generated a lot of hits, all valid, but I chose to purchase it only when I saw one listed in excellent condition at the price I was willing to pay. In retrospect, I could have adjusted my search to have a maximum price and saved myself a few emails!

Maternity Clothing

This search is different, as it's much less specific in terms of its search words, and I use the category to filter it down more appropriately. As a result, I receive emails for this search very couple of days, which I've decided I'm ok with. The criteria:

This search definitely generates more hits, but has proven to be worth the extra email sifting. I purchased beautiful designer maternity jeans for less than a third of the full price, as well as The M Coat. I wasn't even certain I wanted the M Coat when I received the notification, but the price was reasonable so I replied, tried it on in store when trying on all of the panel options, and decided that this jacket was worth the extra money. The jacket that was posted was in pristine condition and had only been used a couple of months, and I got it for half of the retail price. This jacket is also fully washable, so had it been in poorer condition I may have considered negotiating for a lower price and washing it prior to wearing it.

A few additional tips

Certain baby items have recommendations and regulations applicable to them, such as cribs, bassinets and car seats. For these, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with the regulations and decide what you're comfortable purchasing used.

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