It’s normal for new eBay sellers to feel anxious or overwhelmed. There is a lot to learn, from eBay policies, PayPal fees and return procedures to shipping rates, best packaging practices and more. The good news is that everything doesn’t need to be understood right away.
This article will share six fundamental aspects of eBay that all sellers users should know. Grasping these concepts will help to navigate some of the most common areas of confusion when selling on eBay for the first time.
Understand the fee structure on eBay and PayPal
One of the most common surprises for new sellers relates to the cost of making a sale on eBay.
Being charged a fee to post a listing (and for listing upgrades) is a relatively familiar concept to most people. Having to pay a percentage of the sale to both eBay and PayPal, however, is more unexpected and something that is often questioned by new sellers.
When an item is sold, eBay charges the seller what is called a Final Value Fee (FVF). The amount due is a percentage of the total amount of the sale (shipping costs included). In addition, PayPal also charges a percentage based fee for processing the payment.
Learn more about selling fees on Auction Nudge Guides.
Keep track of expenses as well as sales
Making your first few eBay sales is exciting but it is so important that new sellers do not forget to calculate the ‘real’ profit of the transaction. It’s a classic rookie mistake but one that is so easy to do.
Business owners who do not have a good understanding of expenses, profit and margins are usually predestined to fail. Keeping track of expenses is also essential for filing accurate tax returns.
There are a number of ways to record eBay expenses. One of the most common solutions is to use digital spreadsheets or specialized bookkeeping software, though some eBay sellers still prefer to stick with the traditional pen and paper.
Relevant eBay expenses can include:
- Shipping supplies including bubble wrap, boxes, labels, tape, scissors
- Office supplies such as elastic bands, pens, printer ink
- Inventory costs
- Vehicle mileage to the post office and item sourcing locations
- Photographic equipment such as cameras, mannequins, white screens
- Storage unit rental
- Cleaning supplies including lint rollers, furniture polish and stain removers
- Organizational equipment such as storage containers, labels, shelving, bubble wrap
Check eBay every day
New eBay sellers who are serious about developing their business should be checking eBay at least once every day.
By default, eBay sends automatic email notifications about any activity on your account. This includes new sale transactions, promotions, member communications and more. It is also possible to receive mobile device alerts and/or browser notifications.
eBay’s notification service is undoubtedly helpful but it is not infallible. In the event of a system failure or technical error, a notification may not be sent out. When this happens, sellers who rely on automatic notifications risk missing sales and, consequently, important shipping deadlines.
Use the desktop version of eBay to create and maintain listings
Smartphones have enabled the average internet user to do almost all their browsing and online shopping from the palm of their hand. New eBay sellers, however, should consider using only the desktop version of eBay when listing items.
While the eBay mobile app is useful for monitoring listing and general selling activity, it is more limited when it comes to listing creation. As well as offering a better choice of shipping and payment options, the desktop version also allows for more customization of the description text and listing itself.
One of the other key differences is the ability to create listing templates on the desktop version. These can be a substantial time saver, even for smaller eBay sellers.
Learn the ‘red flags’ for the most common scams on eBay
It is an unavoidable fact that new sellers are at higher risk to be targeted by scammers. The best way to combat this is to learn the most common scams as well as the ‘red flags’ that usually foreshadow them.
As many as one in ten eBay transactions are estimated to involve a scam attempt. Some classic eBay scams involve buyers:
- Sending a fake PayPal notification to trick the seller in believing that payment has been sent
- Requesting a return, only to send back a fake version of the item (or indeed, an empty box)
- Claiming that the item arrived damaged and sending eBay photos of an identical, yet broken, item to receive a refund
A red flag is a warning of danger. In this case, red flags warn of potentially fraudulent or deceptive buyer behavior with the eventual purpose to scam the seller. Some examples of ‘red flag’ buyer behavior on eBay include:
- Requesting to pay outside eBay
- Offering more than the listed price
- Asking to ship to a different address
Knowledge and constant vigilance are key aspects to avoiding common scams on eBay. Besides this, new sellers can also lessen their risk by starting their business with low value items.
Electronics, in particular, should be avoided as this category is one of the most frequented by fraudulent buyers. If selling high value items is necessary, it is a good idea to prioritize purchasing shipping insurance.
Be prepared for selling limitations
eBay demands high standards from sellers using their marketplace. After all, buyers who have a negative experience are less likely to purchase more items on the site. Fewer sales mean less profit for eBay. To preempt this, eBay puts selling limitations on new users.
Selling limitations can be seen in a few different forms on eBay. New sellers usually have a maximum listing limit across the marketplace. In addition, category limits may also be imposed. Selling limits such as these are reviewed on a monthly basis and adjusted based on sales volume and buyer feedback.
Novice sellers may also a temporary suspension for verification purposes. In this instance, it is necessary to contact eBay support and provide security information.
Veteran sellers, do you have any tips and advice to share for newcomers? Do you agree with the suggestions above?