How to sell on eBay

eBay is an American multinational eCommerce platform founded in 1995 by Pierre Omidyar.  The company is best known for its online auction marketplace where individuals and businesses can buy and sell a diverse range of products and services around the world. 

Account registration

Sellers must first register for an eBay account if they do not already have one. They must also have a verifiable address in any of the countries, regions, or territories eBay operates in.

To process the registration, eBay will need to verify the identity, bank account details, and any applicable business details of the seller.

Listing items for sale

Once verification is complete, the seller can list their first item for sale with an accurate description of the item and accompanying photos. It is important to list the item’s features and be honest about its condition. In other words, is it new, refurbished, used, or somewhere in between? Furthermore, does it come with documentation, tags, or accessory products?

The seller must also choose whether to sell the item as an auction listing with a reserve or a fixed price format. After which, the seller needs to clarify how the item will be posted and how they want to be paid. Return policies, if applicable, should also be detailed.

Sellers should also familiarise themselves with the list of prohibited or restricted items. These include (but are not limited to) adult items, alcohol, animal products, art, drugs and drug paraphernalia, event ticket resale, firearms, vouchers, and healthcare products.

Seller fees

Seller fees vary by country and sales volume. With that in mind, we will detail the seller fees for the United States platform below.

Insertion fees

Casual eBay sellers can list their items for free. But if they list more than 250 items per month, the company collects a $0.35 insertion fee per listing. 

Final value fees

Final values fees are charged only when the item sells and are calculated as a percentage of the total sale amount plus $0.30 per order.

Fees vary according to product category. Vinyl record sales, for example, incur a 12.55% fee while other categories include books and magazines (14.55%), coins, bullion, and paper money (12.35%), NFTs (5%), and musical instruments and related equipment (5.85%).

After the sale

Sellers can choose to send an invoice to the buyer after a sale has been made. However, many buyers will pay before the seller has had a chance to do so.

At this point, it is important to leave feedback on the experience of dealing with the buyer and encourage them to do likewise after they have received the product. Sellers can receive beneficial feedback by ensuring the item was delivered as described and in a timely fashion.

For disputes that cannot be resolved between the two parties, the seller can contact eBay directly for assistance.


Sellers who sell items frequently or in bulk can use eBay’s business tool which offers increased functionality such as postage discounts, subtitles, visitor counters, and buyer requirements.

They can also design their listings without needing to be proficient in HTML and can offer multiple products under one listing to a single buyer.

Key takeaways:

  • eBay sellers need to first register for an account if they do not already have one. They must also reside in an eBay-approved country, territory, or region and be able to verify their identity and bank account details.
  • Once verification is complete, the seller can list items for sale with a product description, photographs, and an accurate assessment of product condition, among other things. The seller must also choose between a fixed price and an auction with a reserve price.
  • Casual eBay sellers are charged an insertion fee if they list more than 250 items per month and a final value fee that depends on the product category. Like any marketplace, the seller needs to conduct themselves in a way that encourages positive feedback from the buyer.

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eBay Business Model

eBay’s core business is a platform business model that makes money from transaction fees through its marketplaces. In short, eBay primarily makes money by charging fees on successfully closed transactions. For instance, in 2021, on an $87 billion worth of gross merchandise value sold on eBay, the company generated $9.77 billion in transaction revenues at an 11.19% take rate (fee).

eBay Revenue

In 2022, eBay generated $9.79 billion, compared to $10.42 billion in 2021. A 6% decrease year-over-year.

Is eBay Profitable?

In 2022, eBay reported a net loss of $1.27 billion, compared to a net profit of $13.6 billion in 2021.

eBay Revenue Breakdown

In 2022, eBay generated $9.77 billion in transaction revenue and $650 million in marketing services revenue.

How Much Does eBay Take?

In 2021, eBay’s take rate was 11.19%. It means that eBay takes a cut of over 11% for each transaction happening through the platform. For instance, in 2021, on a total of over $87 billion in gross merchandise value on top of the platform, the company generated almost ten billion in transaction revenues.

eBay Bidding System

eBay bidding is a way for buyers to bid on a product whose sale price is decided by auction. The bidding process itself is automated, with eBay acting on the buyer’s behalf.

eBay Organizational Structure

eBay was until recently a multi-divisional (M-form) organization with semi-autonomous units grouped according to the services they provided. Today, eBay has a single division called Marketplace, which includes eBay and its international iterations.

Etsy vs. Ebay


eBay vs. Amazon

In 2021, Amazon generated almost $470 billion in revenue, vs. eBay’s over $10.4 billion. In comparison, looking at revenues, Amazon was 45x times larger than eBay.

Amazon Business Model

Amazon has a diversified business model. In 2022 Amazon posted over $514 billion in revenues, while it posted a net loss of over $2.7 billion. Online stores contributed almost 43% of Amazon revenues. The remaining was generated by Third-party Seller Services, and Physical Stores. While  Amazon AWS, Subscription Services, and Advertising revenues play a significant role within Amazon as fast-growing segments.

Amazon Revenue By Country

Amazon Revenue By Country
In 2022, most of Amazon’s revenue came from the US, with over $356 billion in revenue, followed by Germany with $33.6 billion, the UK with $30 billion, Japan with $24.4 billion, and the rest of the world generated almost $70 billion in net sales.

Amazon Cost Structure

Both the North American and International segment of Amazon are running at negative margins. Indeed, in 2022, for the North American segments, of almost $316 billion in revenue, Amazon spent almost $319 billion in operating costs to run it, thus it generated $2 billion in operating losses in 2022. For its International segment, of $118 billion in revenue, Amazon spent almost $126 billion to operate it. Thus, it reported a $7.7 billion operating loss. While for AWS, with $80 billion in revenue, Amazon spent $57 billion to operate it, thus generating almost $23 billion in operating income. The high operating costs are primarily due to the high cost of running Amazon’s inventory and fulfillment infrastructure behind its e-commerce operations. Indeed, Amazon is as much as a physical player as a digital one.

Is Amazon Profitable Without AWS?

Amazon was not profitable once AWS was removed in 2022. In fact, Amazon, without AWS generated $10.6 billion in operating losses. While Amazon, without AWS, generated $12.2. billion operating income.

Amazon Profit Breakdown

Amazon is subdivided into three operating profit segments: North America, International, and AWS. Amazon AWS is the most profitable segment, with almost $23 billion in operating profit in 2022. While Both the North American and International segments run at negative operating losses, with $2 billion and $7.74 billion in operating losses, respectively, in 2022.

Amazon Revenue Breakdown


Amazon Revenue Per Employee


Amazon Mission Statement

amazon-vision-statement-mission-statement (1)
Amazon’s mission statement is to “serve consumers through online and physical stores and focus on selection, price, and convenience.” Amazon’s vision statement is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.” 

Customer Obsession

In the Amazon Shareholders’ Letter for 2018, Jeff Bezos analyzed the Amazon business model, and it also focused on a few key lessons that Amazon as a company has learned over the years. These lessons are fundamental for any entrepreneur, of small or large organization to understand the pitfalls to avoid to run a successful company!

Amazon Revenues

Amazon has a business model with many moving parts. The e-commerce platform generated $220 billion in 2022, followed by third-party stores services which generated over $117 billion; Amazon AWS, which generated over $80 billion; Amazon advertising which generated almost $38 billion and Amazon Prime, which generated over $35 billion, and physical stores which generated almost $19 billion.

Amazon Cash Conversion


Working Backwards

The Amazon Working Backwards Method is a product development methodology that advocates building a product based on customer needs. The Amazon Working Backwards Method gained traction after notable Amazon employee Ian McAllister shared the company’s product development approach on Quora. McAllister noted that the method seeks “to work backwards from the customer, rather than starting with an idea for a product and trying to bolt customers onto it.”

Amazon Flywheel

The Amazon Flywheel or Amazon Virtuous Cycle is a strategy that leverages on customer experience to drive traffic to the platform and third-party sellers. That improves the selections of goods, and Amazon further improves its cost structure so it can decrease prices which spins the flywheel.

Jeff Bezos Day One

In the letter to shareholders in 2016, Jeff Bezos addressed a topic he had been thinking quite profoundly in the last decades as he led Amazon: Day 1. As Jeff Bezos put it “Day 2 is stasis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by excruciating, painful decline. Followed by death. And that is why it is always Day 1.”

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