A beginner’s guide to selling on eBay

8 Jun 2017 6 min read

Whether you need to make some extra cash or free up some space by decluttering your home, eBay can be a quick and easy way of selling unwanted items. With 18 million registered users in the UK alone, it’s the perfect place to start shifting your wares, whether you’re listing everyday items, unusual memorabilia or second-hand clothing.

As one of the biggest online marketplaces with its own set of unfamiliar terminology, selling on eBay can be a daunting prospect for those who consider themselves to be less-digitally savvy – but don’t worry. We’re here to guide you through the basics of selling on eBay for beginners.

Try before you buy

Putting yourself in the position of a buyer and making a few purchases will help you to understand how eBay works before committing to selling an item. It also allows you to build your feedback score – a score based upon the number of positive, neutral and negative reviews an eBay member has received from sellers and buyers over time. Without any ratings, you’re unlikely to pick up many buyers when the time comes for you to sell.

Decide what to sell

As one of the biggest online marketplaces, eBay gives you the chance of achieving the best possible price for your item. But it might not be the best option for selling all items. A few things that sell particularly well are:

  • Branded goods – buyers are always looking for bargains on well- known brands, whether it’s clothes, gadgets or tools.
  • Unused items – unworn clothes which are brand new with tags and cellophane-wrapped, boxed electrical items always tend to sell better.
  • Rare or unique items – collectors will regularly trawl eBay to find particular items that fit their interests.

Besides obvious items such as weapons, drug paraphernalia and stolen property, which are all strictly prohibited from the site, there are other restrictions around items like electrical items, plants and event tickets. It’s always best to check eBay’s list of prohibited and restricted items before you create your listing.

Though you can send parcels weighing up to 30kg, and up to 2.5m in length with our large parcel delivery service, for really heavy and large household items such as furniture or appliances, the cost of delivering to customers further afield may mean that a local listing is more appropriate.

People viewing ads on Gumtree or a local Facebook seller’s page are likely to live closer by and be happy to collect the item in person. We’ll be writing an article about how to sell on Gumtree soon, so stay tuned!

Do your research before selling

Once you’ve decided on the item you’d like to list, dig a little deeper into which brands and models provide the best return, and what sort of prices other sellers are listing their goods for. This will help you to offer competitive pricing for buyers and give you a better chance of making a sale.

Another important thing to bear in mind is the fact you can list up to 20 items per month for free on eBay. If they sell, you’ll pay a 10% commission on the final sale value, including postage costs. eBay calls this the final value fee. Be sure to keep an eye out for free listing days, too.

Creating your eBay listing

We know you’ll be in a hurry to get your listing live and watch those bids rack up, but this won’t happen unless you take time and care over it. Before hitting the publish button, make sure you’ve considered these factors to make your listing as professional and appealing as possible.


You may be able to write a flawless description, but if your photos are poor quality – or if you haven’t bothered to include any – then you’ll put potential buyers off straight away. Include at least two images of your item if possible, and make sure all photos are high quality, a good size, and accurate.


A killer title is key. Make sure you optimise your listing title with relevant, enticing keywords that convey all the important information. Spelling and grammar should be spot on too if you want buyers to take you seriously. There's more information on how to write a great eBay title in our blog article; How to write a great eBay listing title.


The same goes for descriptions. These should be grammar and spell checked, and must be concise and clear. Consider everything you’d need to know if you were buying and include that information. Honesty is always the best policy – be transparent about the condition of your item to avoid negative feedback that could impact your long-term eBay ratings.


You want potential buyers to actually find your items, which means placing your listing in the most relevant category possible. To boost its visibility further you may want to add it to an extra category for a small additional cost.

Low starting price

eBay punters love a bargain, which means going in low with your starting price. This will rack up a higher number of watches, and then once the adrenaline of the bidding war has kicked in, it won’t matter that they’ve gone beyond their initial budget.

Auction end times

Getting your timing right and reacting to peak activity is key. You want your auction to end at a time when people are most likely to be at home, online and available for a bidding war – which, according to eBay itself, is Sunday evenings.

Busting that eBay jargon

One thing you’ll need to get your head around is the lingo used on eBay. Using a few of these common abbreviations is a quick way to give your listing or title a professional boost – just don’t overdo it as you’ll run the risk of confusing people.

  • BN: Brand new
  • BNIB: Brand new in box
  • BNWT: Brand new with tags
  • VGC: Very good condition
  • NWOT: New without tags
  • NWOB: New without box
  • BIN: Buy it now
  • HTF: Hard to find
  • NR: No reserve
  • VTG: Vintage

Building a good reputation

If you're a beginner but want to sell a bunch of items on eBay and over a long period of time, you’ll need to look at building up a good reputation through positive feedback. And you’re not going to get positive feedback unless you provide a great service – just as you’d expect if you were a customer.

Make sure you always communicate properly with potential buyers, responding to queries quickly and sending any extra photos if asked. When a purchase goes through, have all the postage and packaging ready to go so it doesn’t arrive late. And, should they request a refund, deal with the situation professionally.

Now you should be ready to become an eBay pro. When you’re sending parcels, don’t forget to take advantage of Parcelforce’s reliable courier service, which include flexible shipping options to UK and international destinations, compensation cover and guaranteed delivery times.

Important Note

The way you access Parcelforce services through eBay has changed. If you usually access our services through the eBay shipping platform, you will find that this option is unavailable from Friday 30th June 2017. But you can still access our special eBay rates through Paypal – click here to find out more. There are no changes if you access our services on Parcelforce.com, at a Post office® branch or depot.

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