Chapter 4 Determining What To Sell on eBay To Make Money

Brian Roizen / 6 min read

Determining What To Sell on eBay To Make Money

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eBay connects millions of buyers and sellers around the world. It also can be a great way to make money — whether you are working from home with very little investment or you’re a reseller who sells large quantities of products.

Why Sell on eBay?

There are 182 million eBay buyers worldwide

It’s one of the largest global online marketplaces, featuring approximately 1.3 billion product listings on any given day. 

Who is Selling on eBay?

There are a few different types of eBay sellers. You’ve got your newbies or amateur resellers, who sell a few items at a fixed price, and then you have PowerSellers. PowerSellers are professional sellers who spend a lot of time purchasing items, packaging products, shipping and receiving goods, and managing auctions. 

For example: eBay Ellen — an amateur reseller — has a lot of clothing. She’s a fashionista who goes through trendy clothes quickly. To make extra cash, she turns to her closet and sells her gently used designer threads under a fixed-price listing.

Video Game Vince is a gamer and comic book collector — and a PowerSeller. He scours the internet for comic book collectibles and video game action figures to resell. He has a thriving business on eBay dedicated to reselling exclusives and hard-to-find gaming/comic book merchandise. 

Whether you’re a newbie or a PowerSeller, you can flourish in this time of growth of the secondhand economy, getting your products in front of a global audience with eBay.

What Should You Sell On eBay?

Three categories that sell particularly well on eBay are: 

  • Auto parts, 
  • Used goods, and
  • Closeouts.

While some eBay sellers focus on a niche product, others follow the trends to sell what is popular at the moment. This will require a bit of research on your part. 

Find out what’s trending.

One way to find out what’s hot in the marketplace is to see what is trending on eBay. You can use this tool from eBay to see what buyers are searching for. 

Another resource for researching seasonal trends and historical data is Google Trends. You can use it to help gauge consumer demand and determine the best time to list and sell your product.

For example, let’s say your business sells snowboards and snowboard accessories. Type in “snowboard” on Google Trends, and you’ll see a spike in web search volume in late November through early December. 

Price your products.

Once you’ve determined what you want to sell, you’ll need to do your research and price your items competitively. You can use the eBay appraisal tool to determine the value or trending price of a particular item in a specific category. 

eBay Selling Format

When eBay first launched in 1995, it was a true peer-to-peer marketplace built on auctions. As it evolved, however, eBay introduced an alternative to the auction with its “buy it now” feature. There are pros and cons to each selling method — the one that will work best for you is highly dependent upon your individual business.

Auction-style selling.

eBay rose to fame on its auction-style sales. You run a traditional auction for a specified number of days. At the start of the auction, you list an opening bid, and then buyers will bid up from the opening price. When the auction comes to an end, the highest bidder wins. 

This type of selling works great for someone like Video Game Vince because he deals in unique, collectible items. Passionate fans of the comic book genre will feverishly bid up the pricing, allowing Vince to pocket a nice profit.

Pro tip: Set a reserve price — or, the lowest price you are willing to accept for the item. That gives you the control to ensure you don’t sell the item until you can get the amount you believe it is worth.

Fixed-price listings.

Also known as the “Buy It Now” method of selling, this enables the seller to declare a fixed price for an item. eBay shoppers know the exact price up front and can buy it immediately — no bidding necessary. This style of selling is efficient and convenient, as there is no haggling or waiting for an auction to end.

Developing Product Descriptions for eBay 

On eBay, shoppers search for products using keywords. You can optimize your product description by making sure to include relevant keywords and product identifiers.

Write detailed product descriptions that include these attributes:

  • Brand (“Nike”).
  • Style or model (“Air Zoom Pegasus”). 
  • Model number (“Galaxy S10”).
  • Color (“Black”).
  • Size (“Men’s size 12,” “extra wide,” or “Women’s 8”).

It is imperative that you structure your product attributes similarly to the words and phrases users are typing into their eBay searches. For example, instead of your product title being “Converse Chuck Taylor Shoes,” a more optimized title would be “Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Shoes, Size 9 White.” 

You should also be very transparent about any product defects the item may have, and disclose any issues or flaws related to the product. 

Additional information to mention:

  • What are the item dimensions?
  • Does it require batteries and are they included?
  • What accessories are included?

Product identifiers.

Using product identifiers in your listings can help increase your item visibility, which in turn will help optimize sales.

When buyers look for items on search engines like Google or Bing, those search engines look for specific data called product identifiers. eBay requires product identifiers when you list branded products in new or refurbished condition in certain categories like consumer electronics and health and beauty. You can find a comprehensive list of categories here.

Product identifiers are made up of three elements:

  • Brand.
  • Manufacturer Part Number (MPN).
  • Global Trade Item Number (GTIN). A GTIN can include the Universal Product Code (UPC), European Article Number (EAN), Japanese Article Number (JAN), or International Standard Book Number (ISBN).

eBay uses product identifiers to help buyers quickly find items during a search. When you include product identifiers in your listings, your product will be eligible for higher search visibility — on eBay as well as outside search engines. 

It will also be eligible for special price alerts (e.g., when your listings are priced below the trending price) and included in more deals and promotions. 

Adding product identifiers is highly recommended to maximize your potential on eBay through better product placement and better SEO data for search engines.

Product attribute guidelines and best practices.

Product attributes define the relevant and important facts about a product — such as brand, style, size, and color. You can often find product attributes listed as product “specs,” or specifications. 

eBay defines a set of item specifics for each category. Product attributes are created by mapping the product specs to the item specifics of the eBay category.

Providing a very detailed set of item specifics will create a complete set of structured data that allows the search engine to locate and filter products. This improves the relevance of search results to what users are typing in their search queries. 

Product dimensions.

If applicable, include the dimensions of the item in the attributes. The product dimensions should specify the size of the actual product, not the packaging size.

Multi-packs and bundled products.

Here are some important details to remember when creating the attribute list for a multi-pack or manufacturer-created bundle:

  • The attributes for a bundled product should include the product identifier(s) assigned by the manufacturer to the bundle.
  • Attributes for the bundled product should use the manufacturer’s GTIN number for the bundle. Don’t use the GTIN of the base product or any of the products within the bundle.
  • The attributes for a multi-pack must include the product identifier(s) assigned to the multi-pack by the manufacturer.
  • The attributes of a multi-pack must specify the GTIN of the specific multi-pack being described.

Product variants.

Another tip is to include product variants on one page instead of multiple. We’ve seen that eBay is starting to group products by GTIN, so this will be increasingly more important in your set-up.

Managing Your Product Listings

Once you’ve decided to jump into the eBay marketplace, how should you manage your product listings? 

You could use spreadsheets if you only have a half-dozen items listed, like eBay Ellen. However, if you have hundreds, thousands, or even millions of products, a spreadsheet will be too complicated, unwieldy, and inadequate. 

A feed management platform, used in conjunction with an ecommerce platform like BigCommerce, can make your listings much more manageable. 

Would-be eBay merchants often ask: “Can I take my existing product feed on Google Shopping and use it on eBay?” If your products are listed on an ecommerce platform like BigCommerce, feed management platforms can take the existing product feed, put it into the correct format and export it to eBay. 

Managing Your eBay Orders

It’s critical that you manage your orders carefully and monitor your inventory. You never want to be in a position where you are listing out-of-stock items on your site. 

With feed management platforms, orders are updated and synced to your online store. It’s important to keep everything in sync with the shortest lag-times possible, especially if you have low inventory of an item selling across multiple marketplaces

Here’s an example of how feed management platforms can help:

A client needed help with managing orders for two marketplaces: eBay and Amazon

This client had multiple products that were low in stock, and they wanted to avoid running into an oversold situation — which can get sellers suspended from eBay. Feedonomics was able to solve this problem by intelligently controlling inventory on multiple channels. 

eBay Best Practices

The best practices listed here are much the same as best practices you should follow on any marketplace, as well as on your ecommerce site. But they will be particularly important on eBay, as you’ll need to differentiate yourself from competitors also selling on the channel.

Here are some general tips, with more information to follow:

  • Ship within the expected timeframe.
  • Process your orders in a timely manner.
  • Respond to customer questions promptly.
  • Ensure that you follow the return policy listed on eBay.

High-quality photography.

Take high-resolution photos against a plain white background to make the products stand out. Make sure the lighting is sufficient to feature the item and its relevant details. 

Try taking shots of the product from different angles, and get some close-up shots as well to highlight details. Don’t use props — that will only distract your shoppers.

Fast, low-cost shipping.

Cost and speed are top of mind for eBay buyers. Over the years, buyers’ expectations have increased, and they are more frequently looking for free shipping. 

Fun fact: 71% of products purchased through the eBay marketplace are shipped for free.

Offer competitive shipping prices (low-cost or free shipping is best) to appeal to more buyers and increase your chances of a sale.  

Free returns.

eBay offers five different return policy options for you to choose from:

  • No returns accepted.
  • 30-day buyer-paid returns.
  • 30-day free returns.
  • 60-day buyer-paid returns.
  • 60-day free returns.

It goes without saying that the most attractive return policy for the eBay buyer is free returns.

Strong customer service.

The reviews are in — literally and figuratively! The best way to avoid bad eBay reviews is to maintain good standing with your customers by having customer service


To maximize your ecommerce store’s potential on eBay, you have to do the research, put in the work, and be patient

There is nothing quite like eBay, which offers the diversity and the breadth of unique products, giving sellers the opportunity to sell products that you wouldn’t see in any other marketplace. 

Is eBay the right fit for you?

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Table of Contents

IntroThe Retailer’s Guide to Selling on eBay in 2022: Tactics, Tests, and Stories From The Experts
Chapter 1 Chapter 1 The eBay Marketplace: Opportunities for Ecommerce Shops + eBay Statistics in 2022
Chapter 2 How 5 Online Businesses Increased Revenue By Selling on eBay
Chapter 3 How to Start Selling on eBay: Tips for Success
Chapter 4 Determining What To Sell on eBay To Make Money
Chapter 5 Improving eBay Product Listings (To Rank + Convert)
Chapter 6 The eBay Shipping Guide: How to Ship on eBay (+ Calculator)
Chapter 7 Understanding eBay Selling Fees (Benefits + Challenges)
Chapter 8 Using BigCommerce and eBay Integration for Cross-Channel Management
Chapter 9 eBay Advertising 101: How to Advertise eBay Listings and Boost Sales


Brian Roizen

Brian Roizen

Brian Roizen is the co-founder and chief architect of Feedonomics, a full-service feed optimization platform that optimizes product data for hundreds of channels. He has been featured on numerous podcasts and webinars, and regularly contributes to Search Engine Land and other industry-leading blogs. Brian graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.

View all posts by Brian Roizen

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