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Business Expertise and Advice for Makers - How to sell on eBay

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

The selling platform giant eBay might not sing 'handmade' or be your first choice for selling your lampshades, but as we take a closer look in this month's BEAM post, there's definitely potential to boost your brand, gain loyal customers and showcase your shades.

How big is eBay?

The simple answer is BIG! eBay is one of the biggest online selling platform in the UK, second to Amazon and has whopping 298 million visits per month.

As a global selling platform, the ubiquitous eBay logo is recognised widely around the world although listings are contained to the seller's country.

What percentage of products are handmade?

Having recently celebrated its 25th anniversary the platform has developed from being solely an auction site to over 80% of the items being sold listed as new, often with fixed ‘buy it now’ prices, although it is still notably a bargain hunters paradise, with plenty of collectors items, vintage finds and more unusual products.

There are no figures available for how much of the eBay market is handmade, but ‘home and garden’ is listed in the top selling categories, which can only be a good thing for lampshade makers.

What are the selling fees?

In November 2020 eBay announced a shake up to its selling fees meaning that eBay sellers reaped the benefit of a very small drop in the cost of fees. Any new registrations on the UK site from June 2021 will be subject to new fees.

Fees vary on the site dependent on which eBay shop you choose, so we’ve focused on being a ‘Private Seller’ which is based on a ‘pay as you go’ fees and selling via a ‘Basic eBay Shop’.

If you choose to be a ‘Private Seller’ you will pay two main types of fees - a listing fee (also known as an insertion fee) and a final value fee when your item sells.

Additional fees apply; 50p for Buy it now option; 35p for special duration, e.g. 1-3 day listings; 35p for listing in two categories

Basic eBay Shop (if eBay is not managing your payments)

Setting up and eBay shop could save you money, due to the number of FREE fixed price listings, which could be useful for lampshade retailers. Here’s the fees breakdown for a basic shop.

A Basic eBay Shop monthly subscription includes:

  • Free fixed price listings 250

  • Free 7-day auction-style listings 50

  • Additional fixed price listings 30p

  • Additional auction-style listings 15p

For more information check out our link to eBay here.

How easy is eBay to set up?

Setting up on eBay is relatively simple and the first thing to do is register a personal account. If you’re planning on this being your main selling platform choose your username carefully, although you can use your brand name if you go on to set up an eBay shop. eBay share this advice on naming your shop.

Once your personal account is set up simply opt to set up a store by going to My Account > Subscriptions.

When setting up your eBay shop adding the following to your store front will establish your brand:

  • A logo - size should be 300 x 300 pixels and 12MB or less

  • A billboard (the image across the top of your shop) - for best results, use an image that's 1200 x 270 pixels and smaller than 12MB.

  • Add a description of your eBay Shop

  • Setting up your featured listings

  • Managing your shop categories – this helps to create organised listings and displays, making your products easier to find

Changes to payment also came in with the change of fees and eBay no longer pays sellers via their Paypal account, but instead asks for bank details for payments to be made into. By choosing the ‘Managed payments’ method eBay will deduct the fees for each sales automatically, rather than invoicing for your total monthly fees.

What are the benefits of selling on eBay?

eBay sells everything and can be the first port of call for buyers wanting unique items. Although not as well-known as say, Etsy, as a handmade platform, a quick search showed there are quite a few handmade lampshade makers selling on eBay.

In terms of selling, as a private seller gaining brand awareness can be difficult, although the number of free listings is an attractive prospective, if you’re just getting started selling your own shades.

Setting up an eBay shop has a number of benefits including customising your brand, using the billboard and logo functions, managing your ‘storefront’ to list your items for much longer than with a ‘private seller’ account. Additionally a ‘Basic eBay Shop’ will give you access to a full access to tools to manage your listings and monitor your business performance.

Advertising – eBay promoted listings are available to all ‘Above standard ‘ and ‘Top Rated Sellers’ and will boost your listings, but you only pay when the item sells. Useful guidance and tools are available using eBay data to help you pick the right items for promotion.

Selling tools – as well as being able to access data and performance information on your sales and listings, you’ll be able to set up Seller listings templates, access marketing information and get advice for improving your listings, sourcing, pricing, and restocking.

What are the cons of selling on eBay?

Bargain hunters – as its original incarnation suggested, eBay is still home to a lot of bargain hunters and therefore could make your beautiful; handmade lampshade more of a hard sell.

eBay policies – as with selling on any platform your business has to operate under the platform’s policies whether they’d be the one you’d write yourself or not. This includes refunds, returns and customers service, so it’s worthwhile checking these out to make sure that they fit with your own expectations of trading.

Insider information

Feedback is important on eBay so as a seller making sure that you send the product in your specified time frame and give feedback about the buyer can help elevate you to an 'Above Standard' or 'Top Rated Seller', making your business more attractive to other customers.

Comparisons to other online sites

While eBay doesn’t have a reputation as a handmade selling space, there are still plenty of handmade goods for sale and as anything goes on eBay, this platform can work for professional lampshade makers, as the competition isn’t as fierce as on say, Etsy or Not on the Highstreet.

Useful Resources

This post on eBay shop design, although from 2018 is an interesting read.

Genie of the Lampshade

How do you find eBay as a selling platform for your lampshades?

I have been selling lampshades on eBay for 6 years now and would say that the experience has been on the whole very good. eBay offers sellers the ability to grow a business regardless of size, background or geographic location. Having access to their wide audience helped my business grow at a rate which I doubt I would have achieved with any other platform.

It was easy to set up an eBay shop as it is a user-friendly site and once I had worked out the wording for my first listing I was then able to use the ‘Sell similar item’ function to add other listings which saves a tremendous amount of time.

Whilst eBay is a great place to sell it is not without its challenges: Market research shows that eBay perform badly on customer service and I have experienced this first hand.

eBay has a reputation for buyers wanting ‘cheap’ items and therefore attracts some buyers who perhaps don’t appreciate the time and energy that goes into making a handmade item, and because there isn’t much opportunity to develop and nurture a relationship with most customers this can create issues. Fortunately due to my established reputation and feedback I do now tend to attract more discerning customers and ones who will engage directly with me at the outset for bespoke products and these are the customers who tend to come back time and again.

Perhaps the biggest issue I have faced with eBay is in relation to the Returns policy; Whilst we like to think of our items as ‘Handmade to order’ with distance selling regulations it is not quite that straightforward and all buyers are entitled to return items for any reason within 30 days. Whilst other platforms champion ‘Handmade’ eBay sell just about everything and they don’t differentiate. Basically they have made it easy for buyers to return anything and because of their Money back guarantee they will always support the buyer if they wish to return an item…consequently I do encounter some buyers who frustratingly waste my time.

On balance, like all aspects of life you have to take the rough with the smooth. Once you accept the negative aspects you can see that the positives far outweigh them.

What are the benefits to you as a seller?

eBay is a household name and one of the biggest success stories of the internet, so sellers get good exposure and opportunities on a global scale. If you work hard and consistently provide a good product and service eBay enables you to grow your business rapidly. eBay provides a platform brimming with traffic, there are currently over 27 million active buyers and eBay spend a great deal of money driving customers to their platform so that sellers can benefit. In no time at all I became a ‘Top-rated Seller’ where you receive enhanced visibility in eBay search results and exclusive seller protections.

Through eBay’s Global Shipping Programme you can easily send your products worldwide; they handle everything that makes selling abroad difficult, such as calculating shipping charges and completing customs forms…they do all of the work so you don’t have to. I have sent lampshades all over…Italy, France, Croatia, America, New Zealand and Australia to name but a few regular destinations.

With eBay you don’t need a website to sell online to a wide audience. If like me, you have no desire to set up and maintain your own website then having an eBay shop will provide the solution as you are automatically allocated a web address (Store URL) which you can add to your business cards as well as link to your Facebook/Instagram account.

eBay do provide a wealth of sales information on the seller dashboard so that you can monitor the progress of your business. They also provide facilities enabling you to promote certain products, have sales and you can now even offer buyers coupons to encourage repeat business.

What made you choose eBay over other platforms?

When I started my business just over 6 years ago I was selling lampshades in a local craft centre. My enthusiasm for making lampshades was such that I knew immediately that I needed another outlet and online was the obvious choice. I considered Etsy, however I already had an eBay account and a proven track record with positive feedback. I decided therefore that eBay would give me the best chance of hitting the ground running and the ability to successfully grow my business. It did help that I was reasonably familiar with the platform from my previous dealings and so I upgraded my personal account to a shop and once I’d completed the first listing the rest was quite straight forward.

‘eBay’s mission is to provide a global trading platform where practically anyone can trade practically anything’ and so I was aware that they would give me access to the widest audience.

Any tips for selling on eBay that could help other lampshade makers?

1. Show you are trustworthy - In my experience the most important aspect of selling successfully on eBay is good customer service and positive feedback. Buyers are more likely to trust a seller who has developed a good reputation on eBay’s feedback rating system.

2. Quite simply if buyers want to return your beautiful handmade lampshade for whatever reason, save yourself the frustration, don’t fight it - just do it! (Chances are you will soon sell it to someone else who will appreciate your hard work and talent).

3. ‘Snap it, list it, sell it’ - Photos are one of the most important parts of your listing, so spruce up your photography skills - Take several high quality photos of your products to boost your conversion rate.

  • Photos need good lighting. I prefer natural lighting and so take a lot of photos in my conservatory.

  • Capture as much detail as possible to help increase your chances of a successful sale.

  • Think about the background and setting. I like to think of it in terms of ‘selling a lifestyle’ that buyers aspire to.

4. eBay is competitive and price sensitive so it is important to understand your pricing. Whilst your price should be influenced by the market, don’t sell yourself short…you don’t want to be a busy fool! Find other ways of competing; I like to be a ‘trail blazer’… I look out for new fabrics and offer lampshades which aren’t already available and I keep an eye on interior design trends so that I can stay one step ahead of the competition.

5. Enjoy it! - Remember your work/home life balance and close your shop from time to time. This became particularly important during the recent lockdowns as demand for home accessories soared whilst people were spending so much time in their homes. When I reopen my shop after a short break I am refreshed, restored and reinvigorated….and once again all is well in the world 😉🧞‍♀️.


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