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30 Aug 2019
Lots of people sell on eBay, but the truth is, there are lots of eBay sellers that fail to generate a significant profit.
They simply don’t learn how to master the basics, like optimizing their listings, managing their shipping costs, finding great products to sell and building their feedback score.
Check out our comprehensive guide on how to get positive feedback on eBay.
That’s why in this article, we’ll go over how to sell on eBay step-by-step.
Watch: Our Beginners guide to selling on eBay
Not only that, but we’ll also give you 10 eBay selling tips from expert sellers on eBay that both beginners and experts can benefit from.
Before we dive in, let’s go over some common questions about selling on eBay.
Ignoring the costs associated with eBay is easy to do. Many sellers continue to list items without evaluating the profitability of their eBay sales.
The total cost to sell an item on eBay will depend on a few factors, such as how you list your product and how much you want to sell it for.
The cost to sell on eBay isn’t exactly a straightforward answer, so I’d recommend using this eBay Calculator to get a look at the costs involved with selling your products.
The decision to sell on eBay or Amazon depends on your goals. If you want to learn more about this, check out our article about selling on eBay vs. Amazon to determine which is best for you.
Ultimately, here are the conclusions we came to:
You should sell on eBay if you:
You should sell on Amazon if you:
You can see here on eBay’s community forum that tons of sellers are making real profits from selling on eBay.
These successful sellers have taken the time to understand what are the most profitable items to sell on eBay and apply this to their business to explode their sales.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you want to profit from selling on eBay, you’ll need to make sure you execute in a way that enables you to make a profit - which we’ll discuss below in extreme detail.
With eBay Managed Payments, you can either use PayPal or Payoneer to run your store. While you need to keep eBay managed payments as your default payment method, alternatives are available to sellers who prefer not to use it.
Your options are as follows:
If you’re going to jump into the eBay ecosystem and start listing your products, it’s important that you have a good understanding of how the platform works.
Here are a few things you need to know before you start selling on eBay.
Back in 1995 when eBay first started, the only option for listing a product was auctions.
Now, eBay allows sellers to list products with a fixed price listing.
Auctions are becoming a thing of the past. This is because of the increased urgency of online purchases. eBay buyers simply don’t want to wait 7 days for an auction to end before the product they want is shipped to them.
This is why eBay is moving towards the “Buy-It-Now” option, is offering money-back guarantees, and is encouraging sellers to offer free shipping and guaranteed delivery.
Auctions aren’t just a disadvantage to eBay - sellers also experience disadvantages when listing auction style items on the platform. Such as:
If you simply want to get rid of a product quickly, an auction style listing might be your best bet. However, if you want to grow a thriving eCommerce business on eBay, Buy-It-Now listings are the way to go.
If you want to sell on eBay, you need to understand how potential buyers will find your product.
On eBay, users find products in 2 primary ways:
The feed is eBay’s newly formatted homepage that provides recommendations for daily deals, trending items, and more. People often browse these categories in search of new products they haven’t heard of before.
Here are just a few categories eBay shows on their homepage feed:
Most people, however, come to eBay in search of a very specific product. This is when they leverage the search function.
For example, if I type “electric guitar” into the search box, here’s what I see…
Notice that in the top result (after the sponsored one), the following are highlighted in the listing:
This is important to keep in mind when optimizing your listing, which we’ll get into later in this article.
Before you sell on eBay, it’s important to understand eBay’s rules for sellers. Failure to follow eBay’s policies could result in an account suspension.
While I recommend that you read over eBay’s policies yourself, here are a few things to make sure you do to stay within their guidelines:
Creating an eBay account is pretty straightforward. I’ll walk you through the steps.
First, head over to eBay.com and click the “register” button at the top left of the screen.
Next, you need to decide if you’re going to register as an individual seller or as a business.
If you want to register as an individual, simply fill in the first name, last name, email address, and password fields, or sign up with Facebook or Google.
If you’d prefer to set up a business account, click the “create a business account” button at the top of the registration page.
Finally, fill in the required info.
After your eBay account is set up, you need to set up a payment method to pay eBay’s seller fees.
While there are other ways eBay accepts payments, PayPal is the standard.
To add a payment method to your eBay account, once you’re signed in, click “My eBay” on the top right corner of the home page.
On the next screen, click the “account” button.
Finally, click “Personal Information” in the menu on the left, scroll down until you see the “Financial Information” section.
Click on the text that says “update your automatic payment method,” and follow the instructions.
This video will walk you through the specific steps to set up your payment method.
You don’t need to have an elaborate profile if you’re selling one or two small items, but adding a profile picture, description, and choosing a good username can help increase your sales.
To edit your profile image and description, go to “My eBay,” click your username, and then click “edit profile.”
Having an attractive username on eBay is important in generating sales. If you have a username like “isellstuff2219,” people are less likely to take you seriously. If they don’t take you seriously, it becomes harder for them to trust you to deliver their purchase as promised.
To change your username, first go to My eBay.
Next, choose “Account.”
Finally, choose “Personal Information” in the menu on the left, and click “edit” next to your username.
When choosing a username, keep the following in mind:
Choosing what to sell on eBay is one of the harder parts of making money on the marketplace.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to make this decision effectively.
eBay started out as a place for hobbyists and collectors, but has since expanded to a wide range of product categories.
Choose a category that you’re an expert in so you can effectively deliver value to your niche. Knowing your market from the perspective of a buyer will help you understand how people are finding products and what they look for in a product description.
There’s a lot you can sell on eBay, but at the same time, there are many things you can’t.
The obvious ones are anything illegal or hazardous materials, but take time to review eBay’s restricted item list to be certain you’re allowed to sell the products you intend to.
Too many businesses fail because they’ve grown too fast, and running an eBay store is no different. This, among other reasons, is why eBay places selling limits on new sellers - typically at around 5 items per month.
When you’re just starting out, it’s important to start small so you can take steps to manage your growth effectively and efficiently. Take your time to get a feel of how eBay works and what sells well on the platform.
It might be worth experimenting before you decide if this is for you. Sell some items around the house, or pick a few things up at the clearance section in your local retail store to test out.
Testing the market before loading up on inventory is very important. You don’t yet know if you’ll be able to sell your items at a high enough price to make a profit. However, once you sell a few items on eBay, you’ll get a feel for what users are looking for and can then scale up your efforts.
If you want to list products on eBay that are going to sell, you need to know what’s hot.
What I’m about to show you is a fool-proof strategy for finding hot products on eBay.
First, you’ll need to choose a category that you have some familiarity with. So if you’re into electronics, this would be a good place to start.
To do this, click “Shop by Category” at the top of the page, and choose your desired category. If you don’t see yours in the menu that pops up, select “All Categories” at the bottom right of the menu.
You may need to click into a subcategory depending on which category you choose.
Once you’ve found your category, you’ll want to filter your results to show only “Buy It Now” and “New” products. This will remove items that are being sold as one-time buys, like auction items.
We’ll also want to only show products that offer free shipping. This is a common practice among the best eBay sellers.
You can do this using the menu on the left. You may need to scroll down a bit to find these filter options.
Finally, you’ll want to choose a product.
If possible, anything over $10. Products under $10 don’t have much margin and often aren’t very profitable after eBay takes their 10% and the 5% PayPal account fees.
Choose a product that’s selling well. Anything that sells at least 10 items within a 30 day period is considered good.
To check these metrics, find a product with a high “sold” count - like this one:
To see the selling frequency of the product, click the listing, then click the “sold” button on the listing page.
Clicking that will give you a look into the purchase history of the product, like this:
As you can see, there’s plenty of demand for the iPhone on eBay.
It’s also important to consider the weight of the product you’re going to sell. Heavier items cost more to ship, which can significantly cut into your margins.
If this sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is. Scaling this stuff can be difficult and time-consuming, which is why at Zik Analytics, we’ve built some eBay market research tools to help automate and scale the eBay selling process.
Determining how you source your products is an important element of building your eBay business.
Here are some ways you can source products to sell on eBay.
Now that you’ve chosen what you’re going to sell on eBay, the next step is to create and optimize your listing to give yourself the best chance at showing up in the search results.
Let’s walk through how to do that.
First, login to eBay, go to the home page, and click “sell.”
Next, type the product you’re trying to sell into the box. As you type, eBay will spit out recommendations from you to select from.
If you don’t choose any of the selections, eBay will show you a list of categories related to your entry, like this:
It’s very important that you choose a category that actually represents your product. Don’t choose an unrelated category in an attempt to get your product in front of more people. These views won’t lead to sales. You want a targeted, relevant audience to see your product.
After you complete this step, you should be on the page where you give eBay the details of your listing. Let’s go over these one at a time.
The best way to write your title is to write with the human in mind - not the search engine.
If your title contains relevant information that describes what users are looking for, it’s more likely to be clicked on, which means your listing will get more views.
When writing your title, it’s best to include information such as the brand, model, color, size, specs, condition, or anything else that may apply to your listing. Be specific.
Remember - the purpose of your title is to attract a targeted audience. What matters on eBay isn’t how many people see your listing, but the conversion rate.
A conversion rate is the number of sales versus the number of visits to your listing.
For example, if you get 100 listing views and make 1 sale, that’s a 1% conversion rate.
If you get 2 sales from those 100 views, that’s a 2% conversion rate.
If you write a specific title, you’ll get your product in front of an audience that’s looking for what you’re selling, which will result in higher conversion rates.
This doesn’t mean you should consider things like monthly searches, keyword competitiveness, and other factors. It doesn’t make sense to go after keywords like “iPhone” that tons of other sellers are going after. eBay analytics tools like Zik Analytics can help you make better keyword decisions for your titles.
One of the most common tips we got from expert sellers for our 10 tips section at the end of this article was to include high quality photos for your listing.
Let’s face it - humans are visual. If your product is listed next to a competing item with a better photo, you’ll lose clicks (and sales) to that competitor.
On top of that, it’s important to include as many descriptive photos as are necessary to visually explain the condition of the product.
If you’re selling a used product and it has some paint chips, for example, make this clear in the photos.
You can also include helpful charts and graphics when necessary if your product requires it. Sizing charts for clothing are a good example of this.
Put yourself in the buyer's shoes and make an effort to understand what elements of your product need a visual explanation.
The item details are part of what eBay uses to place your item in filtered search results.
When users search for products on eBay, there’s a menu on the left that contains filters specific to a product type.
For example, here are what some of the filters look like for iPhones:
To add these details for your product, simply click the “Change” button in the “Details” section when creating your listing, and fill in as many of them as possible.
Your listing description is your main opportunity to convince customers to purchase your product, so it’s important to make it compelling.
Here’s what eBay has to say about the description: “Include at least 200 words of visible copy in your listing description, with the most important keyword phrases mentioned at the beginning and end. Remember to employ other content best practices, such as the frequent use of keywords where relevant and formatting (e.g., bolding, using font size on important titles and keywords).”
To that, I’d add a few things:
When pricing your product on eBay, you want to consider 2 things:
The hard truth is, eBay customers will shop by price. If you want to beat your competitors, you need to have a lower price than they do.
That said, it’s also important to protect your margins and account for your final value fees. After eBay insertion fees and managed payment fees are taken into account, you need to come out positive.
That's why it is important to list you items in a way that allows you to charge more on eBay!
When pricing your eBay listing, eBay will give you the option between a “Buy-It-Now”, fixed price listings, and an auction style listing.
Auction based pricing is great for when you have a product you want to get rid of quickly and care less about the profitability of the sale. Auctions last for 1-10 days, and can even result in a higher price for your item than you may have expected.
If you do want to profit from auction style listings, you can set a reserve price which allows you to set a low starting price for your listing, but eBay charges an additional final fee for this since it reduces the chances of a sale occurring. Take this in to account as it will impact the final value fee.
Auction style pricing is best when you have an item that people are likely to fight over, like a rare collectible. It may also be fitting when you don’t really know what to price something at.
Buy-It-Now items are fixed price items. They allow for more immediate transactions, and are better if you’re trying to build an eCommerce brand off of eBay. This type of selling also allows you to use numerous eBay automation tools to run your business.
eBay allows you to see what it will cost to ship your product by entering your package weight and dimensions.
Many buyers will use the filters on eBay to only show products offering free shipping. Even if you need to build the shipping cost into the price of the product, do what you can to offer this.
To manage your shipping costs, you can also offer various shipping options and an option for local pickup. With local pickups, you can accept payment via check, money order, cash, PayPal account, or credit card. However, be careful when accepting check or money order payments. If a check or money order doesn’t clear after the buyer has picked up the item, there’s little you can do to resolve this.
For every listing, eBay requires that you have a return policy in place.
The return policy options for sellers are as follows:
It’s important to note that to become a Top Rated seller on eBay, you must offer at least a 30 day return policy with your listings.
If you are selling things on eBay in any of these categories, you’ll also have the option to offer a 14 day return period:
If you want to know more about this, check out our guide about how to choose a return policy on eBay.
After you’ve sold an item on eBay, it’s important that you quickly take care of shipping. Make sure you confirm the shipping details prior to booking in the shipping labels.
Fast, safe shipping of your products is a great way to get positive feedback, which can further increase your attractiveness to buyers who come across your listings.
eBay has created this guide to help sellers get a hang of shipping best practices, but essentially, it comes down to speed, quality of packaging, shipping options, shipping service and making sure you upload your tracking numbers provided on your shipping label so buyers can track their shipment.
After the product is delivered, it’s in your best interest to follow up with them to make sure things went well. If they’re happy, ask them to leave a review.
Skip McGrath - skipmcgrath.com
“Become an authority on what you do in your online auction business. It doesn’t matter if you sell fishing lures, ink cartridges or collectible glass -- you want to be thought of before anyone else. Lynn Dralle sells flatware and dinnerware that she sources from garage sales and thrift shops. She has over 2000 listings in her eBay store. When someone wants to replace a missing fork or plate from their set, they go to Lynn first and because she has so many listings, when you search for something she is selling her listings always come up at the top of the search. The fact that Lynn can answer almost any question about the flatware often gets her the sale that another seller would miss.
When you become an authority in your field, a whole new universe of business and opportunity is opened up to you. I buy certain types of things on eBay from the same sellers over and over. I wouldn't dare do business with anyone else, not when they have proven themselves and their product.
You want to earn that same type of position in the minds of eBayer's for your niche. Also continue your auction education. Read books and training manuals, visit the chat and ssage boards, attend an eBay University when it comes to your town, go to eBay On Location, and keep learning all the time.”
Skip no longer sells on eBay and has since begun to focus his efforts on Amazon. You can read his expert tips about this on his site.
Chris Dunne- Marketing executive
at RepricerExpress and eBay repricing software.
“You can price your listings manually or automatically using an eBay repricer like RepricerExpress. Check the last price the item was purchased for and price in line with this. Examine what price other sellers have listed it for and if your profit margin allows, price it slightly lower using the "Buy it Now" price.”
Jason Butler - My Money Chronicles
“Don't be afraid to step outside your comfort zone when it comes to selling items. I started off only selling sports-related items because they were things that I knew about. I started testing out different things such as running shoes and toys. A few months ago, I found a Barbie Doll in the thrift store for $5. I was able to flip it for $100. That would have never happened if I didn't get out of my comfort zone and decide to list different items. Doing that will allow you to make more money.”
Sam Dey - Dey Tips
“Selling successfully on eBay starts way before you actually list your products on the platform. It is vitally important for you to do your preparatory research and find out what items are being watched, what items are generating a lot of sales and what listings are performing best. Once you have a good understanding of what is already in demand on eBay you can make an informed decision as to what items you then want to start selling on the platform. If you choose the right products, they will more or less sell themselves without too much marketing.”
Nathan Clarke - Millionaire Dojo
“Take great pictures. Many times, a buyer will decide whether or not they want to buy your item based on the pictures you use. Take clear photos with good lighting and make sure nothing is in the background. Preferably, use a white background for your photos if possible. If you haven't been taking high-quality photos, you should see an increase in sales once you improve your photo taking process.”
Daniella Flores - Thrift Store Flipping
“One of the things I ended up losing money on when first starting to sell on eBay was shipping. Since we sell a lot of guitars on our eBay, shipping dimensions and weight can get pricey. Then I found out you can do the print and ship option for PayPal that sometimes will come out to be as much as 30% cheaper than USPS and way cheaper than UPS. Also, remember to look at their dimensional weight rates and if yours is higher than the actual weight, the carrier will charge you the higher of the two. So the heavier and weirder sized objects you ship, your shipping costs could go up. I suggest weighing and sizing it yourself and doing print and ship either through eBay or PayPal.”
Randa Kriss - Fundera
“One of my top tips for selling on eBay is to really take time to optimize your listings and perfect your listing process. When selling on eBay, there are two types of optimization to consider: first, optimizing for Google SEO, and second, optimizing for eBay’s Best Match algorithm. This algorithm, just as Google filters results, filters which eBay products appear first when you search for a particular term. Therefore, I think it’s of the utmost importance to make sure your listings are as complete, detailed, and clear as they can be. Make sure you fill in all of the fields for your listings as best as you possibly can and try to include clear, high-resolution images. A good strategy for both Google and the eBay Best Match is to research items similar to yours and see what listings are ranking the highest. You can use these examples as a starting point for what your listing should look like.”
Jordan Malik - jordanmalik.net
“Sure, there is an occasional surly customer who wants to abuse the eBay 30-day return policy, but offering said return policy is almost better than offering none at all. Buyers want to feel confident they can return something for a good reason. My exception - where I offer no return policy - is some high-ticket items or collectibles where there can be "buyer remorse" and/or I risk a fragile item getting damaged in shipping when the customer returns it. Most importantly, you gain a healthier sell-through rate (and higher selling price) when you offer no-hassle 30 day returns to the customer.”
Jon Knott - ShipBob
"Offering Guaranteed Delivery or investing in a fulfillment provider that is able to meet the Guaranteed Delivery SLAs is critical for brands to convert when fighting against the competition. While optimizing keywords on your listings is a great first step and can dramatically increase your top of funnel, having the Guaranteed Delivery badge can ensure you convert the sale. To offer Guaranteed Delivery on eBay, you must meet eBay's eligibility standards for this, which include having a minimum of 100 transactions per year and having a late shipment rate of under 5%. If both of these are true for your business, you can opt-in here."
Jitendra Vaswani - Bloggers Ideas
"Every member of eBay has a feedback score based on their shopping experience. It is based on a combination of both buying and selling transactions. Trust me, if you have more feedback, the more credible and authentic you appear as a community member. It is very difficult to get sales with a low feedback score. I will never personally purchase any products from a seller account with a low feedback score."
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