eBay Sellers: Why They Succeed

5 min. read
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Everyone running an online business is looking for ways to stack the deck in their favor. eBay sellers are no different. Any and every edge, no matter how small, is an opening to be exploited. If you're selling on eBay, you need to examine the major factors in the top sellers' success.

Today we'll be discussing the major metrics common to eBay's top sellers. We'll examine the statistics behind the sellers with the highest sales volumes and try to gain some insights from the research herein presented.

Without further ado, let's take a look at the simplest, and arguably most important factor in any e-commerce business model.

Item Selection

Finding items that people want to buy is always a good place to start if you're trying to be a successful eBay seller. Take a look at the chart below. It contains statistics concerning the top 10 eBay sellers in the world.

Since they are private businesses and their sales figures aren't publicly disclosed, our measure of success is their cumulative feedback scores gathered over a year's time.


Top 10 eBay Sellers

As you can see, the biggest players in the eBay game show some interesting commonalities in their selling habits. "Phones and Accessories" appears three different times as the sales category for different sellers in the top 10, while both "Music" and "Clothing, Shoes & Accessories" appear twice.

Surprisingly, "Business and Industrial" products are the chosen niche of the number one seller. This is particularly unanticipated because "Business and Industrial" is often considered a difficult niche to sell within. That's not because of a lack of buyer interest, but rather the difficulty involved in shipping industrial equipment. It just goes to show that if you're willing to put in the extra effort to properly promote and deliver in-demand items, you can build your business into an empire.

Here is another chart showing the most popular item categories specifically, apart from the top sellers:

This puts reality back in line with expectation. Consumer goods reign supreme with clothes, collectibles, jewelry, crafts, toys, and sporting goods all making an appearance in the top 15 sales categories.

Still, the "Phones and Accessories" category is at the top of the heap, which explains a lot about the direction market interest is going, as well as how important expansion into mobile technology should be for any serious online retailer.

So what should be the takeaway for all of you fine readers looking to emulate this kind of mass-transactional success? The answer is two-fold:

  1. There is money to be made in many different niches on eBay, but the safest bet at the moment is in the area of
    "Phones and Accessories."
  2. Bulky and hard-to-ship items aren't necessarily bad investments, as two of the top 10 sellers on eBay can attest, with their stores selling business and industrial products as well as auto parts.

If you'd like to test out an item's demand within one of these popular product categories, head over to SaleHoo Research Lab to perform a market analysis.

These, however, are far from the only things we can learn about the top eBay sellers and their business habits. What other factors should you prioritize when selling on eBay?


A man is only as good as his word, as my father used to say. This holds true in business just as it does in personal ethics. To be truly successful in any online sales venture, you must build both credibility and consumer trust. When it comes to your eBay store, there are a couple of important facets to doing so.

Age of an eBay Store

The amount of time that an eBay seller has been in business directly correlates to the trust of his or her customers. This is because you establish a brand along with the market as it matures.

eBay itself is a beneficiary of this sort of age-based trust. Because it is one of the first online auction/retail sites, it's also one of the biggest. This is far from being the only component to eBay's success, but it certainly hasn't hurt the company.

Just consider the fact that eBay Top Rated Sellers account for 47 percent of eBay's total sales volume in the U.S. These are established names in the business. Though relatively few in number, they still make up nearly half the sales in the world's largest consumer market.

This because they attract repeat sales from loyal customers. Their customers know who they're dealing with, because they've bought from them before. This news should be taken as encouragement to sellers new and old.

If you're an old hat, then you know you've built up some valuable client relationships over the years. If you're just starting out, be assured that persistence and longevity produce results.

Feedback Scores

Positive feedback usually correlates very closely to sales volume. After all, to give encouraging feedback a customer must have had a positive experience.

Feedback is most important for newer sellers looking to expand their online presence. As time goes on, you'll likely notice a marked decrease in the amount of feedback you receive. The probability of being left feedback decreases as sales volume increases. Not many customers will leave you feedback in the first place, relatively speaking.

This is even more pronounced since mobile sales are now accounting for much more of eBay's overall transactional volume. Leaving feedback on a mobile device is much more cumbersome than on a desktop.

Though customer feedback percentages vary wildly between sellers, many estimates say that the number to aim for is 40 percent for high-volume sellers.

Free Shipping

Aside from trust and items that people actually want to buy, free shipping can be a powerful motivator when checkout time comes around. People are encouraged by free shipping, despite higher prices, because it's simply less difficult.

Statistics agree with that statement as well. During the holiday rush of 2013 (October through December), approximately 55 percent of transactions on eBay in the U.S. included free shipping.

According to a case study by ecommercebytes.com, offering free shipping on all items in an eBay store yielded very positive results.

  • Average revenue per item increased by $8.
  • Shipping cost per item decreased$1.25.
  • Though returns increased a small amount, (0.9 percent) the additional expense was offset by increased revenue, making it essentially negligible.
  • Overall sales went up between 15 percent and 18 percent.
  • Visibility increased. Listings appeared in the first page of results about 75 percent of the time. Prior to free shipping, it was closer to 40 percent or 50 percent.
  • Returning customers went up by a 12 percent margin.
  • International sales increased from 15 percent to 20 percent of the total business transactions.

These are very impressive statistics that must certainly be taken into account by any serious eBay seller. The added convenience of free shipping is likely to increase your relevant sales metrics across the board.

Trust, free shipping, and choosing the right product category are all very important to any eBay seller. Take what you've learned from top-ranked sellers and emulate what they are doing. Doing so will undoubtedly increase sales for your eBay store.

If you'd like to learn more about selling on eBay, visit the SaleHoo Seller Training Center. Let us know what you think in the comments section!

About the author
Zack Rutherford

Zack Rutherford is a freelance copywriter. A combat sports enthusiast and poetic soul, he endeavors to create beauty through syntax, sentence structure, and the liberal use of hyperbole.

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