Running an eBay Business: The FAQs

eBay expert Jim "Griff" Griffith answers your biggest questions about building a business on eBay.

Q: Where do I find products to sell on eBay?

A: Unfortunately, most sellers keep their product sources a closely guarded secret. Still, there are some good places to start.

Some eBay sellers find initial sources of good merchandise at local store discount or closeout sales, as well as at liquidation auctions and sales. Consult your local newspaper for more information on potential sources in your neighborhood.

You can also find wholesale lots on eBay. Go directly to any category, and look for a subcategory for "wholesale lots." You can find the entire list of eBay wholesale categories by going to the eBay home page and scrolling down to the last category in the list of categories located on the left-hand side of the page.

Some sellers have found a product source by contacting a manufacturer's sales department directly and arranging for bulk purchase of merchandise for resale on eBay. But remember, no matter what product source you decide to use, it's very important to sell something you know about and preferably are passionate about.

See " May the Source Be With You ," for more tips on product sourcing.

Q: How can I determine the hottest items or categories on eBay?

A: There are many ways of viewing, searching and sorting eBay listings to view those with the most activity and the highest bid amounts. Within any given eBay category, you can sort the category list by highest price first to view those with the highest prices. You can then scroll through the list to see the items with the highest number of bids, a good indicator of an item's desirability. It is not possible, however, to sort by number of bids.

You can also filter a search or category to show only Completed Items (items that have sold within the past two weeks), and then scan those for the number of bids and highest bid amounts.

To view Completed Items using a keyword search of the entire eBay site:

  • Click on the "Search" link found at the top of any eBay page.
  • Click on the "Advanced Search" tab.
  • Enter your keywords.
  • Check the box for Completed Items.

To view Completed Items using a keyword search of a single category:

  • Navigate to the first page of the chosen category.
  • Enter keywords into the box provided.
  • Check the box for Completed Items, found on the left-hand side of the page.
  • Click the "Show Items" button.

If you want to view all Completed Items for a particular category:

  • Go to the category's first page of listings.
  • On the search results page, check the box for Completed Listings under the "Search Options" section on the left.
  • Click the "Show Items" box.

eBay has made this even easier by compiling a Hot List for sellers. Simply log on to www.ebay.com/sellercentral and click on "What's Hot" from the menu on the left.

For more information on keeping up with product trends, turn to "Bestseller Lists."

Growing Your Business

Q: What is an eBay Store? Should I start off with one right away?

A: eBay Stores provides you with your own e-commerce destination where you can list all your eBay inventory in one place under a brand name of your own. eBay Stores is the best way to help serious sellers maximize their businesses on eBay. If you have your own eBay Store, you get to use powerful and easy-to-use tools that allow you to successfully build your own brand on eBay and encourage repeat customers.

If you're a brand-new eBay seller, you should first familiarize yourself with the regular eBay site before you consider opening your own eBay Store. However, eBay Stores can be a perfect solution for businesses that carry large inventories. To learn more, visit http://stores.ebay.com , and click on the "Stores Help for Sellers" link.

Get additional information about eBay Stores in our " Way to Grow " feature.

Q: Will I need any listing-management tools to help me with selling on eBay?

A: Initially, probably not. But as your business on eBay grows, you may need to employ software or tools to help eliminate the repetitive tasks that come with listing on eBay. For the brand-new eBay seller, the built-in, free tools that come with My eBay are usually sufficient for listing and managing 10 to 20 items per day.

Once your business volume starts to increase beyond 20 items per day, you should sample some of the other tools that eBay offers, such as Turbo Lister, a free bulk uploading tool; eBay's Selling Manager (Basic or Pro), which adds enhanced features to the Selling page in My eBay; or Selling Assistant (Basic or Pro), which features a full suite of listing management tools.

For more information on software or eBay Listing Tools:

  • Click on "Services" at the top of any eBay page.
  • Look for the section marked "Listing Solutions," and click on "Seller Tools."
  • Other software: Under "Listing Solutions," click on "eBay Solutions Directory."

To read more about software to help with your business on eBay, see "Easy Does It" in our "Tools" section.

Q: How do I offer my listings to buyers outside of the United States?

A: Listing items so that buyers in other countries can see them is easy. Simply use the "Sell Your Item" form (access it by clicking on the "Sell" link at the top of any eBay page) as you normally would. But in the "Ship-To Locations" field of the "Shipping & Payment Terms" section of the form, specify either: "Will ship worldwide" (for maximum buyer audience reach) or "Will ship to the United States and the following" (then select the countries/regions from the list to which you are willing to ship). The latter provides a larger reach than domestic only, but with less complexity than full international trading.


Jim "Griff" Griffith is author of The Official eBay Bible and dean of eBay Education.

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