ESO’s trader system can feel overwhelming to uninitiated players, especially on console without the benefit of add-ons. But once you understand how the system works, and how to use it to your advantage, shopping can be both fun and efficient—whether you’re looking for specific items or a deal. Having tracked the PS4/NA economy over the last few years, I thought I'd share what I've learned in case it's helpful for new shoppers.
A side note: I know some players dislike the trader system, and would prefer a global auction house. I fully respect that, as each system has its own appeal. However, I kindly ask that we keep this thread focused on giving advice.
Every player guild has a Guild Store, accessible from public banks, where members can buy and sell amongst themselves. If a guild wants to sell items to the public, they have to acquire an NPC trader at a given location.
Guilds bid for trader spots on a weekly basis, with the best spots commanding bids in the tens of millions. Thus, while some guilds maintain a consistent spot, many traders serve different guilds from week to week. Top trading guilds often charge dues to fund their weekly bids, but plenty of smaller guilds run on donations.
To shop at a public trader, open the trade window and submit a search: you can enter a text search, use filters, or just browse the entire selection, but you have to manually "submit" before anything appears.
How to Find the Right Trader
For a shopper, trader locations can be broken into three generals categories, each with their own pros and cons:
- Top-Tier Traders: These traders occupy the highest-traffic locations, and serve as economic hubs. The alliance capitals of Elden Root (Grahtwood), Mournhold (Deshaan), and Wayrest (Stormhaven) are the busiest spots, but Daggerfall, Rawl'kha, Belkarth, and DLC cities like Vivec City or Alinor can be popular too, varying by server. These traders have the largest selections and the most competitive prices, so they're a good place to find specific items or check going rates.
- Mid-Tier Traders: These are traders in less popular cities that still appear in groups. The main cities in every zone (like Windhelm in Eastmarch) will have groups of 5-6 traders, and secondary cities (like Sadrith Mora in Vvardenfell) will have groups of 3. These traders won't sell as many items, but they're also less picked over, making them a good place to find common items like event style pages at good prices.
- Backwoods Traders: These are the traders that appear on their own, outside of cities or in outlaw refuges. They're used by more casual guilds, so the selections are small and the prices can be erratic. However, their out-of-the-way locations means that an incredible deal can go overlooked.
How to Price Items
If you need to check the standard market price for an item on your server, travel to one of the three alliance capitals and scan for that item at each trader. You may have to check multiple cities to gauge prices for rarer items, but a scan of 5-10 traders should give you a good sense of the going rate. Here's some more advice by category:
- Gear: If you're looking to price a certain set piece, it's better to keep trait and quality open to ensure you get sufficient hits. The difference in value between a green and purple weapon is small, since the upgrades are cheap. Prices will vary more widely by trait, but the prices for "desirable" traits (like Precise or Sharpened) will be fairly similar, as will the prices for undesirable ones.
- Style Motifs: If you want to price a certain motif, it's best to search for the entire style. Just know that more visible pieces like weapons, helms, and chests will cost more, while less visible pieces like belts cost less.
- Furnishing Plans: If you can't find the price for a specific furnishing plan, try broadening your search to include plans of the same style and rarity. For example, if you can't price an Alinor Bookshelf blueprint, try browsing all purple Alinor furnishing plans.
How to Shop
I have two recommended approaches to browsing, depending on what you're searching for:
If You're Looking for Something Specific:
- Start with Top-Tier Traders, as they have the biggest selections at standard prices. If you can't find what you need at any popular spots, move to Mid-Tier Traders.
- I find it most efficient to sort by lowest price. If you're buying something in bulk, like food or materials, be sure to check the price per unit, not the total cost.
- Resist the urge to buy the first reasonably priced item you find. It's at least worth checking the other traders at that location to see if you can find a better deal.
If You're Looking for Deals:
- If you're looking for deals in a particular category, like style materials or motifs, focus on Top-Tier and Mid-Tier Traders. The selection is too erratic at smaller traders to get specific.
- However, if you're open to bargains on a wide range of items, Backwoods Traders have the potential for the biggest discounts.
- When looking for deals, sort by new. Something listed at a bargain won't go unsold for long, so your best bet is to start with the most recent listings.
- Sorting by price can also lead you to miss some “expensive” bargains: A 50k plan that normally costs 300k is still a steal.
A few random but useful tips:
- Using “Recent Searches”: This tool can be a major time-saver if you're a habitual shopper. Keep your list of recent searches clean: if you’ve found an item, or no longer need it, delete the search in your history. That will leave the searches for recurring purchases, like motifs or crafting materials. You can then cycle through 5-6 regular searches with as many taps.
- Rare Item Searches: It’s possible to find ultrarare collector’s items—purple Ayleid plans, Velothi tapestries, gold style books—if you’re willing to be persistent. Just save a few in “recent searches” for long-term use, quickly checking any major trader you shop at. Eventually, you’ll get a hit.
- Shopping for Furnishing Plans: If you're trying to complete your collection, create two “recent searches” for rare (blue) and epic (purple) furnishing plans, under consumables. Check them regularly at top traders: sort by lowest price for each, and scroll up to find the cheapest plan you don’t know.
- Shopping for Furnishing and Style Materials: I’ve found the prices for these materials to be the most erratic and unpredictable. Capital traders are some of the only places I find consistent prices (and significant quantities).
In any case, I hope this proves useful. Feel free to share it with folks who need help, and drop your own advice in the comments.
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