Getting your eBay business off the ground

With the promise of an easy set-up and safe secure trading online, all over the world – it’s little wonder that eBay is a popular starting point for those looking to make a name for themselves selling online. Jaen Chewins looks at where to start, what to consider, and how you can protect yourself.

eBay – a short introduction
Started by Pierre Omidyar in September 1995 as an avenue for his wife to purchase sweet dispensers, eBay had 165 million users as of the end of 2016, a figure which comprises of 25 million sellers. There’s a market for the unique online trading platform, and there are sellers who use it to open the door to a sideline business, and those for whom it facilitates a full-time, multi-staffed occupation.

The ease of advertising and selling, combined with strong security, regulated feedback and the opportunity to ship abroad, means that the online marketplace draws people into selling more than just unloved expensive coats, as they find their feet in selling for business. And it seems that UK sellers are not only succeeding in their ventures into international trade, but are thriving, with research from eBay in 2014 showing that UK businesses on the site were reaching on average 39 markets across the globe, which was more that than any other country.
Tempted to give it a go yourself? Here are a few things you need to think about:

Whether you’re selling goods you’ve produced yourself, or those which you plan to sell on, your challenge is to make a profit. That’s not just the costs of making or buying the product in the first place, but the time it takes to run your enterprise.
Buying in bulk can often yield more at a cheaper cost, which might mean exploring wholesalers or seeing what deals there are to be had.

Once you have your stock, a connection, a computer, and plenty of space to store your wares, you can get started. Beyond setting up a normal sellers account, you can go on to create a business account and an online shop from which to operate. To trade under a business name you’ll need to provide a UK address or landline number, and have details of a bank account with direct debit capabilities.

Before opening an online shop you’ll first need to gain a minimum of five positive feedback reviews and an active PayPal account. If you choose not to set up a PayPal account, you’ll need a minimum of 10.

There’s no shortage of businesses on eBay angling to make a tidy profit – if you’re to join them, and do so successfully, you’ll need to take every step of the selling process into account. It starts with sourcing goods at a low price and entails a prompt delivery service, alongside courteous and quick communication with the buyer.

By starting out small, you’re minimising the financial risks, so you can afford to play about with prices to see what covers you and makes a profit, while not putting off buyers who would otherwise find a similar product for a lower cost elsewhere.

Auctions are unpredictable and are sometimes best reserved for one-off items, and reserves can put a lot of buyers off as they won’t know how much you’re expecting for the item.

An eBay spokesperson gave their advice on marking the price, saying, “It’s all about the market. Buyers love the chance of getting a bargain – do your research to see what you are likely to get, look at your profit margin and go for it.

If your home becomes your place of work, you need to let your insurer know. This is because your stock and your liability as a seller will not be covered under your home insurance. Updating your existing home insurance to include business assets or stock, or taking out a new policy, means that your foray into online selling can be covered.