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How to sell on eBay
Practical tips for online sellers that can help drive sales on this global marketplace.
Since its launch, eBay has grown from an online auction site to a powerhouse e-commerce marketplace where you can find — and sell — practically anything.
How do I start selling on eBay?
Kick off your eBay business by signing up for an account online.
- Sign up for a Business Account. Go to eBay’s homepage and click Register. Under Create an account, click Create a business account.
- Register your business information. Enter your business name, your email address, a password and your business phone. Confirm you’re not a robot by entering the eBay-generated number, then click Register.
- Indicate how you'll pay your fees. Choose whether to pay your eBay fees through PayPal, with credit card or debit card or through a bank transfer.
- Confirm your identity. Wait for either a text message or phone call, and confirm your identity through the instructions provided.
- Link your preferred payment. Click the My eBay link at the top right of screen and then select the Account tab. Enter the details of your preferred payment method where indicated.
- Open an eBay Store. From the My eBay menu, select Account, Subscriptions and then Subscribe to an eBay Store. You can then choose the package you want and begin customizing your store and listings.
Should I sell as an individual or as an eBay Store?
It all depends on how much you intend to sell.
If you plan to use eBay as part of a side hustle for extra cash, selling everyday items like gently used clothing and household items you no longer need, sign up for an individual account. If you're looking to offload multiples of items in a business inventory, you can save money on insertion items and more with an eBay Store.
Selling as an individual
- Free to list up to 50 items a month
- Fees start at 10% on every sale, including the cost to ship
- Five subscription tiers starting at $7.95 a month
- Fees start at 4% on every sale
How much does it cost to sell on eBay?
Consider four main fees when selling on eBay: subscription, listing, final value and PayPal transaction fees.
If you want to open an eBay Store, choose from five paid subscription tiers to choose from: Starter, Basic, Premium, Anchor and Enterprise. You generally can shave savings off monthly costs with an annual subscription.
$7.95 monthly or $59.40 a year
$27.95 monthly or $263.40 a year
$74.95 monthly or $719.40 a year
$349.95 monthly or $3,599.40 a year
$2,999.95 a year
Free listings per month
Up to 100 fixed-price or auction-style listings
If you've run out of free listings or the item you want to sell doesn't qualify for a free listing, you'll need to pay a selling fee. A selling fee is a percentage of an item's total sale price.
Auction-style listings in Collectibles category
Fixed-price listings in Media categories
Classified Ad listings in Real Estate category
Classified Ad listings in other categories
Final value fees
You also pay a fee when your item sells on eBay — called a final-value fee.
These fees are calculated as a percentage of the total sale price, including postage and handling. Amounts range from 4% to 10%, depending on a complicated fee system that involves your membership level, the category you listed your item in and sometimes the item itself.
Managed payments fee
Another fee to look out for involves payments processing. The company charges two types of fees for managing your payments:
- Processing rate. A fee equal to 2.7% of your total order amount.
- Dispute fee. A fee of $20, excluding taxes, if you're found responsible for a chargeback or other disputed amount.
You can avoid these charges by receiving buyer payments to a PayPal account, but PayPal itself will charge a fee based on completed sales and method of payment.
Seller tip: The importance of an eBay fee calculator
With all these fees to consider, it's easy for an item that sells for $50 to return you only $43. I've had moments where I've dropped the price of my unwanted threads to $0.99 plus postage for a quick sale — and wound up at a loss due to all the fees.
Before you decide on a price, check out an eBay calculator to see whether you're fairly pricing your goods. You'll find numerous apps and online calculators online.
How to ship on eBay
There are a couple of eBay shipping options available:
- Ship items yourself. You can ship items either standard or express through the US Mail, UPS or FedEx. A built-in postage calculator can help you calculate domestic and international shipping rates based on your package type, dimensions and weight and shipping ZIP code.
- Use a fulfillment partner. Leave the picking, packing and shipping to a third-party fulfillment for easier, faster delivery on your behalf. Private third-party companies like ShipBob, Deliverr and Ware2Go integrate with eBay and even ship internationally .
ShipBob takes care of picking, packing and shipping your e-commerce orders, whether they’re placed through your website or a third-party channel like Amazon.
- Integrate with multiple channels
- Positive online reviews
- Fast delivery
- Seven location options to choose from
How do I market my products?
If you can't get your listing in front of potential buyers, it doesn't matter how tantalizing your stock. That's where eBay's marketing and promotion options come in.
Sign in to your eBay account to learn more about:
- Promoted Listings. Increase the visibility of individual or multiple listings to potential buyers. You pay an ad fee each time a buyer clicks one of your promoted listings and then buys the item.
- Promotions Manager. Free for all Stores, this tool helps you attract and encourage repeat buyers. Run promotional campaigns with defined start and end dates for large-order discounts, codeless vouchers, promotional postage rates and sales.
- eBay Deals. Increase exposure to your listings with inclusion in the platform's best offers among other trusted sellers.
How to price items
The main factors to consider when working out how to price items on eBay include:
- Your costs. Consider how much it costs you to source, store and ship the item you're selling. Remember to also include eBay fees and other overhead in your calculations.
- The market. Research similar products on eBay to discover how they're priced and how different price points affect sales success.
- Your buyers. Learn what represents a reasonable price for the buyers you expect to your listings. You can do this via market research and experimenting with pricing strategies.
After trial and error, you should be able to find the perfect price point that represents a decent profit for you and good value for shoppers.
What to watch out for
Like many marketplaces, eBay extends a healthy list of services to protect both buyers and sellers against fraud, nondelivery and misrepresentation:
- Unpaid item disputes. If a buyer doesn't pay you for a sale and stops replying to your messages, you can open a dispute through eBay's Resolution Center. It then intervenes to try to resolve your issue. If the buyer is at fault, you're refunded your fees related to the listing.
- Ability to block buyers. If you've had an issue with a buyer, you can block them from bidding on your items in the future, thereby protecting you from repeated hassles.
- Customer feedback. Feedback can be a double-edge sword. Positive feedback encourages customers to buy from you, but negative feedback can keep them moving on. If you feel you've received unfair negative feedback from a buyer, dispute it with eBay. If eBay agrees, it removes that feedback from your account.
Potential issues every new eBay seller should be aware of:
- Fees. Fees can get complicated, what with subscriptions, listing and final value costs. Avoid surprises by using a calculator to make sure you understand what all those separate charges add up to.
- Competition. The marketplace attracts millions of sellers and products to the platform, which can make getting noticed more difficult than on other sites.
- Limited customization. You've got options to make your listing pop, but the marketplace doesn't offer much in the way of personalizing your eBay Store.
Read more pros and cons of eBay in our comparison of selling on Bonanza versus eBay.
How do I decide what to sell?
The beauty of eBay for both sellers and buyers is that you can find nearly anything under the sun for sale on its marketplace, from clothing and everyday household items to toys and sought-after memorabilia and even high-end electronics and cars.
Popular eBay categories
- Clothing, shoes and accessories
- Consumer electronics
- Health, beauty and baby
- Home and garden
- Motors and automobiles
- Sporting goods
- Toys and media
Prohibited or restricted items on eBay
- Adult items
- Alcohol, drugs and prescriptions
- Animals and wildlife products
- Drugs and prescriptions
- Expired, unpasteurized and other foods
- Firearms, knives and other weapons
- Gift cards
- Historical artifacts, cultural heritage and grave-related items
- Real estate
- Slot machines
- Surveillance, lock picking or other crime-related items
- Used cosmetics, underwear and other select items
Is selling on eBay worth it?
It can be. A globally recognized online marketplace, eBay is a major player in the world of e-commerce, and so lots of eyes could potentially land on your listing.
But profits depend on converting those eyes into a sale, and that's not guaranteed. Multiple eBay fees and general business costs of selling — like packaging and posting — can chip away at your bottom line.
Understand the risks involved in running an online business before getting started.
Alternatives to eBay for online sellers
If you’re looking to start an online business, you may want to consider signing up for an e-commerce platform that allows you to create your own store. Use the table below to compare your options.
In the world of online selling, eBay is difficult to avoid. It's touted the "world's largest marketplace," after all, offering so many wares to every corner of the world.
Whether you're a hobbyist or an expert seller, you can get your listings in front of millions of people. But watch for complicated fees and restrictions on select items.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to pay tax on my eBay sales?
Generally, not if you’re selling as a hobby. However, if you’re running a business, you must declare your sales income to the IRS.In addition, if your business has an annual turnover of $75,000 or more, you’ll need to register for GST.
Do I need a tax ID to sell on eBay?
No. But direct sellers may need to report sales income to the IRS if you’re a business or selling items for more than you originally purchased them. Learn more about taxation with the IRS.
What is eBay Managed Delivery?
It’s eBay’s short-lived fulfillment program for sellers designed to compete with Fulfillment by Amazon. The end-to-end service was announced in July 2019. But by February 2020, eBay had quietly announced the closure of its pilot program with “no announcements made regarding its expansion.”
How can I list items in my eBay store?
Click Sell at the top of any eBay page and follow the instructions. Use eBay’s Selling Manager or a third-party listing tool for bulk selling.
How much do eBay Promoted Listings cost?
It isn’t a set fee or rate. Rather the ad fee for Promoted Listings depends on:
- The ad rate — or percentage of the item’s sale price — you select when launching your campaign.
- The sale price of the product.
You might need to experiment with Promoted Listings for a few items to get a sense as to whether it’s worth the cost.
What types of payment does eBay accept?
Main options include PayPal or PayPal Credit, but depending on the category, you can select from a range of payment methods that include:
- Credit or debit card payments through a merchant account
- Payment on pickup, including cash
- Bank transfers
- Checks and money orders
- Select online payment services like Xoom or Allpay
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