How to Get Started with eBay Dropshipping
eBay dropshipping remains such a lucrative business model even more so with the recent events that took the world by storm. In fact, if you’re looking to make that big move into e-commerce, there might not be an easier way.
eBay is a pioneer of ecommerce marketplaces and ever since it was launched in 1995 remained one of the market leaders, amassing over 180 million active users in 2020. Unsurprisingly, with such a vast customer base, eBay attracted sellers from all over the world, including dropshippers.
Consider the following facts about dropshipping on eBay:
- The cost to get started is low where one can do a strong launch at less than $300. Some even went into the eBay dropshipping business with no money
- It is relatively risk-free primarily because you don’t necessarily have to have inventory on hand especially if you have done your research and built solid relationships with suppliers.
- Save lots of money on marketing. While you can certainly do some supplementary marketing, being on the eBay platform alone gives you access to a massive number of potential buyers.
- There are tons of resources online to guide you through starting up all the way to eBay dropshipping growth. And because of this,
- When something might not be working or isn’t growing the way you want, you are never left hanging and it is simple enough to adjust your strategy.
- Over the long term, there’s immense potential to scale and make this a steady source of income. Although we suggest starting small, there’s virtually no limit to the number of products you can dropship on eBay.
So how does one get started? What things should you consider when picking products to dropship? How do you find a supplier? We tackle these and more in this article so read on.
Before anything else, here are some frequently asked questions (and answers) about dropshipping on eBay:
Q: What is dropshipping?
A: You probably already know. But just to review: Dropshipping is a mode of sales fulfillment where you, the store owner, don’t actually have to have the physical inventory. When customers purchase products, they get sent to them directly from your supplier. This rids you of the burden of product and manufacturing costs as well as a big part of operational overhead.
Q: Is dropshipping dead?
A: Not at all, it simply has become very competitive because even simple 9 to 5 folk have seen its life-changing value. The person armed with the best insights, implementing the best strategies, wins! This is particularly the case when dropshipping on eBay and Amazon.
Q: Why dropship on eBay?
A: Dropshipping on eBay allows you to cut a lot of the guesswork out. You’re on a well-established platform with existing traffic, and massive user base, and quite the lock on SEO.
Is dropshipping allowed on the eBay platform?
In short, yes it is. As long as you're able to guarantee “ safe delivery of the item within the time frame stated in your listing .” However, it is important that you know all of the relevant eBay policies when it comes to dropshipping.
Whilst dropshipping on eBay isn’t banned per se, it is however, restricted. Dropshipping on eBay is permitted, provided that you use wholesale suppliers to fulfil your orders. This means that you need to purchase items in bulk in order to comply with eBay’s dropshipping policies.
For instance, if you were planning to use ecommerce retailers, such as Amazon or AliExpress to fulfil your orders, then you’d be going directly against eBay’s dropshipping policy, as “buying products from other retailers or marketplaces and then shipping directly to your customer is not allowed on eBay .”
This means that a traditional model of dropshipping, where you purchase single items on AliExpress and re-sell them for a mark-up, on an order-by-order basis won’t work on eBay. eBay is very strict when it comes to their dropshipping policy, going as far as removing listings and lowering ratings of those sellers who fail to comply with this policy.
Amazon to eBay dropshipping
Dropshipping from Amazon to eBay used to be the bread and butter of many dropshippers. There was even specifically designed arbitrage software for that purpose, such as PriceYak, which made it really easy for eBay sellers to dropship items from Amazon.
However, that didn’t last very long, as eventually eBay customers started to realize that they were being overcharged. A common scenario would emerge where customers would order an item from eBay, only to later receive that same item wrapped in Amazon packaging . This naturally hurt the eBay brand, which led them to tighten their policy on dropshipping.
Now that you know all of the intricacies of eBay dropshipping, it’s time to get started! Here are some vital steps to take to get started with eBay dropshipping. (Read through till the end for some bonus startup tools you might find useful.)
Kick things off with the bare minimum and then scale from there
As with any new venture, a good rule of thumb would be to start simple so you don’t get overwhelmed with all the moving parts of the operations. Plus, starting with as little variables as possible gives you a proper perspective into what you might actually need moving forward instead of wasting time in the beginning and realizing half of what you’ve implemented, you don’t actually need.
No need to pack your things up and move to a new city. In fact, you’ll want to keep your day job at least until you’re making significant revenue from dropshipping alone.
You don’t need a new machine with all the latest technology. You get to use your existing laptop and work off your kitchen table or at a coffee shop.
As for what you actually need to get started, there’s really not much to it other than these three components:
1. An eBay Seller account
- Dispense of the upsells, you don’t need them at this point
- You’ll need additional tools later on, but not right now
- Here’s how to register for an account on eBay and how to start dropshipping on the platform
2. Products to list
- You’ll want to start with only one or two products so you can easily be on top of inventory management and can optimize and re-optimize your listings according to initial data
3. Supplier(s) to fulfill your sales
Long story short, keep things simple in the beginning. If you get this first phase right, eBay’s algorithm makes it quite straightforward to grow.
Select the best products to sell
You have a virtually endless number of options here that you don’t have to start from scratch. For instance, with SaleSource you can find virtually millions of winning products in every imaginable category. Check out these tips on how to find dropshipping products to sell on eBay.
1. What you care about, what you understand
This is perhaps the best place to start. Grab a piece of paper and start jotting down what you’re passionate about, what you’re interested in. These are things you might be able to sell quite well because you understand them.
2. Your target market
Who you’re selling to is just as important as what you’re selling. If you took the first tip above to heart, then half the battle is won. All you have to do now is grab as much information about your targets as possible--what are their demographics, what makes them click on stuff online, where they’re at, etc.
3. Products that sell well
- Check out categories with products that sell well . Are these selling like pancakes because of a trend? Or are these the type that sells well now and will continue to sell well in the future?
- These don’t have to sell to every living human. Find products that might be of interest to smaller communities or target segments but have considerable potential for repeat sales over time.
- Check out other platforms and see which items have lots of “sold”.
4. Find holes and fill them
This particular tip will pull you far from the highest selling items on eBay where there’s too much competition and might even be saturated. And it takes you much closer to customers who will see you as their go-to store.
5. Consider high ticket and/or high profit margin items.
High ticket items mean higher profit margins and given the fees involved in dropshipping in general and selling on eBay specifically, you’ll earn more this way over the long haul.
6. Mix it up with fast turnaround items
Populating your product line with a mix of high ticket items and products that sell quickly despite low margins is a good strategy, too. Apart from the obvious positive consequence this brings to cashflow, this allows for more transactions and reviews which the eBay algorithm loves.
7. Branded vs unbranded? Go for unbranded.
No need to compete with big brand names or eBay dropshipping sellers who focus on selling branded items. Selling unbranded but otherwise quality items, you a piece of the pie while providing additional value, i.e. lower price, to your customers.
8. Focus on wants and not needs
The top-performing dropshipping niches, among others, are power tools, tech supplies, lifestyle products, and beauty supplies. Look for wants and figure out a way to bring them closer to your target customers.
Find reliable dropshipping suppliers
You now have a firm understanding of what products or product categories to sell. Now you need to know where to source these products. You want to build a very strong, mutually beneficial relationship with your suppliers. But where do you start and how do you find them?
1. Reliability is the name of the game
- a. Reliable inventory
- Good to excellent products - allows you to compete at a high level
- Regularly refreshed - this means you rarely have to worry about manually adjusting the availability of the products you have listed
- b. Reliable shipping
- c. Reliable communication
2. The best place to start is still Google
- a. Just type in your product name or product category and add “dropshipper” or “dropshipping supplier”
- b. Be sure to get information from several suppliers so you can filter which ones are legit, professional, reliable
3. Dropshipping Supplier Directories
- a. All in one place--here’s a list of 12 directories from SaleHoo
4. Get in touch with them and grab as much information as possible
- a. What are their fees?
- b. What’s their inventory like?
- c. Do they have case studies you can read?
- d. Are their sales reps knowledgeable?
- e. What kind of shipping options do they offer?
- f. What kind of communication and support can you expect once you’re in a business relationship with them?
For more info, check out our in-depth guide on how to find AliExpress suppliers .
Start listing your products on eBay
Great, so at this point in the whole process of getting started with eBay dropshipping, you have your products down and have a system on how to source them. It’s time to get them listed on eBay.
If you went with the suggestion to keep the initial line to just one or two products, then this shouldn’t be a big task. But we propose spending as much time as necessary to ensure that your listings are optimized fully right from the get-go.
Here’s a list to give you an idea of what we mean:
- Choose three to five keywords and use them strategically in your product listing.
- But do not keywords-stuff. Use keywords naturally, enough to tell search engines what your listing is about but also just enough so readability doesn’t suffer.
- If your product comes with an ISBN or UPC, include them in your listing right alongside your product name.
- Include a section about shipping and returns so your customers know what to expect
- Post as many professional-level pictures as you can. If you have pictures of people using or interacting with your products, use those. Be sure, too, that your images are mobile-friendly.
- You are optimizing mainly for your target market. Ask the right questions when brainstorming and make sure the answers to your questions are clearly incorporated into your eBay product listing.
- Social proof matters. Make sure to include testimonials and such in your listings. Potential customers trust what has already been proven elsewhere.
- Finally, optimization isn’t a one-time thing. Spend as much time as possible in the beginning, but keep refining your listing according to data. If you’re earning enough after some time, consider listing upgrades and feel free to engage with a professional listing expert for help.
Test out some selling/marketing tactics and strategies
We mentioned above that there are lots of available resources for you to grow as an eBay dropshipping business. Once you’re all set up and running, be sure not to drop the ball in growing your listings or store. Stay on top of your listings through frequent but straightforward monitoring. And implement sales and marketing strategies along the way.
- eBay-specific selling strategies
- These are mostly the ones that have got to do with your listing as discussed above. Play around with your description, your photos, etc, and see how your targets respond.
- Dropshipping-specific sales strategies
- Dropshipping, especially on eBay, because of its complexity, or to be honest even the simplicity of how you set it up, you can afford to do a lot more testing and experimenting.
- One example is to A/B test through multiple listings of the same product but using different suppliers with dissimilar fulfillment methods. See which one survives or gives you better sales and give that more attention.
- General selling strategies
- There are timeless sales strategies out there. Arming yourself with them and knowing when and how to use them in your product listings, store, and promotions can go a long way. Here are a few examples:
- Pitch so that they consider buying immediately - the last thing you want is for them to read through your listing, check out the same product under other sellers, and purchase elsewhere. Offer a time-sensitive discount or mention limited availability so at the very least they add the product to their cart before clicking out.
- Offer a money-back guarantee whenever possible. Remember that because you have focused on selling “wants,” they most likely won’t need this guarantee but having one in place and prominent in your listing might just be that extra nudge they need to actually purchase.
- Address sales objections right from the start. Do you know what concerns your targets might have about purchasing your products outright? Address these in your description using a positive tone to keep your prospects at ease.
- Are you in a position to give them something for free? Run a promo where if they purchase multiple products, they receive something additional. This along can set you apart from other sellers offering similar products.
- Also consider advanced level testing such as the Build, Measure, Learn Cycle .
Join dropshipping communities
Okay, so there’s a reason we left this towards the bottom of this guide. It’s easy to get swamped by all the well-meaning tips you might encounter when joining dropshipping communities online. It is very important to keep in mind that you have to get the basics down first so that your foundations are sound and only guided by fundamental principles in the beginning.
That said, nothing beats having support whenever you need it. Find these groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, and even Discord!
Is dropshipping on eBay for you?
eBay dropshipping is certainly not the most beginner-friendly form of dropshipping, because you’re required to purchase items in bulk. However, if you pick your niche right, it’s still a relatively low-cost way to build experience, test targets, trial products, and gather data for scaling later on.
And doing it on eBay minimizes most of the startup pains one might encounter elsewhere.
We hope this article helped you in figuring out if eBay dropshipping is for you and how to get started. If we missed anything or you would like us to write about some specific concerns about dropshipping in general, please let us know.