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How to sell on eBay: the beginner’s guide

When you run an e-commerce business, there’s no shortage of platforms and sales channels that you can use to list items and reach potential buyers.

Of course, there’s your own e-commerce website. There’s Amazon and Etsy. But, there’s another one that you should consider adding to your list to widen your reach: eBay.

Wait a second…eBay? Isn’t that for selling the random, unused, and unwanted things you find around your house? Or your dusty collectibles? Definitely not. eBay is steadily growing, with 187 million active buyers scouring the marketplace for new products.

Plus, with a reported 1.7 billion visits per month, you might be surprised to learn that eBay ranks second on a list of the world’s top online marketplaces for retailers—ranking only behind Amazon.

How to start selling on eBay for beginners

Much like getting started with any new sales channel, figuring out how to sell on eBay for beginners can feel overwhelming. Here’s the good news: getting started with your own eBay store doesn’t need to be a complicated undertaking. Let’s walk through it step-by-step.

1. Create a business account on eBay

If you don’t already have an eBay account, you’ll need to set one up. eBay offers two different account types:

  • Personal:  For individuals who plan to use eBay for listing personal items and making personal purchases.
  • Business: For businesses who will be running an eBay store or eBay business as part of their broader e-commerce business.

Since you run an e-commerce business and will be selling and listing items as part of that, you’ll understandably want to opt for the business account. Head to and select the “business account” button at the top of the page.

Create ebay account

You’ll need to enter some basic information like your business name and business email address and then create a password. Click the “create account” button and eBay will send you an email with a six-digit code to verify your email address. Once you do that, your account is set and you’re on your way.

2. Set up your profile

Before you can get started with eBay selling, you’ll need to enter some other information about your business so you can use all of the features of the platform—including getting paid for the items you sell.

After accessing your new eBay account, you’ll be walked through a couple of pages that ask you for details about your:

  • Business entity
  • Business address and contact information
  • Primary business contact
  • Bank account and information (so you can receive payments—eBay integrates directly with over 1,000 banks)

With that basic information out of the way, you’re ready to polish up your public-facing profile by adding a photo (your company logo is a great option) and writing a short (250 characters or less) bio about your business and the types of products you sell.

Set up ebay profile

These seemingly small additions will help you seem like a more reputable and trustworthy seller, which is important for getting more potential buyers interested in your brand and your listed items.

3. Understand the rules of the road

You’re eager to create your first eBay listings and start watching the sales come in. But, it’s smart to get the lay of the land before you find yourself confused. There are a few important things to know about eBay fees, listing types, and seller limitations.

Let’s start with listing types. When listing an item for sale on eBay, you’ll be able to choose between two options:

  • Auction-style: You’ll set a time period and buyers will bid on your item, much like an auction.
  • Fixed-price listings: You’ll set a price for your item. This is the “buy it now” button you see on eBay. This allows people to skip the auction and purchase directly for your price.

As an e-commerce business, you’ll likely benefit most from the fixed-price listings. Auction-style is a better fit for one-of-a-kind items or pieces you don’t have large inventory for.

What about selling fees? Like most other online marketplaces and platforms, eBay comes with a price. eBay has a number of different seller fees, including:

  • Insertion fees: You can list 250 items each month for free. Beyond that limit, you’ll pay a $0.35 listing fee (also called an insertion fee) per listing for most product categories. It’s not a problem for brands who are selling smaller quantities of items. But, for e-commerce brands who are listing and selling a lot of products, these listing fees can add up.
  • Final value fees: If an item sells, eBay will also take a percentage of that item’s final selling price. Most product categories have a fee of 12.55% or lower, plus a $0.30 transaction fee.

Additionally, if you want to increase the appeal of your listings with things like larger photos or multiple product categories, you’ll also pay for those listing upgrades.

Finally, you can’t just list hundreds of products for sale on eBay immediately. In order to protect shoppers and help businesses ensure their eBay business is manageable and sustainable, the platform has selling limits for new eBay accounts.

As a brand new business account, you’ll likely be limited to 10 items or $750 in listings per month. As you prove that you can meet that demand, eBay will increase your limit—or you can request a limit increase immediately.

Ebay limit

4. Create your first product listing

Most of the unglamorous work related to getting an account set up on eBay is behind you. Now, you’re finally ready to create a product listing for the first time and start making some eBay sales.

To do so, hit the “sell” option in the upper menu and then the blue “create listing” button in the upper right of the page. eBay will have you start by entering your product’s UPC, ISBN, ePID, or part number if you have it. If not, simply enter the name of your product (e.g., “apron”) and press “get started.”

You’ll be brought to a page where you can enter all of your item specifics. This includes (but certainly isn’t limited to):

  • Product title
  • Product category
  • Condition
  • Product photos (up to 12 photos)
  • Product details (such as brand name, material, size, style, pattern, etc.)
  • Item description
  • Selling details (listing type, pricing information like starting price and duration if applicable, payment options, return policy, sales tax, and more)
  • Shipping details

It can feel like a lot to get through, but remember that the more detailed you can be, the better. You can always save your new product listing as a draft and even preview it to ensure that it looks the way you want it to. We’ll provide some tips for optimizing your product listings in the next section.

Want to make managing your multi-channel e-commerce business even easier? QuickBooks Commerce allows you to push out your product listings to all of the sales channels you use so you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Get started now.

Tips for success for selling on eBay

You probably already know this about online marketplaces: they aren’t a “build it and they will come” sort of thing. While listing products is an important step, that alone won’t get potential buyers’ eyeballs on your new items.

That all comes down to other strategies—like effective optimization, smart marketing, and building a positive seller reputation.

1. Optimize product descriptions

When an algorithm is in charge of how often your products get seen, understanding and using keywords obviously needs to be part of your plan.

Keyword Tool has an eBay-specific feature that will give you tons of keyword options you can work into your item descriptions. While you want to avoid keyword stuffing, focusing on the search terms that are most relevant to your product and most searched by your target customers will help you ensure you’re appealing to the algorithm as much as possible.

Beyond weaving in keywords, you’ll need to ensure that your product description is as detailed as possible. Don’t skip fields in the interest of saving time. Give your potential buyers all of the information they need, including:

  • Product specifics: What’s the condition of the product? The brand? Material? Size? What else do you know about it that customers could be interested in?
  • Shipping details: Will you ship via UPS? USPS? FedEx? How long does it take to ship items?
  • Return information: What recourse do they have if they’re unhappy with an item?

Finally, product photos play a key role in the product listing process—not just for the algorithm, but for actual shoppers too. In fact, 63% of shoppers say good product photos are more important than the product listing.

Again, eBay allows you to include up to 12 product photos with your listings. To make the most of them, ensure that:

  • You take photos against a clean, consistent, and non-distracting background
  • You take photos in natural light to get the most accurate image
  • You take high-quality photos that aren’t grainy or blurry
  • You take photos from multiple angles to show the full product, as well as close-ups

You don’t need to be a professional product photographer to make this happen. You just need to take your time, get a little practice, and find what works for you.

2. Establish trust

As a brand new eBay seller, it can feel tough to get traction. Buyers are understandably wary, especially since you haven’t yet proven yourself, sold any items, gotten a high seller rating, or achieved a top rated seller status.

For that reason, it’s important that you do everything you can to prove that you’re a trustworthy seller, including:

  • Completing your profile with a bio and profile photo
  • Writing honest product descriptions and using honest product photos
  • Keeping your promises about shipping costs, shipping times, returns, etc.

The more transparent and honest you can be, the more luck you’ll have converting potential buyers into paying customers.

3. List items daily

While it’s difficult to prove, some eBay sellers maintain that listing items daily (rather than listing a whole batch all at once) is better for both shoppers and the algorithm.

The thinking is that many shoppers filter results by “newest first” to see the items that have been added most recently. So, if you’re frequently adding items, you’ll have a better chance of being filtered to the top of the pile.

Just keep in mind that you’ll have listing limits to contend with at first—but, the more you sell, the higher your limit will be.

4. Promote your product listings

While optimizing your listings directly on eBay is important, it’s also worth promoting them outside of the platform.

When you list new items for sale, share those listings directly to your business’ social media accounts to increase their visibility. On your eBay listing, click the icon for the social network that you want to post your listing to—eBay makes it easy to share your listing directly from the marketplace.

5. Request reviews and ratings

You likely already know that online reviews carry a lot of weight with shoppers. 93% of customers say that online reviews impact their purchase decisions.

You can cross your fingers and hope that your earliest customers will leave a glowing review and select a positive rating for your business. Or, you can explicitly ask them to leave you some feedback.

Once a customer has completed a purchase and you’ve successfully delivered their product, send a friendly note to request that they leave a rating or review of their experience with your brand. 72% of online shoppers who are asked to write a review will actually do so!

While asking a buyer to leave honest feedback about their experience is perfectly acceptable, make sure that you don’t violate any of eBay’s feedback extortion rules. This means you can’t:

  • Withhold a purchased item or a return to demand that a customer leaves positive feedback
  • Offer compensation or additional items in exchange for positive feedback

It all ties back to being an honest and trustworthy seller—don’t put your customers in a compromising or uncomfortable situation.

Use eBay to expand your e-commerce reach

Think eBay is an outdated or irrelevant platform for your e-commerce business? Think again. It’s ripe with potential buyers who could be looking for your exact products.

Getting started can seem a little intimidating to new sellers, but it can become second nature with each transaction. By using honest sales tactics, optimizing your product listings, and marketing effectively, you can build a strong reputation as a seller and grow your online business even further.

Ready to take your multi-channel e-commerce business to the next level? Get started with QuickBooks Commerce today

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