eBay makes it look impossibly simple to become an eBay seller. On their “Open your eBay Store” page they list three easy steps:
1. Register as a seller
2. Choose your eBay Stores subscription
3. Start enjoying your exclusive benefits
Turns out, it is that easy to set up an eBay store — but setting it up is just the beginning. If you really want to know how to sell on eBay, you need to go beyond creating a basic store and take extra steps to attract eBay buyers.
We’ll tell you everything you need to know to get started with the intriguing world of eBay selling, from whether you need an eBay seller account to how to set up your own eBay store. Then, most important, we’ll show you how to stand out from the literal millions of other eBay sellers through polished custom design and powerful branding.
Ready? Read on!
Do You Need an eBay Store to Sell on eBay?
We’re about to dig into the details of eBay sales. But first, it’s important to note that you don’t need an eBay store to sell on eBay. As long as you have an eBay account, you can try to offload Grandma’s china or your prized Furby collection simply by posting them as an eBay community member.
As a basic eBay member, there’s no ongoing fee associated with keeping your account active, and you won’t even get charged an eBay listing fee unless you exceed the 50 monthly free listings for fixed-price or auction items. You will, however, be charged a final value fee for each sale (10% of the total fee charged to the eBay shopper for their purchase, including shipping and handling and excluding sales tax).
Thus, if your interest is in occasionally selling an item or two to get some extra cash, you don’t need an eBay store.
But if you want to create an ongoing eBay business, it’s time to learn how to set up a store and sell on eBay as a small business.
Ironically, even if you have a warehouse loaded with collectibles you’re ready to part with, it’s a good idea to first sell items for several months as an individual rather than an eBay store.
Here’s why: The experience will give you the chops you need to run a successful store. It shows eBay you can play by the rules and thus can sidestep eBay’s new seller restrictions. Experience also will hopefully generate some positive feedback for you, too.
Perks to Opening an eBay Store
It’s worth stating upfront the reasons sellers choose to open an eBay store instead of simply selling stuff as an eBay community member.
As a seller, you get:
- Your own homepage on eBay where you can showcase all your items in an organized fashion
- The ability to bring in new and repeat eBay buyers to your page to browse your offerings
- Customization features that help you build your brand on your eBay store
- Exclusive marketing and merchandising tools and opportunities as well as tools sharing pricing insights
- Tips on how to increase sales through things like competitive shipping costs
- Opportunities to offer eBay sales and discounts to eBay buyers
- The ability to market to eBay shoppers who have either added you to their list of saved sellers or clicked “sign up for store newsletter” on your store homepage
- A custom return policy (i.e., you call the shots, provided your item doesn’t arrive damaged, is the correct item ordered, and was correctly described by you)
- Your company name on your eBay invoices and correspondences
- Savings on eBay fees, specifically eBay listings and final value fees
- There are two main types of selling fees: an insertion fee when you create a listing, and a final value fee based on the sale price when your item sells. For an eBay seller with an eBay store, savings can be meaningful, especially if your store sells a large volume of collectibles or new items via fixed price or auction on an ongoing basis. Learn more about eBay selling fees, including listing fees, insertion fees, and final value fees.
- Vacation hold functionality (this helps make your absence as seamless as possible for customers)
- Dedicated customer service
How To Set Up an eBay Business Seller Account
Sound good so far? If so, you’re ready to create an eBay seller account. Let’s go!
Step 1: Sign Up for an eBay Seller Account
If you aren’t already a member of eBay, you’ll need to register for a basic account by following the prompts on ebay.com.
You’ll need to add personal information like your name, contact information, and payment information. Being a member of eBay is free, but your payment information is in case you stumble upon an Ozzy Ozbourne black light poster or other eBay item you simply must buy for yourself.
Once you sign into this page, you need to be sure you add a payment option to your seller account. You can find the seller account section on the “My eBay” page under the “Seller” section.
This is different from your payment information you add when you sign up for a basic eBay account. This second payment option is the one eBay will charge you each month for your eBay seller subscription (i.e., your subscription fee) as well as your seller fees if and when your items sell.
These fees can be billed to a credit card or your PayPal account. Just make sure the payment method doesn’t have an imminent expiration date.
While you’re at it, you may as well ensure your PayPal account is verified, as PayPal is a popular method of payment among eBay shoppers. To set up or verify your PayPal account, you’ll need to include your bank account and credit card details and a tax ID number.
Step 2: Choose the Right eBay Store Subscription for You
Once you set up your account and payment information, you’ll be prompted to choose a “store subscription” in order to become an eBay seller. There are five types of eBay seller subscriptions (Starter, Basic, Premium, Anchor, and Enterprise). The offerings range from $4.95 per month Starter accounts for eBay sellers who want “an entry level solution” to a whopping $2,999.95 per month for Enterprise accounts. The latter is designed for eBay sellers “with very large catalogs that transact at the highest volume.”
Once you choose a plan, you won’t pay individual listing fees. Instead, you pay a flat fee, so the better your sales, the better the value.
During this step, you’ll also choose your store name. Do so wisely as it will become your homepage URL on eBay. The ideal name will give shoppers an idea of what you’re selling and should be easy to remember.
With millions of sellers worldwide on eBay, that’s no easy task, but you can combine personal with generic. For example, if your name is Amy and you’re selling disco fashions, try “Amy’s Disco Fashions.”
You’re an eBay Seller! Now Get Your Design and Branding Groove On!
It’s official. You can sell on eBay. Now comes the fun part: designing your eBay store! This is your chance to strut your selling stuff, and there are many easy ways to do it.
Here are the various branding areas that you have control over as an eBay seller:
- The theme of your store (fashion, gardening, antiques, sports cars, etc.)
- Store categories to organize your merchandise
- The actual products you sell and how you present them
- Your customizable storefront homepage
- Controllable “Featured Items” to display your merchandise
Let’s make them shine together, step by step:
Step 1: Decide What to Sell
First, it’s time to load up your shop with garb that makes eBay shoppers want to load up their shopping carts. Whether your eBay shop specializes in fashion, gadgets, antiques, action figures, electronics, or garden gnomes, one of the most important ways to attract buyers is to sell desirable products. But not just any old smattering of items.
While surely some sellers establish vast followings by becoming known for awesome estate-sale collectibles or yard-sale scores, you’re more likely to attract repeat customers and garner better eBay and Google search results if you become known for a specialty.
Think about what you want your store to specialize in and build your brand around that. (Find out how to build a brand here.) In this regard, the world really is your oyster. There’s a market for pretty much everything on eBay, homemade or store-bought, from dishwasher parts to sports T-shirts to live koi fish and beyond.
Whatever you decide, it’s recommended that you make your store look robust. Try to find at least 25 items to feature, and get creative if you have to. If you follow Amy’s lead with a disco fashion shop and you don’t have enough shiny black leggings and slinky halters to hawk, throw in a couple of disco balls. You’ll still be on brand!
Step 2: Create eBay Store Categories
You can and should organize your shop using the categories function. Create various categories for your products to make it easy for eBay to surface your items in relevant search results. Shoppers will find your store and be able to quickly browse (and buy!) your offerings.
Amy’s Disco Fashions might have categories for pants, shoes, halter tops, dresses, collared shirts, headbands, jumpsuits, and accessories.
Step 3: Create Product Listings
The entire point of opening an eBay store is to sell products. To do that well, you first need products of interest. Then you need to showcase them in accurate, appealing ways through good photography and helpful written descriptions. Here are the critical elements to address when creating product listings:
- Product title: Don’t get cute or clever. Instead, include keywords that buyers would type into the search box on Google or eBay to find this product; these words help search engines find you. Selling a spinning mirrored disco ball? There’s the title!
- Photos: The best merchandising tool you have is your camera. Images are the number-one most important element for selling your items and conveying your professionalism, so take them seriously:
- Take quality photos of each product, ideally from various angles or in various contextual environments.
- Use great lighting.
- Show every important element through a variety of images.
- Mind the required dimensions. The minimum and maximum dimensions are 500×500 pixels and 9000×9000 pixels (height and width), respectively. eBay recommends that for the best zoom-in functionality, size your images so they are between 800-1600 pixels on the longest side.
- Supported image formats include JPEG, PNG, TIFF, BMP, and GIF.
- Item description: Yes, you need to include product details, such as size, length, material, brand, year, history, and any other pertinent information. But more than that, tell shoppers the benefits of buying the product and make clear what problem shoppers will solve for themselves by buying the item in question. Selling neck massagers? Focus on fast, relaxing stiff-neck resolution. A disco outfit? It’s the solution to what to wear to your next disco party, and it’ll double as a great Halloween costume!
- Price: Whether you decide to auction the item or allow people to “Buy It Now,” you want to price your item to sell.
Step 4: Design Your Custom Storefront Homepage
Aside from the products themselves, your homepage design is the most important way to convey your brand and value proposition to potential shoppers. Think of it as your store’s front window, and merchandise it so eBay shoppers are compelled to stop, wander in, and take a good look around.
Shockingly, many sellers don’t invest the small amount of time it takes to dress up their storefronts, and it shows.
Designing your homepage to fit your brand is an easy way to significantly differentiate yourself from the competition and stand out on eBay. Plus, it makes all your products look more exciting and shows you take pride in creating a quality shopping experience. This in turn helps to foster trust, interest, and, if all goes well, shopper loyalty.
eBay provides the following ways to customize your homepage, and you should use them all:
Billboard image (a.k.a. main image): It’s called “billboard” for a reason. The long customizable banner that runs across the top of your store page is your store’s big, bold announcement and the first thing shoppers see when they come to your page.
It should be eye-catching and communicate the essence of your brand and offerings. In the case of Imagina Natural, shown above, an image of wood is right on brand.
Following are the things you should consider including in your billboard:
- A photo or group of photos of the types of products you are selling
- Graphic artwork
- A combination of graphic artwork and photography
- Promotional or key messaging (Sale! Free shipping!)
- Or, all of the above
Sound intimidating? It’s not! Especially if you turn to an easy-to-use design app like Adobe Spark’s templates for shopping. Get creative and make sure to size your billboard to 1200 pixels wide and 270 pixels high.
Logo: There’s a prominent spot where you can import your logo, so you should have one. This can be an image or the name of your shop or even your face. Just make sure it fits with your overall brand identity. It can be fancy or simple. Need help there, too? Adobe Spark has free logo templates.
Description: This is your “elevator pitch” of your store. What do you offer? Why are your products and store special? Why should a shopper buy from you? Keep it short and informative, such as Imagina Natural did above.
Step 5: Program Your Controllable “Featured Items” for Optimal Merchandising
The programmable “featured items” functionality allows you to choose the products people will see first when they come to your store. Change out your preferred list items as often as you wish to keep your store looking fresh, highlight new or anchor products, or inspire people to buy the products you want to offload the most.
More Ways to Set Your eBay Store Apart
That’s it. Get that done and you’re on your way to becoming a pro eBay shop owner.
Along with making sure you provide good customer service (and build those positive ratings), you should regularly add new items to your store, including similar items to those that sell well. Also, be sure to modify your product selection and merchandising based on shopper behavior.
Finally, work to build a following on eBay and social media so you can offer sales and promotions to drive traffic to your store. Before you know it, you may even be quitting your day job to become a full-time eBay seller!