5 mins

Fees for Selling on eBay – What You Need to Know

Chris Grundy
Aug 10, 2018

eBay has evolved at breakneck speed since its first incarnation as AuctionWeb back in 1995. Part of eBay’s evolution has been its fee structure, which has a negative impact on some eBay sellers, and have left many unhappy with the fees for selling on eBay.

eBay was initially a side project for its founder Pierre Omidyar, and users were able to use the site free of charge. The first fees were introduced when Omidyar saw a spike in traffic to his website, so much so that the monthly charge of $30 quickly escalated to $250 per month. As such, users were then charged to use the site.

Evidently, eBay is a business, and as such has to make charges to its users to sustain its existence. That’s not to say that the fees are always in the seller’s favor.

The Negative Side of Fees for Selling on eBay

In the days of old, eBay was something of a novelty, an online marketplace where one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. However, many saw an opportunity to build an online business without the hassle of having to set up an e-commerce store, promote the store via search engine optimization and having to collect a plethora of addresses.

As eBay became more widespread, so did the competition, and there were those on eBay who weren’t as ethical as other sellers within the marketplace. In a bid to avoid paying any fees for selling on eBay whatsoever, some sellers would list items for a penny, but then tag on a ridiculous postage fee.

In an effort to avoid this, eBay introduced a flat fee for ‘Buy It Now’ listings. Sellers would originally pay a percentage of what the item was worth. It could be argued that the fee was minimal. For example, sellers in the UK would be charged 50p to add the ‘Buy It Now’ feature to their listings. But the impact of such fees for selling on eBay would depend on what goods the seller had to offer.

Those who were selling items that retailed over £24.99 probably noticed no change in the cost of their listings, it would be the sellers of smaller items who would bear the brunt of the flat fee, especially those who sell items at budget prices, such as USB leads and batteries.

The simple answer would be to include the price increase in the retail cost of the goods being sold, but this is easier said than done. Due to the popularity of eBay, sellers would have to have some pretty unique products not to have any competition.

As such, adding the difference to their goods for sale could mean that even fewer sales are made. With this in mind, be sure to check out our guide to the most profitable items to sell on eBay, to make sure you maximise revenues.

Fee Changes Can Make Sellers Feel Neglected

There has been a vast number of horror stories in relation to unscrupulous sellers, and as expected, eBay is keen to change for the better. If a seller use eBay as their main source of income, then chances are they will be using a number of additional features to ensure that their listing looks professional and can be found easily by potential customers.

But of course these features cost, so there’s not only the insertion fee to consider when considering the wide array of fees for selling on eBay . The more vibrant and search-friendly you make a listing, the more it will cost. And to be clear, this isn’t necessarily a fault on eBay’s side, the extras are not forced upon sellers and it is completely their choice as to whether they are used or not. Sometimes eBay templates can help however.

On the other hand a seller could argue that their business can’t survive without these features being added, so in their eyes, they are a necessity for them to maintain a livelihood.

Refunds Can Also Affect Fees

When running a business that deals with products being sent out via mail, there is going to come a time when a buyer asks for a refund. This could be due to a fault, or it could be due to a customer changing their mind. Either way, most sellers and buyers are able to sort this out amicably.

What can disgruntle an eBay seller is that eBay will have still taken its Final Value fee, and the seller still has to refund the full price of the item in question. A seller can claim for the fees back by opening a dispute, but this can be considered a long-winded process by some, especially whether there other factors of the business to consider.

This is far from an eBay horror story, in fact, if it wasn’t for eBay, many e-commerce businesses probably wouldn’t exist. But it is worth knowing the pitfalls that are associated with fees for selling on eBay.

It is also advisable to look at your business model and consider what the best approach is for your business. For example, running an eBay Store can save a seller more money, but they need to ensure that they have the sales conversions to meet the monthly fee.


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