There are two pathways you can take as a seller on eBay: be an individual "hobbyist" seller or open up an eBay Store as a professional seller.
Both require you to open up an eBay account.
This is available to anyone with a credit card, is free and can be done by hitting the "Register" button on the eBay website.
Should I sell as an individual or as an eBay Store?
If all you plan to do is make some money back off old clothes and unwanted presents, then selling as an individual is the more fitting option. It won't be a side hustle exactly as you probably won't churn out much of a profit, but it is a nice way to get some extra cash into your pocket.
Selling as an individual
Free to list up to 40 items per month
A fee (10.9%) on every sale, including any postage and handling costs charged to the buyer
Three subscription tiers starting from $24.95 per month
A fee (4.8% or more) on every sale
The right option for you will depend on the number of listings you have and the main categories you sell in. Use eBay's fee illustrator to work out whether opening an eBay Store or selling as an individual will help you save on fees.
How do I decide what to sell on eBay?
You can sell virtually anything on eBay, as long as it's legal and ethically sound. Items you can sell include clothing, electronics, toys, memorabilia and even cars.
Popular eBay categories
Home and garden
Health, beauty and baby
Toys and media
Some prohibited or restricted items on eBay
Animals and wildlife products
Artefacts, cultural heritage and grave-related items
How to find products to sell
Like any good business, sourcing the right products to sell on eBay is key.
If you're considering selling as a small business or store but aren't quite sure what to offer, take a squiz at what's currently trending on eBay. It's a good indicator of what customers are currently purchasing.
Another option is to look for gaps in the market. That is, items that have very little competition on eBay. Then consider if it's a profitable business item for you to sell.
How much does it cost to sell on eBay?
There are four main costs to consider when selling on eBay: subscription fees, insertion (listing) fees, final value fees and PayPal transaction fees. The fees below are accurate as of 30 August 2019.
Seller tip: The importance of an eBay fee calculator
With all these fees to consider, it's easy for an item that sells for $50 to return you only $43. I've had moments where I've dropped the price of my unwanted threads to $0.99 (plus postage) for a quick sale and wound up at a loss due to all the fees. Before you put a price tag on that baby, enlist the help of an eBay calculator (there are stacks of apps and online calculators available) to see whether you're pricing your items suitably.
If you want to open an eBay Store, there are three paid subscription tiers to choose from: Basic, Featured and Anchor.
Basic Store package
Featured Store package
Anchor Store package
Subscription fee (excluding GST)
Free listings per month
Up to 600 fixed-price listings or auction-style listings in the Collectables category
Up to 1,500 fixed-price listings or auction-style listings in the Collectables category
Up to 250,000 fixed-price listings or auction-style listings in the Collectables category
If you've run out of free listings or the item you want to sell doesn't qualify for a free listing, you'll need to pay an insertion fee.
Basic Store package
Featured Store package
Anchor Store package
Auction-style listings in Collectables category
Fixed-price listings in Media categories
Classified Ad listings in Real Estate category
Classified Ad listings in other categories (except Motors)
Final value fees
A final value fee is charged whenever you sell an item on eBay.
Fees are calculated as a percentage of the total sale price (including postage and handling), but the percentage amount varies depending on your membership level and the category the item was listed in.
Fee amounts range from 4.8–9.5% and you can find a full list of the final value fees for different categories on eBay's site.
The maximum final value fee per item is $400.
PayPal transaction fees
Another fee to be wary of is a PayPal transaction fee, which applies to the total sale price (including postage and handling):
For online payments from within Australia, this fee is 2.6% + $0.30
For online payments from overseas, this fee is 3.6% + a fixed fee that varies by country
Let's crunch the numbers
Let's find out what your fees would look like on eBay if you sold a coffee machine for $500 (including shipping costs) to a buyer in the US. For this example, we'll assume you have a Basic Store package.
You'll need to consider the following fees:
Insertion fee: $0.50.
Final value fee: $30 (6% of sale price including shipping).
PayPal transaction fee: $18.30 (3.6% of sale price including shipping + $0.30).
This means total fees of $48.80, which is 9.76% of the transaction amount.
However, you'll also need to consider:
Ongoing subscription fee: $24.95/month.
Currency conversion costs: 2.5%. When you convert USD to AUD to withdraw the funds to your local bank account, PayPal charges a 2.5% exchange rate mark-up. However, you can lower your currency conversion costs by opening an online seller account.
eBay is a globally recognised online marketplace and one of the major players in the world of ecommerce, so it's certainly possible to make money selling on eBay.
However, please remember there's no guarantee of making a profit. The fees and costs of selling online can impact your bottom line, so you'll need to understand the risks involved in running an ecommerce business before getting started. We've added tips later on in this guide on how to market your product and what to do increase your chance of a sale. You can also find plenty of useful tips and resources in the eBay Seller Centre.
Before we get stuck in, here's a little background about me:
Who am I? I'm Finder's travel editor by day, side-hustler and serial eBayer by night.
How long have I been using eBay? I've been on the marketplace, buying and selling, for 15 years.
What's my eBay account look like? I have a 100% positive feedback rating across 1,400+ reviews. I am also regarded as a top-seller for my excellent service.
What do I sell? I mostly sell as an individual making back money on unwanted items such as clothes and CDs, however I have dabbled in selling bulk items such as flash tattoos.
You can set up an eBay Store by following a handful of simple steps:
Head to the eBay homepage and click the "Register" link in the top left corner and then click the "Create a business account" link.
Enter your registered business name, email address and phone number, then create a password.
Choose whether you'll pay your eBay fees via PayPal, credit card, debit card or bank transfer.
Next, you'll need to confirm your identity with either a text message or phone call.
Click the "My eBay" link at the top right of screen and then select the "Account" tab. Choose "PayPal Account" from the left-hand menu and click "Link my PayPal account". You'll then need to log in to PayPal to complete the process.
From the "My eBay" menu, select "Account", "Subscriptions" and then "Subscribe to an eBay Store". You can then choose the package you want and start customising your store and listings.
How to price your items
There are a few factors to consider when working out how to price items on eBay:
Your costs. Consider how much it costs you to source, store and ship the item you're selling. Remember to also include eBay fees and all other overheads in your calculations.
The market. Research similar products on eBay to discover how they're priced and how different price points affect sales success.
Your buyers. You'll also need to think about what represents a reasonable price for buyers. You can do this via market research and experimenting with different pricing strategies.
After a little trial and error, you should be able to find the perfect price point that represents a decent profit for you and good value for shoppers.
What types of payment does eBay accept?
There are a few different ways to accept payment on eBay. The main option is PayPal and you're required to offer this as a payment method in most listing categories. PayPal allows shoppers to pay you straight from their PayPal account, from their credit card, debit card, with an eBay voucher or gift card.
Other payment options you may choose to accept are:
Bank and personal cheques
Cash on delivery
Payment on pick-up, including cash
How to get paid by international buyers
When you make an international sale and the buyer pays with foreign currency, you'll need to find a way to convert those funds to Australian dollars. While PayPal offers an easy and convenient currency exchange option, it's not cost-effective – when you want to withdraw funds to your bank account, PayPal converts them to AUD at a rate 2.5% above its base exchange rate.
If you're a high-volume seller, it might be worth opening an online seller account. These multi-currency accounts allow you to receive payments in multiple currencies, so you can avoid PayPal's poor exchange rate. You can then hold funds in your account if you need to pay overseas suppliers in their local currency or take advantage of superior exchange rates whenever you want to repatriate to AUD.
Check out the table below for details of the features and fees of a range of online seller accounts.
Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
There are a couple of eBay shipping options available:
Ship items yourself. You can organise shipping for each item yourself through Australia Post or a courier service. eBay provides a postage calculator to help you calculate domestic and international shipping rates, while you can also buy and print Australia Post shipping labels directly through the platform for items sent within Australia.
Use a fulfilment partner. The second option is to use a third-party fulfilment or dropshipping provider to store inventory and ship orders on your behalf. eBay has its own fulfilment partner, Fulfilio, for orders within Australia, while there are lots of third-party providers that can handle international shipping.
Whichever option you choose, make sure to compare quotes from a range of shipping providers to find fast and cost-effective delivery options.
How do I market my products on eBay?
There are multiple ways to promote products on eBay, including:
Promoted Listings. This tool is available to all eBay Stores and allows you to increase the visibility of individual or multiple listings to potential buyers. If a buyer clicks one of your promoted listings and then buys the item, you'll pay an ad fee.
Promotions Manager. eBay's Promotions Manager is free for all Stores and allows you to run a range of promotional campaigns. These include large-order discounts, codeless vouchers, promotional postage rates and sales.
eBay Deals. By registering for the eBay Deals program, where buyers can shop the platform's best offers, you can gain increased exposure for your products.
Other ways to increase the chance of a sale
Something to keep in mind is that some products won't sell. This is the nature of the marketplace game. Here are a few tips I've learned from my time flogging my unwanted wares on eBay.
Sell new (or as new) items. According to eBay, 90% of items sold on the platform are new. This should come as no surprise as you wouldn't want to pay for a worn-out shirt (unless it's something exceptional like a collectable) when you can buy a brand new one in store for the same price. If it's a dress with a tag you've never worn, then it'll appeal to someone more than jeans you've worn to patches.
Put effort into your images. People shop with their eyes, and if they see something visually appealing, they're more likely to click. Take high-quality photos, take photos at different angles, take photos with a nice clean backdrop so the item doesn't get lost in a potential buyer's feed.
Price your product below your competitors. Buyers come to eBay to snap up a bargain, so yours has to be the best option out there. Keep sussing out the competition and remain price-competitive.
Be descriptive. This is particularly important if you're selling second-hand items. Be upfront if there are any faults with your item. If you don't and the buyer receives their item, they have grounds to request a refund on the basis that it was "not as described", which could put you out of pocket.
Get your feedback up. Like with any business, you need to build confidence in your buyers and feedback of "0" is not a good look. This feedback is given for both purchases and sales. If you're finding it difficult to get off the ground and think it may be because you don't have a lot of feedback to your name, consider purchasing a few items you need through eBay to build up some feedback and establish yourself as a serious user.
Risks and pitfalls to watch out for
eBay has a healthy list of services for sellers to help protect them as much as possible in the online selling space. This includes the following:
Unpaid item disputes. If a buyer doesn't pay you for a sale and hasn't replied to your messages, you can open an unpaid item dispute through eBay's resolution centre. The online marketplace will then intervene to try and resolve your issue. If the buyer is at fault, you'll be given a full refund of your fees.
The ability to block eBay buyers. If issues have arisen with a buyer, you can block them from bidding on your items in the future.
Feedback. Customer feedback is a key indicator of how well you're performing as a seller and how trusted you are in the eBay community. It's encouraged that any customer who isn't satisfied with the product or with the seller's behaviour contact them prior to submitting feedback in an attempt to resolve the issue. If you feel you've unfairly been given negative feedback, you can contact eBay to dispute this and have the feedback removed. Feedback also brings confidence in your buyers, so it's important to encourage and build this.
However, there are a few potential issues every new eBay seller should be aware of:
Fees. There are several different fees you need to be aware of when selling on eBay, so make sure you understand all the separate charges that will apply to your listings and sales.
Competition. eBay is one of the world's largest online marketplaces and there are millions of products listed on the platform. As a result, getting noticed can be difficult.
Limited customisation. As is the case on many marketplaces, there are limited opportunities to customise your eBay Store.
If online selling is a hobby, you generally won't have to pay tax on your sales. However, if you're running a business, you'll need to declare your sales income to the ATO for tax purposes. To figure out whether your online selling is classified as a business or a hobby, check out this guide from the ATO.
In addition, if your business has an annual turnover of $75,000 or more, you'll need to register for GST.
If you're running a business, then yes, you will need to register for an ABN. Check out the ATO guide we've linked to in the previous question for help working out whether you're selling online as a hobby or as part of carrying on a business.
You can list items by clicking the "Sell" link at the top of any eBay page and then follow the instructions provided. If you want to list items in bulk, you can use eBay's Selling Manager or a third-party listing tool.
The ad fee for Promoted Listings depends on two factors:
The ad rate (percentage of the item's sale price) you select when launching your campaign
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for Travel Weekly, Escape, Thomas Cook Magazine, Showpo, The Nibbler and Hostelworld. She was also the editor of kids magazine DMAG. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and has visited over 50 countries (and counting). She has a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge of travel and helping readers stretch their dollars while on holiday.
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