Online marketplaces have transformed the way we buy – and sell. eBay, for example, is home to 22 million active users in the UK, which means listing your products here could land you more footfall than a shop on the busiest high street. With purse strings tightening, many people are becoming eBay sellers to keep up with the cost of living – selling high-end trainers, home decor, and all manner of goods via the platform.
But how easy is it to set up shop on one of the world’s biggest online marketplaces? We share what you need to get started when selling on eBay, including eBay listing tips, optimising your listings, and protecting yourself as a seller.
Why sell on eBay?
As far as ecommerce goes, setting up a store from scratch with popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify isn’t the only option.
As the UK continues to battle a cost of living crisis, selling on eBay can help people earn a little extra cash to pay the bills.
eBay is simple to start up – you don’t need to set up a store from scratch or create a distinctive shopfront (as you would on many other platforms). eBay sellers don’t need to purchase a physical retail property, or even carry the stock. Plus, millions of people already visit eBay daily.
Online marketplaces like eBay and Amazon have significant user numbers – which means a huge potential customer base. You don’t need to restrict yourself to one site, either. You can sell on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and your own website.
Buyers already know, love and trust eBay. With secure payment methods and eBay seller protection, you can rest assured your store is kept safe.
Who can sell on eBay?
Anyone can sell on eBay. But you’ll need to sign up for an eBay account to get started.
Restrictions are in place for items that violate laws or infringe on intellectual property rights. Otherwise, you’re free to sell most items.
What to sell on eBay
You can sell just about anything on eBay. Perhaps you have a passion for vintage clothing or have always wanted to sell pet toys and accessories. If you’re not sure which niche to choose, consider your passions and interests outside of work, and the things you buy yourself.
The top-selling items on eBay frequently change. But if you’re not sure what to sell, here are some popular items you can use as inspiration:
- Phone accessories
- Craft supplies
- Baby clothes and accessories
- Beauty products (like skincare, vitamins and supplements)
- Fitness equipment (like weights and yoga mats)
- Computers, laptops, tablets and accessories
These items already sell on eBay, so there’s a good chance you can sell them too.
What to avoid when selling on eBay
As we’ve already mentioned, items that violate laws or infringe on intellectual property rights are prohibited on eBay. But there are other items that are also best to avoid.
For example, foods like wild mushrooms and unpasteurised fruit or vegetable juice cannot be sold. The same goes for used cosmetics, sponges, and applicators. Other prohibited items include halogen light bulbs, live animals, and endangered plants.
How much does it cost to sell on eBay?
You’re probably wondering: How much do eBay take from sales?
On average, eBay sellers are charged around 10% of the product value. But this cost changes depending on the sales value and product category. You may also need to pay a fee for listing your product – depending on how many products you list per month. Check out the full list of eBay selling costs if you’re unsure.
How to set up an eBay account to sell
Before listing items for sale, you need to start by creating an eBay account.
1. Head to the eBay website and click ‘Register’
2. You’ll have the option of a personal or business account
a) Select ‘Business’ and add your details to the form
3. Click ‘Create business account’
a) You’ll be redirected to the eBay home page
4. From the ‘My eBay’ drop-down menu, select ‘Selling’
a) You’ll be redirected to the ‘My eBay selling overview’
5. Click the button that says ‘List an item’ – and start listing items for sale
a) Once you’ve submitted your first item, you’ll be redirected to a seller account registration page
6. Select ‘Get started’
a) Fill in the details and verify your phone number using the security code sent to you
7. Confirm whether you want to have a personal or business account
Once you’ve verified your account details on eBay – start selling.
Listing items for sale
You can quickly begin listing items for sale on eBay from the ‘Seller centre’. Simply:
1. Click ‘Create listing’
a) You’ll have the option of a ‘single listing’, ‘bulk listing’, or ‘listings from BULQ inventory’ (this is eBay’s inventory catalogue)
2. Type what you’re selling in the search bar – the more specific, the better
a) eBay will come up with matches for your item
b) If a match comes up, select it, and the listing data will be filled in for you
c) If a match doesn’t come up, click on ‘Continue without match’
3. Add high-quality images (maximum length: 500 pixels) and a video to your listing
4. Give your item a title and subtitle that succinctly describes what you’re selling
5. Specify the category, secondary category, and your SKU code if you have one
6. Fill in the item specifics – such as colour, size, brand name, and product line
7. Write a comprehensive item description, and include details about the condition of the product
8. Set the price and quantity, and decide if you’ll put it up for auction, accept offers, or leave it as a ‘Buy it now’ product
9. Add your shipping details, such as your terms, regions, and pricing
10. Choose if you want to promote your listings for an extra fee, or offer volume pricing for customers purchasing in bulk
11. Select your accepted payment methods and add your returns policy
12. Set up optional automatic charity donations as a percentage of your item sales
13. Review your listing by selecting ‘Preview’, and click ‘List it’ once you’re happy
Optimising your listings
You can help more customers find your products by optimising your listings. Here are some eBay listing tips to get you started:
- Tweak your titles: Be picky about the words you use – avoid subjective descriptions like ‘cool’ or ‘fancy’, don’t write in all caps, and avoid special characters
- Be thorough: Add as much detail to your product listings as possible, and ensure your images and descriptions accurately capture the details of your items
- Prioritise customer service: Ratings and reviews appear on your eBay listings, so make sure you’re delivering high-quality customer service
- Clarify your terms and conditions: Make sure you specify postage and handling costs, accepted payment methods, and your returns policy. Include international limits if you have them
How to sell on eBay internationally
Making your products available internationally can expand your customer base – but it could come at a cost.
You may need to pay eBay an additional international fee, and shipping costs are likely to be higher. It’s up to you whether you pass on these increases to international customers.
If you do decide to sell on eBay internationally, you can set international rates on individual items or your entire catalogue. Simply click ‘Show international services and options’ on each listing, then choose between a flat rate or calculated postage.
How does shipping work on eBay?
There are multiple eBay pricing strategies you can choose from. You can charge an additional shipping fee, or incorporate it into the item price – so shipping is ‘free’.
Customers prefer free shipping; seven out of ten Brits say free shipping is one of the most important factors for them when buying online. But you need to make sure you can incorporate these costs into the product price.
You can set your shipping on eBay in multiple ways: by adding shipping costs when you create your listings, or by selecting the ‘Account’ tab and creating postage tables.
eBay stipulates that sellers must send items within the specified handling times, and use the delivery service selected by the customer.
Handling customers on eBay
As with any online marketplace, great customer service helps you climb the seller ranks.
Clearly state your shipping and returns policies in your listings, and respond to customers politely and promptly. Keep customers updated with tracking information, and provide sturdy and secure packaging.
Beyond the basics, you’ll also need to know how to contact a user on eBay, and how to issue a refund. You can contact a user directly if they’ve purchased an item from you. Click the button on the eBay customer service help page to get started.
If you need to contact a bidder (before the auction is over), you can look up their username on ‘Advanced search’, and click ‘Contact member’.
Refunding a customer on eBay is simple. Head to the seller hub and search for the order, or find it in ‘My eBay sold’. You’ll see a dropdown menu – select ‘Send refund’, submit your reason, and specify the amount.
There are times when eBay might need to issue a refund on your behalf. You can learn more on eBay's refund guidance page.
Do sellers have any protection on eBay?
Yes, eBay seller protection covers you for a range of incidents involving abusive buyers. For example, if:
- an item is returned used or damaged by the buyer
- a bid is retracted or unpaid by the buyer
- a buyer requests something that wasn’t specified in the listing
You’ll receive full or partial refunds (depending on the circumstances), and any negative feedback will be removed. To be eligible for eBay seller protection you need to uphold your policies – shipping within the timeframe specified on your listing, and honouring your returns policy if customers send an item back.
eBay seller protection is also in place for events outside of your control. Read the guidance on eBay seller protection for further details.
As far as protecting yourself as a seller, make sure your shipping and returns policies are comprehensive and accurate. Report abusive buyers to eBay immediately, and familiarise yourself with the protection policies so that you don’t accidentally misuse them.
How do you get paid on eBay?
Payouts from eBay go directly into your linked bank account. Once a buyer payment is confirmed, it usually takes about a day for this payment to become available for payout. If you schedule payouts daily, it takes around two days from when the buyer payment is confirmed to initiate the payout. Read eBay’s guidance on getting paid for more on this.
How to grow your eBay business
Achieving success on eBay takes time. If you want to kickstart your progress, try some of these growth tips and strategies:
- Invest in eBay promoted listings
- Include target keywords in your listings and experiment with eBay SEO
- Market your products on social media
- Refine your customer service (e.g. ship fast and send customers shipping updates)
- Encourage customers to leave reviews
How to track your eBay income
Everyone in the UK has a £1000 tax-free trading allowance. This means you can earn less than £1000 from your eBay business, without having to declare it to HMRC.
If you’re a sole trader earning under £50k per annum, you can use Xero Go to help manage and track income from your eBay transactions as well as any expenses you might incur.
Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice. This guide has been provided for information purposes only. You should consult your own professional advisors for advice directly relating to your business or before taking action in relation to any of the content provided.
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