Last Updated on November 20, 2023
You’re probably new and need to know how to sell used items on eBay. This article covers the basics and guides you through the processes of listing and selling your used item the proper way.
eBay is a great platform for the money with your used items. However, you don’t just set up your eBay profile and start selling. You need to know a few things to help improve your experience and customer experience.
How to sell used items on eBay
Selling used stuff on eBay is a little more complex than you probably think if you need to make the most money. Follow this guide to know how professionals make the most money selling used items on eBay:
Get to know eBay.com
You need to go through eBay. Just navigate to eBay.com, and make sure not to use a VPN because you want eBay to know your country of residence.
Begin by checking out eBay’s seller information pages, which explain what you need to know as an eBay seller, including eBay’s policies.
The next thing you want to check is the search feature on eBay to be able to list your used items properly. Begin by using the “sort” menu to customize the search results. Look at the listings at the top result and listings that seem to receive more bids. Go through a couple of those listings and see what the sellers do to guide you when listing your used items.
Pick an account name
You can use any account name, but the name you pick can enhance your sales. Obviously, you don’t want to use an offensive name. Follow this eBay’s username policy to know what usernames are acceptable. For instance, you can’t use spaces or symbols such as @, &, ‘, (, ), <, or >. eBay does not allow permit usernames of email addresses or websites as your user ID. You can’t also use a username that contains “eBay” or “e” followed by numbers to prevent sellers from disguising themselves as eBay employees.
Also, even though you’d be selling used items, you should not use names like “junkseller” or “junkvendor”—this can prevent potential buyers. Do not also use a trademark name unless it was registered by you. For example, if you don’t own Nike, don’t use a name that mimics Nike.
If you eventually dislike your eBay user ID, you can change it. However, you can only change your ID every 30 days. This will also affect how customers contact you, so make the best decision from the beginning.
Create an account and set up a payment method
You now have an attractive name for your profile. Now, go to https://www.ebay.com/help/selling/selling/start-selling-ebay?id=4081 and create an eBay seller account. After account setup, including verifying email and setting a password, sign in to your account from the login page.
If you have a registered business, you can sign up for an eBay business account via https://signup.ebay.com/pa/crte?acntType=business.
After setting up your account, proceed to set up your payment method. eBay’s acceptable payment method depends on your country. In the U.S., for instance, PayPal or a merchant credit card account is acceptable. Go to paypal.com to create an account if you don’t already have one or follow the link from your eBay account.
Read also: to stay anonymous, you need a stealth PayPal
Complete your profile setup
You want an elaborate profile if you are selling used items. Catchy and authentic pictures also go a long way to convince potential buyers that you’re legit. You need to set up your profile the same way you would want to list new products.
Understand that buyers read your profile. Their money is on the line here, and so they want to be able to make the best decision. A potential buyer wants to know who you are, so give them your credentials, including:
- A used item dealer
- A retailer
- Someone knowledgeable about the item
The buyer needs to be sure that you know your products.
Before now, decide what used items you really want to sell to help you set up your profile the right way. The thumb rule is to sell what you know. Suppose you’re excellent at retailing used jewelry, go ahead and market yourself. Be able to tell the potential buyer things and feed them new knowledge to convince them that you know what you sell.
At the same time, don’t list what you don’t know. Suppose such used items do not satisfy the buyer. They’d return it and request a refund, and sometimes even leave negative reviews that ruin your eBay business.
Note: you can’t sell fakes on eBay or unlawful items such as guns, or animals, or render any illicit services.
Suppose you have used adult items for sale. Use the “adults only” category. However, eBay’s adult items policy bans or restricts certain items—check it out if this applies to you to avoid getting your account suspended or banned.
Consider the used items to sell
Two major considerations to note: the source of your used items and the listing time for the items.
When considering your source of items, you want to know if those used items are readily available. If sourcing for a particular used item will be a problem, then you need to look elsewhere.
Some people even source items on eBay that are underpriced and relist them at a higher price. You could even start from thrift stores or garage sales, but you can’t return any item you buy, so in cases where a buyer refunds, the loss is on you.
Warehouse, discount, and outlet stores are other places to look for used items to sell on eBay. Some of these stores have a friendly return policy you can leverage to get replacements for faulty products.
The listing time for a particular used item is another consideration to note. Note that you would:
- Take clear pictures of the items
- Write descriptions
- And ship
If these are things you can do comfortably and professionally with the used items, then go ahead and get them.
The item needs to also be available in bulk so that you can create a single listing for multiple used items.
Consider inventory management, storage, and shipping
Consider how fast you can move items from your inventory. If the items are such that rely on trends, rethink selling them—trends move very quickly, leaving you with stale stock in inventory.
Perhaps, you should focus on used items you only need to wait until a buyer shows up. Such items are usually evergreen.
Your next considerations are the shipping and storage logistics. If the used items are bulky types, shipping will be expensive to ship, and they take up space. Note that your potential buyer also considers shipping cost, and they expect to buy cheaper from you.
If storage space will be an issue, consider home selling to minimize overheads. You need to have a room for your product storage. Also, make sure pests like roaches are not in walls, they can destroy the items.
Find out about currently hot items
Hot items are items popular on eBay. It means more people are searching and bidding for these items. With eBay tools, you should be able to pinpoint popular items you can sell “used”. Just go to eBay’s hot items page for popular items, including branded electronics, clothing, jewelry, football shirts, and fashion accessories.
Check completed listings to know the number of particular items sold, when they were sold, and their prices. Just use the search box on eBay and tick “Sold listings” or “Completed listings” in the “Show only” section to show results for these items.
If you use the eBay app, tap “Refine” after entering the search words. Check “Completed listings” or “Sold items only” under “Search refinement options”. You may also use products designed specifically for eBay seller research. Popsike.com, for example, offers a free tool for those that are selling music.
However, when an item is popular, it means more sellers are selling the same thing. It’s usually tougher to sell in a saturated category, and your used item can get lost in the search results. Also, if the prices are already cheaper, you do not want to sell at a loss. And since your feedback rating is low, you’re at a disadvantage. At the same time, look out for scammers flooding into the popular item category.
Test the market
Begin by selling what you have in your inventory – start small. As a new eBay seller, you’d have selling limits like up to 10 items with a total value of up to $500 per month. To be sure what items to sell, begin with a few listings to see what works for you. Consider selling some items you no longer need in your home.
Experimenting helps you to determine what to load up on your inventory. You need items you can sell at a higher price for the most profit. If you already have an inventory from your existing business or collections, just go ahead and make a few sales on eBay to know the best approach to take for future sales.
How to list your used items on eBay
You don’t just create used item listings to sell on eBay. So, follow the guide below to do the right thing:
Research the market
You need to research your market for the items to sell. Begin by searching the same listings on eBay and read the listings of your competitors. Focus on completed listings that have been sold for a good price or current listings that attract many bids.
Look at the type of photos competitors use and how they enter information about the item. Consider yourself a buyer at the moment and try to see those things on a particular seller’s profile that makes you think they are trustworthy. You need to be able to convey this exact sense of trustworthiness on your profile to attract sales.
List your item
Log into your eBay account and go to “Sell”. Name your listing. Make sure to use an appealing title because it is the first impression potential buyers consider before they determine whether your used item is worth their time or not.
Your title should be spelled correctly and must include the relevant words for that product. Avoid fluffs like “best”, “cool” or “hot”. Don’t also use symbols in your listing such as “C(oth$”, nobody searches for them, so your used item won’t be visible in searches. Avoid the use of exclamations, for instance, “Hot Jewelry!!!”.
If you run out of space, use alternative spellings and phrasings. Search online for alternative spellings for the specific item you’re selling. Make sure it is relevant. For example, if you can’t fully write “Apple iPod”, just write “iPod”.
Take clear pictures
Clear pictures tell your potential buyers what to expect. On the other hand, bad photographs repel customers. Use a digital camera or your phone’s camera. You need multiple pictures, eBay gives up to 12 photos per listing. The photos should cover every angle of the used item.
- Lighting. Lighting is also important, so don’t take photos in dark places. You need natural light – even your phone’s flashlight should be turned off while taking photographs of the used items. For better appearance, you may have to crop or rotate photos.
- No photo effects. You do not need photo effects or editing that change the natural look of the item. However, you can slightly improve the picture with editing tools, but not in a way that falsely presents the item.
- Capture defects. If there are slight defects on the item, make sure you capture them. Buyers need to know that the item is not perfect because they make their decisions based on what they see. So, if they receive anything different from the photographs, they can request a refund. Any defect on the item that you include in the pictures shows your confidence in the items, and the buyer is able to trust you.
- Background. You need a clean background for your images. If you can’t get an attractive background, use a plain background. You could use a clean, white sheet of paper. Place the used item on it and take pictures.
Do not use photographs downloaded online to represent your used items. Aside from being a copyright infringement, it is fraudulent and dishonest. Some buyers may go as far as tracing the image source using tools like Google Lens, which allows people to search images.
Write an honest description
- Writing a description. Your description should include relevant information about the item, including the manufacturer, compatibility, used status, weight, color, size, and measurement, to mention a few.
- Relevant information. You don’t also want to add too much information. Most buyers will simply exit your page if you provide too much irrelevant information. Just go straight to the point, and mention the product specifications. You can search the product type online for its specifications. Note that relevant information helps your listing to appear in the search result, so use the most important information in your description.
- Avoid cluttering. If you have to design your listing, keep it simple. Don’t clutter your listings with elements that are hardly related – you want a readable listing that is mobile-friendly and clearly communicates the information.
- Font type. You want to use moderately large and easy-to-read fonts for the listing. Avoid excessive animation and clashing colors to keep potential buyers engaged. Buyers with poor eyesight will quickly exit your profile if the prints are not clear.
Read also: Etsy, a great place to market feet pics
Most importantly, your listing description should clearly mention the item defects. If you keep the information from a buyer, they’d return the item and request a refund, so don’t bother lying about defects. You don’t want to get the Significantly Not As Described (SNAD) claims. Nonetheless, do not sell used items that need repairs on eBay.
Select your selling format
eBay offers the “buy it now and “auction” selling formats. Pick one as it applies to your item.
Buy It Now: Buy it now are typically fixed-price items. If you select this method, a potential buyer is able to buy and have the item shipped to them without waiting for an auction to end.
Auction: eBay auctions last between 1 and 10 days. If you sell a used item in the auction, you can potentially get a higher price for it. Auction encourages buyers to offer competitive prices, and is good if you have an item people frequently search for and will fight over such as a rare item.
Set your price
Set a reasonable price according to the worth of your used item, eBay fees, and shipping costs. eBay also allows you to change the price for fixed-price items at any time. If you’re auctioning the used item, you change the price before the first bid.
Suppose you’re auctioning. You want to set a lower starting bid to attract more bidders and interest. If your item does not generate interest or is not visible, the final selling price will be low. You can use the “reserve” price feature for your item so that if you don’t get a high bid, the winner will pay the price you set. This feature is a paid eBay feature, and buyers tend to dislike it.
You don’t want to overcharge buyers for shipping and handling. Although you can tweak the shipping price to offer a lower price, and account for handling and supplies, some buyers are turned off by the inflated shipping fee. Besides, lots of buyers even expect free shipping, and eBay boosts the visibility of items with free shipping offers.
If you have a particularly heavy, used item for sale, consider increasing the “buy it now” price or the opening bid and offer free shipping to attract buyers and win better visibility on eBay search results.
Make sure to pay eBay on time. You owe eBay commission fees and other fees over time from your listing, so ensure regular, full payments to continue listing your used items on eBay. Look at the fees as your regular business expenses and tweak your product price to cover them.
Set your auction time
If you choose to auction your item, set the start and end for your auction. eBay auctions typically end 1, 3, 5, 7, or 10 days after starting them. At the end of an auction, the duration can determine the price of your item. You can schedule your auction to end at a peak buying time to get a higher selling price.
Auctions that end on weekends enjoy higher traffic, which increases the chances of getting higher bids for your used items.
If your item is seasonal, look for the better parts of the year to sell them. Skis tend to sell more during summer while beach gear performs better in winter. Refer to eBay’s planned promotions for specific categories to help plan your sales for the highlighting time of the categories.
State your policy clearly
You may have to include additional information on your policies. Be concise and brief. Keep it shorter than the item description to keep the buyer engaged.
Offering a return policy helps not only to qualify for eBay discounts, but buyers are more likely to commit to buying from you. Not many buyers return their purchases, so could be making more profit when you make buyers feel secure than losing money to product returns.
Also, Top Rated Plus sellers offering discounts receive eBay discounts small enough that the cost of a single return can cost more than a small seller’s monthly discount. Thus, if you offer a return policy, a buyer can return everything they purchase from you for any reason – you can’t refuse a return. If you do not offer returns, you could still take them on a case-by-case basis.
While an auction is running, make sure to answer your bidder’s questions. Be prompt, clear, professional, friendly, and patient. Buyers love when questions are answered, so ensure to answer all questions for transparency.
Crosscheck listings before submitting
Make sure to double-check before you save. Pressing “Submit” enters your listing. eBay then sends you an e-mail confirming the placement of your used item on eBay.com.
While double-checking, look at your spelling. Make you make proper capitalization and punctuation to make your listing easier to read. Don’t overlook even the minor mistakes or fluffs in the description.
If you entered the item as an auction, eBay allows you to keep making changes until the first bid is placed.
How to complete an eBay sale
a. Watch your auction
Watch the counter to know the number of potential buyers interacting with your listing. If too few people are interacting with your listing, make some adjustments to the auction. Look at what competitors are doing, and see how you can further optimize yours. Apply changes and keep watching.
If you need to end an auction, eBay allows you to do so up to 12 hours before it ends. However, some people may be waiting to bid, so do this feature sparingly to avoid cutting off potential bidders who probably have better offers. You should only end an auction early if you discover that the item is faulty or missing.
If you are not getting the needed engagement, you can reduce the reserve price to increase the chance of getting bids. eBay also lets you block some buyers. For example, buyers without PayPal can be blocked or that who reside in countries you don’t ship to can be blocked. You can also block buyers with multiple unpaid item strikes.
b. Prepare to ship
After your used item is paid for, package the item securely and neatly. You want to use suitable packaging for fragile items that can break easily. Your customer will not accept broken pieces. Nice packaging also enhances the buyer’s impression, so invest in one.
c. Leave a positive feedback
For customers that pay fast, leave positive feedback. Use it as your promotional opportunity to thank the customer. You can say:
Thank you for shopping at my eBay store! Please come back soon.
Promoting eBay listing for used items
a. Participate in eBay groups
Suppose you sell used handmade bags or handmade items of any kind. You want to participate in eBay groups for your specific item. The point is to thrive in a niche community. Try to read threads and be friendly.
b. Use social networking
Social networking will help to promote your eBay listings. You can also start a blog about your items, especially if you deal with used artwork. Share them with Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook communities.
c. Offer free or cheap shipping
You can move the cost of shipping to the total price or minimum bid to attract potential buyers. The sight of “free shipping” alone is encouraging to buyers. They typically prefer listings that contain “free” as they naturally believe it saves more money.
d. Sell cheap items
As a new seller, you want to build your eBay customer feedback. Buyers tend to pay attention to feedback rating, the higher the better. So, build this rating by offering inexpensive items you can quickly sell to generate positive feedback.
Note that eBay is not a get-rich-quick scheme – you need to do the work to get your listing visible to buyers. You also want to look out for scammers, especially as a new seller.
If you don’t have the experience, starting an eBay account to sell used iPhones or designer handbags can leave you at the mercy of scammers looking for new sellers offering popular items. They have crafty ways of taking both your money and used item.