Practical Ecommerce

Getting Started with eBay

eBay is a global marketplace and an opportunity for online sellers, including businesses as small as garage-based, family operations — or as large as major ecommerce merchants.

In the second quarter of 2012, eBay’s marketplace helped to sell approximately $3.1 billion in clothing, shoes, and accessories; $2.9 billion in electronics, including game consoles, mobile phones, and cameras; and some $2.6 billion in home and garden items.

Add in the dozens of other categories of products sold every day on eBay, and the marketplace facilitated $16.2 billion in transactions in just three months during the second quarter, according to eBay’s own data. Put another way, a pair of shoes were sold on eBay every six seconds, an MP3 player sold every 25 seconds, and video game system sold every 24 seconds to name just a few examples.

There is little doubt that eBay is an important sales channel and a good opportunity for some sellers when one considers the massive gross merchandise values mentioned above. The only real question for online entrepreneurs is what to offer on the site. What follows are five suggestions for finding products to sell on Ebay.

Purchase from Existing Suppliers

If a would-be eBay seller already has an online store or a physical store, it may be possible to sell the very items currently in inventory on the eBay marketplace. Be sure to check any dealer agreements before posting to eBay, or any marketplace, as there could be some restrictions or manufacturer approved pricing requirements. Even suppliers that won’t normally allow products to be sold on eBay will make exceptions for closeout or clearance products.

Sellers that are just getting started may also purchase items directly from manufacturers or distributors. To locate suppliers, try going directly to the manufacturers’ or distributors’ websites and searching for dealer information.

There are also many tradeshows for each industry every year, if a seller has the means, going to these shows is an excellent way to locate suppliers.

Finally, there are many sites that specialize in connecting wholesale buyers and sellers. One of the best is Alibaba.

Buy Product at Auctions

Auctions are an excellent source of products to sell on eBay. Storage lockers, estate sales, going out of business auctions, and government surplus auctions are just a few examples of the kinds of sales that eBay merchants should consider.

There are a number of excellent online auction or auction announcement sites. Some of the best of these include the following.

Shop on Craigslist

Craigslist is the Internet’s ubiquitous online classified’s site. It has pages for many cities and each page lists hundreds of items for sale daily.

For example, entrepreneurs could purchase $1,000 worth of collectable comics from a guy in St. Louis, and make $10,000 selling the individual comics on eBay. Pick up used, but functional laptops from sellers in the Houston and Dallas, and resell them for twice the price on eBay. Get salt-glazed pottery from a grandma in Greensburg, PA, and sell it for a small fortune one item at a time on eBay.

Empty Out Garages

In warm weather, going to garage sales can also be a good way to find products to sell on eBay. An eBay entrepreneur might buy items one at a time, offer to take everything that’s left at the end of the day, or even suggest selling some more expensive items on consignment.

A seller may also want to post ads, offering to buy certain kinds of items.

Make Something

eBay sellers may also find some success manufacturing items specifically to sell on the marketplace. These manufactured products may be simple crafts or some decidedly more complex items that have been designed and built via contract manufacturers. Contract manufacturers make items to a designer’s specifications.

Summing Up

eBay represents a great opportunity for selling products new or used, and between suppliers, auctions, manufacturing items, shopping on Craigslist, or going to garage sales there is nearly an endless supplier of products to sell.


Armando Roggio
Armando Roggio
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