eBay Help

How do I sell on eBay UK as a business?

Selling on eBay is easy. eBay work hard to make it appear easy, so does that mean that running a successful business on eBay is also easy? NO!

Successfully running a business on eBay requires hard work and determination – but the good news is that you can learn some simple processes to make it a more profitable venture.

What are the secrets? How can you make more money on eBay, get great search results and good sales?

In this article, I’m going to explain exactly what you need to be aware of to start and grow your eBay business, and reveal some insider knowledge to make your path a little smoother.

First you need an account. Many businesses make the mistake of creating a new account to start their business on eBay, when actually it’s much better to convert an existing one, even a personal account.

eBay has limits (selling restrictions) on what new sellers can sell, so be prepared for it to take a while to build sales. Selling restrictions means that a new account can only list for sale 10 items per month, and a maximum amount of £650. You will not be allowed to sell internationally for 90 days either.

It may be possible to have these allowances increased straight away by phoning eBay and proving to them that you are reputable – they will take into account your website for instance if you have one.

To change a personal to a business ID, sign in to My eBay and go to Account –  Personal information, to the right-hand side is an option to Edit, click on that and follow instructions to register as a business.

It’s not automatic to go back to having a personal account when it is a business, you need to contact eBay and prove that your business has stopped trading.

Once the account is a business, you can change the name using the same method – choose a name that reflects your products –  cute_phones_4_girls is a better name than kazrox6823.

How do I find products that will sell on eBay?

This is the key question and I’m afraid there are no easy solutions – in fact be very wary of anyone who says they have a sure-fire product that will make you a fortune! It’s really important to check first that you can make a profit –be savvy and don’t take anyone’s word for it.

Research, Research, Research  – Check what buyers are actually looking for  

If you go to the search bar and type in (for instance) Adidas Trainers Size 8, there will be some suggestions offered as you type, similar to Google Instant. These suggestions are important as they are (in order) what buyers are actually searching for. This means you can check to make sure there is a demand – if no suggestions appear then no one is looking for that item – see below:

eBay search bar showing suggestions from drop down menu

Research, Research, Research – Check what others have done first  

The joy of eBay is it’s possible to see exactly how much other items have sold for, and how other sellers have described similar items. To do this, fill in the search box and check ‘completed items’ on the left-hand side. This will show what items have sold in the last few months – if the price is black the item didn’t sell, if the price is green it did and if the price is green with a strike through then the best offer was accepted – see below:

how to find completed listings option in search results on eBay

Research, Research, Research – Check the competition

The listings at the top of search results with good sales are your competition – and because they are at the top (as long as there are decent sales) you can analyse them to see what they are selling – see below:

how to see how many items a seller sold on eBay

Research, Research, Research – Check the competition

Once you find a competitor with good sales, you can click on the sold button and this will tell you when they sold those items, and which variations were the most popular – invaluable for working out which stock to concentrate on! See below:

shows sold items details in an eBay listing

You have found your products – now what?

There is no one single secret to maximising sales on eBay – it’s important to tick all the boxes. It’s the combination of doing everything correctly that will put your items near the top of the search results, and although price is one component it’s not the only one.

How can I work out eBay’s Best Match?

Generally, those listings at the top of search results are the ones which will yield the most important clues as to what you need to do to compete – but watch out for some anomalies!

  1. Auctions – as eBay is an auction site, buyers expect to see auctions when they visit. However only around 10% of all listings on eBay UK are now auctions – the rest are Buy It Now. So, when you see an auction near the top of a search result, don’t take any notice of it – it’s not there because of a great title or image, it’s ONLY there because it’s an auction and is ending soon.
  2. New listings – eBay will give some new listings an artificial “boost” when they first go up for sale. This lasts up to 7 days, and again may not have anything to do with the quality of the listing. New listings can often be identified by the banner.
  3. Sponsored listings – these are basically a paid for advert, and again may not be a good quality listing, so be cautious about imitating these listings – see below:
Showing placement of new listings and sponsored listings in eBay search results

Here are the main things you need to get right to make a profit on eBay – we’ll look in detail at them and provide some hints and tips to help you sell more on eBay.

eBay Listing Title

eBay Category


Item Specifics

eBay Listing Descriptions

Postage and Delivery

eBay fees

Should I open an eBay shop?

Customer Service

eBay Feedback

eBay Help


eBay Listing Title

Titles are hugely important to search results – it’s worth spending some time getting the keywords right, as that is how both eBay and Google search for items. Keywords are the words and phrases that your buyers are using to find your products, so the wider the net you cast with a title, the more buyers you will reach.

How to Compose the perfect title for your eBay listing

Remember that when buyers search, eBay only automatically searches for words in the item’s title, not the rest of the description, so every word counts. The maximum number of characters (including spaces) allowed in a title is 80.

Imagine what you would search for. ‘Fabulous, plunging neckline plum dress. Barely worn’ is a waste of words: no one’s going to search for ‘fabulous’ or ‘plunging’ or ‘plum’.

Instead put “Size 10 Dress – Purple Silk French Connection Party Evening Cocktail”, and you’ll cram in tons more search terms.

To find the keywords, check both the search bar to see what buyers are looking for, and your competitors to see which words the top sellers are using.

eBay pros use Sentence case i.e. the first letter of every word is a capital – “New Solid Oak Pine Wardrobe” is friendlier than “NEW SOLID OAK PINE WARDROBE” and looks more professional than “new solid oak pine wardrobe”

eBay Category

Selecting the right category is now very important, as eBay often pre-filters search results – so if your armchairs are in the Dining chair category they will not be seen by many buyers.

To check, see where eBay recommends you put the items when looking up the keywords in the search bar – the blue wording is the primary suggested category. If in doubt, see what your top selling competitors are doing.



After the title, photos are probably the next most important element in your listing.

Focus and size mattermake sure your photos are not fuzzy, and at least 500 pixels on the longest side, preferably 1600. This can be achieved if your camera is set to 2mp and you don’t crop too much – eBay will not allow you to list if your photos are too small.

Your potential buyer will only spend a millisecond glancing at your main Gallery image in search results so it needs to be immediately obvious what it is without distracting extras.

The main Gallery image needs to be just the product against a bright white background – this makes the image “POP” out of the page and is very easy for buyers to see instantly what it is.

A recent eBay study showed on average that sellers who list with 2 pictures are 7% more likely to sell and are 3% more likely to sell with each additional picture added to a listing. However, make sure the images are different, showing views of front, back, side and detail. This then mimics the experience of actually being present to examine an item, and will pay off in terms of increased sales.


Item Specifics

Often overlooked, Item Specifics are actually very important. They are one of the few places eBay will search for keywords (although not much weight is placed on keywords here, they are searched). More importantly this is how buyers will often filter their results, for instance by colour, brand and material – see below:

How eBay helps buyers to filter search results using item specifics options

Complete as many fields as possible – if eBay asks for information they will use it, and if you haven’t supplied it then you will be excluded from their processes. If you have barcodes add them in as well.


eBay Listing Descriptions

Selling the sizzle, not the sausage

Now it’s time to sell and market your product. Include as many details as possible: brand, condition, size, colour, material. For clothes, make sure you include actual measurements and not just sizes – sizes vary wildly from one manufacturer to another, and a lack of actual measurements is the number one complaint that online clothes buyers have about listings.

Let buyers know why you’re selling it and how fast you’ll be able to post out.

Be clear, concise and pay attention to grammar – buyers are quite picky about this, even if they can’t write like a newspaper editor themselves they often recognise something is incorrect, and it looks unprofessional, which means less trustworthy.

Sell the benefits, not the features – for an excellent guide to writing sales copy, see this page: http://keysplashcreative.com/features-vs-benefits-how-theyre-different-and-why-it-matters-in-marketing/

Finally, always, always, always run your description through a spell checker. To show how important spelling is, entire websites, such as Goofbid and Fatfingers, are dedicated to profiting from people’s spelling slip-ups, as listings with spelling errors, especially in the title, go for much lower amounts.


Postage and Delivery

Try to get items posted out and delivered as soon as possible – Buyers are impatient and are now used to getting their goods within a day or so, and if they can’t get them from you in that time scale they will go elsewhere.

Try to make all sales Free P+P (and add into the sale price) but be cautious – if your competitors are showing postage extra then you will seem expensive. It’s almost always better to have free postage on eBay because:

  1. Buyers across the Internet love “Free” P+P categories
  2. eBay generally gives you higher search results with free P+P,
  3. There is an option (which some people use) to filter search results by free P+P,
  4. If you offer free P+P then you automatically get 5 stars for the postage option (again your stars probably influence your search results.)
  5. eBay charges fees on the total price, including postage so there is no advantage to having postage separate.
  6. As a rule, cheaper items (below £10 as a rough guide) will do better with postage shown separately, whereas items over £10 will do better with postage added in as “Free”. Study your competitors to see which is the best way to go.

Also give your buyers options – offer a “Free” economy or slow delivery and an Express option which has an extra cost. Let buyers choose the Click and Collect option – it makes no difference to the seller, it just means that the parcel gets delivered to an Argos store instead of the buyer’s address. This range of choices means you can please a higher percentage of buyers – this is how it appears to them:

postage and delivery options on an eBay listing

Always get proof of delivery

Unless your items are extremely low value, you MUST, MUST, MUST send items overseas (and UK) items by a ‘trackable’ postage service. This is because sadly some scammers claim an item hasn’t arrived, then try to claim the money back through PayPal, meaning you lose your cash, particularly with high value items such as iPods.

Also, your parcel will pass through many different hands before being delivered (post office counter staff, sorting staff, delivery office staff, the postie) before being delivered and if not tracked there are many different opportunities for your parcel to be stolen. Finally, there is simple accidents – parcels get left behind, fall down the backs of things, lose their labels. If your parcel is tracked it is much less likely to get overlooked or lost.

The only way to protect yourself against ‘item not received’ claims’ is to get proof of delivery, not proof of postage. To do this, you must use a courier with online tracking. To satisfy eBay, the online delivery status must say ‘delivered’ and show recipient’s address.

If you have low value items then you need to build into your profit margin a cost for items getting lost in the post.

You must also have sent the item within the number of days that you promised in your listing, which eBay calls your ‘handling time’. Do read eBay’s full postage rules for sellers.


eBay fees

eBay makes its money from sellers not buyers; when you’re selling something, it eats a generous chunk of your profits.

As a very rough guide, eBay and PayPal fees together will total around 15% of your sale price.

eBay fees are complex, and depend on factors such as categories, which format is used (i.e. auction or fixed price listing), duration, enhanced features etc, but can be broken down into roughly two areas, listing fees and final value fees. Listing fees are paid when you put an item up for sale, and are paid whether the item sells or not. Final value fees are only paid if the item sells.

Listing fees without a shop have a small cost around 36p per listing. Final value fees are usually around 10% of the final sale price.

For example:

  • a book sells for £10 – listing fee of 36p, plus final value fee of £1, total fees due to eBay = £1.36.
  • a wardrobe sells for £500 – listing fee of 36p, plus final value fee of £50, total fees due to eBay = £50.36.

However, you can also sell through Multi Variation Listings (MLV) and sell different sizes or colours of the same item – this can bring enormous savings.

Most sales are paid for with PayPal so an additional fee will be due to PayPal (standard rate is 20p plus 3.25% of amount paid).

PayPal doesn’t advertise it much, but once you are putting more than £1500 per month through their system you can ask for their Merchant rates – these are lower than the standard ones:

Paypal Merchant rate

If you sell mainly very low-cost items it might be worth asking PayPal about their Micropayment scheme – https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/micropayments

Should I open an eBay shop?

Some businesses tick over nicely without a shop, but it’s generally a good idea once you have made a few sales to open a shop. This has an extra cost but means you can sell 250 fixed price listings without paying insertion fees, and more importantly you can access the various promotional opportunities there are on eBay – sales, discounts, BOGOF offers etc.

Shops have an extra cost each month – see this link to work out if it’s worth your while getting a shop, and if so which one: https://www.subs.ebay.co.uk/stores/select/basic

Customer Service

It goes without saying that customer service is important to all types of retail businesses – and even more so when that business is online and buyers cannot see you or judge how you are treating them.

Sellers need to put some effort into how they respond to pre-sale queries, update buyers on the postage system and deal quickly and courteously with any after sale issues.

The key is to put yourself in the buyers’ shoes – how would you like to be treated?

eBay will issue a defect if you don’t resolve any problems with buyers, so ignore them at your peril!

Increasingly sellers are leaving feedback as soon as payment is made – make sure if you do this that you include a packing slip pointing out what you’ve done so that buyers are encouraged to contact you with a problem rather than leaving a negative for you first.

eBay Feedback – don’t pester customers – they will probably already have had several emails from eBay about their purchase, and eBay will ask them to leave feedback. Here’s some of the best feedback I’ve ever seen:

Negative Feedback on eBay account showing harrassment

Increasingly sellers are leaving feedback as soon as payment is made – make sure if you do this that you include a packing slip pointing out what you’ve done so that buyers are encouraged to contact you with a problem rather than leaving a negative for you first.

eBay help

One of the best ways to get advice about eBay is to Google your query – this is quicker than using eBay help. For an opinion rather than a fact, go to Community (found at the bottom of most browser desktop pages) – Discussion boards -Seller Central.

Contacting eBay for specific help can be a little confusing. There are only a few options to choose when going through the Help pages, so it’s best to go straight to contact them by phone. Choose the option closest to your query.

The most common contact numbers in the UK are 0345 359 3229 and 0800 358 3229, and eBay will check who you are based on the phone number you are calling in on, the one registered with your account.

And there you have it – everything you need to get you started and improved to run a successful business on eBay! If you would like more in depth information, and help to manage and increase sales for your business, please get in touch – phone or email us today.

Here is an example of one client we helped recently - his sales soared by 848%

graph showing big sales increase on eBay December 2017

We’ve put together some useful links if you are thinking about starting a business on eBay, or looking to develop your online business.

Feel free to explore the support that is out there, and please do contact us if we can help you start and grow a thriving eBay shop.

More links are being added all the time, so please check back regularly.

Type of WebsiteNameSuitable For:
Selling On eBay Hints and Tips BlogSelling On eBay UK BlogAll Sellers
e-commerce support and commentaryTamebayAll Sellers
eBay's own seller support centreSeller CentreAll Sellers
eBay Community Forum Boards for sellersCommunity BoardsAll Sellers
3rd Party Integration SoftwareLinnworksEstablished Sellers
3rd Party Integration SoftwarechanneladvisorEstablished Sellers
Guide to deciding which integration software to use Matthew Ogborne GuideEstablished Sellers
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