How Much Does eBay Charge to Sell Items?

An important consideration when it comes to deciding what to sell on eBay and how you’re going to sell it is how much it’s going to cost you. Yes, we know that spending money to make money sounds kind of counter-intuitive. But eBay.com has to support itself somehow, and so it charges fees for using certain parts of its service. After all, by selling through eBay, you’re making use of a widely-known and well-established e-commerce platform to put your products for sale in view of thousands of prospective buyers at a time.

This lesson will go over the different types of standard fees for selling on eBay. That way, you can know what you’re paying for… and can estimate whether or not you stand to make money off your sales.

What are eBay Stores?

eBay store example

eBay Stores are comprehensive advertising and business tool packages that can make it easier for you to sell your products. It isn’t mandatory to purchase a Store plan to sell on eBay, but having one may affect (and possibly reduce) your other fees, and help you reach more potential buyers.

Having a Store may also give you other bonuses, such as more free listings or free credit for other selling services. There are three Store types: Basic, Premium, and Anchor. The table below illustrates some basic comparisons of each of the plans.

No Store Basic Store Premium Store Anchor Store
Monthly subscription cost N/A $25 $75 $350
Annual subscription cost N/A $240
($20/month)
$720
($60/month)
$3600
($300/month)
Free auction-style listings per month 50 combined of either type 250 500 1000
Free fixed-price listings per month 250 1000 10, 000
Over monthly limit auction-style listing fees $0.30/listing $0.25/listing $0.15/listing $0.10/listing
Over monthly limit fixed price listing fees $0.20/listing $0.10/listing $0.05/listing
Final value fees 10% per item,(max. $750 per item) 4% – 9%, depending on item category
(max. $250 per item)
Quarterly coupon for eBay-branded shipping supplies N/A $25 $50 $75
Quarterly credit for promoted listings N/A N/A N/A $25
Monthly store marketing and promotional emails N/A 5000 7500 10, 000
Dedicated customer support (U.S. only) N/A N/A N/A YES

 

A few other things to note about Stores

  • To open any of the three types of Stores, you must have a seller’s account as well as a verified PayPal account (Click here for full instructions on how to create a PayPal account).
  • To open a Premium or Anchor Store, your seller’s account must not have a “below-standard” seller performance level. In addition, if you have a Premium or Anchor Store and your seller’s account stays at a “below-standard” seller performance level for at least 60 days, you may be downgraded to a Basic Store until your seller performance improves. Click here for more on eBay seller performance standards.
  • If you have any type of Store subscription, whenever you sell an item through an auction-style listing, you get one free extra auction-style listing for that month!
  • Certain categories of merchandise cannot be counted towards your monthly allotment of free auction-style listings, do not have standard auction-style listing fees, and are not eligible for earning extra free auction-style listings if you sell them. These categories include:– Boats
    – Cars and Trucks
    – Motorcycles
    – Other Vehicles and Trailers
    – Powersports
    – Real Estate
    – Classified Ads
    – Heavy Equipment
    – Concession Trailers and Carts
    – Imaging and Aesthetics Equipment
    – Commercial Printing Presses

So what type of eBay Store is right for me?

The following are some general recommendations on which type of Store will suit your selling needs. If you want to crunch the numbers and see exactly how much value you would get from selling out of each Store type, check out eBay’s Fee Illustrator (shown below).

eBay fee illustrator

No Store

If you’re not going to be listing more than 50 standard items for sale per month, you can probably get away with not having a Store. You won’t have to pay a monthly or annual subscription cost, and you can still list up to 50 items per month for free. However, your final value fees may be a bit high, and you won’t get any other Store-related goodies.

Basic Store

If you plan on listing between 50 and 500 standard items for sale per month, consider getting a Basic Store package. It will cost you money every month or year (though at $20-$25/month, it’s not that expensive), but having even a Basic Store lowers your final value fees. This can make a Basic Store worth the price if you sell even a small quantity of high-value items.

There are plenty of other perks from having a Basic Store, too. You get more free listings every month, and if you go over your limit, your listing fees will be lower than with no Store. Plus, you’re eligible to earn extra free auction-style listings every month whenever one of your items sells through an auction-style listing. You also get a bunch of cool marketing tools, as well.

Premium Store

If you want to list somewhere between 500 and 1500 standard items for sale per month, consider upgrading to a Premium Store plan. It’s a bit more expensive than the Basic Store plan (at $75 per month or $60 per month with annual billing), but you get even more free listings per month and even lower listing fees for your over-the-limit listings.

You also get more credit to spend on shipping supplies, and a higher limit for emails to market your store with. Finally, you get lower final value fees, as well as free extra auction-style listings every month whenever one of your items sells in an auction.

Anchor Store

If selling things on eBay is going to be a full-time business for you, the Anchor Store plan gives you the best value. It’s recommended only if you’re going to be listing over 1500 standard items for sale per month, because it’s expensive (at $300 per month or $3600 per year) but gives you the most benefits.

Having an Anchor Store gives you the largest number of free listings per month and the biggest discount on listing fees (if you go over your free listing allotment). Plus, you get the usual discounted final value fees, as well as free extra auction-style listings every month for each item you sell through an auction-style listing.

The Anchor Store also gives you the highest value in free shipping materials, and the most emails with which to promote your business. You get a bit of free advertising money, too, as well as access to priority customer service.

Listing fees

You’re allowed to list a limited number of items for sale for free each month. These include both listings for new items that you’re selling and existing listings for items that you haven’t sold yet (or have already sold, at least until the next month). For each listing that you create over that limit, you will have to pay listing fees each month.

As we explained in our section on “eBay Stores,” depending on which type of Store you have, you will have a different number of free fixed-price and/or auction-style listings available for each month. Also, the listing fees for fixed-price listings and auction-style listings can vary based on which Store plan you have. The following table breaks it all down for you:

No Store Basic Store Premium Store Anchor Store
Free auction-style listings per month 50 combined of either type 250 500 1000
Free fixed price listings per month 250 1000 10, 000
Over monthly limit auction-style listing fees $0.30 per listing $0.25/listing $0.15/listing $0.10/listing
Over monthly limit fixed price listing fees $0.20/listing $0.10/listing $0.05/listing

 

A couple of other things we should mention about listing fees

  • If you have any type of Store (Basic, Premium, or Anchor) and sell an item through an auction-style listing, you get an additional free auction-style listing for that month!
  • If you set the duration of an auction-style listing to either 1 day or 3 days, you will be charged a “Special Duration Fee” of $1.
  • If you set a “reserve price” on an auction-style listing, you will be charged a $3 fee if your reserve price is under $75. If your reserve price is $75 or more, you will be charged a fee equal to 4% of your reserve price, up to a maximum of $100.

Shipping expenses

It costs money to get what you sell to the person who eventually buys it. This includes buying packaging materials (having a Store may help with this) and paying courier services. You can choose to absorb these costs by offering free shipping, or pass them on to the buyer instead. Note that your choice will affect the final value fees that eBay collects from your sale.

Courier costs are largely determined by the dimensions and weight of your package, as well as where your package is being shipped to. For an estimate of your shipping costs, check out eBay’s Shipping Calculator (but note that you may have to create and log into an eBay seller account to use this feature).

eBay shipping calculator

You also have the option to offer flat shipping rates instead, or shipping rates that change based on certain variables (such as package weight or shipping destination). We can teach you all about shipping on eBay in our free tutorial.

Final value fees

Whenever you sell an item, eBay collects a percentage of the total sale price of the item as a commission. This includes the final price of the item plus any shipping and handling charges that you choose to pass on to the buyer, but does not include any taxes. Final value fees follow a few general rules:

  • If you don’t have a Store, the final value fee on all items that you sell will always be 10%.
  • If you don’t have a Store, the maximum final value fee that you can be charged for any one item that you sell will be $750.
  • If you have a Store, the maximum final value fee that you can be charged for any one item that you sell will be $250.

As we noted, final value fees stay at a fixed percentage if you do not have a Store. However, if you do have any type of Store, final value fees will vary based on the category of product that you’re selling. However, they will always be less than the flat 10% that you pay if you don’t have a Store.

Item Category Final Value Fee (with any Store)
Computers, Tablets, and Networking 4%
Video Game Consoles
Heavy Equipment
Concession Trailers & Carts
Imaging & Aesthetics Equipment
Commercial Printing Presses
Consumer Electronics 6%
Cameras & Photography Equipment
Coins & Paper Money
Stamps
Musical Instruments and Accessories, (excludes DJ/professional audio equipment) 7%
Motor Parts & Accessories 8%
Automotive Tools & Supplies
All Other Categories 9%

 

Payment acceptance fees

One more set of selling fees that we should probably mention are the fees incurred by accepting payments for sold items. Usually, you will accept payments through your PayPal account, but you may also accept them through an Internet merchant account that you set up through your bank.

If you plan on getting paid to your PayPal account when you sell something (which we’ll assume you are), check out the “PayPal Merchant Fees” section of our article on how PayPal’s fees and charges work. It will show you how much you’ll be paying PayPal for each sale that you make.

 

These are all of the basic fees associated with selling products on eBay.  To see how much you would pay for listing (and presumably selling) any one item, check out eBay’s Fee Calculator. Now, once you decide what you’re going to sell and understand all of the fees associated with doing so, it’s time to get started! Our next lesson will show you how to open a seller’s account on eBay.


eBay Selling Formats and Options

Part of deciding what to sell on eBay is how you are going to sell it. Most e-commerce websites simply allow you to set a fixed price for an item and hope that a buyer accepts that price. However, on eBay.com, you also have the option of letting multiple buyers bid on your item in an auction. You can even let multiple buyers offer prices that they’re willing to pay for an item, and then select one that you think is fairest.

But which of these selling options should you pick for any one item that you want to sell? This lesson will help you make a decision by explaining how each of these options work in detail, as well as giving you advice on what types of items they work best for.

Fixed price formats

Buy It Now

“Buy It Now” listings are the most basic type of listings you can create. They work much the same as they do on many other online marketplaces: you set a fixed price for an item (or group of items) and then wait for a buyer to accept the price. If they do, then they can buy the item from you immediately without having to bid against other buyers in an auction.

Buy It Now + Best Offer

For most of your “Buy It Now” listings, you have the option of adding the “Best Offer” option. This allows buyers to submit price offers for your item. For each offer, you have the choice of accepting it (resulting in the item’s sale), rejecting it, or giving the buyer a counter-offer. You can also set your listing up to automatically accept or reject offers within certain price ranges. For more information, see our detailed article on eBay Best Offers.

Auction-style formats

Auction

Auctions are how items were originally bought and sold on eBay, and they continue to be popular. When you create an “Auction” listing, you specify an opening bid for your item(s), as well as how long you want the auction to last. Then, buyers will place bids for your item, and at the end of the auction, the highest bidder is obligated to purchase your item. If you’re interested, we have an in-depth explanation (with an illustrative example) of how eBay’s auction system works.

Auction + Buy It Now

If you want to offer buyers the best of both worlds, you can create a listing that’s a hybrid of the “Auction” and “Buy It Now” formats. Basically, you create an “Auction” format listing, but in addition to setting an opening bid for an item (or group of items), you also set a fixed price. That way, if a buyer likes your item but doesn’t want to get in a bidding war over it, they can buy it on the spot and save themselves the hassle. Note, however, that the “Buy It Now” option for an “Auction” listing will no longer be available for buyers once at least one of them places a bid on that listing’s item(s).

Auction + Reserve Price

If you want a bit of insurance when you create an “Auction” listing, you can use the “Reserve Price” option. This allows you to set a minimum price that you are willing to let a buyer pay for an item that you put up for auction. This, in turn, allows you to ensure that you never end up selling that item for less than how much you think is fair to make from the sale.

If you set a reserve price on one of your “Auction” listings, buyers who bid on that listing will be able to see that it has a reserve price. However, they will not be able to see exactly what that price is, unless you reveal it to them by contacting them or putting it in the listing description. If, by the end of that auction, the current highest bid is less than the reserve price you set, then you aren’t obligated to sell the item to the auction winner (but you still can if you want).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Using the “Reserve Price” option for one of your “Auction” item listings counts as a listing upgrade, and so it costs extra money. Reserve prices under $75 incur a $3 fee. Reserve prices of $75 or more incur a fee of 4% of the reserve price (but no more than $100).

Auction-style vs. fixed price: which eBay selling formats should I use?

If you have experience selling items without the aid of an online marketplace system, then whether you use primarily “auction-style” or “fixed price” listings may simply be a matter of which selling format you’re used to.

On the other hand, if you’re confused as to which selling format to use (and when) – especially if you’re new to (online) selling – there are a couple of different factors to consider. The table below will give you a quick summary of some general comparisons between eBay’s two main selling formats.

Auction-Style Listings Fixed Price Listings
Duration Options 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 days (or 30 days for “Real Estate”) 3, 5, 7, 10, or 30 days (or “Good ‘Til Cancelled”)
Free Listings per Month No Store 50 combined of either type
Basic Store 250 250
Premium Store 500 1000
Anchor Store 1000 10, 000
Over Monthly Limit Listing Fees per Listing No Store $0.30
Basic Store $0.25 $0.20
Premium Store $0.15 $0.10
Anchor Store $0.10 $0.05

 

There are a few general things to note from this table:

  • Auction-style listings generally don’t last as long as fixed-price listings, which means that you have to renew them more often if your items don’t sell.
  • You generally don’t get as many free auction-style listings per month as free fixed price listings (though, if you have any type of eBay Store, whenever one of your auction-style listings sells an item, you get an extra free auction-style listing for that month).
  • Auction-style listings are generally more expensive to post than fixed price listings, if you go over your monthly limit for them.

The trade-off is that you usually stand to make much more money selling items through auctions, as opposed to with fixed prices.

As we discussed earlier, however, there are several different variations of these two general types of selling formats. So which format should you use, and when should you use it? The following are some general guidelines.

When should I use “Buy It Now”?

Buy It Now eBay listing

“Buy It Now” listings are best used when:

  • You know exactly how much money your item is worth, and/or how much you need to charge for it to turn a profit
  • You want to sell multiples of the same type of item, which lets you get a decent price for them even if they aren’t in high demand
  • You’re not in a huge rush to sell your wares (as “Buy It Now” listings can last longer than “Auction” listings)

When should I use “Buy It Now + Best Offer”?

Buy It Now and Best Offer Listing

The “Buy It Now” and “Best Offer” options are best used together when:

  • You are selling an item just to get rid of it, and aren’t too concerned about how much money you make off of it
  • You need to sell an item quickly, but are worried that it won’t attract much demand in an auction
  • You have a relative idea of how much your item is worth, so you know what price points would constitute a fair deal or not

When should I use “Auction”?

Auction Style Listing on eBay

“Auction” listings are best used when:

  • You are selling a unique or otherwise hard-to-find item, and are perhaps unsure of its true value
  • You expect your item to be in high demand, which can drive up the value of bids
  • You expect the value of your item to fluctuate, so you want to sell it quickly while it’s still potentially worth a lot of money

When should I use “Auction + Buy It Now”?

Auction or Buy It Now eBay listing

“Auction” listings with the “Buy It Now” option are best used when:

  • You know how much your item is worth, so you’d be happy getting a certain value out of it if someone bought it on the spot
  • You think that your item is in high enough demand that you’d be able to get more than your asking price if you put it up for auction

When should I use “Auction + Reserve Price”?

Auction and Reserve Price listing on eBay

Using an “Auction” listing with the “Reserve Price” option costs money – and quite a bit, at that – so use it sparingly. However, it’s a good idea when:

  • You have an idea of what an item is worth, but you want to see what its true value is and/or how high demand for it is
  • You want to set a low opening bid for an item to attract potential buyers, but don’t want to risk selling it at too low a price if demand for it ends up being low
  • You want to avoid setting a high opening bid for an item, so that you don’t scare away potential bidders and end up having trouble selling the item at all

 

That wraps up our explanation of eBay’s selling formats, as well as our advice on when you should use each of them. However, something else that you’ll probably want to think about when deciding which selling formats to use – or what you want to sell in the first place – is your potential overhead expense. We’ll break down some of the common costs associated with running a selling business on eBay in our next article on seller fees.


How to Decide What to Sell on eBay

Before you get started as a seller on eBay, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is: “what am I going to sell?” While this question seems simple enough at first glance, there are a number of things that you need to consider before deciding on what you’re going to list for sale. Here are seven things that you should think about before settling on the best items to sell on eBay.com for you.

7 important considerations when deciding what to sell on eBay

1. Know what you can’t sell.

Before you even start thinking about what kinds of items you’d like to sell, it’s important to know what kinds of items eBay forbids people from selling (or at least only allows the sale of under certain conditions). This saves you the trouble of spending hours researching the best way to sell a particular product, only to have your listings taken down as soon as you post them (and perhaps worse)! eBay has specific policies for different types of restricted items, but in general, here are some products that you need to be careful about trying to sell:

  • alcohol
  • coins, paper money, and stamps
  • drugs and drug paraphernalia
  • electronic surveillance and circumvention equipment
  • firearms and other weapons
  • gambling-related items (e.g. lottery tickets or slot machines)
  • items issued by governments, police, or military
  • tobacco
  • wildlife-based products

For a full list of restricted items, as well as links to specific policies concerning these items, click here.

2. Choose to focus on a few products, or sell a variety.

One of the first decisions that you need to make when deciding what to sell is whether you’re going to specialize in selling only a few different types of items, or instead “go wide” and sell all sorts of assorted wares. The reason for this is that you only get a limited number of free listings each month, so you can only advertise so many unique items before you have to pay listing fees in order to post things for sale. An “eBay Stores” package (more on these later) can help alleviate this by giving you more free monthly listings and lowering your listing fees, but it will cost you money, too.

If you don’t have much experience selling things in general, our advice would be to start small. Don’t worry about getting a Stores subscription, and stick to researching and selling a few unique items in similar categories. You may find that you’re comfortable selling a limited inventory, or you may decide that business is good enough that you want to branch out. If you do decide to expand, consider getting a Store to improve your selling performance.

3. Research what sells best on eBay.

An easy way to get a sense of what people are looking to buy right now is to browse eBay’s “Collections” section. There, you’ll see groups of similar items that lots of buyers have their eyes on, either thinking about making a purchase or waiting for something new to come up for sale. If you have your heart set on selling a particular class of items, you can also click the drop-down menu next to “Explore Collections” and select a specific category to see popular collections of items in just that category.

Another idea that’s particularly good when you’re starting out as a seller is to dedicate your store to items geared toward a specific season, holiday, or other celebration. For example, you could sell costumes and other spooky paraphernalia for Halloween, or you could sell toys and festive ornaments for the Christmas season. This is a simple but effective tactic if you have a relatively small inventory that you don’t necessarily need to be trying to sell year-round.

If you’re still having trouble deciding what to sell, here are a few categories of the best-selling items on eBay, directly from eBay itself:

  • smart phones
  • video games
  • video game consoles
  • tablet computers
  • audio headphones
  • MP3 players
  • digital cameras
  • laptop computers
  • shoes (especially women’s shoes)
  • women’s handbags
  • guitars
  • watches

As you can see, different types of electronics often sell relatively well on eBay. That’s because they’re usually in high demand, and cost a decent amount of money to boot. Plus, some pieces of technology can spur bidding wars in auctions if they’re very popular or otherwise hard to find!

4. Figure out how you’re going to source what you sell.

Another important thing that you need to think about when deciding what you want to sell is where you are going to get the items to sell in the first place. Some common ideas are:

  • Handcraft them yourself (as a hobby or as a business)
  • Buy them as junk and then repair them
  • Find them at discount shopping events, such as garage sales or flea markets
  • Buy them from wholesale retailers such as Alibaba or AliExpress

5. Determine your selling expenses.

eBay isn’t an entirely free selling platform; after all, it has to make money somehow to support itself. Plus, in addition to paying for eBay’s selling services, you may also need to budget for other selling costs, such as buying postage supplies or paying shipping charges. The following are some common expenses that you should be prepared for when selling on eBay:

  • “eBay Stores” packages ­– these are all-in-one business solutions that help you manage and market your selling account on eBay, though they come with monthly (or annual) costs. They are completely optional, although having one affects many other types of fees.
  • Listing fees – you are allowed to post a limited number of item listings for free each month. If you go over your limit(s), you will have to pay a listing fee for each item over the limit. The exact fee is based on the listing format and what level of eBay Stores package you have (if any).
  • Final value fees – eBay will take a commission on each item that you sell equal to a percentage of the item’s total sale price (excluding taxes), up to a certain amount. If you have an eBay Stores package, final value fees will vary based on what type of item(s) you’re selling, but will always be capped at $250 per item. If you don’t, final value fees will always be 10% per item, up to a maximum of $750 per item.
  • Shipping expenses – you’ll also often incur costs for getting the products you sell to the people who buy them, including purchasing postal supplies and paying for courier services. These will depend on the dimensions and weight of the items that you sell, as well as where you are shipping them to. You can pass some of these costs on to your customers if you wish, but doing so will count towards the total sale prices of your items, which will result in higher final value fees on those items.

As you can see, there are a number of different expenses that may affect your choices of what kind(s) of items you want to sell, how much you want to sell, and how much you want to charge for it all. If you want to get a sense of how much overhead you’re going to be paying, these tools can help:

  • Shipping Calculator – see how much you’ll be paying a courier service to ship any one item that you sell, based on its dimensions, weight, destination, and other factors.
  • Fee Calculator – figure out how much you will be paying eBay in fees for any one item that you sell, based on what category you’re selling it in, how much you expect it to sell for, what level of eBay Stores subscription you have, and so on.
  • Fee Illustrator – decide which eBay Stores subscription (if any) is right for you based on what category of items you specialize in selling, how many items you list (and sell) per month, how much your items usually sell for, what your average shipping costs are, and so on.

6. Settle on selling formats to use.

There are two primary selling formats on eBay: “auction-style” and “fixed price.” The former allows you to accept bids for your listed item, and then sell it to the highest bidder. The latter allows you to sell your item to a buyer at a static price without them having to bid for it. There are some hybrid options as well. Here are a few basic things to consider when choosing your selling format:

  • Auction-style listings generally make more money than fixed price listings, since bidders will probably offer to pay significantly more than an item is worth (depending on how much they want it).
  • Auction-style listings generally don’t last as long as fixed price listings. This means that if your items don’t sell in auctions, you have to renew their listings more frequently.
  • You generally get fewer free auction-style listings per month than free fixed price listings (though you can earn extra free auction-style listings if your items sell).
  • Auction-style listings generally have higher listing fees than fixed price listings.

Therefore, in general, it is usually better to save your auction-style listings for big-ticket items that you are confident will both sell in short order AND make you a significant profit. For less expensive items that you can wait to sell and can make you steady profits, consider sticking with fixed price listings.

7. Do research to help set your price ranges.

The various expenses and fees for selling on eBay will likely have a significant influence on not only what you sell, but also how much you sell it for. After all, unless you’re desperately trying to get rid of a particular item, you’re almost never going to want to sell it at a price that ends up making you less money than what you bought it for. Here’s the catch, though: if you set your prices too high, buyers might ignore your wares in favour of those from less pricey sellers. So how do you strike a balance between trying to turn a profit and actually making sales?

One thing that can help is choosing to sell items that you already know a lot about. This likely means that you already have some idea of their market value, and possibly also how much people are willing to pay for them… especially in auctions. If you’re a little in the dark on this front – likely because you’re either selling a type of item that’s new to you or trying a new selling format – then it’s perfectly fine to check out what the competition is doing.

Search around eBay for items similar to the ones that you want to sell and note their asking prices and/or opening bids. You may want to try an advanced search, too, if you’re looking for something really specific, or want to see how much people paid for items that have already sold . You may even want to try researching the prices of similar items on eBay competitor websites, such as Amazon. This should give you a good idea of how – or if – you can price your wares competitively enough. One last thing: be sure to factor shipping charges into your calculations!

 

Those are some basic guidelines for figuring out what you want to sell on eBay. Check out the rest of our course on how to sell on eBay to learn about other topics, including how you can sell things on eBay and what it will cost you to sell.


How to Start Selling On eBay

There are many different reasons why people sell things on eBay.com. Some people have rare products or collectibles, and want to see how much money they can sell those items for. Others are looking to simply get rid of stuff lying around the house that they don’t need, as if they were having a yard sale. Still others have made a living through eBay by making their own items – or buying them from low-cost sources – and then selling them to others.

​eBay is one of the oldest and biggest online marketplaces, and its flexible transaction formats allow buyers and sellers to get deals done in ways that best suit their mutual needs. Naturally, this means that it might serve YOUR needs if you want to sell off stuff you no longer want, or make a business out of selling things that you source in some way. That’s why we’ve developed this course: to teach you all of the basic things that you need to know in order to start selling things on eBay!

eBay homepage

So what exactly is eBay, and where did it come from?

eBay is an e-commerce website that was launched by Pierre Omidyar in 1995 to help him auction off various belongings over the Internet. Eventually, users were allowed to put their own items up for auction. Over time, eBay has added other ways to buy and sell items, such as fixed prices or price offers.

How does e-commerce on eBay work?

As we’ve mentioned, eBay has built (and retained) its popularity by offering its users various options for how they can sell or buy merchandise. It offers three main selling styles:

  • Auctions are how eBay got its start, and they are still as popular as ever on the website. Basically, a seller picks a starting price for their item, as well as a duration for the auction. Then, buyers place bids on the item until the auction ends, where the highest bidder buys the item for the next-highest bid (plus one bid increment).
  • Buy It Now is a relatively new selling format, but it works similarly to the systems on many non-auction online marketplaces. A buyer simply pays a fixed price, set by the seller, in order to purchase an item immediately without having to bid against other prospective buyers.
  • Best Offer is another recent addition. It lets a seller allow a potential buyer to name their own price for a certain item. The seller can then choose to sell the item at the named price, reject the offer, or propose to sell the item at a different price. For more on the ins and outs of how this works, see our lesson on eBay Best Offers.

Item listing on eBay

How can I get started selling on eBay?

Selling things through an online marketplace like eBay is usually a lot easier and more convenient than starting your own brick-and-mortar store. However, there is still quite a bit of preparation and work that goes into it. Here’s a summary of the five key things you will need to do in order to become a competent seller.

1. Make key decisions about your inventory.

Before you even set up shop, you’ll need to think about the actual items that you’ll be selling. What category or categories are you going to sell merchandise for? How many unique items are you going to have for sale at once? Where is your supply of items for sale going to come from? And how much will you charge for your items in order to balance having them actually sell and making a profit off them?

A good place to start is to learn how eBay’s selling fees and selling formats work. This will help you get an idea of what your overhead costs will be when selling specific types of items in certain ways, so you can adjust your profit margins accordingly. It also wouldn’t be a bad idea to research the prices and practices of successful online sellers, both on eBay and elsewhere. This helps you build guidelines on what types of items sell frequently, how much they usually sell for, and what selling formats usually net you the highest sale prices for them.

2. Create a seller account, and (optionally) open an eBay Store.

In order to sell items, you must first create an eBay buyer’s account and then convert it into a selling account (you can still use it for buying, though). This involves providing verifiable information about yourself, setting up how you will pay your seller fees, and linking your account to PayPal (so that eBay can securely send you money when buyers pay you for your items). We can teach you how to set up an eBay seller account, which includes instructions for how to make a PayPal account, if you don’t have one beforehand.

Once your seller’s account is ready, you may want to consider opening a Store. This involves purchasing a monthly or yearly subscription to a suite of selling tools. While it isn’t required in order to sell on eBay, opening a Store can help you sell more items while lowering the cost of doing business. If you’re interested, we have a lesson on how to open and design a Store.

3. Create listings for the products/items that you want to sell.

Once you can officially sell on eBay, you have to let potential buyers know what you’re offering for sale. You can do this by creating “listings,” or advertisements that tell buyers everything they need to know about what they can buy from you. Listings also contain all of the necessary functions that buyers need in order to purchase, bid on, or make price offers for your items.

If you want your items to sell, you’re going to need to make sure that potential buyers know exactly what they’re getting from you. Here are some of the important kinds of information that you will need to include in your listings:

  • What category of merchandise the item you’re selling falls under
  • A title that briefly but accurately describes the item
  • Photos clearly showing the condition of the item
  • A detailed description of the item
  • What format(s) you will use to sell the item
  • The item’s (starting) price
  • How long your listing will last
  • The type and price of shipping options available to the item’s buyer
  • Where you are shipping the item from
  • How long handling the item (prior to shipping) will take
  • Whether or not you will accept a return of the item

Our tutorial on how to list items for sale on eBay will give you full instructions for how to set up a listing, if you want more information.

4. Organize and plan your shipping logistics in advance.

If your items sell (which, hopefully, they will), then you’ll need to figure out how to get them to their buyers. Ideally, some parts of this process should be done before you even list items for sale. For example, you should make sure that:

  • You have enough packaging supplies on-hand.
  • You can securely pack each item you’re putting up for sale.
  • You know how much it will cost to ship each of your items once they sell.

Once a buyer makes a purchase from you, you will need to pack the item (or items) and attach a shipping label to the order. Shipping labels can be printed on eBay itself (for free!), or on the websites of common courier services (e.g. U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, or U.P.S.). Then, you will need to drop the package off at your local post office (or other shipping station). Finally, it would be a really good idea to go back to eBay and add tracking information to the package, or at least indicate to the buyer that their order is on its way.

Our lesson for how to ship on eBay will walk you through getting items that you’ve sold ready for send-off.

5. Manage your reputation with customer service and buyer relations.

After buyers purchase your items, they can leave comments and assessments on how buyer-friendly your selling practices were. As such, there are several things that you need to consider in order to rack up positive feedback and increase your seller rating score. These include:

  • Were items exactly as they were described in the listing?
  • Were your prices fair?
  • Did you offer free shipping or multiple shipping options?
  • Were items delivered promptly?
  • Were your return policies flexible?
  • Were you reasonable in trying to resolve any problems that a buyer had with their order?

There are a couple of other things that you can do to build and protect your reputation as a seller. For example, you can leave “positive” feedback for buyers who purchase your items frequently and/or exhibit other good buying behaviours, such as asking questions about you and your items, paying promptly, and not being overly demanding if they have an issue with their order. Expressing your appreciation like this makes buyers more likely to purchase from you, whether they’re repeat customers showing their loyalty or new buyers looking for a seller they can trust.

You can also ask a buyer to change their feedback if you feel that it was unwarranted. For example, the buyer may have left feedback for the wrong item, or you may have helped them solve the issue that they were having with their purchase. eBay may also delete feedback that you get if they determine that someone who bought from you broke the website’s rules. They may do this after you report a buyer for a policy violation, or at their own discretion.

Our tutorial on eBay feedback and ratings explains more about how the reputation and review system works. We recommend that you give it a read if you’re serious about becoming a seller on eBay, as it can really help you learn how to become trusted on the website, and in turn, find success with your eBay store.

eBay store front

Selling items on eBay takes planning, patience, vigilance, skill, and a little bit of luck. But if you’re up for the challenge, it can be a flexible and fun way to make some money on the side by selling things you don’t need anymore. Who knows… you might be able to turn your little venture into a full-blown enterprise that you can make a living from!

 

Everyone has to start somewhere, though, and our eBay seller’s course can be your starting point. Throughout this course, we’ll go through the basic things that you need to consider and do in order to start hawking your wares on eBay. We have you covered from deciding what you want to sell right through to getting paid for your first sale. Check out our next tutorial to get started!