How to set up a successful eBay business ?

It’s pretty simple to become an eBay trader; in fact, there’s probably no simpler start-up opportunity around. All you need to do is set up an eBay account, upload some images of your product and a brief description, and you’re away. You can trade with people from all around the world, and handle orders of all sizes – from a one-off transaction to batches containing hundreds of

However, while it’s easy to begin trading, making it a success is not so simple. As with any start-up, this will require much hard work, research and planning. Much of your success comes down to choosing the right products, so before you begin it’s worth spending time researching the competition – look at what’s already being sold and try to find a niche or a point of difference.

How much does it cost?

There’s no cost to register, and the amount it costs to display your product will depend on the size and value of your item. It usually costs between 10p and £1.30 to list an item for auction on eBay (most fixed price listings cost 40p), and for most items eBay now takes a fixed fee of 10% of the final selling price (regardless of how much the item sells for). This does vary across different product categories though – for example, for consumer electronics the fee is just 3%, while for clothing, shoes and accessories eBay takes 12%.

Once you’ve created a business account you can also choose to set up an online shop by paying a monthly subscription fee. This ranges from £14.99 a month for a basic shop package to £349.99 for the most advanced features.

How much can I earn?

Nick Best, who’s been trading on eBay for eight years says: “The market’s huge at the moment, basically because people are running out of money and looking to make money, and Christmas is on the horizon.

“You may be able to make between £12,000 and £50,000 in a year. If you’ve got hundreds of a particular item, you’re only paying to put it up once – if you’ve got 50 second-hand computers for sale, with the same spec, you can put them all up in one go.”

However, it’s important to think about the people who use eBay, and what they’ll buy. Some types of product, such as antiques, tend not to sell well – as prospective buyers like to see an antique before they buy, and the demographic isn’t really represented on eBay.

What sort of skills and personality do I need?

A selling background can be useful, but it’s not a pre-requisite. However, good people and communication skills are a must if you want to make a success of an eBay venture.

Best says: “It can be helpful to have an IT and publishing background, and the ability to write enticing specs. I try and make the description humorous, and try to put a bit of history behind the item – make it more colourful for a prospective buyer.”

Top tips for success

… Stay at it – persistence is crucial. Start small and grow the business slowly – don’t invest huge amounts in stock until you’ve learned what sells. … Continue to look for new customers, and tweak your specs and images if necessary. … Respond to buyers quickly – remember that receiving positive feedback on the site is crucial to winning new business, as this will set you apart as a reliable seller. Exceptional customer service is key. … Remember to register as self-employed with HMRC – even if you are employed elsewhere and running the business as a part-time venture initially.

If you’re a good communicator with an eye for what sells, read our step-by-step guide on how to start an eBay business. Alternatively, check out our guide on how to set up an Amazon Marketplace business.



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