The Beginner’s Guide to Selling on eBay

The opportunity of selling on eBay

Online marketplaces are a common sales channel for today’s brands. In 2020, the top online marketplaces sold nearly $2.7 trillion worth of goods, making up 62% of global e-commerce sales. 

Selling on eBay can get your brand in front of over 159 million active buyers worldwide, with 77% of website traffic coming from the US. A recent study also found that 80% of Amazon sellers currently sell on eBay or have sold on eBay in the past.

Marketplaces like eBay give you exposure, but take a few things in return:

  1. You don’t control the shopping experience. Sellers must use eBay’s listing pages to sell. They are the same for everyone, with no opportunities to customize and make it your own. 
  2. The focus is on the products. Marketplaces exist to give shoppers many different product choices, quickly and easily. Your brand and its customer experience comes second. 
  3. Fees. Marketplaces like eBay do the marketing for you, but at a cost. The platform takes a 12.55% cut from each sale, on average, plus a $.30 order fee. With your own online store, you keep all the profits. 

eBay also offers sellers protection against fraud and scams. You’ll be backed by the company’s policies, transaction monitoring, and a dedicated seller-protection team. These features are in place to support you, help increase your conversion rates, and reduce your customer service costs. 

You’re probably still thinking about the 12.55%, right? Don’t sweat it. Marketplaces and branded stores can work together to build brand awareness and increase your bottom line. This reduces your dependency on one channel to make sales and gives shoppers more chances to discover and buy your products.

1. Decide if eBay is for you

The first step to selling on eBay is knowing if it’s right for your brand. There is no point in investing time and money into eBay if your products likely won’t sell. 

EBay shoppers come primarily from the US, with 18% of consumers saying they shopped on eBay in 2020. Similar to Amazon, you can sell a variety of items on eBay, from shoes and jewelry to popcorn-scented pillows (yes, it’s a thing).

popular products on ebay

At the time of writing, eBay’s best product categories are:

  • Jewelry and watches
  • Computers and tablets
  • Cellphones and accessories
  • Video games and consoles
  • Clothing, shoes, and accessories
  • Cameras and photos
  • Health and beauty
  • Music, DVDs, and movies
  • Automotive

eBay is mainly a platform for resellers. You’ll find a mix of amateur sellers and PowerSellers, which are professionals that spend time managing auctions, purchasing items, packaging products, and shipping goods. 

2. Create an eBay account

Sounds like eBay is a good fit? Great! Now it’s time to open an account. If you’re a registered business (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.), you can open a business account on the registration page. You’ll need to provide additional information, like your business name, type of business, and address to sign up. 

  1. Go to the Registration page.
  2. Enter your name and email address.
  3. Choose a password.
  4. Select Create an account.
create an account

After you create an account, you can open up your eBay store. Start by entering a username and filling out your business information. 

ebay sign up

After clicking Continue, you’ll land on eBay’s homepage. 

3. Set up your eBay Store 

Next, you’ll want to subscribe to an eBay Store. Subscribing to an eBay Store gives you discounted fees and more free listings per month, plus additional tools to promote your business on the platform. 

You’ll need to link a checking account for payouts to subscribe. You’ll also want to understand what eBay Store features you’ll need to compare packages. Once you subscribe, you can name your eBay Store and start listing. 

The costs of selling on eBay

Seller fees on eBay are straightforward. You pay two platform fees:

ebay fees
  • Insertion fee, or listing fee, which you pay when listing a product on eBay. This fee applies only if you list more than 250 products per month. It’s free for casual sellers to list.
  • Final value fee, or the portion of sales eBay keeps. If your item sells, you’ll pay around 12.55% to eBay, plus a $.30 per order. 

The fees you pay depend on the number of listings you have, the product category you’re selling in, and whether you have an eBay Store subscription. 

ebay fees

The final value fee is based on the total amount of the sale, including the cost of the item, shipping, sales tax, and other applicable fees. 

Here’s a breakdown by common product categories.

Strategies for eBay success

Potential buyers will first experience your products through your listings, so it’s important to make a good impression. In this chapter, we’ll cover some key best practices proven to increase sales success on eBay. Let’s get started!

Optimize your listings

Shoppers search for products on eBay using keywords. eBay assists buyers in finding merchandise that meets their search criteria so they can quickly decide which products they want to purchase.

Including relevant keywords and products, identifiers ensure your listings will appear whenever shoppers search for products you sell.

product listing

You can edit the title and description for each of your eBay listings from within Shopify. Do this carefully—searches on eBay commonly look something like this:

  • “men’s nike air yeezy solar red shoes”
  • “32gb apple iphone 7s unlocked”
  • “red taekwondo rebreakable practice board for kids”
  • “large brown macrame flower pot hangers”

To ensure your listings appear in relevant shopper searches, include the following types of keywords in your listing titles, then set them as eBay identifiers in the Publish view:

  • Brand (“Nike,” “Apple”)
  • Model (“Air Yeezy,” “iPhone”)
  • Product description (“shoes,” “rebreakable practice board”)
  • Color (“red,” “rainbow,” “holographic”)
  • Size (“women’s size 10,” “extra wide,” “35″ inseam”)
product listing 2

Add additional information about your products to your listing descriptions. Anticipate the things shoppers need to know:

  • What are the dimensions or measurements of this product?
  • What size should I buy?
  • What accessories are included?
  • Is it a prestige product?

The more you answer questions like these, the less shoppers will hesitate.You’ll also spend less time answering queries from shoppers. Remember to use proper capitalization and punctuation, and make your product information easy to digest by providing it in a bulleted list, not in long paragraphs.

Your goal is to ensure your products appear in search results whenever they are relevant, and that any shoppers clicking on and viewing your listings find enough persuasive product information to purchase from you.

Position yourself competitively on price and service

As you begin to expand your eBay product line, take a close look at whether you’re competitive in the following areas:


EBay’s marketplace is vast, with sellers offering the same product across a range of prices. Buyers make purchasing decisions based on a variety of factors, including selection, shipping costs, and sale terms, but a competitive price is still the most important factor.

You can choose one of two selling options in eBay:

  • The online auction. Auctions last from one to 10 days and can sometimes result in a higher price for your product. It motivates buyers to compete with each other. You just need to list a starting price to spark interest. Auction-style listings are ideal for items in high demand with limited supply, such as rare sports collectibles. They are also helpful if you don’t know what price to sell at. 
  • Buy It Now. Also known as fixed-price listings. This lets a buyer pay for something and have it shipped immediately. They don’t have to wait for an auction to end. Buy It Now is ideal for items people buy on impulse or where there is more supply than demand. 

eBay accepts the following payment methods at checkout:

  • PayPal
  • PayPal Credit
  • Credit card or debit card
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • Payment upon pickup
  • Escrow (select categories only)

What not to do on eBay

So far, we’ve looked at what to do to be a successful eBay seller. But there also are a few things you should be sure not to do. Many of these actions can result in selling penalties and can create bad experiences for eBay shoppers, so avoid them whenever possible.

EBay works hard to attract buyers onto its platform and make sure they’re able to find and easily purchase exactly what they’re looking for. These rules are designed specifically to ensure the eBay customer experience is top notch and the selling experience for merchants is fair.

Avoid providing details that can be used to contact you outside of eBay. Buyers and sellers can only be protected when they transact through eBay, so eBay disallows the following:

  • Including your phone number in listings or eBay messages
  • Including your email address in listings or eBay messages
  • Including your business address in listings or eBay messages
  • Posting any of the above anywhere else on eBay or in listing images
  • Encouraging shoppers to contact you outside of eBay messages
  • Using your phone number, website, or email address as your eBay ID

In most cases, think of your entire eBay presence, including your item descriptions, as an eBay-only zone. Listings containing links to external websites or addresses may automatically be removed and your selling privileges could be suspended.

Don’t create misleading listings or listing titles

Include appropriate keywords that apply to your products in your listing titles. Avoid using irrelevant keywords in an attempt to appear more frequently in eBay search. Shoppers don’t click on listings for products they didn’t intend to search for, and engaging in this practice—often called “keyword spamming”—can reduce your eBay search visibility over time.

Represent your products accurately and completely in your descriptions and images, and include any applicable caveats or negatives. Provide your buyers with the data they need to make an informed purchase. Leave them satisfied and happy to provide positive feedback about their experience.

Don’t neglect customer service requests

Respond promptly to buyer refund and return requests. Putting off (or ignoring) a request can be detrimental to your business—your visibility could suffer or you may experience selling restrictions.

It can be frustrating when shoppers ask for a refund or open a case with eBay, but by addressing customer service requests promptly and professionally, you ensure high levels of buyer satisfaction and long-term success.

Don’t regularly cancel orders

From time to time you may experience inventory problems and have to cancel orders. You should not allow this to become a regular practice. In cases when you can’t fulfill an order promptly, contact your buyer immediately to ask how they want to proceed. Let them know you can cancel and refund their order.

Sellers who repeatedly cancel their orders will have their selling abilities limited and may be banned from eBay indefinitely. While mistakes happen, eBay needs to make sure its customers walk away with the best experience possible, every time. The more positive experiences shoppers have, the more buyers there will be to purchase items on eBay—including yours.

Start selling on eBay today

It’s clear that eBay is a good place to build awareness for your products. The platform reaches over 158 million people, sporting brands like Lululemon, Nike, and more. But selling on eBay also has a few drawbacks, like fees and no customization options. 

If you want to sell on eBay, start by creating your own Shopify store. Then connect the two platforms together. This way, you can list products quickly, manage inventory better, and make more sales. 

Wrapping up

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