online store and retail

Design a killer eBay growth strategy

Selling on eBay in 1998: Photographing vintage finds on a mannequin, auctioning them off to the highest bidder, and making a few hundred bucks per month.

Selling on eBay in 2021 and beyond: Sellers and large retailers posting their own branded, authorized listings on a marketplace with over 187 million active users globally in the first quarter of 2021.

Make no mistake, eBay is an incredible global marketplace for small businesses to extend their sales mix. It’s also great for sellers with niche or hard-to-find products and commercial retailers that ship globally. However, to make it big on eBay, you must have a strong understanding of the platform, its user needs, and how to navigate the site.

If you need help creating a growth strategy for eBay, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll go over a few factors to include in your growth plan to help you start selling and make a profit on eBay. Keep reading to set your business up for success, or use the links below to navigate the post.

Listing the right products

To kick off your eBay growth strategy, you need to feature the right products. If you’re unsure what products to list on eBay, check out what items are trending on the platform and go from there. While many sellers focus on one particular niche, others adapt to industries that are gaining popularity.

eBay is your opportunity to extend your current offerings into a new sales channel or develop niche products to sell on the platform. That said, you don’t have to choose one over the other. By diversifying your product offerings and delving into different sales categories, you can reduce the chance of not making a sale. Not only will this help you expand into a different market, but it can also attract new buyers to your listings and increase cash flow.

Reach more customers

Pricing items on eBay

Previously, the cost of listing and auctioning products on eBay was too expensive and risky for retailers looking for eBay growth. However, eBay has since provided sellers with a fixed-price format that creates a low-risk opportunity for them to list their entire catalog. This way, retailers only pay eBay a commission when a sale goes through.

To create a profitable pricing strategy, you must understand the different ways you can list your items. This will help you think more strategically about pricing decisions like leveraging loss leaders to attract buyers into your listings.

Woman sitting on couch with laptop open on her lap and notebook open on top of it taking notes

Before pricing your items, create a system with different prices and listing categories for auction-style and fixed-price listings. We’ll go over the two in detail to help you make the right choice for your business.

  • Auction-style listings:  This form of selling is how eBay got its start and became the e-commerce marketplace it is today. Auction-style listings will typically stay up on the platform for a certain number of days, ranging from one, three, five, seven, or ten days. The timeframe you choose depends on the item you’re selling. If you’re selling concert tickets to a sold-out show, for example, you would use the one-day auction option since you need to sell quickly.
  • Fixed-price listings:  As the name suggests, these listings have a fixed price regardless of the item. Active buyers can “Buy it Now” without having to guess about the amount they’re going to pay. Unlike auction-style pricing, you can also bundle multiple products under one price by using a fixed-price listing. You also have the option of having buyers select “Best Offer,” allowing them to negotiate with you on the price.

But how do you know if auction-style or fixed-price listings are right for your products? Here are a few of the benefits of each selling method:

Auction-style listings can be beneficial if:

  • You’re selling an in-demand item that can garner more than its retail value, such as limited-edition figures, luxury watches, or other rare collectibles.
  • The value of your products fluctuates.
  • You’re able to target your perfect buyer.
  • You have dead inventory that’s not moving and you need to get rid of it.

Benefits of fixed-price listings:

  • Sell products for a consistent amount each time.
  • Your payment comes in much faster.
  • Buyers tend to favor quick sales (with the “Buy Now” button) over auction-style deals.
  • Bundled products stand out from a la carte items.

If you’re having a difficult time pricing your items, you can view similar listings on eBay to help you gauge the ideal price. This will also allow you to see whether people are bidding on these products or purchasing them at a fixed price. Your prices should be competitive, but not too low that you don’t make a profit. On the other hand, they shouldn’t be too high either. If your prices are significantly higher than your competitors, consumers may not want to make a purchase.

Make eBay’s search engine work for you

Because eBay’s e-commerce marketplace is highly search-oriented, sellers that get great search placement—an appearance on the first two pages of results—go through their products fast. Conversely, sellers with poor search placement may struggle to survive and experience slow growth rates. While eBay hasn’t released documentation on how their search engine calculates search results, here are a few ways to master the eBay algorithm:

  • Create detailed descriptions for your eBay listings. This includes a detailed product description, a title, and item specifics, such as dimensions or flaws. You’ll also want to make sure all listings include well-lit and appealing photos. When your listing is created, view it on your browser and the eBay mobile app to ensure it’s optimized for both.
  • Categorize products appropriately. If you don’t, your target audience will have a hard time finding your products, and you may not make as many sales as you hoped.
  • Make sure you’re selling your products during the correct season. Like physical retail stores, online marketplaces also face high and low periods.
  • Don’t get lazy. Make sure your listing is free of spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Avoid keyword and category stuffing. While it may be tempting to use as many keywords as possible, this could cause your listings to be penalized and harm your sales.
  • Be transparent. You should aim to be clear about your payment options, return policy, shipping policy, delivery times, and additional fees.
  • Communicate with buyers quickly and efficiently. No matter what kind of products you’re selling, customer service is key to a successful business.
  • Improve your eBay seller feedback. By accurately describing your items, dispatching your products on time, and offering free shipping if possible, you can automatically get your listing a high rating in this category. Feedback is also a great way to measure your progress as a business. See how much your business has changed in a full year or compare your first quarter with your second quarter.
  • Sellers that adhere to this checklist can put themselves in a better position to build authentication points and prompt online shopping purchases. Plus, establishing trust may encourage buyers to return in the future.
Woman happily smiling at a work desk in front of her open laptop while talking on the phone surrounded by boxes.

Manage your listings and orders efficiently

Once you’ve created your product listings, how should you manage them? While you can use a spreadsheet to input data after every sale, that can become inefficient quickly, especially if you receive an influx of orders.

By using an inventory and order management platform you can keep track of the orders that come in, from payment all the way to fulfillment. These kinds of platforms can help you track inventory, send notifications when inventory is running low, and automatically update stock as sales are processed. Use technology to your advantage to help you stay on top of every order and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Maximize your eBay sales with QuickBooks Commerce

Within the past year, eBay’s growth has remained steady. During the pandemic, the marketplace saw an increase in active buyers as well as gross merchandise volume (GMV). As eBay Inc. CEO Jamie Iannone states in the eBay Impact 2020 report, “we helped small businesses get online so they could grow.” So, if you’ve been thinking about selling on eBay, now is the time.

If you’re selling on multiple sales channels, including eBay and Amazon, it’s crucial to have a powerful system to help manage your business from a central location. Enter: QuickBooks Commerce. Don’t waste your time on manual processes or juggling sales between multiple applications.

QuickBooks Commerce seamlessly integrates with eBay and can help you:

  • Keep your product listings up to date and accurate.
  • Dramatically increase efficiency with seamless inventory tracking.
  • Make smarter business decisions with data-driven insights and inventory analysis.
  • Easily track metrics across all sales channels to assess growth and net income for each period—typically divided into the first, second, third, and fourth quarters.
  • Manage multiple warehouses and fulfillment requirements.
  • Increase revenues by avoiding stock-outs or overstocks.

Get started with QuickBooks Commerce and spend less energy on manual tasks and more time on growing on eBay.

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