Many of us have used the COVID-19 lockdown as an opportunity to carry out some heavy spring cleaning. But have you considered a smarter way of getting rid of all the "junk" you have lying around? Selling on eBay can be a useful way to declutter your life and earn a little cash on the side.
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Is It Worth Selling on eBay?
You may be thinking – why go to the hassle when I could just as easily throw it away or donate it? There are many reasons you might consider selling on eBay.
For one, the demand for online sales continues to grow. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows the growing percentage of online sales as a proportion of all retail, with a record high of 32% as of May 2020. Many analysts also believe the shift to eCommerce will drive more permanent, long-term changes in consumer behaviour. The demand for online goods is likely to continue growing.
eBay is one of the world's biggest online marketplaces, with around 170 million buyers worldwide. Selling on eBay gives you access to buyers all over the world who could be looking for unique items like yours. What’s more, eBay marketplace sales are increasing in volume as buyers flock online to buy goods that have either run out or are unavailable due to store closures. There’s never been a better time to try selling online.
Second, unlike a lot of marketplaces, setting up on eBay is relatively hassle-free, and can work out to be quite economical for small sellers. eBay gives you a certain quota of items that you're allowed to list for free, after which you need to pay a minimal fee to list additional items. However, if you're simply looking to get rid of a few things online, there’s no better place to start than eBay.
Finally, by selling online, you’re giving your items a new lease on life. While you may not need them anymore, someone else might! Selling items on eBay can be a sustainable alternative to simply disposing of them and allow you to make some money at the same time.
If you're wondering how to get started, here are some tips to help you get the most out of selling on eBay.
What are the Best Items to Sell on eBay?
Certain items sell better than others on eBay. Readily available everyday items may not be the best things to sell online, as people are likely to get them at stores. Instead, try to think about selling:
- New or unused items: Got a Christmas gift that’s still in its packaging? Or a pair of pillowcases that never quite saw the light of day? Anything in its packaging is more likely to sell than used goods (though used items in good condition can sell as well!).
- Branded goods: When it comes to buying stuff online, most people value a good reputation. When selling on eBay, try to sell branded items; it’s one less hurdle to making people trust the quality of the goods.
- Rare items: eBay has cemented its reputation as an excellent place to buy and sell rare or unusual items. If you want to get rid of some designer clothes, unique antiques, or limited-edition items, check if they’re worth something on eBay first. You might be surprised at their value!
- Bundled goods: Everyone loves a good deal. Rather than trying to list individual items, why not try to create bundles of products? You can bundle clothes, sporting goods, kitchenware, and even books and movies into lots, so you can get rid of more stuff, and give your buyers a good deal.
How Much Should You Sell Items for on eBay?
eBay earned its fame as an auctioning site, but now, sellers have two options for how to list items. You can choose an auction-style sale or give users the options to “Buy It Now”. Both methods have their advantages, but it all comes down to whether you are confident in the value of the item.
How Low Should You Go for An Auction?
For a unique or rare item, you might consider running an auction, since you could underestimate the value of the item and sell yourself short. eBay auctions also offer you the option of setting a reserve price, which is the lowest price you are willing to sell an item for. However, you should use this cautiously, as it could put off some buyers.
When it comes to pricing for an auction, the best strategy is to set a low starting price. Even if you expect that your item will sell for higher, setting a high starting price can be a deterrent to many buyers. It’s better to start low and rely on buyer demand to drive up the price. If the price doesn’t reach the value you were expecting, it’s highly unlikely you would have been able to sell it at that price anyway.
How to Price Buy It Now items on eBay
For everyday items, it can be better to put a price upfront and offer the option to Buy It Now. eBay buyers are unlikely to spend time bidding on things that are much easier to buy online at a fixed price. Do note that you might have to pay a small additional fee for adding a Buy It Now option to your listing.
Pricing everyday items can be tricky, but many tools can help you decide for what price to sell an item on eBay. The best solution lies within the eBay app itself. A nifty feature called the barcode scanner allows you to scan whatever you want to sell. The app displays what the item has sold for in the past, which can help you ballpark a figure.
Even if the item doesn’t have a barcode, you can upload a picture – eBay will give you a range of similar items along with their prices. And if you’re still unsure, then you can always try to search for comparable items on eBay and online in general and try to sell them at a competitive price point.
An essential element you should factor into your pricing is the cost of packaging and shipping, something a lot of first-time sellers don't account for. Don't forget shipping bulky items, especially internationally, can be quite expensive, so make sure to check postage rates before you finalise your listing price.
When to Sell on eBay?
Though you’re raring to go, you might want to put some thought into when you plan to list items on eBay.
For one, the longest an eBay auction can run is for ten days, so it might be better to list items at the weekend when more people are likely to be online. You should also avoid times or days when people are busy at work, or during any major holidays or events. An interesting study shows the best times of the week to end an eBay auction – check it out here.
Similarly, it might be better to list specific items when they are more in demand. For example, selling Christmas ornaments in November or December could be more effective than trying to get rid of them in February!
You should also plan when to list items to reduce your listing fees. Since you can only list up to a certain number of items for free, make sure that you space out listings as much as possible, or bundle items together for sale.
eBay also occasionally invites sellers to participate in promotional weekends and events, when eBay reduces listing and selling fees significantly. Look out for those; you could make considerable savings by taking advantage of these events to sell.
How to Write an Effective eBay Listing
Finally, the most critical part of selling on eBay is writing a compelling listing that is sure to get your item noticed. Some points to remember:
- Use the right keywords; be as specific and descriptive as possible. Instead of writing “Nike size 4 shoes”, you could write “Authentic, unopened Nike running shoes – size 4”.
- Learn the lingo: Veteran sellers use eBay jargon for cramming information into the limited listing descriptions. Try “BN” for “Brand New”, “VGC” for “Very good condition”, “NWOB” for “New without box” and so on.
- Be honest about any flaws – overpromising the quality of a product could result in a negative buyer experience and could affect your seller rating on eBay.
- Pictures speak a thousand words. Upload as many images of your items as possible from various angles. Ensure the lighting is good, and that the picture is not hazy or unclear.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. A straightforward way to write compelling ads is to browse eBay and pick up what you can from top sellers’ profiles. You can also check “sold listings” similar to the items you are trying to sell.
You can even copy over a product listing that you find particularly appealing. Click on “Sell one like this” to automatically copy over some of the fields in your listing form.
How Much Does it Cost to Sell on eBay?
The biggest question on your mind may be whether the economics of eBay work out in your favour, especially after you account for packaging and fees. The good news is that as a private seller, you’ll pay minimal fees on your eBay listing. The main fees eBay charge are:
- Listing fee: As mentioned before, eBay allows you to list a certain number of items for free before you are charged 35p for each additional listing. Unless you have a vast amount of things to sell, your listing fees should be minimal.
- Final value fees: This is the fee eBay deducts when you sell an item on their platform. It is usually 10% of the final transaction value, up to a maximum of £250 per item. Compare this to Amazon, which charges up to 15%. You can achieve a much higher profit per item on eBay.
- Optional fees for upgrading your listing: You can choose to add features to your listing, like a “Buy it now” option (which we discussed earlier), more prominent photographs, international site visibility, and more. However, these are optional, and with a good enough free listing, you can avoid this altogether.
As with all things, building up a strong seller profile on eBay takes time. But if you’re just looking to list a few random items for a casual clear-out, it’s worth considering listing them on eBay to help you make a little extra cash on the side. So, the next time you’re spring cleaning – don’t bin it, ‘Bay it!