A Beginners Guide to Selling on eBay

Hi there, l’m Chris and the Digital Marketing Executive at SellerExpress. I came up with the idea of a weekly blog from a seller’s perspective on their ecommerce experiences that week. However, what I didn’t realise at the time, was that l was going to be the seller! I’m a relative newbie to the world of ecommerce and over the next few months, l will be dipping my toes into this growing industry, full of opportunity.

I’ve decided to document my ecommerce journey through this blog and Twitter. I’ll be learning new tips and tricks along the way and offering advice on how you can benefit from my experience. Hopefully we’ll make a few quid along the way, which at the end of the day, is what buying and selling is all about.

1. Source products to sell
I have a passion for cycling and l managed to pick up a few bargains in the January sales. I realise there are cheaper and more sustainable methods of sourcing products but l’m keen to get selling straight away. I’m hoping with the right listing technique and pricing strategy l can make a profit out of the products l currently have in-stock.

It’s not essential at this stage, but l have created a spreadsheet to keep track of my inventory and allow me to quickly view what products are selling well and my stock levels. When my inventory levels grow, l’ll be managing this through inventory management software such as SellerExpress.

2. Amazon or eBay?
As there is fewer barriers to entry with eBay, l’m going to start my ecommerce journey there. We’ll have a look at the Amazon marketplace and other selling platforms further down the line.

It’s pretty straightforward to set up an eBay account, all you need is an email address. Also, at this stage, it’s worthwhile signing up for a Paypal account as well to manage payments.

This is a simple two-step process:

Step 1 – complete the sign up form using the same email address as you’ve used for your eBay account.
Step 2 – add your credit or debit card details to your account. Paypal will store these details for future payments.

3. List my products
I’ve set up my eBay account and Paypal account and l’m now ready to list my products. There are two options here: quick sell (not suitable for and vehicle parts) and advanced sell.

eBay cites the differences as being quick sell gives you the most popular option whilst advanced sell “gives you access to all of the options for selling formats, listing upgrades, postage options etc.”. Initially, I’m going to go with the advanced sell option.

4. Product title
I want to ensure that users can easily find the products l’m selling. Therefore, l’m going to put myself in a buyers’ shoes and imagine what search term(s) they would enter. I’m not overly concerned with grammar here but it is important that you get your spelling right.

Let’s start with a compact product – cycling gloves or mitts.

“Castelli S. Rosso Corsa Cycling Mitt Glove White/Grey Mens XXL BNWT”

eBay listing product title

Tip: BNWT = Brand New With Tags.

As well as the condition, I’ve also included in my product title: the product brand, the gender it is aimed at, the product colours and the size. I’m happy l’ve given an accurate and detailed description so l’m ready to get started. eBay also gives sellers the option to edit this before it goes live.

Video: How to create a compelling title and description

5. Choose product category
Once you’ve finalised your product title, you’re ready to select the product category. eBay is intuitive and if your product title is detailed enough it will pre-select a category for your product. Note, you can change the product category if the category eBay has selected for you isn’t the most appropriate.

eBay product category

6. Describe your item

  • Title – This is automatically populated based on what you entered previously.
  • Subtitle – l’m going to leave this blank but feel free to add a subtitle to your listing.
  • Condition – eBay offers four options: new with tags, new without tags, new with defects and used.
  • Add pictures– I originally photographed my product on top of a wooden table. However, it was pointed out to me (hat-tip to Seamus, the designer) that products look better on a white background…and they do (see the image below to compare).

    Improve your eBay photos with a white backgroundImprove your photos with a white background

    If you don’t have a white table, you could use some white paper or if you’ve got the skills, photo editing software to create a white background – luckily for me, l have a white table!

    eBay allows you to rotate, crop, automatically correct exposure and adjust the brightness and contrast of your images. Using the upload button, select your image(s) and then press upload.

    This can take a few minutes depending on the size and number of images so now might be a good time to stick the kettle on! You must add at least one and can add up to 12 images. I’ve used two images to show the front and back of the product.

Video: How to take a photo that sells your item

Article: How to capture high-quality product photos with your smartphone by Mark Macdonald

7. Add item specifics
The first field in this section is EAN (l had no idea what this was either) but upon investigation it is a European Article Number, a 13-digit number used internationally to identify products.

The other fields are more general terms including style, size, brand, gender, main colour, material and country/region of manufacture.

8. Details

This section is your opportunity to give more details to any potential customer. I’ve included as much detail as possible including materials and attractive selling points.

9. Format and price

Two main options here, Auction and Fixed Price.

I’m going to go with Fixed Price as it allows me to set a Buy It Now price. I’m aiming for £28.99 which seems competitive and gives me a nice profit margin.

With the Buy It Now option, there is an opportunity for buyers to make you an offer (note: this excludes postage and packaging).  You can  review any offers made and then chose to accept, decline or make a counter-offer.

If you don’t want to get any offers to review, just untick the best offer tickbox (which is automatically populated) as per below.

eBay format and price

10. Postage

There are lots of different postage options and carriers. I’ve opted for Royal Mail 1st class recorded  (£4.30 for a small parcel), as I want the piece of mind that my package will arrive safely in the hands of the buyer as it requires a signature.

I have read that other carriers are cheaper than Royal Mail but for now, l’m going to stick to what l know.

eBay postage policy

11. Returns policy

Having a good returns policy will help boost sales for any business. However, I’ve opted for a no returns policy until my business is up and running. This is something l may look at again in the future if l feel it’s having a detrimental affect on sales.

eBay returns policy

12. List

That’s everything covered and l’ve double checked my listing in the preview screen, so l’m happy to put it live and then start the process again for my other products.

13. Review

Once your product is live, if you’re like me, you’ll want to double check everything is as expected in terms of price, postage, images and images. If you spot anything you would like to update, just click the revise your item link.

Hopefully we’ve given you some encouragement to start listing some items that haven’t been used in a while and are just taking up space. As an alternative, to taking these to the charity shop (there is also a charitable donation option with eBay listings), why not follow this guide and hopefully raise some spare cash. There are millions of sellers on eBay selling a wide range of products both used and new, so why not give it a go and see if you can make some money.
*This article was originally published on SellerExpress

Sectors: Software
Countries: France, Germany, United Kingdom, and United States
Topics: E-commerce
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