Best Things To Sell On eBay In 2021
Estimated reading time: 13 minutes.
Any Tom, Dick or Sally can sell almost anything on eBay.
With 1.3 billion listings on the platform alone, competition is fierce, and knowing the best things to sell on eBay to make money has become an art in itself.
To be a successful eBay seller in 2021, you should have a handle on where eBay has been, where it’s going, and how this translates to buyer behavior.
Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions about how you will stand out from the significant crowd this year, and reach your selling goals.
To help you in your mission, in this article we look at:
Table of Contents
eBay Selling Stats at a Glance
Take a look at some stats from 2019-20 to get a feel for what eBay sellers are facing this year, and how you can incorporate this into your selling strategy.
- There are 182 million eBay users worldwide.
- Over 70% of eBay traffic comes from the US market.
- Around 66 million people use the eBay app every month in the US.
- Electronics and Accessories is a consistently high-performing product category on eBay.
- 71% of eBay purchases are shipped for free.
- 80% of goods sold on eBay are new, however used items do tend to perform better than new.
With those in mind, let’s explore some actionable tips for how to choose what you sell on eBay.
How to Choose the Best Things to Sell on eBay
Knowing where to start when choosing what to sell on eBay for profit can be overwhelming. With almost no parameters other than eBay’s restricted or prohibited products, you need to set some for yourself.
We will go into more specific product examples, but by using the below, you can evolve your strategy as you go and ground any decisions in some solid, basic foundations first.
These will be particularly helpful if you operate a dropshipping model, and need to keep strict about profit margins.
Product characteristics to selling criteria
Use the below areas to figure out what your selling criteria will be. Setting these parameters for yourself will give you a starting point in finding your products.
- Price: Be strategic about your pricing and do this calculation ahead of buying any inventory. Fortunately, eBay has a recommended pricing tool, which is a good place to start, as are similar listings for an idea. Decide on your sweet spot for a price range and try to stick to it. Click here for more on strategic pricing on eBay.
- Weight: As it directly affects your shipping costs and as a result, your profit margins, calculating the impact of the weight of your items ahead of time is crucial. Heavy items cost more, and if they are returned, this will also come out of your pocket.
- Niche: Finding your niche on eBay is no simple task. Entering a competitive niche market (like flat screens or cameras, for example) where you rival experienced, high-volume and low price-point sellers can be risky. Spend time researching and ensure you pick something with a competitive edge. Check out this article for help finding your high-profit eBay niche.
- Your expertise: The benefits of being an expert on your product are obvious. You go from peddling wares to an authority on the item, able to add extra value to your customers in a variety of ways. eBay has also called upon its expert sellers in the past for input into its catalogs, strategies and policies, giving these sellers some influence.
- Simplicity: This is particularly important if you are new to eBay - choose simple products. Easy to assemble or use products are less likely to be returned or earn complaints, which eat up both your profit margins and your time.
Tools to help advise you
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of resources out there to help you in your quest to find the best things to sell on eBay right now:
- eBay’s Best Selling Items page: This is the best place to start. Here you will see what is performing well under each category straight from eBay itself.
- eBay’s homepage: It couldn’t be easier. eBay’s homepage gives you the top performing product categories, brands and daily deals - so keeping an eye on your competitors is easier than ever.
- eBay’s What to Sell page: This is a good starting point for sellers, and links you to the tool Terapeak for market research, trends and stats.
- Google Trends: Google Trends is not specific to eBay, but it’s useful to see the search behavior of Google users across the world. You can see search trends, top searches across the years, and even eBay searches by US state.
Putting your best-selling foot forward goes beyond what the top-performing products are. You need to ensure you have optimized other areas of your eBay business, too.
Best Things to Sell on eBay for Profit in 2021
In order to stay on top of the best selling products on eBay, sellers need to keep researching.
The list below is based on trending items that tend to do well, and judging by what’s forecast to be popular in 2021, should continue to be in demand.
This list is not exhaustive, and by no means a given. Use it to get a head start and figure out what resources you can use to ensure you have the most relevant and up-to-date information.
eBay’s best-selling items from the last 6 months
In the latter half of 2020, these items were some of the top-performing on eBay:
- Auto parts
- Tuning products
- Herbal supplements
eBay’s best-selling items in general
The product types below have historically been some of the best-selling on eBay:
- Cell phone accessories
- Video games and gaming accessories
- Vitamins and supplements
- Cameras, parts and accessories
- Vehicle parts and accessories
- Books and magazines
- Business and office equipment (particularly now with the effects of COVID-19)
- Sporting goods and accessories
eBay’s best sellers vs. best converters
It’s also worth looking into conversion rates by category. There’s a difference between the best things to sell on eBay, and top-sellers.
According to a huge data analysis by Crazy Lister on eBay last year, these categories were the top-performing in terms of conversions:
Why is this useful?
Top-selling products are likely coming from highly competitive categories. For that reason, the market will be crowded and you might be left with surplus stock. Look at the Mobile Phone Cases & Covers category, one which tends to do well on eBay, with over 7 million units unsold in the UK.
The findings in this report indicate that categories which have both high selling and high sell-through rates are not yet saturated, and as a result, may be better for new sellers to explore.
New vs. used products
The same analysis found that used products tend to have high sell-through rates on eBay, which is not surprising, as the platform has a reputation for being a second-hand goldmine.
Also notice how different the markets are by location. This may advise your growth strategy if you are interested in selling outside of the US where used products may in fact be more popular than new.
Where to Get Products to Sell on eBay
Once you have an idea of what you’d like to sell on eBay, your next job is to look for a supplier. Of course, if you sell second-hand items, your supplier could be you!
If you have plans to scale your business, you will need to think through how your supply chain will be affected. If you intend on purchasing each item yourself, bear in mind the huge resources this will take to sustain long-term.
Ideas for where to buy things to sell on eBay:
- Dropship suppliers: This is a popular ecommerce method. Dropshipping involves selling items which are stored and packed by a partner company. You can sell without handling inventory at all. Just be careful to avoid dropshipping arbitrage, which eBay has recently cracked down on.
- Competitor retailers: Simple: see what’s out there that you think you can sell for more. Look out for deals, markdowns and sale items.
- From eBay itself: It’s not rocket science. eBay is a treasure trove of hidden gems, so do a little digging and see what you might be able to sell on for more. You could sell items for parts or on other sites that could fetch more.
- Thrift stores and flea markets: Keen on the pre-loved approach? It’s what eBay is known for. Try your local stores and markets for hidden treasures.
- In partnership with small, local businesses: Most places will have small local businesses that are one-off and perhaps family run. They will likely have websites already but may not have explored ecommerce - why not discuss partnering to run an eBay store for them?
- Neighborhood consignment: Selling on another’s behalf. You could make a business out of selling unwanted items around the homes of your neighbours - they get a clear out, and you get free stock!
- Upcycling discarded goods: These could be from your own home or others; if you have a skill or fancy a new one, why don’t you get crafty and upgrade unwanted items?
- The latest limited editions: If you’re prepared to camp out to get the newest version of something which is in hot demand and short supply, it could make you a pretty penny. This is particularly true of electronics and games.
- Craigslist and classifieds: You might find numerous free items on a first-come first-served basis through these, and if you can get it quick and have your own transport, it might be a good money spinner.
- Pawn shops: Another treasure trove of second-hand goodies. If you have the time, patience and negotiating skills, pawn shops could be a worthy resource for you.
What Not to Sell on eBay
Just as important as the best things to buy and sell on eBay is what NOT to sell. Aside from eBay’s prohibited or restricted items, there are certain types of products which beginner sellers should stay away from.
Here we’ll tell you what these are, and why you should be avoiding them - at least for a while.
Worst items to sell on eBay for beginners
Some items are more complicated to sell on eBay than others and as a result, carry more risk.
If you have all your eggs in the eBay basket and that basket falls, you might struggle to pick up the pieces. For that reason, if you’re just starting out, it might be best to avoid these types of items, at least until you’re a seasoned pro with an in-depth understanding of best practice.
- Designer products: Easy to knock off, these are a hot-bed for brand infringement, something that eBay will not tolerate. See eBay’s counterfeit product policy here.
- Jewelry: Featuring on most of the “what not to sell on eBay” lists you’ll find online, the not-so delicate world of jewelry is a particularly dicey one for ecommerce sellers. To reduce risk you need to get any pieces appraised and shipping insured at a minimum, with no guarantee that items will arrive or customers will be satisfied. We’re talking about silver, gold and diamonds, not costume or hand-made pieces at lower price-points. See eBay’s jewelry policy here.
- Autographs and collectibles: Another easily-fabricated item category, the key challenges in selling these for beginners include getting the right authentication and knowing how much to sell them for. Pros will take advantage of sellers that have set prices too low, swiping these from you and making a huge profit. Unless you are already an expert, it might be better to steer clear. See eBay’s recommendations for authentication services.
- Smartphones: Phones are easy to dissect, dress up and resell. Most people don’t know what the inner workings of a genuine iPhone look like compared to a cheap knock-off. Ordering a phone from an inexperienced seller, buyers can strip the phone for parts, claim the item is not working and they may be protected by eBay’s return policy. The seller is out of pocket, and the buyer has parts to sell on. eBay’s guide on selling cell phones.
- Electronics: Typically, electronic products sell well on eBay, but like with smartphones, you need to be aware of the risks. Buyers and sellers alike can replace parts with non-genuine alternatives and sell these on to make a profit. Determined to sell electronics? Consider finding your niche, have some knowledge of the parts and what genuine products look like, and make sure that any items you sell are not prohibited. See eBay’s electronic equipment policy.
Restricted and prohibited items on eBay
In order to protect both buyers and sellers on the platform, eBay restricts or prohibits the trading of certain products. These might be hazardous, illegal or exploitative.
If you are thinking of selling products that are restricted, make sure you get as much information beforehand as possible to avoid any disciplinary action by eBay. Remember, anyone can report a listing they think is breaking the rules, so don’t wait for eBay to discover you.
Click on an item link to see eBay’s policy:
- Adult items
- Animals and wildlife products
- Selling art
- Artifacts, cultural heritage, and grave-related items
- Autographed items
- Catalytic converter and test pipes
- Used clothing
- Credit and debit cards
- Digitally delivered goods
- Drugs and drug paraphernalia
- Electrical and electronic equipment
- Embargoed goods and prohibited countries
- Encouraging illegal activity
- Firearms,weapons and knives
- Gift cards
- Government, transit, and shipping-related items
- Government documents, IDs and licences
- Hazardous, restricted, or regulated materials
- Human remains and body parts
- Lock picking devices
- Chance listings
- Mailing lists and personal information
- Managed payments restricted items
- Medical devices
- Personal relationships and services
- Police-related items
- Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
- Real estate
- Product safety
- Event tickets
- Slot machines
- Stamps, currency and coins
- Stocks and other securities
- Stolen property
- Used cosmetics
Whatever You Sell, Don’t Lose Track
You can only grow your business if you have a handle over your financials. Without A2X, as an eBay seller, you will need to interpret the following information from your eBay deposits manually:
- Which fees eBay took from you.
- How much you paid in fees.
- The costs of your goods sold.
- How much you paid in shipping.
- Whether you collected sales tax, and how much.
- Whether you received any reimbursements, and how much.
- How much you actually collected or spent from one month to the next.
…and the list goes on.
Why do this yourself when you don’t have to?
Find out how A2X for eBay can save you time, money and headaches below and start your own free trial today!
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