Best Practices for Selling on eBay

Selling on eBay is something that I tried to check its profitability. Sorry to say I couldn’t succeed, mainly because of day job and lack of sustained interest. I have always been in the look out for a side gig, so buying from garage sells and selling on eBay was one of the avenues I traveled through. This non-promotional guest post from Pete talks about some of the best practices for eBay selling which I think would have benefited me had I gone through a similar article before trying my hands on eBay sells. Enjoy the insightful post!

eBay selling guide

Today’s busy moms often opt out of traditional nine-to-five jobs working for someone else and choose instead to create a home business around a personal passion or unique skill set.

The Internet has opened up the whole world as a potential customer base for even beginning entrepreneurs, with eBay serving as one of the most popular means of getting goods from seller to buyer. It’s likely that among your circle of friends, you’ve talked with someone who has had a lot of success with e-commerce, as well as someone whose experience didn’t quite go as planned. .

So if you’re interested in entering eBay as a seller, how do you navigate that enormous network and turn it to your advantage? Most experienced sellers follow a similar set of practices that have led them to success. The following tips will give you some insights that can set your business above the crowd of newcomers.

Understand the Business Model

It is possible to make an excellent living through eBay, but stay grounded and realistic. Very few get-rich-quick schemes end up paying off in the end.

You will first need to identify your product and your market niche, whether that involves your particular expertise in fashion, books, design and décor, electronics, educational materials, pet care, home and garden items, or one of dozens of other product areas.

You’ll also need a steady and reliable source of products. If you are a craftsman, you will want to ensure yourself access to the materials and tools you will need over the long term. If you will be selling new or pre-owned items from outside sources, you will need to secure an ongoing supply of products.

Many sellers source products in bulk, particularly useful if you are dealing with standardized items such as hand tools.

Some eBay entrepreneurs begin as online “garage sellers” of their own no-longer-needed items, then broaden their supply chain by becoming savvy purchasers at thrift and discount stores, online warehouses, or local retail clearance sales, garage sales, and flea markets. .

You will also need to do plenty of research to determine what kinds of products in your niche are in most demand and what their typical selling price ranges are. .

Become Tech Savvy

In a marketplace in which one picture can truly be worth thousands of dollars, successful eBay entrepreneurs have taken the time to learn not only basic computer skills, but the very important digital photography know-how that helps them move items out of their homes and into customers’ hands.

Invest in a high-quality digital camera and learn to use it to photograph your items to their best advantage.

After that, uploading your pictures is easy using eBay’s photo insertion system.
You’ll also need to learn a bit of basic HTML for coding the text of your written descriptions. eBay’s interface makes this easy, and the site also offers a number of tutorials. .

Educate Yourself

eBay offers a wealth of self-education tools created by the site itself and by professional sellers who use it. User bulletin boards also cover every conceivable market niche, and chances are that if you as a new seller have a question, someone has addressed it somewhere in one of the user groups. .

New sellers should take advantage of eBay’s video tutorials, tours of the site, and links to frequently asked questions. .

Understanding the basic steps of listing, selling, shipping, and getting paid, along with associated eBay seller fees, will help you hit the ground running before you get started. .

When you list an item, write a good description that’s not too long but still gives the customer everything he or she needs to know about your product. Check for errors of spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and make sure your wording is clear. Experiment with catchy headlines that will make potential buyers look twice.

Price your item in a competitive range after researching selling prices of similar items.

Become familiar with eBay’s seller listing form, which guides you through the entire listing process in a standardized template. .

eBay’s mobile apps and seller listing tools will be a real help in staying organized and on top of your inventory. The “My eBay” section will group all your listed products together into a single list for you. .

eBay offers a number of systems that can streamline your shipping, including a shipping cost calculator, access to print-on-demand shipping labels, and discounts on postage. .

You will also need to set up a PayPal account to allow you to accept payments from anyone anywhere. PayPal makes it easy to electronically transfer your buyers’ payments directly into your bank account. .

Be Everyone’s Dream Seller

On eBay, your reputation is one of your best selling points. Buyers rate sellers based on the quality of communication, speed of shipping, and accuracy of item descriptions. Describe your products as accurately as you can, and be up front about any defects or signs of previous usage. .

eBay gives top-rated sellers perks such as discounts on seller fees, and most experienced sellers feel that maintaining their excellent eBay buyer rating is worth far more than the boost of a quick sell. .

To maintain top-rated seller status, you will also need to keep up a quick turnaround shipping time. eBay asks you to state the time involved in shipping and handling, and failing to live up to those deadlines can lose you the coveted prime rating and invite negative feedback from customers. .

Just as in any brick-and-mortar business, customer service should come first. Make sure you communicate regularly with each customer, add a personal touch, and be responsive to any concerns. Consider offering money-back guarantees, free shipping, and a hassle-free return policy, all of which increase customer confidence and retention.

About the author: Pete Briger has served in principal executive positions with Fortress Investment Group, LLC, since 2002. With an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from Princeton University, he previously served in senior management roles with Goldman, Sachs & Co. Pete Briger is currently based in San Francisco.

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  1. Monica @MonicaOnMoney says

    Thanks for the info about ebay. I’ve used amazon to sell stuff but didn’t really understand ebay as well.

  2. says

    Great points. Having clear images and descriptions makes a world of difference. You also have to be realistic about how much someone if willing to buy your item for. I like to search on ebay for similar items to gage a price range.

  3. says

    I’ve used eBay for over a decade and it’s a great way to sell certain things. Notice I said ‘certain’. Electronics and popular items seem to sell well, more obscure items don’t fetch as much and often won’t get enough bids to justify selling the item. I’d say if anyone still has a hankering for setting up an eBay business, do a lot of homework.

  4. says

    I don’t have the patience to sell online. I don’t know what it is, but taking pictures, measuring things when needed, describing the item, it’s all too much for me. I don’t think it’s worth the money you can get from it.

    • says

      I suppose that depends on your profit margin.

      If you stand to make $500 off of old equipment/electronics/etc, is spending 10 minutes on pictures and descriptions really not worth it?

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