How to sell on eBay: a step-by-step guide for merchants
Pop quiz: which online marketplace boasts over 159 million active users, and is downloaded by three out of every ten (34.9%) U.S. mobile users?
Yes, it’s eBay.
As one of the earliest eCommerce marketplaces to come into existence, eBay is one of the strongest contenders for sellers looking to expand their reach online.
Not convinced? Keep reading for a rundown of eBay’s top benefits and how it can serve as a key component of your multichannel selling strategy.
Myths about selling on eBay
eBay has come a long way since its 1995 debut as “ActionWeb.”
Today, the marketplace doesn’t simply allow Joe Schmoe to sell an item from his closet—notable brands like Adidas and Best Buy have taken up eBay storefronts to sell both new and refurbished items.
Still, a few misconceptions cloud its reputation. Here are a few commonly held myths that are outdated or just plain wrong.
Myth: eBay is for amateurs. Truth: eBay is big business. There are nearly a million branded stores on eBay, including Dyson, Dell, and Adidas. And though eBay’s rise to fame involved auctions on many preowned items, a vast majority of listings (80%) are now for new products.
Myth: eBay is an auction site. Truth: most items are “Buy It Now.” As many as 88% of eBay listings are marked as “Buy It Now” and don’t require buyers to bid and wait for an auction to close.
Myth: a PayPal account is a must. Truth: buyers have options. Beginning in 2021, eBay phased out of PayPal, making way for its own managed payment services system. Sellers can now manage payments directly from their eBay accounts and offer a variety of payment methods, including Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit cards. Depending on the region, you can offer additional services like buy now pay later, Payoneer, and other local options.
Myth: eBay is in decline. Truth: eBay is still alive and well. While it may lack the sizzle of novelty, eBay posted 17% growth in revenue in 2021, bringing its total revenue to $10.4 billion. The platform’s renewed focus on high-value footwear and other popular categories has helped it to move with the times.
How eBay stacks up against Amazon
If you’ve already been studying how to sell on Amazon or are already selling on there, then chances are, you’re wondering if it’s even worth selling on eBay.
Amazon, after all, earns more than four times more GMV from its marketplace than eBay and reigns as the number one marketplace in the U.S. eBay ranks as a distant second—and other marketplaces are smaller still, making Amazon the Goliath to everyone else’s Davids.
However, size brings challenges as well as advantages. There are notable differences to consider as you weigh eBay with Amazon.
What eBay lacks in size, it makes up for in its unique audience. In fact, comparing Amazon’s buyer base with eBay’s isn’t an exact apples-to-apples comparison.
For one, “the ethos of eBay is the ‘enthusiast buyer’ and the ‘value seeker,’” as reported by EcommerceBytes. The core eBay buyer values collectibles, vintage, and last year’s model—a contrast from the average Amazon buyer, who values a larger selection of products that can be delivered right away.
This is reflected in the top-selling product categories of each channel. Automotive, jewelry, watches, and collectibles are among the most popular items on eBay. Meanwhile, Amazon buyers flock to home goods, beauty products, and clothing, as noted in Jungle Scout’s The State of the Amazon Seller report.
While eBay has made moves towards fast and free shipping, many buyers may still wait weeks for their items to arrive—perhaps even six to eight weeks if an item needs to be shipped overseas. By comparison, the average Amazon buyer expects two-day shipping on most items, with nearly all Amazon sellers (92%) using FBA to remain competitive.
With fewer sellers on eBay, your listings will likely have a better chance of standing out. eBay further supports multiple listings for the same products, giving you more control over how your products are presented. Buyers, in turn, can compare listings for the same product that show varying conditions, delivery times, and availability.
Amazon, on the other hand, aims to provide one, clean listing for every product in its catalog. This means that if you and other resellers offer the same product, you’ll share the same listing. You’ll have limited control over the listing—which is primarily controlled by the first person who listed the product, or the brand owner. You’ll have to win the Amazon Buy Box in order to win the actual sale. In the meantime, buyers aren’t likely to check whom they’re purchasing from; they’re simply clicking “add to cart” from the product page.
Amazon additionally manages its own private-label brands. This has been a source of tension, though this practice isn’t unique to Amazon. Think: how a grocery store may sell its own versions of your favorite cereal. Amazon operates similarly, forcing you to not only compete against other sellers but against Amazon itself.
eBay has its roots in mobile commerce. More than 60% of eBay transactions now involve a mobile touchpoint. And though there are 182 million active users on the marketplace worldwide, eBay’s mobile app has nearly three times as many mobile downloads (512 million), according to Fundera.
eBay’s minimalist mobile app design makes it conducive for both shopping and selling from your phone. Being one of the earliest retail apps to hit the market, eBay arguably set the standard for others to come. Today, buyers can view a whole assortment of sellers and listings tailored to their search, while shoppers can easily list products and manage orders without logging into a computer.
That said, Amazon’s mobile app is one of the most downloaded shopping apps in the U.S. with 41 million downloads. There’s evidence to suggest that most Amazon sellers do their browsing on mobile too. But approximately 65% of Amazon shoppers still prefer to complete a transaction on desktop.
There’s no denying that both eBay and Amazon can be lucrative sales channels. However, the path to success is notably different on each, in part because they offer varying levels of control.
On Amazon, you’ll be funneled down the same path as many other sellers before you: enroll in FBA to give your products the best chance of getting seen (plus increase your odds of winning the Buy Box); offer fast, affordable shipping; allow returns within 30 days; and launch Amazon ads.
By contrast, on eBay, you’ll have a lot more flexibility over your shipping and return policies. You can customize your listing for your product, and somewhat brand the experience. Furthermore, advertising fees (plus competition) tend to be lower on eBay.
Popular products to sell on eBay
To determine whether selling on eBay is right for your business, consider whether your offerings are a match for the platform’s audience. In general, eBay is best suited for selling:
Watches, toasters, handbags, and other everyday items. A broad range of items are popular on eBay, with a tendency toward smaller and less bulky objects. Think sockets and soccer balls, not sofas. When it comes to apparel, menswear and handbags tend to outrank women’s clothing.
Parts, components, and accessories. If you sell car parts, replacement parts, or supplies for landscaping crews (as examples), then eBay is an especially strong complement to your business. Wix merchant TripleRComposites offers automotive styling products to large tuning companies like Jam Sport, SCC Performance, and JW Racing. TRC’s products are also available for purchase by everyday car enthusiasts. Hence why—in addition to its flagship eCommerce site—TRC operates an eBay store, which flaunts a 98.7% positive feedback rate to date.
Collectibles, fan favorites, and other “long-tail” items. eBay is a haven for military medal and pen collectors, but that doesn’t mean you need to sell memorabilia to succeed. Items from your back catalog, past seasons, or discontinued designs can serve as collectibles in their own right. eBay is a great place to find and connect with brand followers who may jump at the chance of purchasing these products.
Resale and refurbished products. Gently-used and returned merchandise are welcome on eBay. Not only do resold items appeal to collectors of vintage style; the appeal of reuse is growing among consumers who seek opportunities to shop sustainably. eBay offers a refurbished-product certification program in select categories, including small kitchen appliances, which features items from brands like Cuisinart and KitchenAid.
Note that eBay restricts and/or prohibits the sale of certain items. These include alcohol, firearms, and other products that have legal or safety restrictions.
Cost of selling on eBay
As with any marketplace you choose to sell on, eBay has its own series of fees to keep in mind.
How to sell on eBay with Wix
If eBay is a fit for your business, then getting started is a relatively straightforward process—and easy to do with Wix. Here are seven initial steps to get you started.
Table of contents
01. Pick your product assortment
Decide how to position your eBay store to complement your existing eCommerce site. Will you sell resale items, specialized gift sets, end-of-line remainders, or simply a subset of your regular merchandise?
Define a clear goal and purpose for launching on eBay. Remember that every marketplace has its unique quirks, audiences, and paths to success—how can you best leverage eBay’s strengths?
02. Create your eBay account
If you’re a Wix merchant, log into your Wix dashboard and click Channels > eBay from the left-hand menu. From here, you’ll see prompts for creating a new eBay account.
Alternatively, you can create an account directly from eBay and connect it to Wix later. However, by signing up through Wix, you’ll automatically receive a higher limit of zero insertion fee listings right off the bat. The exact limit depends on your product type, sales history, and other factors that eBay deems important.
To set up a new business account, you’ll need your tax ID and business banking information, as well as a store email address. eBay offers several tiers of professional accounts, each with its own listing limits and set of benefits.
03. Set your shipping policies
Specify where you do business and set your domestic and/or international shipping policies. You can assign a flat fee, or a calculated amount that’s based on dimensions and weight of the package. You can also specify your handling time.
04. Set your return policies
Define how you’ll manage returns and refunds. You can have your buyer pay (either in full or part) for every returned item or subsidize them yourself. Then, decide whether to automatically accept and process returns, or to approve them manually.
05. List your products
If you have a Business Unlimited Premium Plan with Wix, you can sync your Wix catalog with eBay. This eliminates the need to manually enter your products into eBay and manage the two sites separately.
Simply select the products you want to upload to eBay and hit “publish.” Wix will automatically map your products to the right categories. If, for any reason, your listing is rejected, you can easily find your “unsuccessful” listings in your Wix dashboard and see what needs to be fixed.
Any eBay listings that are synced with Wix will assume the same product details, prices, and available quantities as you in Wix. However, you can always customize these specifically for eBay.
For instance, you can set your eBay quantities to a lower number to create a sense of scarcity. Or, you can enrich your eBay listings with extra product data that may boost your chances of ranking in your category; Wix will reveal advanced fields that you should consider filling out in order to increase your competitiveness.
06. Launch and promote
Once your account is set up and you’ve got all of your listings prepped for eBay, you’re ready to start selling. Be sure to promote your new eBay store via social media, newsletters, and (potentially) your main eCommerce site. You can also opt into eBay’s paid promotions to attract initial sales.
07. Monitor closely
As on other marketplaces, your seller rating on eBay depends on the reliability (and speed) of your customer service and fulfillment. The highest-performing sellers—dubbed as Top Rated Sellers—enjoy greater visibility and protections on eBay.
Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that you have the resources to handle incoming orders and questions promptly. Monitor your analytics in Wix to further track which products and categories are doing well, or which are declining in performance. Compare how your eBay strategy is affecting your website sales (if at all) on products sold in both places.
Grow more with eBay
Whether you’re looking to find shoppers who are on the hunt for rare, vintage finds or to simply test your product in front of a new audience, eBay can be a great addition to your online store.
Sell with Wix eCommerce today and easily list your products on eBay. Drive traffic from all corners of the internet and manage your multichannel operations from one, unified platform.
Editor, Wix eCommerce
Allison is the editor for the Wix eCommerce blog, with several years of experience reporting on eCommerce news, strategies, and founder stories.