Selling on marketplaces like eBay and Amazon allow you to get your products in front of a large audience, and when combined with your own online website and/or brick and mortar store, you can quickly increase your brand awareness, and ultimately, sales.
But moving into a new channel is a bold move and one that can have a big payoff if it’s done right.
How to sell on eBay
If you’re brand new to selling on eBay, we recommend you read this guide first to ensure you know how to setup your eBay Shop and how to start listing your first items.
For those of you who are more seasoned eBay sellers or need more information about how to sell on eBay than just how to list an item, we will now focus on some key considerations, including:
What types of eBay selling fees can you expect to pay?
What are the pros and cons of selling on eBay?
What do you need to understand about your eBay selling limits?
When is the best time to list on eBay?
What items are most popular on eBay?
eBay selling fees
There are 4 main types of eBay selling fees:
Listing or Insertion Fees
Final Value or Selling Fees
Listing (or insertion fees) are payable whenever you list merchandise on eBay. If you operate an eBay Shop, the maximum amount you will pay is $0.30 per listing after your first 100 free listings per month. As to how much exactly you’ll pay is dependent on the product category you’re listing in as well as where your business is located. So if you sell musical instruments or accessories and you’re selling within the Musical Instruments & Gear > Guitars & Basses category, you will not be charged insertion fees.
Furthermore, if you apply for a PayPal Merchant Discount, then you can receive further discounts on fees when selling on eBay as a business, regardless of which category you’re listing in.
Quick Tip: You do not need to pay an insertion fee per item, only per listing. Each listing can have unlimited inventory of the same or similar items (i.e. different colors, sizes, materials etc). With an eBay Anchor Shop, you may even be able to list for free.
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Final value (or selling) fees are charged when you successfully sell an item. The fee percentage you pay will vary according to the category that your item was listed in. Final value fees are usually 10% of the final sale, however, this can fall to just 8% when selling via an eBay Shop. Remember, eBay cap final value fees so you’ll never pay more than $250 for a single item.
Feature fees are charged when you add enhancements to your listings, such as product images, subtitles and promotions. You should use these enhancements sparingly as not all of your listings will need them (apart from photos – you’ll always want those!)
And finally, tools fees give you access to features such as eBay Shops and reporting tools to help you manage your business. The eBay Shops tool is subscription-based and is an essential tool for selling on eBay. This will give you access to reduced insertion fees and enable you to successfully merchandise your products.
But how does this compare within the battle of the marketplaces? In other words, what are Amazon vs eBay selling fees? Although all fees are dependent on region, category and other variables, Amazon fees are usually about ⅓ of the sale price of an item, whereas eBay comes in at about 15% of the total sale price. Thus, it can be cheaper to sell on eBay by as much as half!
The pros and cons of selling on eBay
As with any marketplace or e-commerce platform, there are pros and cons of selling with it, including:
Pro #1: Take advantage of a high traffic sales channel
With over 150 million active eBay buyers, this is one high traffic sales channel that you can definitely take advantage of. What’s more, with this number of customers searching for your products, you have the chance to acquire new customers for your other sales channels too, such as your own website. By ensuring you provide excellent customer service and fast shipping, you can persuade your customers to come back again and again.
Pro #2: eBay is cheaper to sell on than Amazon
With Amazon fees being as much as ⅓ of the total value of a sale and eBay commonly as low as 15%, it can be much cheaper to sell on eBay than Amazon.
Pro #3: Increase your brand awareness
When selling on a high traffic sales channel like eBay, this automatically provides you with a great chance to increase your brand awareness. Remember to include your branding on packaging, packing notes, listings and perhaps even product photos to maximize awareness.
Pitfall #1: Buyer Protection Scheme
Put in place to protect buyers, eBay’s ‘Money Back Guarantee’, which launched in 2013 was designed to: “ensure buyers can shop confidently, with knowledge that they will receive the item they purchased or their money back”. However, some sellers have found themselves in difficult situations due to this scheme.
For instance, a business that uses eBay to sell surplus inventory from their baby shop found themselves in trouble with a seller and consequently, eBay. The business had sold a brand-new pushchair in sealed packaging for £199.99.
Shortly after receiving the item, the buyer informed them that the item was no longer needed and had to be returned. Provided the goods were in the same condition as sold, the buyer was within the 14-day cool off period. No harm done.
However, eBay informed the business that the item had to be refunded immediately, despite the returned pushchair not being in the same condition as was sold. The business did eventually settle this dispute with eBay, but after a lot of time spent on trying to do so.
Although cases like these can be isolated, it is something to be aware of when selling on marketplaces like eBay.
Pitfall #2: eBay selling fees
Most marketplace fees are deducted as a percentage of each sale. This means that in highly commoditized, low-margin listing categories, the numbers may swing against you as the seller. Ensure you have a good understanding of your current product margins, the eBay selling fees you may be subjected to and how this will impact your bottom line.
Pitfall #3: Lack of control
eBay’s focus is on the products being sold, as opposed to its sellers. This means you will have limited control over what items you can and can’t sell and what type of communication you can have with your customers.
Pitfall #4: Keeping inventory levels updated
When selling on eBay, it can be a very manual job to update your inventory levels. This can become even more complicated and manual as soon as you add more than one eBay marketplace to the mix, or other sales channels such as your own website, brick and mortar store or Amazon. Ensure you keep your sales channels talking to one another via an order management system that is able to automatically update your inventory levels in real-time across multiple sales channels.
Understanding eBay selling limits
There is no avoiding this – all sellers have selling limits. There are 3 types of limits:
Account Limits: You are limited based on the number of items you can sell, max gross merchandise value and the number of active items for sale at any one time. You may be able to request a limit increase if you can verify some business data with eBay. Learn more here.
Category Limits: You may be restricted on the number of items you can list in one calendar month in some categories, such as books, clothing and computing. By establishing and maintaining a good seller history in these categories, you can raise the limit.
Item Limits: Some items may be subject to additional restrictions. These may be lifted once you’ve established a good seller rating for those items, whereas some items (such as counterfeit products) will of course always be restricted. More on this below.
To find out whether you have any limits on your own selling, follow these steps:
Log into your eBay account
Navigate to Sell > All Selling > Overview
You should now be able to see all restrictions on your account (where applicable).
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Selling on eBay: the best times to sell
eBay itself declares their busiest time is on Sunday evenings. Other good days include Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 6-10pm.
‘Graveyard hours’ are considered to be any time after midnight, and Friday and Saturday evenings are not good selling times due to shoppers often being out of the house.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to ensure your listings end at appropriate times, unless you choose to keep them live indefinitely.
You should remember to adjust the timings if you are selling to foreign countries to ensure the listings fit in with your customers’ timezones. If you find yourself unable to list items at a certain time, you can schedule 20 listings for free, and others for a fee. You can schedule a maximum of 3,000 listings as far as three weeks in advance. For more information, review this eBay guide.
You should also consider taking advantage of eBay’s advanced international selling option, which allows you to create separate listings for each eBay site, and thus, enables you to decide when each listing will end based on your buyers’ timezones.
Popular eBay products
When establishing a growing business, it can pay to know what your competition is doing. Here are some of the current best selling products on eBay:
If you have flexibility over what you choose to sell, one tip is to also keep an eye on Google Trends. As Google is the largest search engine around the world, you can capitalize on what people are searching for. Are they searching for Disney-related merchandise for example? What particular type of Disney merchandise is trending?
Often these types of trends will focus around particulars, such as a certain time of year or a movie, book, or TV show launch, but you can use these trends to garner what shoppers will be most interested in and when to sell those items on eBay to peak their interest even more than usual.
What is the VeRO program and why is it important?
The VeRO program, or Verified Rights Ownership, is in place to ensure items bought and sold via eBay are authentic. Companies can choose to list their products on the VeRo program. For example, Michael Kors is listed, ensuring only authentic Michael Kors items can be bought or sold on eBay.
If you don’t adhere to the rules of VeRO, then your listing will be removed from eBay and restrictions may be placed on your account. Violation of these rules will result in an email from eBay such as:
Your listing was most likely terminated because it displayed unauthorized reproductions of copyrighted images or trademarks owned by [insert company], or because it offered for sale unauthorized merchandise.
How to improve eBay sales
The art and science of how to improve eBay sales has a simple underlying premise: rank highly in eBay search results. The selling on eBay tips in the previous section are a great starting point for that, but to rank even higher, here’s some more advice:
1. Offer free shipping.
eBay’s search function loves a free shipping offer, but so do your customers. 9 out of 10 consumers say free shipping is their first priority when shopping online. Free shipping (and fast shipping) is one of the easiest ways to get a bump in search results. However, to avoid this offer eating into your profits, consider raising your product prices to incorporate your baseline shipping costs.
2. Get to grips with product identifiers.
Product identifiers, such as UPC and ASIN codes allow customers to find your items quickly and easily. And once you start increasing your sales, you’ll start ranking even higher against your competitors. Easy search + more sales = high ranking!
3. Aim for eBay Top Rated status.
Since eBay’s update in 2015, the Top Rated status is now much easier to achieve and maintain. In the past, Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs), return rates and feedback were essentially the be-all and end-all. However, now there is more of a focus on handling and tracking upload times, as well as ensuring you don’t have too many unresolved disputes against your seller name.
4. Refresh your stale listings.
If you haven’t posted any new inventory in some time, consider ending some of your listings and relist them as new ones. Although you will lose your seller history on those items, if you choose items that are not bringing in too many sales for you then there will be less consequences for you. The simple act of refreshing a few of your listings gives all of your listings a boost in search results as eBay search rewards newer listings over older ones.
5. Offer a 30 day return policy.
A 30 day return policy will significantly boost your search ranking in eBay. If eBay can see that you’re offering this type of police, you’re considered a trustworthy seller as it suggests you expect less customers to have to send items back. Plus, you instantly give peace of mind to eBay shoppers, which is particularly important if you’re selling valuable or niche items.
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Best practice: how to respond to eBay feedback
How to reply to negative eBay feedback
Your eBay feedback score is the heart and soul of your eBay Shop, but even with the best intentions, your best may not be enough. Whether you’ve received negative eBay feedback due to taking too long to ship an item, or maybe the wrong item was received, or perhaps the customer feels like the item wasn’t as described, the way you respond to eBay feedback tells other shoppers and eBay a lot about you and how you conduct your business.
Here are some best practices you can use to reply to negative eBay feedback, whilst diffusing and turning a negative situation around:
Tip #1: Try an apology.
Whilst maintaining professionalism and appearing sincere, an apology can be one of the simplest ways to diffuse a negative situation without making it worse. Respond to the eBay feedback with a few words to state your apologies and that you’ll be in touch to sort things out. Fellow shoppers will see this and understand that sometimes, mistakes happen and that you will take the initiative to make things right.
Tip #2: Offer an explanation.
If there is a simple explanation for how the error or issue occurred, be honest and offer this in your feedback reply. There are two reasons why an explanation works well. Firstly, it shows you’re taking the complaints seriously, whilst attempting to fix the situation. Secondly, it shows other buyers how this feedback occurred and that you are taking steps to ensure the same issue doesn’t occur again.
Tip #3: Sometimes, no answer is the best answer.
There are a number of eBay sellers out there who choose not to reply to negative feedback at all, as this can draw more attention to negative feedback than without commenting. If your positive feedback vastly outweighs the bad, then you’ll do okay by not responding publicly if you choose not to.
eBay feedback removal and revision
If you find yourself in the position of receiving feedback that you think is unjust or mistaken, you can request an eBay feedback removal or revision. Equally, if you have followed up with the customer and feel they are in a much better place with your business now, then there are times when they may also choose to remove or revise their feedback (if prompted by you).
Here are some best practices for if and when you need to request an eBay feedback removal or revision:
Tip #1: Keep an eye on eBay’s policies and guidelines.
Not all feedback is considered valid on eBay. If the feedback doesn’t adhere to eBay’s policies and guidelines, then you can request it to be removed. For more info about eBay’s policies, check out this guide.
Tip #2: Request an automated feedback revision.
If you followed up on some recent feedback to improve the buyer’s situation, then you can request an automated feedback revision. The process is automatic, and if buyers are more satisfied than before, then they are often happy to amend their comments to a more positive nature.
Tip #3: Remove mistake feedback.
Sometimes, a buyer may give you negative or neutral feedback entirely by mistake. If this happens, you can contact them via the automated feedback revision process above. But if that request is ignored, then you can contact eBay later on to ask them to amend or remove the feedback accordingly.
Tip #4: If in doubt, get eBay involved.
If you’re not having any luck with the buyer removing mistaken or unjust feedback, then you are able to get eBay directly involved instead. Feedback will be quickly removed if a) you can’t contact the buyer because the email address provided was wrong, b) you’ve received negative feedback for an unpaid item, or c) the feedback violates eBay’s policies.