Flipping on eBay: How To Make Money Reselling

Flipping on eBay is serious business.

There are an estimated 182 million eBay users who generated over $22 billion in sales in Q4 of 2019 alone (October-December).

eBay is far from just the collector’s marketplace nowadays: 80% of items sold on eBay are brand new.

You can make serious money selling on eBay, especially if you utilize the right tools to maximize profits.

You may be surprised what exactly you can sell…it includes pretty much anything.

Which can make getting started with flipping on eBay overwhelming.

So I’m going to teach you the three essential fundamentals to getting started:

  • Understanding eBay Fees
  • What you should sell
  • Finding items that are profitable

Understanding eBay Fees

If you don’t know what fees eBay charges, you will fail miserably flipping on eBay.

Harsh but true.

In fact, many sellers don’t even know all the fees they have to deal with when they first begin selling on eBay.

So pay attention because this next point is very important:

eBay DOES NOT automatically take fees out of your sales.

What does this mean?

When you begin selling on eBay, you’ll notice that when the money hits your PayPal account after a sale, PayPal automatically takes out its fees:

This item sold for $65.00.

PayPal subtracted its fee of $2.19 (for this item) and then deposited $62.81 into my account.

eBay DOES NOT do that.

Instead, eBay invoices you at the end of your monthly statement for all its fees.

You have to remember that this invoice is coming and you’ll be on the hook for paying all those fees.

In order to see what you owe, go to your eBay account and do the following:

1. Click “My eBay”

2. Click “Account”

3. Click “Seller Account”

4. Check your balance

Knowing these fees is the most important thing about flipping on eBay.

In order to decide whether or not to purchase an item to resell, you must take into account all of these fees in order to ensure you have the greatest chance to make a profit.

Otherwise, what’s the point in purchasing it?

After a while, you may be able to just do the math in your head (or at least a rough guesstimate).

If you want to be thorough, however, you can use this free eBay fees calculator.

Managed Payments

In 2020, eBay implemented a new “Managed Payments” feature.

Where as in the past, buyers essentially had to use PayPal to make payments, “Managed Payments” allow for the purchase of items with other forms of payment (credit, debit, and gift cards; Apple Pay; Google Pay; PayPal and PayPal Credit).

Currently, sellers have to apply for managed payments.

If accepted, you will use the “Managed Payments” section of the eBay Seller Hub within your account to see the same fees and payments you would normally see on PayPal.

Now let’s get into the specific eBay and PayPal fees you need to know:

Listing insertion: Every month, you get up to 50 zero insertion fee listings, or more if you have an eBay store.

That means that without a store, you can list up to 50 items a month free.

After 50, the standard listing fee after your free listings are up is $0.35 each.

As the diagram indicates, not only do you receive an increased amount of zero insertion fee listings depending which store you select, you also receive a discount on items above the free threshold.

Final value fees: The biggest fee you have to contend with as a reseller on eBay.

This is the “cut” that goes to eBay and is 10% for a majority of your items. 

Take note, sales tax is not included in this calculation but SHIPPING IS:

“Final value fees on shipping are based on the cost of the shipping service the buyer chooses. However, if you offer 1-day or international shipping as well as a cheaper or free option (like domestic shipping), the final value fee is calculated based on the cheapest domestic option you offer. If you only offer 1-day or international shipping but no cheaper option like domestic shipping, you’ll be charged a final value fee based on the service the buyer chooses.”

Shipping: Whether you offer “Free Shipping” or charge the buyer for shipping, you’re obviously going to have to pay to ship your items out.

Be particularly cautious of attempting to resell bulky or heavy items.

PayPal Payment Processing fees: 2.9% + $0.30 of the total selling price.

This fee is calculated before eBay fees. International transactions are 4.4% + $0.30.

Sales Tax: “If you sell to buyers in the US, some states may require you to collect applicable Internet 

Sales Tax on your transactions. As of January 1, 2020, a total of 38 states require the collection of sales tax. In such cases, eBay collects and remits Internet Sales Tax on your behalf.”

Promoted listings: This option “promotes” your listing and according to eBay increases visibility of your items.

ALWAYS promote your listings but don’t feel the need to pay for anything greater than 5% unless you’re in a particularly competitive niche.

I auto set all of my listings to 1%. If you promote, create written titles with the proper keywords, take good photographs, and have a quality item, you will have no problem getting views.

Sometimes based on how each item is doing, I will adjust it from 2-5%.

This fee will be charged to your account based on when the buyer clicks on your item and purchases (within 30 days).

Listing upgrade: Listing upgrades include additional options such as “sub titles” that allow you to include additional information within the headline of your listing or the ability to list within two different categories.

I’ve never found a good enough reason to spend extra money on this.

It simply hasn’t been worth it, however, it is there if you need it.

Store subscription: If you’re serious about making a go at eBay, you are going to want to upgrade to a store.

Which option you select really just depends on how many items you plan on listing. 

What you should sell

One of the biggest hurdles when flipping on eBay is figuring out what you should sell.

If you’ve ever spent time buying or just looking at what’s available on eBay, you’ll know that you can buy just about anything.

Likewise, you can sell just about anything.

I’m going to show you a few “niches” you can focus on.

But don’t be scared: none of them that you need any special knowledge about.

However, if you have knowledge about a specific niche, I would highly suggest focusing on it at least for the time being. 

The more you know about a product, the more likely you know:

  • Where to find it
  • What it’s worth

One of the more popular niches is sneakers.

Many resellers focus exclusively on Nike shoes. These sellers usually have a passion for sneakers and, therefore, know the ends and outs of the niche.

If sneakers are your thing, you can easily source discount shoes from retail stores like Ross, Marshalls, & TJ Maxx.

You can also find them at Goodwill and Thrift Stores at times.

For sneakers, always look for the style number.

Nike’s are the easiest. 

They have the style # right in the middle of the label. It usually starts with “AQ”.

Adidas & Under Armour start with “Art.”

Plug it in the search bar as “Nike xxxxxx (whatever the number is” and there’s a 99.9% chance that sneakers will come up accurately.

Once you have these comps, take the actual sneaker type (i.e. “Nike Air Zoom Vapor X”) and research the item that way.

This will ensure you receive the max amount of comps including listings that may not have included the style #.

Another great niche item for flipping on eBay is men’s neckties.

A great place to look for high end preowned neckties to resell is at Goodwill or other types of thrift stores.

The neckties will generally be on a rack but sometimes there are multiple racks (usually in the area of the men’s clothing).

99% of the ties you will find at Goodwill will be $3.00.

The Versace tie pictured above was an exception: it was $5.00.

However it sold for $42.00!

You will have to sort through a lot of junk ties: Chaps, J Garcia, J. Crew…toss these all to the side.

They aren’t worth your time.

You’ll also see quite a few “mid-level” ties: Brooks Brothers & Ralph Lauren will be the most prominent.

I generally avoid these.

However, if you find a handful of these in excellent condition, it may be worth purchasing and posting as a lot of ties.

But generally you can toss these to the side as well.

Then you will eventually find the high end ties. These are the ones you need to grab. Many of these ties MSRP are anywhere from $150-$220.

That doesn’t mean you will sell them for that…because they will generally be preowned, you’ll have to discount them quite a bit. BUT a $3.00 tie can end up making you a profit of $20-50.

Here’s the brands to look out for and grab immediately:

  • Salvatore Ferragamo
  • Ermenegildo Zegna
  • Versace
  • Gucci
  • Louis Vuitton
  • Brioni
  • Burberry London
  • Robert Talbott Best of Class
  • Tom Ford
  • Hermes
  • Hugo Boss

Again these are mostly very high end ties.

But you will find them. 10 of these $3.00 ties can end up fetching you $200-300.

Next stop? Home goods & electronics.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Boxed items (even if the box is damaged or worn!)
  • DVD/VHS combo players
  • Business telephones
Sony SLV-D350P VCR/DVD Combo Player Recorder
Paid $15.80
SOLD = $58.00
Paid: $4.99
SOLD = $53.17

You will generally find quite a few single DVD players at Goodwill stores.

Instead, look for the DVD/VCR combos or VCR’s themselves.

People are consistently purchasing these on eBay, especially if they are in very good condition and come with a remote.

If you find a good one, do an initial inspection by carefully shaking the machine back and forth to make sure there are no loose parts inside.

You can also visually check inside of the machine to look for any defects.

RCA 2 Lines Corded Phone 25214RE1
Paid $8.00
SOLD = $56.00

Another great item are business landline telephones.

These are still widely used in the business world and are pretty valuable for those who work in offices.

Ensure you’re not mistaking generic cordless phones designed for personal or home use. The value is in these ones that are made for the corporate environment.

Most Goodwill stores allow you 48 hours to determine if an electronic item works or not.

Bring it back within 48 hours if it doesn’t and you’ll receive a full refund.

Many Goodwill stores also provide multiple electrical outlets in the electronics section in order for you to plug in and ensure the item powers on before purchasing it.

You’ll find a wide array of coffee makers within Goodwill stores. Many of them will be unboxed and not worth much.

But speciality items like espresso makers are a great item to flip on eBay.

Do what you can to inspect the contents of the box.

That might mean taking it out completely. Be aware that the employees may not do this themselves.

Finding items that are profitable

So now you know what to sell.

And here’s some additional tips for where to find profitable items for flipping on eBay.

But how do you know if an item is profitable?

Learning how to “check comps”

You’ll see resellers talk about “checking the comps”.

This means looking at comparable items in order to see what they’re listed for and what they’re selling for.

This is key to determine if an item is worth purchasing in order to resell it.

Here’s the important keys:

  1. Find the exact same item or it’s closest comparable

When flipping on eBay, you’ll have to constantly research the marketplace for similar or exact items.

For many items, you will be able to find the exact same one already listed and/or sold on eBay.

For others you may have to do more digging.

The key is to ensure you’re looking at an actual comparable item. That generally means ensuring you select “Pre-owned” under condition when you search.

Unless of course you were lucky enough to find a brand new, sealed item.

  1. Determine how many are available & how many have been sold

Once you search for the item, you want to check 4 things:

  • Active listings
  • Average active price
  • Sold listings
  • Average sold price

Depending on the item, I like to pick up items that sell consistently.

What that means will vary from item to item.

If it is something that I haven’t sold before or don’t have a good grasp on the market for it, I like to at least 3-5 sales per month in the past several months.

This indicates that there is a steady market for the item and that people have sought it out in the recent past.

When searching for comps, you can also remove keywords from search results using the minus sign (i.e. “-keyword”).

This can be helpful when searching items that may include many listings of sets or lots in order to narrow down to only one single item.

This is an example of sold listings for Hermes neckties.

It’s a high end brand. If you run into an item like this, you know that you can flip it for good profit.

On the other hand, this was an item I may have walked by.

It’s a Wi-Fi digital photo frame.

You’ll see a number of these digital photo frames in Goodwill stores.

The key to this one was that it was 1. New and sealed…and 2. Wi-Fi enabled.

Most of the digital photo frames are not Wi-Fi enabled.

I looked up the comps and saw this:

And as you can see, an item I paid $10 for sold for over $100 and it sold within only a few hours:

Nixplay N Smart WiFi HD Digital Photo Frame
Paid $10
SOLD = $105.56

Determining the average sold price of an item is one piece of the puzzle.

I also mentioned looking up the number of active listings and the average active price.

Despite the fact that an item has sold really well in the recent past, you could find an item is not worth the risk.

If there are significantly more active listings than sold listings, we can surmise that the supply outweighs the demand.

That means you’ll be fighting an uphill battle against more experienced sellers who are selling the same item BUT have the positive feedback and eBay reputation to take up the market share.

You could also find that while recent comps sold for a profit, the price point has since decreased.

This is why it’s important to check both active and sold listings.

There you go.

Now you have a grasp of the fundamentals for flipping on eBay.

Now it’s time to get started!