In this post, we’re going to explore what to sell on eBay to make money.
If you are here because you want to find out what is the best thing to sell on ebay, there is something important you need to understand.
There is no one best product to sell on eBay, or even a best category to sell on eBay.
This is true because finding a popular item on ebay that sells frequently is only one part of the equation. The goal isn’t just to get sales – it’s to get sales and profit from them.
So while we’re going to give you examples of popular eBay categories in terms of overall sales and even share products that we’ve sold successfully on eBay, we’ll also focus on how to recognize a good product to sell on eBay when you find one.
Before we dive in, if you find this post useful please consider joining our free Ecommerce Insider membership. We aim to help people realize the benefits of running a successful online retail business while avoiding things like unnecessary risk and over-investment.
If you are looking for actionable advice that you can put into practice today regardless of your current experience level, you may benefit from some of the resources we have available.
Learn more about the benefits of becoming an Ecommerce Insider here:
What are “good” items to sell on Ebay?
You can sell almost anything on ebay. Before you get committed to any one item or category, remember that there are multiple factors that make an item “good to sell on ebay”.
Here are the top six things to consider when evaluating a product to see if it is a good item to sell on eBay:
- Is there demand for the item? Does it sell?
- How much competition is there?
- What price does it sell for?
- How heavy is it? (AKA How much will it cost to ship?)
- Is the item prone to scams, dissatisfaction, or returns?
- How much will it cost you to buy?
I want to highlight the last item on the list because it is rarely discussed when the topic of ‘what to sell on ebay’ comes up.
The perfect item to sell on Ebay is an item in high demand with limited competition that regularly sells for hundreds of dollars but costs less than $20 to buy – but good luck finding a product that perfect with any regularity.
That’s why the last point is so important. 90%+ of the time, a “good” item to sell on ebay is one that you can purchase cheaply because of the unique situation or market you find yourself in.
Best Selling Categories on Ebay
These are 12 of the most popular categories and subcategories on Ebay:
- Consumer electronics
- Health and Beauty
- Home and Garden
- Computers and Tablets
- Clothing, Shoes & Accessories
- Sporting goods
- Jewelry & Watches
- Pet Supplies
The main takeaway from this list is that almost anything can be sold on Ebay.
Within each top-level category are many subcategories, and within those are individual products. Some of the products in popular categories will sell very well, some will sell rarely or never.
Don’t get too married to a category unless you are an expert in a certain type of product and therefore better than most at identifying deals.
New vs Used
You can sell both new and used items on Ebay.
In our business, we use Ebay primarily for items that could not be considered new, undamaged, AND in it’s original packaging.
This is not because brand new items don’t sell on Ebay, it’s because we’ve found that we get a better return for our time by selling brand new things on Amazon – especially when factoring in the benefits of using FBA.
How to Find Good Products to Sell on Ebay
There are four main sourcing techniques that you can use to find products to sell:
- Private Label
These four sourcing methods are not unique to eBay, they are the core steps on our Stairway to 7 Figures method for building a successful online retail business.
The most common models sellers use to find items for eBay, in particular, are flipping and arbitrage, though any of the four could work. If you are new to selling online, you’ll want to start with flipping and arbitrage anyway.
Flipping and arbitrage are very similar. Flipping is buying and selling individual used items. Retail arbitrage is doing the same thing with new items from your local brick and mortar stores. Online arbitrage is buying things from other sites online to sell them on Ebay (or wherever you can get the most profit).
The most popular route for new sellers to take is to start sourcing with flipping and retail arbitrage, selling the new items they find on Amazon via FBA and everything else on Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, and Craigslist.
The wholesale model involves working directly with manufacturers and distributors. We recommend waiting until you have more experience and money to invest before trying wholesale.
Private label is “designing” your own brand and product and having it manufactured. This is the riskiest sourcing strategy due to the market knowledge needed to be successful. While many tools and courses promise to make private label easy, we’ve found your odds of success are significantly higher if you start with flipping and arbitrage and earn your way to these more complex strategies.
Where to Look for Products to Sell on Ebay
If you plan to try flipping used items on Ebay, some places to look for products to sell include:
- Your own house
- Thrift stores
- Garage and yard sales
- Estate sales
- Flea markets
- Facebook Marketplace
If you plan to try retail arbitrage, any brick and mortar store offers opportunities. These include:
- Sam’s Club
- Home Depot
- Big Lots
Keep in mind that when sourcing in stores, it’s worth considering selling on Amazon as well because you may get higher prices on new items you find and have less fulfillment work thanks to FBA.
The clearance aisles in these stores are often full of items that are new but in damaged packaging – these are perfect candidates for selling on Ebay.
How to Evaluate Items for Profitability
Earlier in this post I gave you a list of 6 factors to consider before buying a product. You may be wondering how to actually figure out how much you can expect to sell an item for and how often it sells though.
When evaluating a new item, we start with checking the stats on Amazon. The easiest way to do this is by scanning the item with the free Amazon Seller app.
To check an item’s potential profitability on Ebay, you’ll want to check the completed listings for that product.
Here is a full post on using eBay’s completed and sold listings if you don’t know how to use it. We show you how to use it on both desktop and mobile:
Don’t forget to factor in shipping costs and fees at this stage.
For calculating your shipping costs, I recommend using the eBay Shipping calculator. This is a free tool from eBay that will help you figure out your cost of shipping. You enter in the weight and dimensions of the package you will be sending and you can see a shipping cost estimate.
I recommend using a zip code that is far away from your location when using this tool so you estimate shipping costs conservatively. In my business we’re located in Minnesota, and we use a California zip code for estimating the costs.
Here is the link to shipping calculator: http://www.ebay.com/shp/Calculator
For the fees for selling on eBay, if you are listing less than 200 items per month then the main fee you should expect to pay is 12.35% of the sale price plus $0.30.
Certain categories will be charged a different fee structure, but the vast majority of items will be charged 12.35% + $0.30.
Examples of Products We’ve Sold Profitably On Ebay
The reality is that just about any item can make sense to sell on eBay if you get it at the right price. With that much opportunity it can be difficult to know what to look for, so in this section I’ll provide a few example sales we’ve made in the past.
Macklemore Thrift store jacket
One of my all-time favorite ebay flips was a fur jacket I bought from a thrift store.
This was at the peak of popularity for Macklemore’s Thrift Shop song, so I bought the fur jacket and sold it on ebay as a Macklemore costume.
I put it up as an auction, and it ended up selling for $112.50 – earning me a $75.96 profit in the process!
Red Bull Cola
One of my first successful retail arbitrage finds ever was Red Bull Cola at Big Lots.
I was able to buy these at $0.50 a can and sell them in 10 can lots on ebay for $24.99. For every 10 cans I sold, I earned ~$8 profit.
Note: I found these thanks to a lead I got from a blog I was reading. While it seems small looking back, it was a pretty big deal for me at the time because it showed me that it was possible to actually make money doing this stuff. I’m a big fan of leads because of the time it can save you and the confidence it can give new sellers. If you haven’t checked out our Arbitrage Finds list yet, you should do that now.
Other eBay Sales…
Amazon is where we do most of our selling, but we’ve sold a lot on eBay over the years.
For example, here is a post where I share details on selling Packers monopoly, hair curlers, ugly sweaters, regular sweaters, and special-edition Lay’s potato chips.
We haven’t documented much of our ebay activity in recent years, but that is something we could do more of if there is interest.
New? Try Selling Something You Already Own To Get Started Now
If you are reading this because you are new to selling online and considering whether or not it is worth your while, I have a simple task for you.
Stop browsing the internet right now and go list something that you already own on eBay.
Ideally you should pick something:
- Worth more than $20
- Small, lightweight, and easy to fit in a standard box
- In acceptable condition or better
- With recent sales in the price range you are looking to get
Bonus points if you list more than one thing.
If you have fun doing it, you can even sign up for our free flipping challenge.
Comment below to share your favorite sale on eBay or the first item you listed if you took on the challenge above!
If you have any questions, ask away!
One last thing – if you enjoyed this post and want more straightforward advice meant to help you build an online retail business without unnecessary risk and debt, don’t forget to consider joining our free eCommerce Insider membership if you haven’t done so already.