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If you’re shopping online for items in high demand (or planning to pick up an order), it would help to know what PPU means. Here’s what you should know about this online marketplace acronym.

Pending Pick Up

PPU stands for “pending pick up.” Online sellers use this acronym to say that a product is not currently available for purchase because someone’s about to pick it up. You might see this on the listing itself, with the availability switching from “available” to PPU. Alternatively, sellers will use it in direct messages or comment responses to inform prospective buyers that the item is no longer for sale. This acronym is synonymous with terms such as “reserved” or “on-hold.”

This acronym is common in less-structured online marketplaces where a payment gateway doesn’t mediate exchanges, such as Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Pick-up transactions are settled with cash or direct transfers instead of credit cards and cheques. Some sellers may require a “reservation fee” for holding an item, with the fee being non-refundable if the order gets cancelled.

PPU has a few other meanings aside from “pending pick up.” It might mean “please pick up,” an early iteration of the acronym. Alternatively, in hardware enthusiast circles, it might mean “physics processing unit.” It’s a rare type of processor that handles physics-related tasks for computers. Also, PPU is the name of the Picture Processing Unit inside the NES game console.

The Origin of PPU

PPU is a fairly recent acronym. A decade ago, you might expect one or two people to respond to a product listing. Nowadays, you can get dozens of inquiries on a listing. “PPU” is an excellent response to those inquiring about a reserved item. The first definition of PPU on Urban Dictionary dates back to 2018 and reads “pending pick up.”

In the earlier days of online reselling, PPU meant “please pick up.” For example, someone lists a TV on Craigslist with the title “36-inch TV, PPU.” While this definition might still crop up from time to time, PPU now mostly means “pending pick up.” Instead of the acronym, sellers use “please pick up” directly on their posts.

PPU is especially common in product listings that feature more than one product, such as garage sales. Since these often have a wide assortment of products, the acronym is used to help keep track of which products are sold, available, and PPU.

Reservation Systems

There are multiple ways to reserve an item on an unstructured marketplace. The most common is “first come, first served,” where the first person to message offering the asking price gets the item. If the buyer will settle the transaction via cash upon pick up, the item becomes PPU.

Alternatively, users can sell products via bids or OBOs, which stands for “or best offer.” We go into more detail about this system on our OBO explainer. However, to put it simply, OBO is a system where people can offer less than the asking price. This gives the seller several prospective offers to choose from after a certain period. Once they get a desirable offer, they might reserve the item for the buyer and specify that it’s PPU.

RELATED: What Does "OBO" Mean, and How Do You Use It?

Becoming Available Again

Just because an item is marked “PPU” doesn’t mean it can’t become available again. Since a PPU typically comes without any exchange in payment, there’s still a chance that the buyer could become a “no-show.” When this happens, the seller can move the product from “pending pick up” back to “available.”

Packages in a warehouse.

However, something to note is that if a product is open for negotiation or bidding, then the seller will often move on to the person with the second-best offer. Alternatively, if the product is on a first-come, first-served basis, they’ll get in contact with the second buyer that reached out to them. This is pretty common in marketplace settings that rely on direct messages, such as Facebook Marketplace.

How to Use PPU

If you’re a seller, using PPU is straightforward. Just specify that the listing is PPU when you’ve found a buyer who will be picking it up soon. Alternatively, you can use it in direct messages to tell other interested parties that the item is currently on hold.

Here are a few samples of PPU in action:

  • “Sorry, this item is PPU. You can check out my other listings if you’re interested.”
  • “Excellent used copy of Dune series. Currently PPU.”
  • “Hey, I noticed this product is PPU. If they bail, can I reserve the item?”

Happy shopping!

Profile Photo for Vann Vicente Vann Vicente
Vann Vicente has been a technology writer for four years, with a focus on explainers geared towards average consumers. He also works as a digital marketer for a regional e-commerce website. He's invested in internet culture, social media, and how people interact with the web.
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