Selling on eBay: How to grow a successful eBay business

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Tactics to help you streamline and grow your business.

With a customer base made up of over 182 million users and a presence in over 100 countries worldwide, selling on eBay is a vast opportunity for any online retailer looking to sell more and grow their business.

Nice to know, right?

Well, while all of the above is certainly true, in fact plenty of retailers have successfully taken their eBay business from the bedroom to the boardroom (sort of), one of the biggest challenges lies in understanding where these opportunities are and knowing how exactly to capitalize on them.

Throughout this article, we have covered just about every key consideration and best practice you need to follow when selling on eBay, provided a whole load of eBay selling tips and ultimately given you the insight on how to successfully sell on eBay.

So, assuming you want to grow your eBay business, let’s get started.

How to find profitable products to sell on eBay

If you want to succeed on eBay, being able to find high demand and profitable products to sell is crucial.

Why?

Because regardless of whether you’re just getting started and are looking for inspiration from the best selling items on eBay right now, or you’re already an established seller looking for new product lines to sell, identifying top selling products that are already in high demand opens up new opportunities for your business. 

…and these new opportunities create sales.

Fortunately for you, there is so much data available to help you understand this product demand, you’ve just got to know where to look.

Your best bet?

The eBay search bar.

You’ve probably already noticed that eBay will deliver search suggestions as you begin typing a search term into the search bar, but what you may not be aware of is that these suggestions are listed in order of popularity. What’s more is that in most cases they also include the most popular categories for these products.

Let’s assume you are interested in selling tennis related products.

You can see from the example below that the most frequently searched product associated with ‘tennis’ is in fact tennis balls.

What’s more is that tennis balls are searched for in both ‘Tennis Equipment’ and ‘Dog Supplies’ categories. 

eBay Seller Tip: If you sell a product that can be used for multiple purposes, consider creating separate listings to increase your exposure

eBay search engine example

While we’ll get to eBay keywords in a moment, this is a great way to identify popular search terms, which can also give you an idea for new products.

“Tennis elbow support” and “tennis racket grip tape” may not have initially come to mind when thinking of tennis related products, but they are both amongst the most common searches related to tennis on eBay UK.

You can thank me later!

Now as great as eBay’s suggested search functionality is, it’s not the only tool at your disposal.

eBay Top Products enables you to get an understanding of product demand, by listing the most sold items on eBay. Surprisingly, this page is an often overlooked resource for sellers looking to get a better idea of what exactly sells well on eBay.

You also have Trending On eBay.

Trending on eBay provides invaluable insight into what’s hot and new on the marketplace. This is particularly useful for those of you looking for the best selling items on eBay right now.

For additional tips, resources and guidance for finding profitable product to sell online, we would recommend that you have a read of this.

How to get an eBay listing to the top of the search results

Ranking on the first page of eBay is the goal, right?

If not, it probably should be!

Here’s the thing – while there are a number of factors that influence how successful you are as an eBay seller, two of the most crucial are visibility and conversion.

Take visibility for example.

If your eBay listings aren’t visible to potential buyers who are searching for a product that you sell, you won’t get their business. In fact, you won’t even be considered as they won’t know you exist. 

At the end of the day, visibility is everything and the amount you get comes down to how good a job you have done at optimizing these listings.

Think about it. If your listings aren’t perfect, they won’t appear anywhere near the top search position on eBay, which will impact the amount of sales you make. Not ideal.

So, what exactly do you need to do to optimize your eBay listings so that they appear higher in relevant eBay searches?

To start with, you will need to think about the process someone goes through to find a product that you sell on eBay.

This often consists of two things:

The keywords they are using to search for a product and the criteria they are selecting to refine their search.

When it comes to choosing the keywords for your title, a key thing to remember is that the closer your title comes to matching a search query, the more likely it is to be seen by a potential customer.

This is why it’s so important to really think about the search terms your customers will be using.

So, how can you do this?

Well, quite easily with the help of a few tools.

Google’s Keyword Planner is a fantastic tool for identifying the most popular keywords and search terms that your customers are searching for online.

Best of all it’s free.

Now while it’s not specific to eBay, it does provide great insight into what online shoppers are looking for as a whole, which you can use to help improve your eBay listings.

Another great tool is the eBay Search Bar, which can help you to understand popular search queries on the marketplace through their suggested search functionality. 

But that’s not all.

By seeing what works (not to mention what doesn’t work) for your competitors, you can optimize your listings accordingly.

One way to do this is by simply searching for products that you sell on eBay. You can then go one step further and refine the results to see “Completed Listings”. This will show you the listings that have sold.

It’s then your job to work out why!

For further guidance and best practices for the above suggestions, make sure you take a look at our step-by-step guide to conducting keyword research for eBay titles.

Once you have identified relevant keywords and phrases for your products, you will need to create your eBay titles. To do this, we would highly recommend that you follow these five best practices:

  • Accurately convey what exactly you’re selling by using descriptive keywords
  • Take advantage of the 80 character title limit, while avoiding the use of irrelevant information
  • Avoid using misleading keywords and phrases, for example ‘Like Cath Kidston’, ALL CAPS and unnecessary punctuation i.e. !!
  • Where possible, include the item’s brand name, artist or designer
  • Include relevant item specifics such as size, color and condition

Unfortunately, crafting the perfect item title is only half the job and you will also be required to optimize your listings so that they appear in advanced/refined eBay searches.

This relies on the use of item specifics, which could include anything from size, color, material, style etc. – it will be entirely dependent on the product that you’re listing.

Keep in mind that eBay users are highly likely to narrow down their search query, especially if they are looking for a particular product on the marketplace.

It’s also important to remember that when a user refines their search, only the listings that include the relevant item specifics will appear in their search results.

For a more detailed guide on optimizing your product listings for advanced searches, have a read of this article

Item specifics aside, there are various other factors that improve your chances of ranking higher in relevant eBay searches.

These include listing in the correct categories, including the product identifiers, having a good sales history and pricing your products competitively.

You can learn more about each of these factors here.

How to increase sales on eBay

Now that you know how to drive traffic through to your eBay listings for increased page views, you will need to ensure that they are of a high enough quality to generate sales.

After all, everything else is a wasted effort if customers aren’t actually buying your products.

With that in mind, here’s how to sell on eBay and ensure your listings are converting:

Whether your eBay sales are down and you simply need suggestions on how to improve them, or you are just looking for advice on how to create the perfect eBay listing from scratch, we have put together some tips and tricks that will help you increase your sales.

  • Use high-quality product photos

Now this is important.

High-quality, professional looking product images can help you sell more – fact.

If you can showcase your products at various different angles, while accurately conveying the item’s colour and size, you not only stand to sell more on eBay, but also increase customer satisfaction and reduce negative feedback.

  • Detailed product descriptions

A detailed and accurate product description not only helps convince eBay customers to purchase from you, but it can also help eBay to appropriately rank your products in relevant searches. Here are some specific tips for creating perfect item descriptions

  • Offer free postage

While it won’t always be viable to offer free postage on your products, if you can, you should.

Alternatively, if you can’t offer it all year round, consider offering free postage around peak times such as Black Friday, the Christmas period and other key events throughout the year, in order to remain competitive.

  • Display a clear returns policy

eBay do in fact encourage all of their sellers to offer a customer-friendly returns policy, as this not only helps to win over more customers, but it also helps improve your chances of qualifying for eBay Top Rated Seller Status.

  • Price competitively

While price isn’t the only factor that convinces people to buy from you, if you operate in a highly competitive market, it can certainly be an advantage.

To get quick and easy insight into your customer’s pricing strategies, make sure you download the eBay Competition Analysis and Pricing App, available in Linnworks’ Application Store.

How to promote your eBay listings 

While you should certainly be doing all you can to optimize your listings so that they rank as high up on eBay’s search results pages as possible, you can also improve your chances by essentially paying to promote them.

While eBay’s advertising option, Promote Your Listings, won’t be a good fit for every business, it could be particularly beneficial if you’re either launching a new product, experiencing a drop in sales for certain product lines, or you simply have a lot of competition and would like a boost in exposure. Ideally, you want to promote products that will benefit the most from extra exposure.

In fact, by paying for higher placement when selling on eBay, with eBay Promoted Listings, you can increase the visibility of your listings and ultimately strengthen your chances of sales.

So, how exactly does eBay Promoted Listings work?

While you can read more about how to promote eBay listings here including tips for getting started, we have summarized the basic steps involved with running Promoted Listings campaign below:

  1. Choose which of your listings you would like to promote as ads on eBay.
  2. Decide on the percentage of the sale price that you’d like to pay to promote your listings. This rate can be between 1% and 20% of the sale price, depending on how competitive you’d like your ads to be.
  3. Pay only once a customer has clicked on your ad and purchased your product.
  4. Access the data to understand ad performance and clicks, giving you the insight to adjust and optimize your promoted listings for even better results.

In order to get the most out of these listings, eBay do have a few recommendations of their own:

  • Plan ahead –You should consider promoting relevant products alongside key events, for example the start of a new fashion season, in the lead up to a special event or a bank holiday.
  • Stay competitive –Your chosen ad rate will determine when and where your ads appear, so if you’re going to choose to go down the paid advertising route, you should consider investing more for your products that have higher competition on the marketplace. 
  • Test, test and test again –Take advantage of the data available on your dashboard, to generate insights into what works and what doesn’t. By adjusting your ad rate accordingly, you can improve your success with this advertising tool.

Setting up an eBay shop

eBay shops give sellers a better platform to showcase their brand and promote their products. In fact, if you have a large number of items in your inventory, an eBay Shop could be an ideal fit for your business.

There are a whole host of reasons why opening an eBay store can help you to increase sales, but the main benefits include:

  • Being able to customize your store with your own branding

If you sell on other channels, for example your own website, an eBay shop can be a great way to showcase your branding. That said, even if you are only selling on eBay, an eBay store allows you to have somewhere – complete with a dedicated URL – that you can showcase all of your products in the one place.

  • Looking more professional

An eBay store helps you to appear like a legitimate retailer, rather than just a casual seller, which can instil trust into potential customers.

  • More cost-effective

eBay shops are particularly great for sellers with larger order volumes, for the simple reason that they offer lower listing fees – as little as 1p per listing with an Anchor Store, compared to the regular £1.30 listing fee.

The types of eBay Shops

We’ve mentioned Anchor Shop, but there are in fact three store types you can choose from if you decide to set up shop on eBay:

  • A Basic Shop

For as little as £20.85 per month*, a Basic eBay Shop allows you to sell up to 65 fixed price items per month, with listing fees from as low as 10p per listing. This is a particularly good option for sellers on the smaller size, still wanting to take advantage of the benefits that come with running an eBay store.

  • A Featured Shop

With the option to stock as many as 600 items, eBay’s Featured Shop (£62.60 per month*) could be better suited to sellers with a larger inventory. By opting for this option, you can also start to benefit from eBay’s promotional tools such as Selling Manager Pro, as well as further listing discounts.

  • An Anchor Shop

If you stock as many as 5,000 items, you should seriously consider opening an Anchor Shop, particularly if you’re looking for cost savings and the significantly reduced listing rates. In fact, despite the monthly fee being £260.86*, you could benefit from zero listing fees. 

*Pricing correct as of November 2017

You can learn more about setting up an eBay shop, including some top best practices, fees and eBay seller tools here.

Selling internationally on eBay

According to eBay, 58% of their revenue comes from international business. Yup, over half of their revenue is coming from people who are buying products not just from their home country, but from people like you.

There are multiple ways to access international eBay sites.

Offer international shipping on your listing

The first (and easiest) option is simply to add international postage rates and information for international shipping to your listings on your home eBay site. This allows international users to view your listing on local sites such as Canada’s ebay.ca or Australia’s ebay.com.au.

This straightforward method allows you to easily expand your international selling capabilities across your product portfolio or on a product-by-product basis by sharing worldwide postage.

However, this approach has limitations. For example, listings aren’t automatically translated into other languages, and they’ll clearly indicate that you are an international seller and potential buyers can filter and exclude international items. Some shoppers might be reluctant to buy from a foreign seller.

Under this method, eBay will convert your product prices to local currencies based on daily exchange rates. That daily variance could cause swings in the prices you charge outside your home market.

This simple eBay international selling method is a way to test demand in different countries before deciding whether you should invest time and resources into a permanent expansion.

Sign up for advanced international selling

U.K. sellers can also take advantage of the advanced eBay international selling option. This method unlocks greater access to eBay’s 15 biggest sites. You’ll be able to post dedicated listings in local languages, increasing your potential for international sales.

The company’s European Sales Booster program can simplify this process by translating your listings and placing them on sites for you.

Advanced international sellers can also set market-specific rates rather than having eBay convert your prices into local currency. This feature helps you be more competitive in more markets.

In contrast to basic international selling, advanced sellers only pay selling fees in the country where the item is purchased rather than in their home market. Sellers with featured or anchor shop subscriptions can also qualify for discounted final value fees.

Enroll in the Global Shipping Program

For many eBay sellers, the most straightforward method to reach a global audience is by enrolling in the Global Shipping Program.

With this option, all you need to do to sell internationally is send international packages to a global shipping center. Eligible items will be managed for you, including international postage and customs processes. And if something goes wrong because of the Global Shipping Program, you’ll be automatically protected against negative and neutral customer feedback.

For U.S. sellers who want to use the Global Shipping Program, you’ll need to have your items located in the U.S. and be a seller in good standing, among other requirements. While there’s no fee to join, some listing, seller and buyer fees will apply.

Requirements for eBay’s international selling agreement

Consider these important factors as you evaluate whether to sell internationally on eBay.

eBay’s international selling policies

The most basic requirement is to meet eBay’s rules for international selling. You’re bound by the policies of the eBay site you’re selling from and the site where the purchase occurs, including any buyer-protection policies

If a customer disputes a transaction and eBay favors them, the international selling policy authorizes eBay (or an eBay affiliate) to reverse the funds. If you don’t have the necessary funds in your account, then eBay will reimburse the buyer on your behalf and charge you later.

You can opt out, but the marketplace may prevent you from listing items on eBay sites with buyer-protection policies and/or offering international shipping on your listings.

International payment requirements

To sell on eBay worldwide, you typically need to accept PayPal. In most countries, you’ll also need to be PayPal-verified. U.S.-based marketplace sellers know this as ID Verification. In Germany and Switzerland, it’s PostIdent.

EBay requires that you accept the international selling agreement before you can list on a site other than the one where your account is registered.. This is an acknowledgement that items sold to buyers through international eBay sites are subject to the policies on those sites (e.g., the eBay money-back guarantee).

Compliance with country-specific selling laws

As a global online marketplace seller, you are bound by eBay’s internal policies as well as those in the countries you’re selling from and to.

EBay doesn’t allow the sale of legally prohibited items to or from certain countries. There are also restrictions on certain organizations, businesses or individuals.

Compliance with country-specific tax laws

You’ll also need to make sure that you comply with tax laws across all markets, including laws regulating the import and export of products. Again, these are country-specific, and different jurisdictions within countries might also have additional taxes.

For example, value add taxes (VAT), sometimes known as goods and services taxes (GST), are indirect taxes placed on goods or services. Many countries impose VAT on international purchases, but requirements can vary based on the price of the order, the location of the item and the shipping address. Rates also vary from country to country. Hungary, for example, currently has the highest VAT rate at 27%.

International customer service

To become a successful international seller on eBay, you’ll need effective customer service, including prompt responses to customer questions across time zones and languages.

If your business isn’t familiar with local languages, consider using translation software or human translators. It’s ultimately your responsibility to ensure that your international product listings and information are accurate, especially when they are translated.

6 tips for reaching international buyers on eBay

Expanding your ecommerce business to include international sales on eBay provides an enormous opportunity to broaden your reach and grow revenue. But international success takes time, and requires careful planning and execution. It’s important to use available resources to ensure your growth is sustainable and you’re meeting performance expectations.

Growing your business is an ongoing process. These tips can help you manage your international efforts while continuing to scale and optimize your operations.

Focus first on English-language eBay sites

If you don’t have the resources or time to translate your eBay product listings and information into multiple languages, start by expanding overseas to English-speaking international sites.

For example, U.S. sellers can examine product and market fit for selling on eBay international sites in Canada, Australia or the U.K.

Expand your international sales prudently and systematically

Because every market has unique requirements and customers, consider expanding one international eBay site at a time.

That way you can be more confident that you can handle the sales volume, delivery requirements, listings management and branding so you can maintain quality control across international markets

Translate and localize your international listings

Not all individual listings are automatically translated under eBay’s basic program.

If you choose to go beyond basic international selling to a few countries to selling on multiple international sites, you can improve your eBay listings and expand your reach by translating your listings into the local language.

Translation options include:

  • Free DIY tools. Free tools such as Google Translate can provide translation services without requiring a financial investment, but keep in mind that the results may not be accurate.
  • Human translation. Using human translation is the most accurate method, but it can also be among the most expensive. If you’re working with a dedicated person or team, you’ll likely also have less flexibility for turnaround when compared to an automated translation.

Test eBay’s international site visibility upgrade

In the US, UK and Canada, eBay’s international site visibility is an optional upgrade that ensures you’re at the top level of search results on eBay international sites.

This isn’t a requirement to sell on international eBay sites, but it could potentially improve your performance on those sites and help you reach more international buyers. There is a separate upgrade fee for each country site that you choose.

Build trust with a buyer-friendly international shipping and returns policies

An international returns policy can increase global sales, build trust and boost overall sales. EBay favors international sellers with buyer-friendly policies, such as 30-day or 60-day returns, and it may improve your product visibility. Adjusting the length of your returns policy can help international buyers feel more confident buying from you.

Provide clear explanations of the conditions for returns, as well as who pays for return international shipping costs and any required documentation.

Aspire for global top seller status

EBay uses seller performance standards to highlight marketplace sellers who offer excellent service.

EBay top-rated sellers receive exclusive benefits, such as a higher ranking in search results and eligibility for discounts. This designation reflects the excellent level of customer service you’re providing over time, rather than something that can be bought or is accompanied by fees.With that recognition comes higher expectations for top-rated sellers.

All in all, eBay is a fantastic marketplace for any online seller looking to grow their business both domestically and internationally.

Of course, as you expand onto additional eBay sites, you may want to investigate your opportunities for streamlining your business processes, reducing company costs, saving countless hours and making data driven decisions with eBay inventory management software.