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Got Ebay?

Updated on August 25, 2014

If you are looking to sell a few things out of your attic or start an ecommerce retail business eBay could be the answer for you. In most cases placing an ad on Ebay cost nothing or very little money and they have made it easy to for anyone to get started.

Ebay started as a personal website 1995, by Pierre Omidyar. The original site was called AuctionWeb. The story has been told many times over that he started the site in order to sell some personal “bric a brac” and listed a broken laser pointer on the site for about $14. Pierre contacted the winning bidder to make sure he understood the laser pointer was broken and the buyer told Pierre that he collected broken laser pointers. The dot com boom was in its infancy and AuctionWeb gained immediate popularity. What started as a hobby, became a business and the name was changed to Ebay. Almost 20 years later Ebay has maintained its position as one of the largest online global selling sites and all holdings boasted revenue of 16.5 billion in 2013 and the organization employs over 33,000 people.

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Ebay has made it their mission to make it relatively easy for anyone to sell on their platform and many inspiring entrepreneurs have had tremendous success selling on this site. Not everybody who posts an item on eBay is guaranteed success but selling on eBay can be more rewarding then having a garage sale or setting up shop in a flea market. I have always liked the phrase “Make Money While You Sleep” since Marketplaces like Ebay are open 24/7. Once you create a listing on Ebay, you have the immediate potential of reaching a buying audience of 181 million. If you are familiar with selling online, then you may know that Digital and Traditional Marketing is necessary to break through thousands of online shopping experiences. Ebay spends millions of dollars to attract customer to their website. As a practitioner of the principles of “Lean Commerce”, Ebay seller and Marketplace business manager with over 8 million dollars in annual Ebay demand, I can attest to the benefits of starting an ecommerce business using the Ebay tool set.

In order to sell on Ebay you’ll need to have the following.

  1. A Computer

  2. A digital camera or smartphone that takes excellent pictures

  3. an Ebay account (free to create an account)

  4. a Bank Account

  5. a PayPal Account (free to create an account)

  6. Item(s) to sell

Posting ads on Ebay is simple and the platform takes you through the options step by step.

In their tutorial or as you create a listing, Ebay goes the through the options and costs of running an Auction or Buy It Now listing and will estimate the “Final Fee” costs associated once the item sells. For the most part you can list your items for free using the basic service once the item sell that is when you pay Ebay a nominal percentage.

Successful Selling Suggestions

First, good clear pictures. The pictures of the product needs to present your item perfectly. A hero shot should be used for the feature image and additional photos should be used to present details. This approach is very important when selling used merchandise. Any flaw or damage needs to be clearly displayed.

A short and comprehensive description will make a tremendous difference. If your description is too long potential customers will bounce out of your ad. If there is not enough detail they will search for more information and may not find their way back to your post. Once again, if you are selling used items be very clear about the condition and the note any flaws.

Pricing needs to be competitive. Do your homework and make sure your item is priced in line with the same or similar items on the web. Remember is it very easy for your customers to use a comparison shopping engine to look up competitive prices.

Consider Free Shipping. Using free shipping as an add value approach needs to be carefully analyzed before including it in your listing. Remember items that have a low selling price may have a shipping cost that exceeds your profit. The same is true with items that are deemed oversized or heavy. Make sure you have run the numbers before including free shipping. If it makes sense including it could help sell items faster.

Some vendors provide video and some sellers have created videos for their items. Ebay has made it very easy to include videos on their listing and adding video can increase engagement and help close the sale.

Product demos videos create visitors engagement and can increase potential sales.

Top Selling Categories

1) Phones and Accessories

2) Clothing, Shoes and Accessories

3) Home and Garden

4) Jewelry and Watches

5) Auto Parts

6) Computers

7) Business and Industrial Equipment

8) Books

9) Crafts

10) Toys and Hobbies

11) Sporting Goods

12) Electronics

13) Music

14) Collectibles

15) Health and Beauty

What is Sold on Ebay

Originally the site was set up as a service that allowed sellers to list their collectable, used or unwanted items in an auction format. As internet search became more powerful the buyers for these items had more choices. On the flipside, novice sellers had better information to set their pricing using this data. What this means to you is that there is an opportunity to clean out your garage and list those items on Ebay and price them in line with the market value. Most Ebay sellers start by selling items that find in their attic or garage but eventually run out of items to sell or find that it is difficult to find additional inventory. Several vendors have opened their warehouses to Ebay sellers and successful sellers have tapped into these resources. Some companies will send the item directly to the customer, also known as dropship and others require a minimum purchase and only will ship that lot of merchandise to your home or office.

Ebay Wants You to Be Successful

There are several ways to find vendors that may sell to you but some vendors may require a State issued selling permit and a credit card to stay on file. So if you are prepared you can benefit greatly by creating the right vendor partnership.

An internet search is the quickest and easiest. Ebay has listed a few general articles on finding merchandise. Another approach is to visit a general merchandise show like the ASD show in Las Vegas or New York. Whether you are looking in person at a tradeshow or looking on the web for vendor partners the keyword is “dropship” you can find a few vendors that maybe able help you by clicking here.

So let’s recap. Ebay is an easy and risk reduced approach to start an online retail business. Research what is selling on the Ebay and on the web. Start with a few items that you have in the attic or have found in a garage sale. Don’t get discouraged. Beginnings always will have a learning curve and it going to take a few tries before you item sells. Experiment with images and descriptions that sell the sizzle of what you are selling. When you are ready, look at companies that will sell you merchandise that you are very familiar with and/or chose from the list of the top 15 categories. Remember, Ebay has a vested interest and they want you to be successful. They have volumes of information on how to sell successfully because they make the majority of their money when you sell the product not when you list it. Remember to always pack your items and notify your buyer that the item is on the way by providing a tracking number. Good luck and Happy Selling!


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