Selling through online marketplaces

Selling effectively on eBay


Before you start selling on eBay, make sure you have done some research, especially about setting a starting price, listing format, and category. This will help you create a good listing and get the best price for your item.

To start selling, click the Sell button at the top of most eBay pages. eBay will help guide you through the process of listing your item step-by-step, including helping you find the best category. Selecting the right category is important as it helps buyers find your listing. Before you sell on eBay you must:

  • be a registered member
  • become a seller
  • have a PayPal account

My eBay

My eBay lets you track your buying and selling activity, send and receive secure emails, and update your account information.

There are four main sections in My eBay:

  • buy - tracks items you're bidding on, made offers on or didn't win.
  • lists - contains all your lists, including items you're watching, your wish list, saved seller list, saved search list, and any custom lists you've created.
  • purchase history - contains all the items you've bought in the last three years.
  • sell - tracks items you're selling or have previously listed for sale.

It is very important that you ensure you quickly respond to any questions or emails you receive. You can also use My eBay to check what's selling well and what's not.

How to get your items found

For a number of years now, Best Match is the default method with which eBay shows listings on search result pages. The objective of Best Match is to show the most relevant, best value items from sellers that will create the best experience for the buyer. There are a number of things you can do to increase the visibility of your items including:

  • Offer different postage options - offering certain postage options helps ensure your items appear more prominently in search listings. You could offer at least a 48-hour postage service, at least a one day dispatch or a 24-hr postage option (you can charge more for this).
  • Build your reputation - your reputation also determines how prominently you appear in search listings. Your reputation can affect the fees you pay with eBay giving top sellers better rates. It will take a while to establish a good reputation so be patient.
  • Item titles - these are vital for best match search. You get 80 characters so make it comprehensive and truthful.
  • Item specifics - these are important for search. They help people find your items.
  • Photos - you can have up to 12 photos per listing for free on eBay. Photos should be well lit with a focus on the product. You need to ensure you adhere to eBay picture standards - at least one image per listing, one side at least 500 pixels.

Completing transactions

You should ensure to send the sold goods promptly. eBay allows you to notify buyers their item has been shipped and add a tracking number. This is best practice and encourages positive feedback. You should also make sure you package the goods well - it is important to the customer that their goods arrive safely.

Dealing with problems

Most eBay sellers will at some point have to deal some problems from their buyers. You may from time to time need to process refunds and returns. You will want to aim for 100 per cent customer satisfaction. In the instances that someone is not happy and wishes to return or exchange an item, you should ensure the process is resolved professionally and as quickly as possible.

See fulfilling online orders


If you are a business seller on eBay who accepts returns, you are required to give the customer a minimum of 14 days to return the item. Many sellers offer returns above and beyond this. You should make it clear in your returns policy whether you or the customer pays for the postage if an item is being returned. If a buyer believes the item's description was misleading, you are liable for paying the return postage. This process is automated.

Resolving disputes

If there is a dispute about an item that you have sold, you should try and resolve the problem directly with the buyer. If the problem cannot be resolved it may have to go through the eBay resolution process. Buyers claiming they have not received their item or the item they received was not accurately described will use the resolution process as their main method for settling the transaction. As a seller you have eight days from the day a buyer opens a case to resolve the issue.

Increasing your eBay sales

Once you are an established eBay seller there are numerous tools available to help you increase your sales.

  • Turbo Lister - this is a free listing tool to help you create professional-looking listings and upload thousands of items in bulk.
  • Selling Manager - this is an online tool designed for medium-volume sellers to help manage and track listings on eBay.
  • Selling Manager Pro - this tool is useful for high-volume sellers, to help you create listings, manage post-sale activities and manage your inventory. This service costs £4.99 per month.

eBay shops

With eBay shops you get a fixed number of inclusive listings at no extra cost, the ability to organise your inventory as well as a place to display all your listings in a personalised shop window with a unique website address.

There are three separate eBay shops to choose from:

  • basic shop
  • featured shop
  • anchor shop

Completing the sale with your buyer

To receive positive buyer feedback, you need to ensure you complete the sale professionally. There are numerous ways to do this:

  • keep good communication with your buyer
  • be sure you receive payment before you post your item
  • pack it well - use bubble wrap or newspaper to protect the item from transit damage
  • leave the buyer feedback
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