How to sell on eBay: Creating a successful online marketplace

TransferWise content team
11.04.19
8 minute read

As one of the biggest online retail platforms out there, eBay might be perfect for you, whether you want to occasionally sell your handmade crafts, or become one of the thousand or so Brits running a million pound eBay ecommerce business.¹

With categories covering clothing and collectibles, to electronics and industrial goods, you’ll not struggle to find products to sell on eBay. Connect with potential customers all around the world, and you could soon be building an ecommerce business to be proud of.

Learn more with this handy guide, covering:

  • How to start selling online with eBay
  • What products to sell, and how to reach potential customers in the UK and abroad
  • Transaction fees and other costs to consider - including how to avoid high cross border fees when selling internationally, by using TransferWise for business

How to sell on eBay: Step by Step to start your online marketplace?

When you’re getting started selling with eBay, you’ll have to register as either a private or business seller. Private accounts are typically for people who need to sell an item or two on an occasional basis. You might use a private eBay account to sell some old clothes when you’re having a clear out at home, or to find a new home for your sofa when you’re redecorating, for example.

However, if you’re joining eBay to create an ecommerce business, and are looking to start selling online on a regular basis, you’ll probably want to create an eBay business account.

To create your eBay shop and start selling online, you’ll have to:

  • Visit the eBay website and create a new business account
  • Link your PayPal account using the options available in eBay account settings. You’ll have to read and accept the PayPal terms of use at this point
  • Enter your address - or addresses if you’ll be sending items from a location that’s different to the address to be used for returns
  • Choose a shop name, a subscription plan and start to list your products¹

It’s helpful to know that some of the eBay rules and fees are different if you’re selling vehicles, or vehicle parts. Unless otherwise stated, the processes and costs which we mention in this guide relate to ecommerce businesses which are not involved with selling cars, other vehicles, or vehicle.

Finding your niche: What to sell online?

Choosing what to sell is an important step. There are a few ways you can go about doing this. Maybe you have a real expertise in picking out hidden treasures, and want to trade the vintage gems you spot. Or perhaps you’d love to turn your keen-eye for fashion into some extra cash, and can source and sell clothing online. Alternatively, you can see what’s trending with eBay customers, and create a shop which meets their needs.

According to recent figures, the most common categories for new eBay shops are as follows, in order of popularity:

  • Clothes, shoes and accessories
  • Electronics
  • Home and garden
  • Collectibles
  • Parts and accessories
  • Lifestyle
  • Business and industrial
  • Media¹

You might choose one of these hot categories, or you could use eBay’s tools to see what customers are searching for right now. The predictive search function within eBay shows the most common searches being carried out, so you just need to enter a keyword and see what comes up. You might type wedding for example, to discover the related products which are most popular with eBay shoppers. You can use take research, and use the advanced search tool - to discover the most popular items for this topic. This can help you carve out a niche which appeals to your interests and will also be a hit with existing eBay customers.

Before you finalise your choice of products to sell, make sure you take a look at eBay’s final value fee for that category. These charges vary depending on the product type you’re selling, so knowing the cost is essential when you’re working out how profitable a product may be. More on fees in a moment.

EBay recommend a few third party solutions for product research, including Terapeak. You’ll be able to find average selling prices across different categories and other key data to help you choose products to sell. Don’t forget to think about how easy it is to post your chosen items to customers, and to make sure your products can be sold legally and within eBay’s rules.²

Managing your inventory

Once you’ve chosen what to sell, you need to plan to manage your inventory and shipping. You can go it alone, holding your own stock and posting items to your customers yourself. Or you may choose to work with a third party provider which will hold your inventory and deal with shipping and returns on your behalf.

EBay recommends the following third party inventory management providers:

  • Brightpearl - this retail management system lets you track and deal with orders, inventory, billing, and more to increase efficiency and leave you with more time to invest in your business

  • Linnworks - you can try a free trial of the UK’s leading order management software, which integrates inventory and stock control, and provides advanced reporting tools

  • M2E Pro - integrate Magento systems into your eBay shop, for bulk listing uploads, and policy-based product organisation. Free for small businesses

  • Markitseller - use with multiple seller accounts, to create and edit listings, and compare pricing across markets in real time

  • TymeOnline - business consultant support from setting up your eBay shop and selecting products to sell, through to optimising and growing your ecommerce business³

When you’re deciding how best to set up and grow your eBay business, you’ll need to weigh up the costs of using a third party supplier against the convenience and support you’ll receive. Although you’ll often have to pay a fee, some new sellers find the software, systems and personal advice available from these providers to be an invaluable tool to get their businesses up and running.⁴¹

Before you begin selling online, you’ll need to know the costs and fees involved.

EBay charges a fee when you list an item for sale, and also a final value fee when the item is actually sold. The costs are different for private sellers, businesses, and when selling on eBay Motors. The charges set out below are for eBay businesses - not including car and vehicle part sales.⁴

Costs change from time to time, and vary depending on the services you choose. Doing your research in advance is essential, so you’ll know what transaction fees you need to pay on each sale. Everything you need is set out in detail on the eBay website, and there’s a roundup of the key charges below to get you started.

Service EBay fee
Shop subscription fee - you can choose to pay as you go, with no shop fee, or buy a package upgrade which includes some eBay services No shop (pay as you go) - free Basic - £25/month
  • Includes 250 fixed price listings and 50 7 day auction listings
Featured - £69/month
  • Includes 1500 fixed price listings and 300 7 day auction listings
Anchor - £399/month
  • Includes unlimited fixed price listings and 500 7 day auction listings
Fixed price listings in addition to package, or for pay as you go sellers Pay as you go - £0.30Basic - £0.10Featured - £0.05Anchor - free
7 day auction listings in addition to package, or for pay as you go sellers Pay as you go - £0.30Basic - £0.15Featured - £0.15Anchor - £0.15
Final value fee Final value fee depends on the categories you sell in, your performance as a seller and whether or not you have a shop package. Fees range from 6-11%, with extra charges levied for sellers who are assessed to have a below standard performance level. If you buy a shop subscription, your final value fees may be capped depending on the categories you sell in.⁵

How do you get paid?

When you sell using eBay, you’ll be paid directly by your customer, before you dispatch the product you’re selling.

EBay recommend that business sellers get paid via PayPal.⁶ In fact, in most categories it’s mandatory to list PayPal as a payment option for customers. To do this you’ll link your existing PayPal account and your eBay account and customers will pass their payment directly to you that way.

You can also allow customers to pay using a credit or debit card, either via PayPal or by processing the payment outside of eBay before dispatching the goods purchased. Finally, some sellers choose to list alternative methods of payment such as cash on collection, payment by cheque or bank transfer.

Deciding how you want to get paid when selling via eBay is especially important if you’re planning on working with customers based overseas. Customers can make international payments using PayPal, but may be subject to fees and currency conversion charges.⁷

If you are looking to expand your business, and sell items overseas - then you may need to accept payments in each eBay market’s local currency. These payments would then have to be converted back to your local currency, and not always at the most favourable rate.

An alternative may be to allow potential customers to pay by international transfer into a multi-currency account, such as the TransferWise borderless account for business. You could take payment in a range of different currencies depending on where your buyer is based, and then either spend your foreign currency online, or convert it back to pounds sterling at a time that is right for you. More on the borderless account, in a moment.

Thinking of selling online with eBay? TransferWise could help you to receive your payments locally.

International payments and converting between currencies can be expensive, and if you want to make your online marketplace profitable - it may be beneficial to consider services such as TransferWise.

TransferWise is different. Its smart new technology skips hefty international transfer fees by connecting local bank accounts all around the world.

TransferWise’s free borderless multi-currency account for business allows you receive and send dozens of currencies all from the same account. Providing you with local bank account details to which you can receive payments directly without the need for international transfer fees.

All currency conversion is done using the mid-market rate - the one you’ll find on Google - with no hidden costs to worry about.

Doing some research can really help to save you money, and give you more to invest in growing your ecommerce business.

Building an ecommerce business can be an exciting journey. Finding the right platform to connect with your customers is important, as well as working out ways to minimise your costs, and improve your profitability. Don’t get caught out by high fees for currency conversion or international payments if you’re working with customers or suppliers overseas.

Sources used:

1.https://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/sites/default/files/assets/download/ebay_for_business_seller_guide.pdf
2.https://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/business/best-selling-items
3.https://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/business/service-providers#inventory
4.https://www.ebay.co.uk/help/selling/fees-credits-invoices/fees-business-sellers?id=4122&st=12&pos=6&query=Fees%20for%20business%20sellers&intent=Final%20value%20fee#section4
5.https://www.ebay.co.uk/help/selling/fees-credits-invoices/fees-business-sellers?id=4122
6.https://pages.ebay.ca/seller-centre/fees-payments/payments.html#how-to-get-paid
7.https://sellercentre.ebay.co.uk/business/receive-money

Sources checked on 09-April 2019.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

Find out more
Business

6 steps to becoming a finance team hero

Not all heroes wear capes.Accountants are too busy to change their clothes in a phonebox every time there’s a problem. Also, spandex costumes are frowned upon...

TransferWise content team
15.11.16 4 minute read
Business

PayPal Business Price Comparison Research

Note: the following research took place on October 11-16 2018 by an independent research agency. As of 8 March 2019, TransferWise prices will change for all...

TransferWise content team
14.11.18 2 minute read

Tips, news and updates for your location