My 5 eBay Tips

Quick glance at my recent metrics.

Starting a successful eBay store is one of the most difficult challenges online. Even though it’s a daunting task, eBay is still more beginner friendly than launching your own standalone e-commerce store. If you were to solely rely on your own domain name, the SEO and marketing would present a gargantuan challenge. Since eBay already has the traffic (millions of monthly visitors), it lessens the upfront SEO & marketing budget requirements. You will only have to focus on modifying your listings and offering competitive pricing & shipping to surpass fellow eBay sellers. This task is easier than throwing thousands of dollars at SEO and marketing to try and convert Google, Facebook or Twitter traffic. Working with eBay means you won’t have to hire web designers, SEO specialists or have a large PPC expenditure. However it’s a common misnomer that your business has to be dedicated to either eBay or a standalone Shopify store; many modern e-commerce business have their own Shopify based store and also list their products on eBay. This article will focus only on the eBay side of e-commerce. Below are my top five tips for new eBay sellers.

Calculate & Study Fees
Overview of my selling costs
My numbers for the Total Sales vs Net Sales have quite a large gap.

There is a stark contrast between realized profit versus expected profit on eBay. I am a huge eBay fan, but must admit the fees are complex and can diminish predicted margins. This was one of my main surprises that dawned on me when calculating eBay revenue. Selling costs can easily exceed 10% +. If you do market research on a $400 computer video card on recent eBay sold listings and then obtain the video card for $350 locally, don’t expect to see anywhere near $50 profit if sold on eBay at market value. Ensure that shipping, taxes, seller fees and PayPal fees are all taken into account. Above there are some pictures of my account to demonstrate some fee examples.

Find Time Relevant Pricing & Items

The story of the year is the pandemic. In addition to taking lives and destroying the health of many, COVID-19 shows no mercy and has also financially crippled many industries. If you are selling entertainment electronics, you may also want to focus on adding computers during this time (due to the work at home phenomenon). Finding time relevant items is key. If you have a local clothing thrift shop, obviously you will want to focus on promoting jackets during winter. You can also increase the price of jackets during winter due to increased demand. Timing is crucial in many industries, such as motorcycles increasing in price during summer and being discounted during winter. Finding time relevant items is always key, as well as knowing which seasons require discounts. Each sales quarter should have different margins, if you are logically timing discounts.

Don’t Wait for Others to Help – Create & Study Your Own Analytical Data
Compare your listings and find out which ones stand out

When creating listings you should try experimenting with different phrasing in each listing instead of uniform wording. Just as Google updates their algorithms to prioritize certain tactics, the eBay search feature is comparable. Study your own click-through rates on various listings and see which photo styles & phrasings yielded the best results. Once you located a winner, try and replicate the results. At first it will be difficult to get impressions, but remember eBay isn’t some machiavellian corporate entity, they are your ally & business partner. They want to see you succeed. The more sales you make, the more seller fees they collect.

Learn That Some Things are Out of Your Control

Remember that there is still a global pandemic. Sadly many businesses failed and there are still many unemployed. The $1,200 payment was only a one-time stimulus, not every business received a PPP Loan and the enhanced unemployment benefits expired. This is all out of your control. When COVID-19 first hit there were global economic shock-waves that temporarily hindered every market including the stock market, cryptocurrency market, real estate and supply chains. Some items are now more rare which means they are more difficult to source and might have increased pricing. None of this is in your control, so you can only worry about aspects that you have dominion over, such as your ad copywriting and customer inquiry response times, etc. A well known leader once said it best by stating “I don’t take responsibility at all”.

Experiment with eBay Promotional Fee Percentages
Experiment with different ad rates for your promoted items.

Utilize the eBay promotional fees. Paying to promote is risk free. When you pay the eBay sponsored item fee, eBay will place your listing in rotation with first showing of search results. This is totally risk free because you only pay when/if the item sells. If your item never sells, you will owe eBay $0 for the additional impressions. This is much safer then traditional ad networks that require you to be a PPC technocrat with high risks. You can experiment with the total percentage you are willing to pay and then gauge results. There will always be a default recommended amount. If you have very thin margins, you can undercut the recommended fee and see if the item sells in a week. Now if the item still hasn’t sold you can raise the percentage to see if it sells. There is no point in starting at eBay’s recommended 5% – 8% fee, if it the product rapidly sells with you only paying a 3% fee. As I mentioned if the item isn’t selling, then raise it to the recommended percent. This is how you can preserve your margins. It’s best to view this as an imaginary quasi-negotiation.

Josh Garber

Studied online ad networks for 10 years and conducted dozens of case studies. Formerly an e-mail marketing specialist for an ecommerce business, where I proudly helped keep 50,000+ customers up to date for 5 years. Currently expanding into developing & monetizing video games with in-game advertising. Last but not least, I am also an eBay marketer.