Since its launch in 1995, eBay has grown into a massive ecommerce platform hosting more than 25 million sellers. While these numbers may seem overwhelming, sound marketing strategies can help new eBay sellers to succeed. We asked experts to share their best tips for selling on eBay to help you keep up with the competition.
Here are 27 effective eBay selling tips from the pros:
1. Add a New Listing Daily
Marcia Layton Turner, eBay Top-Rated PowerSeller, Rochester Clothing Bargains
List daily, even if it’s one item. Because of how the eBay algorithm works, listing one item a day for seven days straight is better than listing seven items on a single day. By adding to your inventory regularly, you’re also increasing the odds that visitors to your eBay store will find something they want, not to mention keeping your unlisted inventory to a minimum. As the saying goes, “It can’t sell if it isn’t listed.”
2. Study Buyers’ Profiles to Avoid Scams
Helen Golubeva, Storyteller, X-Cart
The web is a hotbed of scary stories about fraudulent buyers trying to gazump unsuspecting merchants, and given eBay is most likely to take the buyer’s side, you should protect yourself as a seller from sneaky cybercriminals. So study the buyer’s profile before sending an item, and request a signature to confirm delivery of your package for transactions over $750. Shoot a video of the entire process of packaging and shipping, especially if the item is rather expensive. This will help you win a chargeback dispute with a fraudster who claims he received an empty box or a wrong item.
3. Don’t Just Sell Products, Offer “Intangibles”
Iluba Uchechukwu, Sales Executive, Beans Technologies Incorporated
The reason online consumers will buy from you when there are millions of sellers out there is your ability to master the “intangibles.” Customers don’t just buy your products—they also buy intangibles such as trust, security, and convenience, and every newbie seller on eBay should spend a chunk of their time perfecting these qualities. Define your shipping times, respond to returned products, and always follow up on your customers to make sure they receive their orders. This does not only build trust, but it also gets you more “5-star” reviews and excellent testimonials, two important metrics that will skyrocket your sales as a newbie eBayer.
4. Take Quality Listing Photos
Joe Kok, Head of Marketing, GoodCloudStorage
I am a firm believer of the saying, “A stunning first impression is not the same thing as love at first sight. But surely it was an invitation to consider the matter.” The same goes for an eBay listing. First impression does sell. One good quality photo is way better than a dozen of crappy photos. Who doesn’t like pretty things, right? After all, eBay bidders are looking for nice, useful products at an affordable price tag.
Maggie Alland, Marketing & Review Editor, Fit Small Business
Most online sellers will want to start with their own ecommerce website before venturing into eBay. But managing two online stores is both time consuming and costly. BigCommerce is an online selling platform that seamlessly integrates with eBay so you can list and sell your products directly on the platform. They offer advanced selling features that are easy to use—even first-time business sellers can have a fully working website set up in a matter of hours. Start using BigCommerce today and enjoy their 15-day free trial.
6. Scout Similar Product Listings
Daniella Flores, Creator & Author, iliketodabble.com
When I can’t sell something quickly enough, I often look back at similar items on eBay that have recently sold. I do this by going to the search bar, typing in the keywords for my own items, and filtering on sold items. The average price of the items brought up on this particular search will tell me if I need to rework my prices based on how others are currently doing with those products.
7. Offer Free 30-Day Returns
Audrey Morris, Owner, Mommy Enlightened
eBay has leaned heavily into a no-questions-asked, money-back guarantee with their new Free 30-Day Returns mandate. You don’t have to offer this, but you won’t benefit from the Top Rated Seller bonus or badging if you don’t. We are told that Free Returns also weighs heavily into Best Match (eBay’s search algorithm). I’ve found that if you believe the best in people, make your business decisions out of courage and not fear, and treat buyers with compassion above all, Free 30-Day Returns is an easy lever to pull. You also have the ability to give a Less Than Full refund if the item arrives back to you in a condition other than that which was described, and you get automatic feedback protection.
8. Build Relationships with Other Sellers
J.R. Duren, Personal Finance Analyst & Senior Editor, HighYa.com
Having success on eBay, in my opinion, starts with your ability to source items that your buyers want. This is where it helps to be an expert in what you’re selling before you start to sell. If you’re not an expert, there’s a good chance you’ll have to build up your sourcing knowledge as you go. Involve yourself in online communities (message boards, Reddit, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) through which you can build friendships with fellow sellers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; you’ll find that a lot of sellers in your niche will be happy to give advice.
9. Give the Customers What They Want
Jeff Moriarty, Owner, Dog Christmas Stockings
I would recommend providing more information than other sellers, more images of your item, a better return policy, and always offer free, fast shipping. If you can show you offer more information and faster shipping, I find that buyers will even choose you over other sellers who sell cheaper. Customers just want to know exactly what they are buying, what they should expect, and when they will receive it. Provide that and you will sell more on eBay.
10. Be Smart with Pricing
Nicholas Christensen, Founder, Lottery Critic
Be realistic. Lose your ego and check what the last purchase price was. When I first started selling, I would list the item, new with price tags, at pretty much the same cost for what I paid for it. Instead, look at the current sales as well as the past history of the item you’re selling. If there are 10 identical items as yours, don’t list. Or, list it much lower with a Buy It Now option. Also, check out if your item sold recently. This is one of the best ways to determine your price.
11. Avoid Running Out of Stock
Craig Townsend, Owner, Key Performance Parts
One thing I wish I knew at the beginning is to never to let a product’s stock run out to the point the listing ends. When this happens, you lose your watchers and most importantly, the history of the product in terms of how many sold. Buyers don’t like to buy the first item. They also have more trust in an item that says xxx sold rather than a few units. The best way I found to do this is always keep stock flowing; if for some reason it’s on back order, then increase the price so no one will purchase the item.
12. Keep an Eye on Your Feedback Score
Aileen Barker, Entrepreneur, Hustle & Slow
When you’re new to eBay, it can be really overwhelming, but one important thing is to make sure you have feedback. Your buying and selling feedback all count for your feedback score. If you’re really just starting and need to build up past that zero feedback mark, you can buy items from big sellers—they will usually have their settings so that once you pay, you automatically get feedback. Having good feedback is crucial to selling on eBay because it shows your buyer that you’re trustworthy.
13. Talk to Your Customers
Charles Snider, Co-Founder, American Geode
Our best tip to new sellers is to talk to your clients. When someone places a bid, you have the option to message them. Feel free to inform them of another item that may complement the item they’re bidding on. Also remind them of your fast shipping, if that is something you offer, or remind them that you will combine shipping on multiple purchases. This tip increases the likelihood of additional purchases, as well as the likelihood of a positive rating from this new client.
14. Use an Online Appraisal Company for Antiques
Mads Bjerg, Appraisal Expert, Mearto
If you want to sell antiques and art on eBay, you should use an online appraisal company to estimate the fair market value. It creates trust and would increase your chance of success—getting the price a traditional auction house would provide—without paying the high commission. It works great with paintings, jewelry, antiques, silver, watches, and furniture.
15. Optimize Your Descriptions
John Linden, Designer, Mirror Coop
The best suggestion I can give is to optimize your descriptions for the search feature. You want to make sure that every word someone might type in to find your product is included somewhere in the description. If you’re selling a pair of Nike Air Jordans, for example, you’ll want to include the model, size, color, and year. That way, anyone who types in Green Air Jordans or Size 11 Air Jordans will find your shoes. But you’ll also want to include broader keywords like sneakers and basketball shoes. That way, you’ll expand your audience beyond those who came looking for Jordans.
16. Offer Free Shipping
Casey Bell, Author, Casey Bell
I started selling on eBay about two years ago. In the beginning, I was having problems selling items. Sometimes I would have to resubmit an item three to four times for bidding before it sold. Then I made one change that changed everything. I offered free shipping. Of course, if you are selling fragile and heavy items, offering free shipping is not wise, but if shipping is $5 or less, then pay it.
17. Research Your Items Before Listing
Jason Butler, Owner, My Money Chronicles
As a new eBay seller, it is very important that you research your items. You may find something that you think is worth hundreds of dollars, but if there is no market for it, you won’t sell it. On eBay, you can check the sold listings. For example, if you’re selling some Nike shoes, type in Nike in the eBay search bar and scroll down until you see the sold items box. Click that box. If you see the kind of shoes that you’re looking to flip, review the sold prices and then list yours somewhere around that amount. I do that whenever I’m selling a new item.
18. Start Small
Percy Mark Kayz, Affiliate Marketer, AffiliateHood
When you are a new eBay seller, you are only allowed to list 10 items at a time. The more successful transactions you have, the more eBay increases your listing slots. This can be slow if your competition has been selling for a long time and has acquired unlimited listings. They can drop the price and push volume, something you can’t do since you only have 10 listings. The solution is to sell cheaper things at very low price (less than $3). It doesn’t matter if you are making a loss—the goal is to get more successful transactions and get eBay to increase your listings limit.
19. Partner with Amazon Merchandising Solutions
Nicholas Rubright, Digital Marketing Specialist, SaleFreaks
The advantages of dropshipping on a site like eBay is that you can easily list hundreds of products quickly since you don’t have to stock inventory, which can allow you to grow your presence quickly. The downside, however, is that with eBay’s seller fees, your margins will likely be very small. If you want to start your eBay store with dropshipping as your business model, the hardest part will be finding a supplier and managing the listings efficiently. I recommend using Amazon as your supplier because they have nearly every product you’d want, have frequent sales, and you can sign up for Amazon Prime, which will allow you to give free shipping to your eBay buyers at no additional cost to you.
20. Promote Early Engagement
Alan Santillan, Marketing Specialist, G2 Crowd
Depending on the item being sold, selling at a price lower than the market average has shown promising results by setting engagement early. If you create an auction listing with a lower than average starting price, buyers will engage earlier in the decision making process. Creating a listing that invites buyers to engage earlier in the process helps with making the auction more competitive. When the listing starts to wind down and the price starts to climb, the early engagement will help carry your price higher, as you have more active buyers trying to outbid each other.
21. Connect with Your Buyer’s Emotions
Hannah Lewis, Founder, MindMafia
Emotion SELLS. Using descriptive words also sells. There’s solid scientific research to suggest that the best way to sell on eBay is to connect to the buyer’s emotions. Adding description also works (e.g., “Grandma’s Cinnamon-crusted Apple Pie” beats plain old “Apple Pie” every time). Other tactics you could use might be to use an “anchor” number in the description text to help make the bidder think about a price. It could be as simple as “replies in 48 hours” or “100s of happy customers,” but the simple act of having a number (any number) will influence the person looking at your item.
22. Include Your Product UPC in Your Listing
Michelle Covey, Vice President of Partnerships, GS1 US
One of the most proactive things a seller can do to increase product visibility online is to include a Universal Product Code (UPC) in their online product listing. These identifiers increase the chances that a seller’s product will be discovered in eBay searches, and they lead to better placement in Google and Bing search results too. UPCs serve as a virtual bridge between online listings and the physical product, and can also equip a seller’s future growth, since UPCs are often required by major retailers and online marketplaces.
Shipping is a common issue for online stores and is a key factor for the number of carts abandoned before checkout. Every eBay seller should take time in understanding the nature of shipping costs, including how to compute for actual shipping. This will help them to create a means to save on shipping costs.
Even in eBay selling, timing is everything. Remember that your listings are only available for a specific period of time, and knowing what duration to choose—as well as when to list them—can be the difference between sales and idle products. Start days are when your listing appears on the top of search results, since the default order depends on the time listed. Use research to find out what the most optimal time and day are to list your products.
As an eBay seller, you will notice the presence of the blue “best offer” option/button on your fixed price and store listings. According to eBay, this is one of the most underappreciated feature in the platform when, in fact, declining a counter-offer just means you’ve outright rejected a possible sale. Understanding your buyer’s mindset when it comes to counter-offers and haggling will put you in the best position to always close a sale at the best price possible for your listing.
eBay templates are listing templates that provide a standard format for adding your products to sell on the platform. Since they are reusable, you don’t have to start from scratch each time you add more products to your eBay store. There are a ton of eBay listing templates available on the web to choose from, so it’s best that you look around and find one that you feel presents your products well.
Every month, eBay provides its sellers an opportunity to list a number of their products for free. The number of zero insertion fee listings vary depending on your eBay membership plan. It’s important that eBay sellers understand the rules and validity behind this free listing in order to maximize savings. Know which categories don’t quality and what happens when you revise your listings or create duplicates.
Anyone can start their own eBay store, but understanding how the platform works will help you avoid costly mistakes that can eat away at your profit. Take note of our expert eBay selling tips and build your eBay shop with confidence.
Have more tips for selling on eBay you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments.