Since its launch in 1995, eBay has grown into a massive ecommerce platform hosting more than 25 million sellers. While these numbers seem overwhelming, sound marketing strategies can help new eBay sellers to succeed. Our eBay selling tips cover how to set up your eBay shop, find items to sell, and list them.
Here are 25 effective eBay selling tips you can use to stay ahead of the competition:
Setting Up Your eBay Shop
1. Sign Up for a Subscription
A subscription is the most cost-effective way to start selling on eBay for someone who intends to start a business. By subscribing to a paid plan, you don’t have to pay for every listing, which can vary from 5 cents to 30 cents per item plus the final value fee, which is around 10% of the sale price. While you’re allowed to list 50 items for free without signing up for a subscription plan, serious business owners who plan to sell on eBay long term will feel the brunt of the charges after the freebie.
Anyone with a seller account can start listing items to sell on eBay, but we only recommend this for someone who doesn’t intend to sell a large volume of items on a regular basis. Individuals who just want to earn money from selling things around the house that they don’t need can list the items as one-offs.
Standard eBay Seller Fees
50 FREE listings +
3.5% guitars & basses
Max fee $350
2% heavy equipment
Max fee $350
12% books, DVDs, movies & music (excluding records)
Max fee $350
The standard listing fees apply for seller accounts without a subscription.
2. Pick a Subscription Matching Your Listing Volume
You should have data projecting the volume of merchandise you are going to list every month. This information should help you decide on the most cost-effective subscription plan. Strive to only pay for the eBay platform services that you are actually using, especially if you’re just starting your business and working on a budget.
The free listings alone show a huge difference at how much eBay can help manage your startup budget. The cost for a seller without a subscription listing 150 items in a month would be $35 to list, while a seller subscribed to a starter plan will only have to pay $19.95 ($4.95 monthly fee plus 30 cents x 50 items). It’s best to start low and upgrade your plan as your sales and business grows.
eBay Seller Subscription Plan Overview
*with annual subscription
eBay Seller Subscription Plan Features
Free Monthly Fixed-price Listings
Free Monthly Auction Listings for Collectibles & Fashion
Discounts to Business Services
Unlimited Free Listings for Guitars & Bases
Free Subscription to Terapeak Research Tool
Fixed-price Listing Fee Above Free Allocation
Auction Listing Fee Above Free Allocation
eBay-branded Shipping Supplies Coupon
Credit Toward Promoted Listing
You can save on eBay subscriptions and fees by choosing the right plan based on your projected listing volume.
3. Personalize Your Online Storefront
Personalizing your storefront will not only help you stand out from other sellers, but also help keep customers who are browsing on your page longer. It only takes a visitor a few minutes to decide if they want to look for another seller, so it’s important that you have features on your site that will convince them to stay. You’ll need to make sure that you include store (not product) images that are relevant and a description that will let your visitors know what to expect from your shop.
There are four ways to personalize your storefront design:
- Use an eBay store template: Start with a template from websites like Template Monster and choose an HTML-based design that complies with eBay’s policy.
- Use a store design app: eBay offers apps like Store Designer by 3D Sellers for sellers who don’t mind paying a fee for a well-designed store.
- Hire an expert web designer: Hiring a web design agency will give you a hassle-free, professionally designed eBay store. You can find freelancers on platforms like Fiverr for a more cost-effective option.
- Do-it-yourself design: Sellers can design their own storefront and save on the cost of purchasing templates or professional design service.
For do-it-yourself designs, sellers should go to “My eBay,” “Manage My Store,” “Display Settings,” and then click on “Change to another theme” to get started. This will help you update your store’s look from the banner image, store buttons, and newsletters.
4. Optimize Your Store Description
One of the most important sections of your eBay storefront is your store description. It allows you to share your brand’s story, so customers can start building a connection with you from the start. It will also help customers find your store if you include the right keywords within your narrative.
When writing your store description, make sure you let visitors know what your store is all about, the types of products you sell, and why they should buy from you. You should also think about what words your visitors will use when they want to search for your store on search engines, like Google. Include these keywords while keeping the tone as natural and organic as possible. Forcing too many of your keywords within the store description can run the risk of eBay policy violation.
5. Connect Your Ecommerce Site to eBay
Most online sellers want to start with their own ecommerce website before venturing into eBay. But managing two online stores is both time-consuming and costly. Instead, you have the option of connecting your own store website to your eBay seller account. You’ll need to make sure that your online store uses a platform that can seamlessly integrate with eBay.
BigCommerce is an online selling platform that seamlessly integrates with eBay so you can 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 its 15-day free trial.
Finding Items to Sell
6. Use eBay’s Seasonal Playbook
If you haven’t checked out eBay’s seasonal playbook, then it’s high time you do. This is the perfect first stop both for new and veteran sellers looking for ideas for the most profitable items to sell on eBay. It shows you a list of peak season schedules and what customers usually buy on those dates. It also comes in two downloadable checklist versions, each specifically formatted for new and seasoned sellers on eBay
7. Look for Information Under Purchase History
When you have a product in mind, you will also need to have an idea as to how much people are paying for it or if people are buying it at all. The quickest way to do this is to search for a similar product listing on eBay. Go to the product page and look for information on how many of the products have already been sold; this is usually displayed in red font. If you click on that note, it will take you to the purchase history page of the product.
8. Use Terapeak for Your Search
Terapeak is a marketing tool that provides data analytics on current eBay trends, so sellers can decide what to sell, when to sell it, and how to sell on the platform. eBay sellers with basic subscription plans or higher are given access to this research tool at no extra cost. You can search by keyword or product and filter the data so you get valuable information such as a specific product’s average price, shipping costs, and number of listings.
9. Learn About Product Trends on eBay
Another way to find profitable items to sell is to use eBay’s search database for sellers. This search tool categorizes information based on what customers have been searching for in the last month, what items are selling at a higher retail price, and the prices and sales trends for specific items. This can help sellers find the most profitable products to sell and determine a competitive price for their merchandise.
10. Visit Wholesaler Marketplaces
Thanks to the internet, you can now look for wholesalers with just a few clicks of the button. Once you know the kind of product you would like to sell, you can start browsing for reliable sources of wholesaler listings. For serious online business owners, purchasing merchandise at a wholesale price can considerably lower the cost of running an online store. There are organization websites, publications, government listings, and online marketplaces that showcase available wholesalers.
Online wholesaler marketplaces are becoming very popular because they’re platforms that list manufacturers and wholesalers for all types of products. They provide you with information on product costs at different volumes and even assist you with shipping and insurance. One of the most popular platforms is Alibaba, where sellers can find a wide variety of wholesale products from China and other parts of Asia.
How to List Your Items on eBay
11. Learn How to Use eBay Listing Templates
Once you start listing products on your eBay store, you’ll end up having to recreate a new listing each time. In order to minimize this repetitive task, you can save a set of listing templates for your merchandise. eBay templates provide you with 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, so don’t rush too quickly on choosing the first one you find. After some considerable searching, you’ll find that there will likely be one that will best suit the products you’re selling. Some are free, while premium designs are available for a fee. For example, eBay Template Shops offers customized listing templates for $3.99 a month, and Free Boutique Templates are free. You can also create as many as 10 of your own templates on eBay’s Seller Hub.
12. Maximize Your Free Listings
Every month, eBay provides its sellers with an opportunity to list a number of their products for free, and the number varies depending on the type of eBay membership plan you have. For instance, basic subscription plan holders get 250 fixed-price listings and another 250 auction-based listings for free every month. Understanding the rules that govern the free listings can help you maximize the savings you realize while running your eBay store.
Here are some guidelines on eBay’s free listing opportunity:
- The counter resets the first of every month.
- Certain categories, like real estate, select motor categories (boats, cars, trucks, and motorcycles), and some business and industrial categories (heavy equipment, food trucks, and parts) don’t qualify for free listing.
- Manually and automatically relisted items count towards your free listings.
- Original listings and each monthly renewal for Good ‘Til Cancelled listings count against your free listings.
To check the status of your free listings, go to “My eBay,” “Activity,” and then to “All Selling.” Scroll down to the “Offers” section. If you’re also selling via auction, do your best to make a sale, because those fees can add up quickly.
13. Learn How to Time Your Listings
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 spell the difference between sales and idle products. It’s important that you keep your relistings to a minimum so you don’t exhaust your free listing credits with them.
Start days are when your listings appear on the top of the search results, since the default order depends on the time listed. You should double-check that this coincides with the time that most of your target market is active on the platform. In general, the most popular time for the site is Sunday evenings, so be sure your listings are posted in time. Find out the most optimal time and day to list your products.
14. Optimize Your Product Descriptions
Optimizing your product description means making sure that every word someone might type in to find your product is included. This ensures that your item will have a better chance of ranking at the top of eBay search results, increasing the odds that potential buyers will purchase these products from your store. This strategy can get very technical, but there are some general rules you can follow.
Here are quick guidelines for optimizing your product descriptions:
- Establish your best keyword; this usually comes down to the product, brand, and name.
- Make sure that your product title is mentioned somewhere in your description.
- Remove fluff and only leave important details in your description.
- Replace fluff with statements that directly address concerns and questions that previous buyers had about your products.
- Add social proof, like a screenshot of positive reviews, whenever possible.
- Include trust indicators such as money-back guarantee statements and shipping and return policies.
To get more ideas on what to include in your product descriptions, it’s best to look around eBay. Look for reviews of your and other similar products to find out what buyers want to know about it, and add it to your description. You can also check similar products your competitors are selling so you have an idea of the description they use, especially if their product is doing well in terms of sales.
15. Take Quality Listing Photos
For online stores, great, high-quality photos can mean the difference between a sale and a lost opportunity. You want to make sure that visitors who are interested in your product have enough photos to look at. This helps them visualize the products and allows you to respond to issues or concerns that are keeping visitors from purchasing.
Here are a few guidelines you should consider following to take quality photos for your eBay products:
- Keep your photo simple and place a white backdrop behind your products.
- Turn off the flash and use diffused lighting instead to prevent unwanted shadows or light spots that distort product image and color.
- Use a tripod to prevent having blurry photos.
- Take multiple shots from all angles; make sure to note details and blemishes so potential buyers can evaluate your product’s quality.
Remember that it’s better to be honest when it comes to your product, regardless of whether it’s brand-new or second-hand. Use visual aids like comparison items to help visitors visualize the actual size, colors, and shades used to highlight the image. Also, consider making your images mobile-friendly, because more customers are shopping using their mobile phones.
16. Show Your Universal Product Code
One way to increase product visibility online is to include a universal product code (UPC) in online product listings. These identifiers increase the chances that searchers will discover your product in eBay searches. They can also lead to better placement in Google search results. Online sellers who add UPCs to their product listings are able to speed up their sales process.
Product identifiers like UPCs give you a more detailed listing that helps buyers find your items. It provides accurate pricing guidance as you create your listings and alerts you of price trends when similar items are selling for higher amounts than your items. You can use eBay’s bulk listing and editing tool to update your posts with product identifiers to take advantage of increased search visibility.
17. Optimize Your Listings for Mobile
More and more consumers are using their smartphones to shop online, which is why it’s crucial that online sellers on platforms like eBay begin to adapt to a mobile-friendly strategy for listing their products. Making your item listings easily accessible and viewable from mobile devices is becoming increasingly important, and one of the most significant components of that is ensuring that horizontal scrolling won’t be necessary.
According to eBay, these are the ways to eliminate the need for customers to scroll horizontally through your listing:
- Use the viewport metatag to communicate to mobile browsers how to adjust the dimensions and scaling of the item description in order to render properly on a mobile device.
- Make sure that all item description elements scale across device sizes; also, make sure inline images scale well across screen sizes. In practice, this should prevent any mobile browser from rendering horizontal scroll bars, which are not mobile-friendly.
This sounds highly technical, but eBay provides a resource center to help you maximize your opportunity to make a sale. Meeting customers on the platform is one of the most important ways to optimize your eBay listings.
18. Be Smart With Pricing
One of the biggest challenges for new eBay sellers is to determine just the right price to assign to their products. Too low means no profit; too high means no sales. If you’re selling a product and not just a single item, remember that prices are dynamic and you need to take into account a number of factors to earn the most profit. The best strategy goes beyond looking at retail prices or active eBay listings.
Some things to note when pricing your products on eBay are:
- A fixed-price model works best when you are selling the same multiple items or would like to dispatch the product as soon as possible.
- Auctions can potentially bring you more income than selling an item at a flat rate when you choose the right timing and pricing.
- If you’re selling your item at an auction, it’s a good idea to set the starting price low and let bidders drive the price up so buyers don’t lose interest too quickly.
- Run a quick price search by entering your product keyword and filtering the results to show complete listings only.
- Sort the results by “Price + Shipping: Highest First.” Then, analyze the prices for sold (marked green) and unsold (red ones) items.
- If you’re selling a branded product, check out the prices on the top five ecommerce sites selling the same product.
- Keep in mind that the total price of your product should include seller’s fees and shipping costs unless you offer free shipping.
There’s also eBay’s quick listing tool that automatically suggests the best pricing options while you’re completing your listing form. The suggested price was designed to attract buyers based on how similar products sold in the past. It’s a great way for new sellers to start, but as you learn more about eBay pricing strategies, you would do better knowing how to carefully price your merchandise on your own.
19. Make Sure Terms & Conditions Are Clearly Outlined
A clear cut, outlined terms and conditions, warranty, and shipping and returns policy will help prevent a majority of negative feedback before it becomes an issue. Buyers will know exactly what to expect ahead of time, so transactions will be quicker and the buying experience becomes more pleasant.
Here are some tips to make sure your store policy is clear and easy to read:
- You can use existing templates.
- Make sure you break the Terms and Conditions into sections.
- Include bullet points to highlight the most essential information for readers.
- Make sure your shipping policy is well-researched, especially if your products vary in size and weight.
- Use a shipping calculator.
- Include information on eBay’s hassle-free return policy program.
It’s important to remember that eBay success is based on user reviews, and being transparent about your store policies can make a difference. It can significantly help in achieving eBay top-rated seller status, and enable you to enjoy benefits like a 10% discount applied to final value fees as well as a top-rated seller badge prominently displayed in search results and in the listing description.
Managing Your eBay Store
20. Start Small
Keep in mind that new eBay sellers are only allowed to list 10 items at a time, and the number of slots available for you grows as you have more successful transactions. Making a sale can take longer if you insist on selling regular items that might not sell as fast as you expect them to. Competitors that have been around for a while can list as many items as they want, allowing them to significantly influence the price and volume of products to their advantage.
To become more competitive, it’s best to focus on increasing the number of listings you have as early as possible. To do that, you’ll need to start small. Sell cheaper items at a very low price, like less than $3. It doesn’t matter if you are netting a loss; the goal is to get more successful transactions so eBay increases your listing limits.
21. Add a New Listing Daily
Activity is a key factor in eBay’s search algorithm, so it’s important to keep your seller account active to have a better chance at landing at the top of eBay’s search results for members. List available items daily; 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 who come to your eBay store will find something they want.
The more chances you have to make your products visible to eBay members, the better your chances are at earning a sale. This, in turn, will improve your seller ratings, and for new eBay sellers, will help raise the limit of their daily listing number. It’s a good idea to include a listing schedule to help with planning.
Even in the early days of your eBay store, this listing schedule will help you focus on maximizing and optimizing your efforts. For seasoned sellers, this strategy will help you realize the days and times when your products do best.
22. Offer a Return Policy for Your Customers
eBay’s return policy requires sellers to create and communicate their return policy to their customers. While there are a number of options, from 60-day return to no returns, anyone who would like to reap the benefits of becoming a top-rated seller must offer at least a 30-day return policy with their listings. Offering free returns also improves your ranking in eBay’s search algorithm, giving you a better chance at landing the “Best Match.” In general, however, it’s best to avoid creating situations where customers have to return your products.
Here are some useful tips to avoid customer returns:
- Pack your items carefully to avoid damage while in transit.
- Make sure your measurements are accurate, and post this information on your product description.
- Test the product to make sure it works, ensure that all the parts are included, and document as much as possible.
- Take as many photos of your product and upload at least eight to show all the details.
- Authenticate your items if you are selling designer products.
- Discontinue selling of frequently returned items.
Aside from the negative feedback you receive when customers return items, you could also end up losing money on shipping costs. So overall, it’s better to take measures to ensure that there are no returns even if you have a return policy in place.
23. Learn Quick Selling Strategies
eBay sellers only have a limited time to sell their products on the platform. Once the time is up, they’re easy to relist, but the downside is that relisting will count against your free listing incentive. There’s no exact science to get your eBay items quickly out the door, but there are simple strategies you can use to encourage customers who are already interested to complete their purchase as quickly as possible.
Here are some eBay selling tips to encourage faster sales:
- Offer a variety of payment options, like cash on delivery (COD) and PayPal, so you don’t miss out on customers who aren’t comfortable paying with their credit cards.
- Use eBay’s best offer feature, which most eBay buyers look for when they really want to buy a product.
- Minimize your auction-style listings to avoid lost opportunity. Sometimes, eager buyers who have to wait for the auction to finish lose interest and just look for the same product somewhere else.
- Don’t use the auto-decline feature or you may miss out on notifications for offers that go slightly beyond your price threshold but which you might still consider reasonable, especially if the listing is about to expire.
- Offer complete information on your product description so buyers don’t spend much time asking questions. You should also upload detailed, high-quality images of your product.
Knowing which details are important to include and how to ensure product measurements and actual colors are accurate can take some time to learn. It might cause you to get off to a slow start, but experience will help you find the best strategy to use based on the products you’re selling.
24. Avoid Running Out of Stock
There are more implications when listed items run out of stock that most new eBay sellers are not aware of. You lose watchers (people watching the product’s activity) and product history because the number of items sold gets reset to zero. Buyers don’t like to be the first to purchase an item. They have more trust in an item that says “xxx sold” rather than a few units. Additionally, this can result in a buyer ordering items that you no longer have available, and potentially leaving a bad review.
Here are some tips to consider when managing your inventory:
- Use the out-of-stock option for Good ‘Til Cancelled listings. This means the listing will show up until you’ve sold all your items.
- Increase the price of your product to slow down the sale when there is a back order of the item from your supplier.
- Use inventory management tools like Multiorders that track and update your inventory as well as send you alerts whenever your stock reaches a set reorder point.
Multichannel Inventory Management by Multiorders
A flawless fulfillment process will give you an edge on your competitors, and this includes finding ways to manage inventory and avoid overselling. This will also help you build on your eBay seller standing and overall reputation.
25. Invest in Shipping Supplies
Once you make a sale, you’ll need to nail your shipping strategy down. Invest in shipping supplies that not only get the job done but will also satisfy your customers. This will ensure that they leave good feedback and help build your reputation to encourage more sales from other buyers. You can use eBay branded materials, including boxes, bags, and envelopes, as well as gift boxes, packing tapes, and other packaging supplies for a more professional look.
Here are some of eBay’s tips for securing your packages while shipping:
- Choose a container that’s slightly larger than your item, so you can cushion it with packing material on all sides.
- Surround your item with bubble wrap, packing peanuts, foam, or paper, so there’s no room for things to move around.
- Use clear or brown packaging tape, eBay’s own branded tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape, which should be at least two inches wide.
- Don’t use masking tape, cellophane tape, cord, string, or twine.
- Tape the opening of the box and reinforce all seams and edges.
- Clearly label the package and include a return address.
- If you’re reusing a box, cover any previous labels and cross out any previous addresses with a black marker.
eBay also offers coupons for its sellers to use in purchasing branded packaging materials. To take advantage of your eBay-branded shipping supplies coupon, go to “My eBay,” “Select My Store,” and click “Subscriber Discounts.” Then, select the “eBay Shipping Supplies Coupon.”
Here are the steps you should follow to use your shipping supplies coupon:
- Go to My eBay
- Select My Store or Manage My Store
- Select Subscriber Discounts
- Click on the eBay Shipping Supplies Coupon
- Note the coupon code generated
- Go to the eBay Shipping Supplies Store (link provided)
- Enter coupon code at checkout
Subscribers on the basic plan receive a $25 coupon every quarter, while premium-level pays $50, and anchor-level store subscribers get a $75 coupon for shipping supplies every quarter. Note that coupons are one-time use only and will expire at the end of the quarter, so be sure to redeem them for the full amount at the time of purchase.
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. Knowing the rules that govern eBay sellers and how to comply with eBay’s search algorithm will improve your chances of success. 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.