When it comes to starting an eBay seller business, most would assume a large startup investment is needed. Granted, a few years ago, it would require significant funds to go down the traditional path of buying products in mass bulk quantities and reselling them individually for profits, particularly on a platform like eBay where competition is fierce.
Thankfully in modern times, there is an easier way for the average Joe to build an eBay seller business without breaking the bank. It’s called dropshipping and it’s become somewhat of a phenomenon over the last few years, growingly increasingly popular amongst newbie eBay sellers who want to get their foot through the door and learn the ropes of eCommerce, while avoiding the risks associated with holding inventory.
In this step-by-step guide, I’m going to show you how to start an eBay seller business with less than $100 using the power of dropshipping. You won’t need to purchase stock upfront, hold inventory or ship any products. In fact, all of the most costly aspects of starting an eBay business are eliminated with the help of dropshipping.
All you need is a PC, internet connection and desire to succeed. Follow these simple steps and within only a few hours, you could have a full-blown eBay business up and running with hundreds of high-quality products listed and ready for orders.
What is dropshipping?
Before we get to the exciting part of how to build an eBay seller business, you just first understand the concept of dropshipping. Gaining most of its popularity only a few years ago, dropshipping has become a primary eCommerce business model for tens of thousands of retail businesses across the globe, including some major chain-stores and renowned brands.
Instead of buying inventory in large bulk quantities, products are sourced directly from the manufacturer or wholesaler and shipped straight to the end consumers. Essentially a middleman (you) the dropshipper will never physically touch the item and simply facilitate the sale and connection between the customer and the supplier.
- Sarah has her own eBay pet store.
- A customer purchases a 15kg bag of dog food for £17.99.
- Sarah forwards or places the order with her supplier for the lower price £8.99.
- Sarah’s supplier ships the dog food directly to her customers address.
- Sarah earns a profit (£17.99 – £8.99) minus any eBay fees.
Now that you understand how the business model works, it’s time to get into the facts of how to get started with it. Remember, dropshipping is a simplistic and easy to understand business which is perfect for the average Noob or non-techie person. Furthermore, dropshipping is completely accepted as a business model on eBay and it does not break any rules.
Step one: Choose a niche
The first step before launching an eBay seller business is to choose the type of products you want to sell. Whether you’re a sports fan or animal lover, it’s best to start with somewhere you know well. Once you’ve decided on a category, find a niche within that category using the aid of a keyword suggestion tool such as Google Keyword Planner, as well Google Trends to determine the popularity of certain niches and current trends.
For example, if you’re considering selling camping accessories, try to find a niche within that particular category such as tent accessories, campsite lighting, solar gadgets, survival tools or backpacks. You don’t necessarily need to stick with that one niche forever, it just gives you a starting point to establish yourself as a specialist brand within that niche.
- Start with a category you know well and find a niche within that category.
- Use a keyword suggestion tool such as Google Keyword Planner.
- Try Google Trends to determine how popular a specific niche is.
- Research other eBay sellers to see what’s currently hot right now.
Step two: Find a dropshipper
Once you’ve decided on what you want to sell, it’s time to find a dropshipping supplier. Often considered one of the most important steps towards launching an eBay business, finding a supplier requires time, patience and some effort. Manually searching on Google is a good start, but you can often find yourself overwhelmed by irrelevant results.
Thankfully, free to use trade directories such as SourceLow make it easy for anyone to quickly find dropshippers and wholesalers with much less effort than manually searching. Similar to Google, SourceLow is like a search engine but specifically for finding wholesalers, manufacturers and of course, dropshipping suppliers. Quick filters allow you to narrow down the results based on company type and location for ease of use.
On the other hand, online forums, free blogs, Q&A sites, as well as trade shows, Facebook pages and YouTube are all great places to get the lowdown on the latest and best dropshipping suppliers. Remember, if all else fails, you can always turn to Google and simply take the necessary time to manually sift through the results. Learning how to do an advanced Google search will help you to filter out the irrelevant results and find what you’re looking for quicker.
Step three: Create an eBay account
At this stage, you should have decided on the type of products you’re going to sell and where you’re going to source them from. It’s time to open an eBay seller account. Thankfully, it’s extremely easy to do and takes only a few minutes, simply head over to the eBay website and click ‘’Sell’’ in the main menu bar. Follow the onscreen instructions to create an account. You’ll use the same account for both buying and selling on eBay. A few tips to consider when opening a brand-new seller account include:
- Try to make some quick initial sales and gain positive feedback by selling items from around the house for cheap.
- Complete your eBay seller profile by adding a profile picture and some information about you and or your business.
- Consider opening an eBay store for a low, fixed monthly fee to save on insertion fees and gain the ability to create ‘good till cancelled’ listings.
Step four: Learn eBay policies
One of the disadvantages to starting an eBay seller business is the strict and constantly changing seller policies which you’ll be required to follow. As it stands, eBay has several selling policies and performance standards to meet, including their transaction defect rates, late delivery rates and service metrics.
It’s important to get familiar with each and every policy to ensure you remain compliant when selling on eBay. Keep in mind however, existing policies are subject to change at any given time, while new policies are regularly introduced. Therefore, the policies mentioned above may be different at the time of reading this guide. Refer to the eBay website to review the latest policies.
Step five: Start listing
Now that you have selected a niche, found a supplier to source products from and gained a clear understanding of eBay selling policies, it’s time to start creating listings. The quickest and easiest way to create a new listing on eBay is to find a similar existing listing and click the ‘’Sell it yourself’’ link below the products main image.
Alternatively, simply click the ‘Sell’ link within the main Menu of the eBay website. You’ll then be redirected to the eBay listing page where you can input the details of the item on offer. A few tips to keep in mind when creating a listing on eBay include:
- Make sure you use the full space provided to create an engaging, keyword optimised and eye-catching title.
- Use the best image you have available to you as a dropshipper from your supplier.
- Set a reasonably low price at first to gain some initial sales and then increase the price later.
- Try to include as many item specifics as possible such as colour, size, weight and material.
- Create a 30 day returns policy and quick shipping policy.
Step six: Maintain high selling standards
Once you’ve started to get the ball rolling by gaining sales, positive feedback and seller history, it’s important to fulfill orders as quickly as possible and tackle any customer issues immediately in order to maintain high selling standards.
The key to your success with dropshipping on eBay will come down to your ability to follow their rules and policies. It’s not uncommon for eBay to penalise or suspend seller accounts for poor performance. The only way to avoid such a situation is by providing exceptional customer service, every single time.
When it comes to starting an eBay seller business, you don’t need thousands of dollars to get things up and running. By harnessing the dropshipping model, you can almost instantly launch an entire range of products, without ever physically seeing or touching them. Learn how to create good listings, follow eBay policies and you can’t go far wrong.
The only costs associated with launching an eBay business using dropshipping is the fees to list the items for sale. However, a basic eBay shop costs less than $30 per month and comes with a fixed number of free listings. Aside from that, you won’t need to spend anything on inventory, storage or order fulfillment. You can immediately get stuck in and start focusing on generating sales.