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Selling on eBay for Beginners: Your Path to Profits

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As one of the world’s most famous marketplaces, eBay boasts over 22 million active customers in the UK alone. This huge reach makes it a great place to launch a new business, giving you access to lots of potential customers and a suite of great selling tools. 

Many people overlook selling on eBay UK, falsely thinking it’s reserved solely for auctioning off old, unwanted goods. That notion couldn’t be more wrong – a full 80% of products sold on eBay are brand new. 

Becoming a business seller on eBay gives you instant access to an expansive network of buyers and a robust framework for building your storefront. Better yet, you’ll also get additional value from research tools and incentives such as simplified international shipping and free product promotion.

These advantages come with costs. As a seller, you’ll have to pay a percentage of revenue from any sale, as well as some recurring costs such as shop subscriptions. 

Like every business, balancing costs against potential income is imperative to your success. As a team passionate about accountancy, it’s probably no surprise that we’re also keen to help businesses grow their numbers too! 

So, in order to help you get your business off to the best start, we’ve created a full guide for how to sell on eBay for beginners, which walks you through the entire process. 

How to set up your eBay account 

Before you can sell with eBay, you’ll need an account – specifically, a business account, which comes with lots of advantages over a personal one. 

  • Personal accounts face strict selling limits and are designed solely for casual selling, whereas business accounts have far higher limits.  
  • Business accounts can set up ‘shops’, giving you access to a customisable online storefront. 
  • Business accounts gain access to beneficial tools such as the promotions manager. 
  • Business accounts can input their VAT number, which will remove VAT costs from selling fees. 

On the main ‘Create an account’ page, you’ll find options for both a personal or business account. Select ‘business account’ and fill out your business’s name, location, email address and set a password. 

From here, you’ll be asked to fill in key business information depending on your status:

  1. Sole trader: if you’re starting the business from scratch as a sole trader, you will only need to provide personal information and bank details. 
  2. Registered legal entity: eBay will ask if you’re a limited company, partnership, PLC or charity. Once selected, you’ll need to provide information about the business itself, including the registered address, company registration number and phone number. You’ll then need to create a primary contact, who will be the person managing the account. This can be a company director or a beneficial owner. 

Once you’ve completed all of this information, your registration is finished and you’ll be able to start selling. Here’s what you need to know. 

Understanding eBay: basics and selling policies

To sell products on eBay, you’ll need to create sales listings that showcase your items. You’ll need to include the following information: 

  • Product description: tell buyers about your item and define exactly what is included in the sale. 
  • Item condition: you must set a condition that matches your item. In most cases, business sellers will select ‘New’ for brand-new items, though if you’re reselling used items, you’ll have to pick the most appropriate condition from a list that includes refurbished, used, for parts etc 
  • Item specifics: due to eBay’s trading history, platform technology and sheer volume of listings, each item often comes with an automatically populated set of specific information such as brand, colour, sizing and more. Make sure these are correct for your item. 
  • Product ID: if your product has any unique identifiers such as European Article Numbers (EANs) or Manufacturer Part Numbers (MPN), you’ll need to include it here. 

When you make a listing, you also get to choose how you’ll sell the item. eBay offers a unique way to sell compared to similar platforms, allowing for auction listings as well as more traditional ‘buy it now’ products. When creating a listing, you can choose between the following sale types:

  • Auctions – sell a product to the highest bidder after a pre-determined period of time has elapsed. The standard options for auctions are 3 and 7-days. You can set a reserve price to ensure the product will only sell once a certain price is reached. 
  • Buy it now – sell your product in a more traditional way, allowing buyers to purchase it at a set price. 
  • Auctions w/buy it now – you can set a buy it now price for any auction listing, allowing users to bypass the bidding and purchase it outright. The buy it now price must be 30% higher than the auction starting price. 

Before listing, however, you should be aware of eBay’s seller practices policy, which demands a certain set of behaviours from sellers. Guidelines are fairly extensive, so click here to read them in full – though we’ve also created an overall summary to help give you an idea. 

  • Set clear expectations around dispatch times, return policies and shipping options. 
  • Communicate responsively with your customers. 
  • Maintain professionalism throughout a transaction. 
  • Make sure all listings are accurate, especially with any information about an item’s condition and stock availability. 
  • Provide tracking information on sold items and offer a clear returns policy for every listing. 

Creating an eBay shop

There’s a difference between being an eBay seller and having an eBay shop. Whilst any account can list items for sale, an eBay shop gives you a centralised hub to categorise and display your products, build customer trust and access more beneficial fee structures. 

To set up your shop, visit your ‘My eBay’ account page and find ‘Choose a shop subscription’. You’ll then select which type of eBay shop you want to run. In the UK, these options are:

  • Basic: priced at £27 per month, a basic shop allows you to set up your shop and access selling discounts. You’ll get 250 free fixed-price listings, 100 free 7-day auction listings and discount rates on additional listings. 
  • Featured: a more advanced package costing £77 per month, featured shops get a huge 1500 free fixed-price listings, 600 free 7-day auction listings and an even greater discount. You’ll also get access to seller hub promotions, free international listings (13 countries) and an eBay packaging voucher worth £10. 
  • Anchor: the ‘deluxe’ version of eBay’s shop offer, an anchor shop will cost £437 per month. Sellers at this tier get unlimited free fixed-price listings, 1000 free auction listings, free additional fixed-price listings and the full suite of shop tools for promotion in the UK and overseas. 

To see every benefit on offer, visit eBay’s store overview page.

No matter which tier you choose, you’ll need to customise your shop to help build your brand, establish your customer base and make a customer’s shopping experience the best it can be. Here’s how:

Customising your eBay shop

Your eBay shop is your digital storefront, so first impressions matter. Your shop will display a logo and header image at the top of the page, as well as allowing you to set featured categories to highlight important products to your customers. 

Shops also have an ‘about’ page to explain your offering to customers, as well as a simple ‘feedback’ page that collects all of your reviews in one place, giving customers instant confidence if you’ve got a positive reputation. 

To customise your shop to a competitive level, make sure you:

  • Upload a high-quality logo and header image that displays your branding
  • Write a shop page description. Keep it short and sweet but explain your value to your customer.
  • Spend time creating the right categories for your products. The less time a customer spends searching, the better. 
  • Consider creating featured categories, which allow you to draw attention to certain ranges. 
  • Contact customers once they purchase from you to ask for reviews or to rectify any negative feedback. The more positive feedback you have, the better your shop will look. 

Maintain a high level of visual quality in your shop and when you’re setting up products for sale. Always use high-quality photography and clear descriptions, as the more accurate a listing, the more likely a customer is to buy it. 

Finding profitable products to sell

Many new businesses struggle to sell in volume on eBay. After all, it’s a massive marketplace dominated by other sellers who have their stock and supply chains down to a tee. As a newbie, it’s not easy to find your place. Depending on what products you want to sell, you may face a real uphill battle. 

Selling on eBay, unlike other platforms, is often a game of stocking in-demand products that do well on the platform. A business specialising in single-run, niche items may struggle on eBay and perform better on a marketplace like Etsy (see our guide to selling on Etsy here.) 

When looking for the best things to sell on eBay for profit in the UK, you’re best off performing some eBay product research. To do that, you can leverage competitors and the vast amounts of data on offer to see which products are in-demand and how their listings are formatted. 

eBay offers the Terapeak product research function to all sellers, giving you access to a database of information about product ranges. Use it to find product ranges that sell well, then consider how you’ll stock said items. Options include:

  • Dropshipping: a popular ecommerce model, dropshipping is when you sell products without holding stock. You’ll find a supplier, create an arrangement and then they’ll ship direct to your customers. 
  • Stockholding: the more traditional model involves buying stock, storing it yourself in a warehouse or similar facility, and then selling via eBay. 
  • Wholesale: in some cases, you may be able to access wholesale discounts if you buy large quantities and resell them through eBay. 
  • Product development: some eBay sellers create their own products to sell. These can be anything from 3D-printed resin models to terrariums, DIY tools, furniture, accessories, etc. The sky is the limit – but make sure you use eBay’s product research tools to ensure there’s demand for items before you commit to making them. 

Listing, pricing, and shipping your items

Once you’ve got your seller account and shop page set up, you’ll need to list your products. Understanding how to list your items on eBay is all about getting the basics right, so we’d advise taking the time to research similar products and ranges to see how your competitors are doing it. 

How to list items on eBay

To list items, you’ll need to create a listing through eBay. You’ll be able to create variants and customisation options for products that have multiple colourways or sizes, though sometimes sellers will list these individually (which again shows the importance of research). 

  • Name your product in a descriptive fashion. Don’t forget to use your competitor research to find out which words are commonly used for similar products and include those in the title where appropriate. 
  • Create a good item description that accurately explains the product and sums up its key selling points. Include specifics about what is included in the sale – if your photographs have an accessory or small part that isn’t included but you don’t make this clear in the description, you will run into issues. 
  • Set the other specifics like MPN, condition etc that we outlined earlier in this article under the ‘Understanding eBay: Basics and Selling Policies’ heading.
  • Pick the appropriate shipping options that you’re willing to use. 
  • Choose your sale type and then complete the listing. 

Shipping on eBay can be a tricky thing. Customers will usually pay for postage as part of your listing, at the price you set in your product configuration. However, users can also choose to pay for other shipping items if permitted, which means you’ll need to be strict on what shipping you allow.

Managing your eBay listings and reputation 

Once you’ve got everything set up and you’re selling, you need to continue actively managing your eBay selling to ensure you build a positive reputation. To do that, you’ll need to ensure you’re accurately representing stock levels, managing any customer queries, resolving issues promptly and shipping as fast as you can.

If you have a customer issue, be professional and understanding throughout – even if they’re unwilling to resolve the situation amicably. If you can’t reach a comfortable resolution, you can get eBay involved. The platform tends to side with whichever side has better evidence, so having a clear record of professional communication and shipping details etc, will help hopefully make eBay’s team rule in your favour. 

Be proactive about positive results, too – get your happy customers to leave great reviews and ask them to share your shop link to their friends where relevant. 

Understanding the costs of selling on eBay

Like all good things in life, there’s a cost for the privilege of selling on eBay. It’s hard to say definitively how much it will cost, as fees vary based on which type of shop you run, how many products you sell and even what sort of shipping you choose. 

However, there are some commonly asked questions about eBay pricing floating around the internet, which we’ve used to help you understand the potential costs. 

  • Is it free to sell on eBay? 

Selling on ebay is never entirely free, even during promotional events. If you manage to list and sell an item during a ‘free listing’ promotion on eBay, you’ll save on the listing fee but will be charged the final value fee. 

  • How much does it cost to sell on eBay in the UK?

The costs of selling on eBay depend on a multitude of factors. In general, if you’ve followed this guide, you’ll be paying for a shop subscription each month, then any additional listing fees not covered by your shop tier. 

Outside of those fees, you’ll be charged final value fees as a percentage of your item once the sale is processed. Fees vary depending on your item’s category, but most commonly range between 9.9% and 12.9%.

Other additional features like reserve pricing, item subtitles, expanded Gallery plus etc, will incur added charges. 

  • What percentage do eBay take from sales UK? 

eBay charges a final value fee based on your item’s category. Fees can be anything from 5% for digital goods like NFTs to 12.9% for pet supplies, wholesale, crafts and more. See this eBay page for a full breakdown.

Continuing your journey as an eBay seller

As you begin to sell at volume and your business grows, you’ll need to continue to maintain your eBay shop and customer relationships. In addition, UK businesses will need to ensure they’re compliant with all tax and business reporting requirements. 

To stay on top of your taxes, use Crunch. Our accountancy software makes it simple for sole traders and limited businesses to track income and tax obligations, making it easier than ever to run a profitable eBay business.

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Updated on
August 23, 2023

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