eBay - too much competition, no profit?

37 replies
A friend and I were chatting about eBay the other day, after reading an article of someone making a lot of money on it.

Is eBay so competitive nowadays that there are virtually no margins left for profit?

Dave
#competition #ebay #profit
  • Profile picture of the author Danny McConnell
    ebay is like a microcosm of online marketing. There is money to be made if you find a niche and market to it well.

    I certainly buy enough stuff there.
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
    Originally Posted by DaveSmith2020 View Post

    Is eBay so competitive nowadays that there are virtually no margins left for profit?
    If that hypothesis were hypothetically true in a general sense, why wouldn't a vendor leverage through their strategic USP?

    It's subjective. It's up to every seller to gain their edge.
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    • Profile picture of the author nortong
      Originally Posted by Daniel Evans View Post

      If that hypothesis were hypothetically true in a general sense, why wouldn't a vendor leverage through their strategic USP?

      It's subjective. It's up to every seller to gain their edge.
      You answer presupposes an appreciation of verbose grammatical syntax unintelligible to the general populus!
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      • Profile picture of the author research
        Originally Posted by nortong View Post

        You answer presupposes an appreciation of verbose grammatical syntax unintelligible to the general populus!
        Well there you go . . .

        What about that then !!!
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  • Profile picture of the author LilBlackDress
    Originally Posted by DaveSmith2020 View Post

    A friend and I were chatting about eBay the other day, after reading an article of someone making a lot of money on it.

    Is eBay so competitive nowadays that there are virtually no margins left for profit?

    Dave
    It is much harder than it once was. Unless you have something really HOT then auction style doesn't work like it once did, because in many cases your item will not reach what it is worth.

    SO consider pricing at the price you want or close to it even if you are doing an auction.

    The "Best Offer" is usually a joke with people fishing with low ball offers.

    I have found that I often have to list things several times before they sell. I will often research items to see tons of them listed and only a few selling (always check Completed Listings for actual sales). Happily they are not charging me listing fees.

    Here is a good article on it. In the article the writer shares that eBay has millions of items listed daily but only a 40% sell rate!

    So You Want To Sell On Ebay? Secrets To Success Part 2 | eBay

    Yes you can make money on eBay but keep your options open by using other platforms like Craigslist and Amazon also.
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
      If the market is busy, it's because there's a market..
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  • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
    Starting with $40 last May I turned it into several thousand by the fall, part time. I never had to put in another dime. I got ALL my stuff from yard sales. I did it part time. After a month or so I began to keep detailed records (thinking I might turn the experience into an eBay guide). I really enjoy yard sailing so this was fun. I met LOTS of really nice people and made a bunch of friends and business contacts. I sold a LOT of exercise videos, video games and popular DVD movies as well as books and other stuff. But it was the videos and video games that made me the most money. Sometimes 20+ x investment. Nice.

    Several years back I got really sick. It took more than a year to get well. When I started to feel better I began selling stuff on eBay. I ended up grossing around $4K+ a month and became a power seller. Got all my stuff from yard sales and thrift shops. Was it easier back then? Yes and no. Some of the stuff that was hot 5-6 years ago isn't so hot now. That goes two ways though.

    One thing I don't like these days is that eBay has stopped allowing sellers to leave negative feedback for buyers. The answer to that is to carefully set parameters for who can buy your stuff before getting started. eBay is like any other business. Offer stuff people want and need at a price they're willing to pay and do it with great service.

    Here's a tip that helped me a lot. eBay is competitive so offer a little "added value" bonus with your stuff. It doesn't have to be much. For a while I offered lapel flag pins. I've also got a fun family CD with games and eBooks and other cool stuff. Nothing pirated. All PLR, MRR, giveaway rights. People love it. The write-up for this FREE BONUS CD is like 2500 words. I've had people email me to say they didn't want the primary item, just the bonus CD.

    All else being equal, a buyer will buy your stuff before anyone else's if they get something extra. 99% of my listings were auctions where the starting bid was $.99. I rarely got burned doing this because I didn't list an item unless I KNEW people were buying it.

    One thing that is a LOT better these days is the MANY seller tools eBay provides that they didn't in the past. Their fees are higher but I feel it's worth it to participate in one of the hottest markets in the world.
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  • Profile picture of the author kevin timothy
    Oh, no. There is DEFINATELY still room for
    profit on eBay. Several factors will determine
    your bottom line, but primarily your niche will.

    People just starting out on eBay go on there
    thinking that they can re-invent the wheel.
    My family has been running an eBay business
    since March of '08 and boy have we seen some
    rough days (early on).

    We've found that if you attempt to sell what
    people already want, you will make money.
    If you go on there trying to create a market
    you will catch hell.

    Become the go-to source for items that people
    are already searching for. There are extensive
    lists all over the internet that ranks the most
    popular purchases on eBay.

    eBay too will provide these lists periodically.

    Research - resarch - research!

    What we've learned also is that SEO matters - even on eBay!

    MANY eBay sellers neglect to properly name their
    listings. They also neglect to SEO the descriptions
    of their listings. Considering that eBay itself is
    a search engine, it's incredible how many sellers
    list items with 4-5 word listing headlines.

    This is COSTLY!

    Not only will the eBay community provide you with
    the traffic, but listings appear in the results of
    search engines. It's missed money going on here.

    Now while eBay's seller fees are arguably high,
    with a good pricing point profit is surely possible.
    ESPECIALLY if you have a great wholesale connection
    with great wholesale prices.

    Again there are many other factors, but don't
    re-invent the wheel and don't discount SEO...
    ...even when selling on eBay.
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  • Profile picture of the author tristatemedia
    i am sorry to be negative. i tried many things as well with no luck on ebay. people want everything for free. i even had a wholesale license where i was selling very popular anti wrinkle cream for half the price you get from the store....by the time feebay (many call it) took their fees and paypal. there was no profit.
    best way: used electronics,find, fix, and sell.
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    • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
      Originally Posted by tristatemedia View Post

      i am sorry to be negative. i tried many things as well with no luck on ebay. people want everything for free. i even had a wholesale license where i was selling very popular anti wrinkle cream for half the price you get from the store....by the time feebay (many call it) took their fees and paypal. there was no profit.
      best way: used electronics,find, fix, and sell.
      There's always a profit to be made. While I don't argue people want stuff for free (especially shipping), it's all about experimenting and seeing what works.

      As for the fees, it's the cost of doing business. Ebay brings in massive traffic, and that's part of what you're paying for. Try setting up your own e-commerce site and see how much it costs. Compared to that, ebay's fees aren't too bad. I've always calculated the fees into the price of my items, so the customer is really paying them for me.
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  • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
    There is still a lot of room for profit on ebay! I'm a small time seller and I still make good money. I started off selling junk around the house and then started buying stuff at second hand stores.

    There's a bit of a learning curve when it comes to finding what sells well. But you'd be surprised at what people are buying and how much they're willing to pay. Go check out the Seller Central forum on ebay and you'll find a gold mine of information there from sellers who have been with ebay since the beginning. They won't tell you what to sell or what sells well, but they'll at least get you headed in the right direction and give you tips on selling better. Also, if you have problems, the forum is almost always more helpful than ebay customer service.

    Here's a few tips I've learned over the few years I've been selling on ebay:

    - If you offer free shipping (which really helps sales) build it into the price of your product.

    - Same with ebay/paypal fees. There are tons of online calculators that will help you figure out the best price for your product.

    - When starting out, never sell anything you can't afford to lose. This is a mantra I see over and over on the Seller forums. There are dishonest buyers out there who try to scam new sellers.

    - Keep enough money in your paypal account to handle returns, otherwise paypal will withdraw the funds from you connected bank account.

    - Make your listings as detailed as possible and use your own pictures. Buyers want to know exactly what they're getting. Plenty of sellers use stock photos, but many buyers (like myself) want to see the exact item that'll be shipped.

    - Set up a separate buying and selling account. This is done very easily and is highly recommended if you're going to be sourcing your products from ebay. Some sellers get mad if you buy from them, and then turn around and sell their item for a higher price. I never had a problem buying/selling on the same account, but I've heard stories from people who've had. It's probably not as important when you're starting out, though once your business takes off, consider doing this.

    - As soon as you get an order, ship it out as fast as possible. And always include a packing slip - not required but a good business practice. I write a handwritten note on my packing slips thanking the customer for their business. This is an effective way to get repeat business.

    Sorry my post is so long. But yes, ebay is still profitable and a great way to earn extra money on the side or start an ecommerce business. If you go to the ecommerce section of this forum, there's a user who specializes in selling on ebay (I can't remember his username).

    Good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author gregdavidson727
    Originally Posted by DaveSmith2020 View Post

    A friend and I were chatting about eBay the other day, after reading an article of someone making a lot of money on it.

    Is eBay so competitive nowadays that there are virtually no margins left for profit?

    Dave
    It depends on what you're selling. Ebay is still one of the busiest websites on the internet so don't overlook them.
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  • Profile picture of the author mpollak450
    Originally Posted by DaveSmith2020 View Post

    A friend and I were chatting about eBay the other day, after reading an article of someone making a lot of money on it.

    Is eBay so competitive nowadays that there are virtually no margins left for profit?

    Dave
    Absolutely not. See how to differentiate yourself and learn how things are changing and you can stay on top of it. There will always be the range of those who are great down to most who are not. Just learn how to be better than average and you'll make money with it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Lightlysalted
    Yep ebay is like any other online site, you need a clear strategy with a defined niche that you can work within.
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  • Profile picture of the author Sunnieone
    I agree the fees can be a killer as for the postage sometimes it costs more than the article itself. However,profit can still be made you just need the right gear to sell.
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  • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
    Guys there absolutely is still plenty of room for profit on eBay. I have the same experience as Travelinguy. Only, I got my items from Craigslist and second-hand stores.

    I have not quite had the same luck with the more traditional IM styles (yet).

    When I first got into IM (the traditional kind), I started with eBooks. One of the first books that I wrote was something called "How to Sell Things on EBay and Always Turn a Profit". It is a book designed to help people build an actual business, as it comes with several useful spreadsheets that I created.

    One spreadsheet is called "The EBay Profit Calculator" in which you input the price you paid for the item, your shipping cost, and any additional listing fees. From there, it outputs the exact amount of money that you need to receive from a buyer in order to turn a profit. So long as you follow the process exactly as I have laid out in the book, you can make a profit on every single item that you sell.

    The other spreadsheet is simply a means of keeping track of every item that you sold, and the profit you made from it. The "profit calculator" spreadsheet takes all costs into account (commission fees, shipping cost, cost of item, etc.). Therefore, when tracking the profits for each item, it's only the "final number" (the profit you made from the item) that you need to enter.

    It's very possible for anyone to make a part-time or even full-time living on eBay, and I sell the book from my website here.

    I personally would rather do affiliate marketing though rather than sell on eBay. Reason being, I just have no interest in "flipping items".
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  • Profile picture of the author ddavidlv
    Try giving more value to your item such as adding something else so you are unique and it will give you an enhanced value over the competitor.

    also
    remember wherever there is a market, there is always competition
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  • Profile picture of the author leisurexperience
    Please suggest me what should i sell on ebay.
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  • Profile picture of the author thefuture4321
    There is always a market never too saturated find the rght product and you'll have sales in no timee
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  • Profile picture of the author Bkelly301
    Not necessarily...you can sell anything on eBay. You don't need to "find a market" like you do with traditional IM. EBay is like a gigantic walmart that has millions of shoppers everyday. You can literally sell ANYTHING.

    You just need to buy low, sell high.

    EBay is literally my go-to business when I am absolutely in dire need of money. If I felt like spending 8 hours per day on it, I could easily make a reasonable full-time income ($3000+ per month).

    I've used it to make a consistent monthly income, but I found that I just didn't enjoy all of the tedious work that came along with it (taking pictures, uploading pictures, writing descriptions, packaging, shipping). Therefore I prefer pursuing the traditional IM stuff a lot more. However, selling on EBay literally is the easiest and fastest way to earn money online....at least that's my opinion.
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    • Profile picture of the author tallman
      For what its worth. I started selling on Ebay in mid-December.
      I was/am "feeling my way around in the dark", wasting quite a bit
      of time because of a lack of structured organization. Its probably why
      I am on this thread now. Just trying to grab as much info as I
      can digest.

      I feel I'm in a very competitive market but that's good. If I survive,
      I'll be better for it. If I don't, I feel I didn't want it bad enough or I
      wouldn't do what it takes to make it.

      In any event, I've sold 11 items in the 1st month, not having a clue.
      Like others mentioned above, I'm finding items in clearance racks, thrift stores,
      and garage/yard sales. I am very optimistic about my future with/in Ebay.
      Time will tell what the future brings.
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      • Profile picture of the author travlinguy
        Originally Posted by tallman View Post

        For what its worth. I started selling on Ebay in mid-December.
        I was/am "feeling my way around in the dark", wasting quite a bit
        of time because of a lack of structured organization. Its probably why
        I am on this thread now. Just trying to grab as much info as I
        can digest.

        I feel I'm in a very competitive market but that's good. If I survive,
        I'll be better for it. If I don't, I feel I didn't want it bad enough or I
        wouldn't do what it takes to make it.

        In any event, I've sold 11 items in the 1st month, not having a clue.
        Like others mentioned above, I'm finding items in clearance racks, thrift stores,
        and garage/yard sales. I am very optimistic about my future with/in Ebay.
        Time will tell what the future brings.
        I don't know where you live but try doing a seach for wholesalers near you. I was amazed when I did this. There were about a half dozen of them near me. I've found several very profitable items with one of them. And it was right under my nose all the time.
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      • Profile picture of the author BradVert2013
        Originally Posted by tallman View Post

        In any event, I've sold 11 items in the 1st month, not having a clue.
        Like others mentioned above, I'm finding items in clearance racks, thrift stores,
        and garage/yard sales. I am very optimistic about my future with/in Ebay.
        Time will tell what the future brings.
        Selling 11 items in a month for a new seller is fantastic! You're definitely on the right path. As time goes by you'll start getting a feel for what sells and what doesn't. You might even fall into a specific niche that you enjoy.

        I think the big thing is to have fun with it, especially in the beginning.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ripster
    It's not that eBay is too saturated, it depends on what you are trying to sell and how you price / display it.
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  • Profile picture of the author PerformanceMan
    Whatever item you plan on selling is already being sold by experienced and entrenched people who have larger budgets than you do.
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    • Profile picture of the author Chris Grable
      This is a great thread! eBay was how my wife and I got started in IM. Like travlinguy we picked yard sales and thrift stores long before American Pickers hit the History Channel. We were qualified trading assistants and did an awful lot of consignment sales. There is a lot of work out there in estate sales if you look for it. We once sold a bulldozer for a church.

      I am convinced that there is a market for almost anything on ebay. You just have to have the patience to "TEST". Testing proves... testing works!! You also have to manage your expectations.

      The other thing you have to do is just flat out ignore people who have nothing good to say. I go out of my way to insulate myself from folks who project negative vibes.... here in the forum and out there in real life.

      Now.... go make some money!!

      chris
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    • Profile picture of the author UnkwnUsr
      Originally Posted by PerformanceMan View Post

      Whatever item you plan on selling is already being sold by experienced and entrenched people who have larger budgets than you do.
      This is probably true for most items but it doesn't mean you can't succeed. There are plenty of buyers and more than just the top sellers make money.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve King
    eBay is not always about what you need to sell to make a profit

    It can also be used as a lead gereration tool, which can lead on to many more sales and bigger profits further down the line

    you may want to have your customers sign up to an email list, maybe add a flier into your package before you post it - offering them a discount or an incentive if they come back and buy again in the very near future ( a week is usuallly good)

    cheers
    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author AgoraOnline
    eBay is Okay but nowhere nearly as profitable as a website.

    Look it at this way. If you search for example, "Shoes" the buy it now listing on top of the 1st page on eBay makes the same amount of sales as a website on the bottom of the 1st page of Google.

    Here's where things gets interesting -- the bottom of the 1st page of Google gets around 2.2% of clicks for a searched keyword whereas the top listing on Google gets nearly 40% of clicks.

    If you use Google Keyword Planner and see that "Shoes" has 100k searches 40,000 of those searching for that keyword click on the first result.

    Typically, you sell 2-5% of clicks.
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  • Profile picture of the author GoogleHydra
    eBay has worked great for helping me liquidate my own warehouse (mostly) and I started doing the same for some of my business neighbors. Some stuff wouldn't move at all, like headphones. Started headphones at 50% what I paid as a reseller, then went to $4 ea, then $0.1 ea still can't sell them. But other stuff went great so it all depends on what you got to offer and if you can offer it at a perceived bargain.

    I always sell as BUY NOW and don't screw with internationals or regular auctions.
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  • Profile picture of the author popstocks
    Banned
    O.p don't bother. You'll be for-ever spinnig your wheels. The only edge there seems to be price.
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel J
    As many others have said, there is a LOT of opportunity on Ebay! I have several friends who make a full time living selling on Ebay alone! I also sell on Ebay, but I use it mainly to auction off my returns, non-selling products and closeout items from Amazon and my websites.

    Those who win on Ebay are usually focusing on used, refurbished or antique goods from closeouts, liquidations, yard sales, book sales, thrift stores etc. If you want to sell books, DVDs, CDs, video games or new consumer goods, I would suggest taking a look at Amazon.com. Both sites have some crossover of these items as well.

    There is definitely room in both marketplaces if you have a good strategy to find good products!
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  • Profile picture of the author ArayInc
    I never thought I'd add EBay to my business portfolio, thought it was wayyy too much trouble for what it was worth!!

    This changed my mind and might be what you're looking for:

    Watch here


    April
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    Never thought I would do this….thought it was a waste of time, heck, it’d be easier just to get a part time job!! THIS CHANGED EVERYTHING!!

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  • Profile picture of the author edragonbiz
    Originally Posted by DaveSmith2020 View Post

    A friend and I were chatting about eBay the other day, after reading an article of someone making a lot of money on it.

    Is eBay so competitive nowadays that there are virtually no margins left for profit?

    Dave
    You can always be profitable on ebay. You just have to know the rules of the game. Take drop shipping for instance, there are many people making good money with it on ebay. A golden rule: think ABUNDANCE! there's always enough for everybody
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    • Profile picture of the author scrunchie
      I've given up with Ebay.

      I've started selling on Ebid. Its a bit like Ebay used to be. There's different payment options and its slowly growing. It currently as just under 3.5 million listings on it (UK site). The fees are low.

      I think it will get more popular as more people get peed off with Ebay.
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  • Profile picture of the author ephicil
    There is always room for innovation/disruption in any market. the question is whether you are sharp/perceptive enough to figure out a way to make some money.
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