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Running an eBay Business

If you're thinking about starting selling your products to customers and turning your hobby into a business, why not start by running an eBay business to test your potential market?

You will learn

  • The basics of starting an eBay business
  • Tips for running an eBay business
  • How to research what are the best things to sell on eBay

So, you decided to de-clutter the house, you went on to eBay and sold some items, and you enjoyed it. Then, the light bulb moment came: I could start running an eBay business and give up the day job!

Well yes, you can. However, it is still a business, so before you jump in to anything, start to look at how you will establish the business. Things to think about include: what the best things to sell on eBay are; whether there is a market for it; where you would source your goods from; what your pricing strategy would be. Also, you will need to think about your image and brand. Suddenly, it may not look so easy.


When running an eBay business, you need to know that your product will sell. You also need to find out how are you going to store you stock, and how you will pack your products and ship them out to your customers. If you are doing this from home, do you have the appropriate permission to do so? Is the insurance in place, not just for your premises, but potentially for goods in transit?


You need to make sure you have your own unique identity to use when running an eBay business. This comes down to your branding. If your User ID is User78654, it will not be memorable for your customers. So, think of a name and use that instead. After all, you will have to register with HMRC and give them your business name, so why not your customers, too? Just like if you were starting your business on the high street, the usual constraints will apply to ensure there is no-one else using the same business name as you, so do your research on that as well. Your brand will be the face of your business, so make it original to help you stand out from the crowd.


Obviously, you need to build up good solid feedback, which you may have some of already from when you started with selling a few bits and pieces. However, now that you are running an eBay business, you want those larger, more profitable sales. Look at other sellers' feedback to see how they perform, and establish what the buyer is looking for. You can then understand the buyers' expectations better, and tailor your offerings accordingly.

Remember, feedback is the evidence that the buyer needs to buy from you with confidence.

Pricing and fees

Like all businesses, you need to work out your pricing structure. However, very importantly with eBay, you need to know and understand the fee structure. Even a few pence can make a big difference in the fee structure, especially when you start listing lots of items.

Managing your stock

As your sales grow, you will need to ensure you manage to control your stock accordingly. Devise a way of tracking what you sell, the seasonality of it, and the time it takes to get new supplies. This will keep your customers happy, and will also help with the financial control of your business.

eBay selling tools

When you started off, you may have used the standard "Sell Your Item" format. However, when you have multiple items, consider eBay Turbo Lister. This is a free listing tool which will help you to create professional looking listings, as well as uploading and editing items in bulk.

eBay offers various selling tools which can help when you are scaling up the business. There are a number of tools, but it is wise to stick to the ones eBay approve. Take a look at your options here.

Seller dashboard

When running an eBay business, it is important to monitor your performance and top rated seller status, ensuring you comply with the policies.

Increase your visibility among buyers by using keywords in your title and description. You could also share expertise and enhance your reputation: write reviews and guides about your top selling items. It really is exactly like running a business on the high street!

eBay want you to be a success, as that is what drives their business. So, have a look at their Business Seller Guide, which is a great step-by-step guide to making your eBay business a success.

Communicate with your buyers all the way. You may receive an "ask a seller a question" - make sure you answer it! Let your buyers know when goods are being shipped; good customer service is key.

Remember, just because you are on eBay, does not mean you do not need to register with HMRC.  You will also need insurance, as running an online, eBay-based business really is not any differently to being a physical business.

Treat your customers right and they will keep coming back for more, and your business will grow.

Good luck and happy selling.

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Written by:

Heidi Green

Senior Business Adviser

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