How to sell on eBay Australia (and make money)

Learn the ins and outs of making some extra cash with the power of online marketplace eBay.

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Lady posting shopping products.

Since its launch in Australia in 1999, eBay has grown rapidly from an online auction to a powerhouse ecommerce marketplace.

In 2019, you can find (and sell) practically anything on eBay.

We drill down the ways that you can turn the marketplace into a profitable side hustle.

How can I sell items on eBay?

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 "sign up" button on the eBay website.

eBay seller screenshot.

Should I sell as an individual or as an eBay Store?

If all you plan to do is make some cash 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 cash back into your pocket.

Individual

  • Free to list up to 40 items per month
  • A fee (10.9%) on every sale

Ebay store

  • Three subscription tiers starting from $24.95 per month
  • A fee (4.8%) on every sale

Individual

As a hobbyist, it's free to list up to 40 items per month, but you'll be charged a final value fee on every sale.

This is 10.9% of the sale, including any postage and handling costs charged to the buyer.

Ebay store

If you intend to build a side hustle through eBay by purchasing and reselling items with the intent of making a profit, then opening up an eBay Store and operating as a business is preferable.

There are three paid subscription tiers: basic ($24.95 per month), featured ($54.95 per month) and anchor ($549.95 per month).

The higher your subscription, the more items you can list (up to 250,000) and the smaller your final value fee (as low as 4.8%).

Opening an eBay Store lets you customise the look of your virtual shop front, including logos and featured products.

An eBay Store also gives you access to marketing insights to help you build your brand and increase profits.


How can I buy and resell on eBay and make money?

Before we get stuck in, here's a little background about me:

Stephanie Yip
  • 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.

Having been on the marketplace for over a decade I've come to learn a few things about buying and re-selling successfully. Here's my step-by-step guide on winning the eBay marketplace game.

1. Sign up to eBay. This is a fundamental first step.

2. Choose the right product 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.

Trending on eBay screenshot.

3. Source the right stock at the right price. Sites like Alibaba and AliExpress are a godsend in this department. They let you purchase items in bulk and negotiate prices down.

AliExpress tends to let you purchase smaller quantities, which lets you experiment in the market for a smaller investment if you're just dipping your toes into the water. Purchasing small quantities also allows you to inspect the quality before you commit to a larger stock.

The cost per item with Alibaba is generally cheaper, but you will have to purchase items in much larger quantities.

Another thing I've done is search for clearance items in-store and online. These are typically heavily marked down, but before you jump the gun and start buying, another thing I've learned is to do a Google search before buying these. Sometimes they're on clearance because no one else wants them. However, if you're lucky, you could make a nice profit.

Which leads me to my next step:

4. Re-sell at the right price. Before you start purchasing your stock, consider what the benchmark for a profit is. Look at the market and how much similar items are selling for to get a feel for how much your item might sell for.

eBay makes it super easy to compare the price of products and to "sort by cheapest".

Before you put a starting price on your item, search for it or similar products and cost your item in a similar way.

Another nifty tool if you're after a quick sale is by filtering to "completed" and "sold" items in your search.

This lets you see recently sold items and their sale price.

It's also a great way to see if an item is worth investing in and how much you should price them on eBay so you make the biggest profit possible.

A few other things to consider before you cost your product are the and the cost of shipping each individual item.

eBay completed items.

Bonus step: Keep in mind postage and handling fees. This is a killer. In Australia, if an item is thicker than 2cm, it's considered a parcel and, if sent via Australia Post, can cost you from $8.55 in postage alone. That hikes up the final price to the customer and may turn them off purchasing through you.

Postage and handling fees are also subject to eBay's 10.9% final value fee so keep this in mind when you're calculating your profits. Items thinner than 2cm can cost just $2 to post. Items that fit this bill include DVDs and CDs.

Sock flatlay.

How 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.

What should I sell on eBay?

You can sell virtually anything on eBay – so long as it's legal and ethically sound. Items that you can sell include clothing, electronics, toys, memorabilia and even cars.

eBay selling fees

As an individual seller, eBay may charge you an insertion (listing) fee and a final value fee. You can avoid the insertion fee by staying under the threshold of 40 active listings per month. Any extra items are charged at $1.50 each for items with a starting price of $100 or less. The final value fee is 10.9% of your final sale, including postage and handling charges. You can avoid this by taking advantage of $0 or $1 (+ GST) final value fee promotions which eBay often has.

As an eBay Store owner, you'll be subject to a monthly subscription fee, insertion fees (if you go over your limit) and final value fees.

Another fee to be wary of is a PayPal transaction fee. Many buyers nominate PayPal as their preferred eBay payment method as they can easily link their eBay account to it, and it provides them with a high level of seller protection. On the flipside, PayPal also protects the seller against claims, charges and unauthorised payments. In Australia, the PayPal transaction fee is 2.6% of the amount transferred plus 30 cents.

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 (eBay has a pretty nifty one here, but there are stacks of apps if you'd prefer an app) to see whether you're pricing so you're not losing.

Are there any risks of selling on eBay?

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 are 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 have 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.
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