Unless you’ve spent your life on a small, remote island or at the top of a mountain, you’ll have heard of eBay. It’s not the only online auction site out there, but it is far and away the best known. Set up in California in 1995, it’s now a multi-billion pound international company, with over two billion items sold every day. It’s used by both private sellers trying to clear out an old bedroom cupboard, and commercial enterprises selling their products online. If you’re thinking about selling on eBay to make some extra cash, here’s what you’ll need to do.
Create a new account
If you’re in the UK, make sure you’re looking at the UK version of the website, and click on the ‘Register’ link in the top right hand corner.
You’ve got the choice of registering as either a private user, or a business user. If you just want to list the odd item you don’t need any more, then choose a private account. If you’re planning to sell as a business, selling items in bulk or things you’ve made yourself, you’ll need a business account. If you choose a business account, transactions will be carried out using your company name, which will appear on invoices and emails. If you think you’re going to make more than £11,500 from selling (the current UK tax-free allowance), it’s also best to register for business use. Don’t worry – if you choose the wrong option you can always change it later. If you’re not sure about your initial turnover, you can choose a private account to start with.
Fill in your details and choose a password, and your account will be created. You’ll also need to link a payment method to your account, normally PayPal or a credit or debit card. eBay will pre-select a user ID for you, but you can change it later on if you like.
The eBay community works on trust, and the visible result of this is user feedback. As a seller (or buyer!), you’ll gather a feedback rating for every transaction that you complete. The other party in the transaction can rate you out of five stars for services such as speed of delivery and packaging. If you’re a private seller, sellers may be wary until you’ve amassed a certain amount of feedback. You can hasten the process by making some small purchases yourself and paying promptly to gather good feedback.
Selling on eBay
You can sell pretty much anything you like on eBay, with a few exceptions such as tobacco or alcohol. To sell your first item, click on the ‘sell’ link at the top of any eBay page.
You have a choice of listing your item as a ‘buy it now’ or as an auction. For ‘buy it now’, you choose the price you want for your item and list it accordingly, and pay an additional 50p listing fee. Buyers can purchase it immediately, without waiting for the end of an auction, but they may end up paying a higher price than they would have done at auction. It’s also possible that your item just won’t sell, in which case you can try an auction instead. There’s also the possibility to add the option for buyers to make an offer for a buy it now price that they’re willing to pay. You’ll then need to accept or decline any offers you receive.
For auctions, you set a starting price (such as 99p, or £5), and an end date for the sale to stop, and wait for buyers to bid. You may get a higher price doing this, or you may end up selling at a knock down rate.
eBay selling fees
To help protect buyers, eBay applies seller limits to all accounts, and you can list your first 20 items a month for free. After that, you’ll have a seller limit which is partly linked to your feedback. If you find yourself constantly bumping up against these limits as a private seller, it may be time to change to a business account.
Once you’ve run through your 20 free items per month, you’ll be charged a listing fee of 35p per item. Then, eBay will charge you 10% of the final sales price as a commission, up to a limit of £2,500.