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New Seller - Advice Needed

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Due to covid I am now unfortunately unemployed and I was after some advice. I’ve always wanted to sell on eBay but never knew how to go about it. Considering the predicament I’m in now I guess now is a good time to test the waters. 

I’ve looked at purchasing small/low cost items to sell from from a wholesaler. My question is do I need a personal or business account? The reason I ask is because right now I’ll only be selling a little amount of the items as I’m merely experimenting. Let’s say 1-10 items. I’m assuming it will be a business account however I don’t have a business, thus would I require the business account? I’ve tried looking online for the answers and I’m kinda stuck! I’ve also noticed that if you earn more then £1k you will have to declare it with HMRC. Personally I don’t think I’ll be sellling enough to get to that threshold. 

I’m in a real tough situation right now and not having a job is very disheartening, any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. 
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Replies

  • soolinsoolin Forumite, Board Guide
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    Firstly this is the rules about the £1000 trading allowance
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6070793/1000-trading-allowance-is-made-clear-on-tax-return

    If you buy with the intention of reselling then yes you are a business and as such would need an eBay business account. However, I would personally suggest that before investing in stock you try out a few of your own unwanted items first, get the hang of it, get used to,listing, posting and seller protection rules. Open a private account, buy a few low cost items , see how sellers pack items and deal with buyers, get a bit of feedback. Then list some of your own u wanted items , practice listing, taking photos etc and build up a bit more feedback as a seller before you start listing as a business. 

    Whilst doing all that start researching the items you want to sell. EBay completed listings are the way to do that , concentrate on completed sales, what sold and for how much. Look at the ones that sold, work out what profit the sellers made after listing fees, FVFs postage etc and then decide whether your items will likely make you money. Don’t forget to build in the cost of buyer returns , lost items etc.

    also have a read of some of the sticky threads at the top of this eBay forum to understand postage, PayPal and general risks. 

    Lastly as a new seller you will have very low level of listings available, so start now and build up feedback rather than try and launch as a business straight away.
    I'm the Board Guide for the Ebay Board , Charities Board , Dosh & Disability , Up Your Income and the Local MoneySaving-England board which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. However, do remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com
    New to Forum? Guide
  • CatsacorCatsacor Forumite
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    Excellent post !
    I'm not a seller but a buyer, of many, many, years - of national and international items, low price (under £5) through to expensive (£4k)  - my own point is that seeing the way items are dealt with (from @soolin list ), from ordering to receiving, all has bearing on the customer's perception and expectations and i think, therefore, the way a buyer is approached and the way the customers business is transacted.

    New sellers, like new buyers, are often very naive and monies can be lost and the whole experience can be very unpleasant - the more experience both parties have under their belt the better and easier the transactions will be - doesn't sound much but it is !
    First, take responsibility .....
  • Liberal123Liberal123 Forumite
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    soolin said:
    Firstly this is the rules about the £1000 trading allowance
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6070793/1000-trading-allowance-is-made-clear-on-tax-return

    If you buy with the intention of reselling then yes you are a business and as such would need an eBay business account. However, I would personally suggest that before investing in stock you try out a few of your own unwanted items first, get the hang of it, get used to,listing, posting and seller protection rules. Open a private account, buy a few low cost items , see how sellers pack items and deal with buyers, get a bit of feedback. Then list some of your own u wanted items , practice listing, taking photos etc and build up a bit more feedback as a seller before you start listing as a business. 

    Whilst doing all that start researching the items you want to sell. EBay completed listings are the way to do that , concentrate on completed sales, what sold and for how much. Look at the ones that sold, work out what profit the sellers made after listing fees, FVFs postage etc and then decide whether your items will likely make you money. Don’t forget to build in the cost of buyer returns , lost items etc.

    also have a read of some of the sticky threads at the top of this eBay forum to understand postage, PayPal and general risks. 

    Lastly as a new seller you will have very low level of listings available, so start now and build up feedback rather than try and launch as a business straight away.
    Hi 

    this is very valuable advice and I appreciate your feedback. I do have a private account, done the odd bits of selling unwanted items but I’m more of a buyer. 

    I didn’t want to convert my private account to a business account. I wanted to start up independently, thoughts?

    as for research, yes I fully agree. I don’t plan to just buy stock and start selling straight away. I’m currently researching and looking into what I can do, how, is it going to be valuable etc. 

    Just a few words like this can be so helpful. For those going through a dark time of losing their jobs, I feel your pain. Onwards and upwards. 
  • soolinsoolin Forumite, Board Guide
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    soolin said:
    Firstly this is the rules about the £1000 trading allowance
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6070793/1000-trading-allowance-is-made-clear-on-tax-return

    If you buy with the intention of reselling then yes you are a business and as such would need an eBay business account. However, I would personally suggest that before investing in stock you try out a few of your own unwanted items first, get the hang of it, get used to,listing, posting and seller protection rules. Open a private account, buy a few low cost items , see how sellers pack items and deal with buyers, get a bit of feedback. Then list some of your own u wanted items , practice listing, taking photos etc and build up a bit more feedback as a seller before you start listing as a business. 

    Whilst doing all that start researching the items you want to sell. EBay completed listings are the way to do that , concentrate on completed sales, what sold and for how much. Look at the ones that sold, work out what profit the sellers made after listing fees, FVFs postage etc and then decide whether your items will likely make you money. Don’t forget to build in the cost of buyer returns , lost items etc.

    also have a read of some of the sticky threads at the top of this eBay forum to understand postage, PayPal and general risks. 

    Lastly as a new seller you will have very low level of listings available, so start now and build up feedback rather than try and launch as a business straight away.
    Hi 

    this is very valuable advice and I appreciate your feedback. I do have a private account, done the odd bits of selling unwanted items but I’m more of a buyer. 

    I didn’t want to convert my private account to a business account. I wanted to start up independently, thoughts?

    as for research, yes I fully agree. I don’t plan to just buy stock and start selling straight away. I’m currently researching and looking into what I can do, how, is it going to be valuable etc. 

    Just a few words like this can be so helpful. For those going through a dark time of losing their jobs, I feel your pain. Onwards and upwards. 
    You need 'history' and feedback to start as a successful seller- and it is even more vital to have both for a business, for a start it will give you more listings. If you start from a brand new account you might only be allowed 2 -4  listings for the first month or two and then only increasing to 6 listings after that until you build feedback and experience. Therefore I personally would suggest when you are ready to sell that you convert your current account into a business one, and open a new one for your private purchases and /or sales. 
    I'm the Board Guide for the Ebay Board , Charities Board , Dosh & Disability , Up Your Income and the Local MoneySaving-England board which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. However, do remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com
    New to Forum? Guide
  • Liberal123Liberal123 Forumite
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    soolin said:
    soolin said:
    Firstly this is the rules about the £1000 trading allowance
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6070793/1000-trading-allowance-is-made-clear-on-tax-return

    If you buy with the intention of reselling then yes you are a business and as such would need an eBay business account. However, I would personally suggest that before investing in stock you try out a few of your own unwanted items first, get the hang of it, get used to,listing, posting and seller protection rules. Open a private account, buy a few low cost items , see how sellers pack items and deal with buyers, get a bit of feedback. Then list some of your own u wanted items , practice listing, taking photos etc and build up a bit more feedback as a seller before you start listing as a business. 

    Whilst doing all that start researching the items you want to sell. EBay completed listings are the way to do that , concentrate on completed sales, what sold and for how much. Look at the ones that sold, work out what profit the sellers made after listing fees, FVFs postage etc and then decide whether your items will likely make you money. Don’t forget to build in the cost of buyer returns , lost items etc.

    also have a read of some of the sticky threads at the top of this eBay forum to understand postage, PayPal and general risks. 

    Lastly as a new seller you will have very low level of listings available, so start now and build up feedback rather than try and launch as a business straight away.
    Hi 

    this is very valuable advice and I appreciate your feedback. I do have a private account, done the odd bits of selling unwanted items but I’m more of a buyer. 

    I didn’t want to convert my private account to a business account. I wanted to start up independently, thoughts?

    as for research, yes I fully agree. I don’t plan to just buy stock and start selling straight away. I’m currently researching and looking into what I can do, how, is it going to be valuable etc. 

    Just a few words like this can be so helpful. For those going through a dark time of losing their jobs, I feel your pain. Onwards and upwards. 
    You need 'history' and feedback to start as a successful seller- and it is even more vital to have both for a business, for a start it will give you more listings. If you start from a brand new account you might only be allowed 2 -4  listings for the first month or two and then only increasing to 6 listings after that until you build feedback and experience. Therefore I personally would suggest when you are ready to sell that you convert your current account into a business one, and open a new one for your private purchases and /or sales. 
    Thank you, as a novice It’s sometimes hard to get your head around these things. Although I do think it’s time I looked at other avenues. Don’t get me wrong I don’t see this as a permanent solution but I just want to experiment as such. 

    It sounds like you’re somebody who has lots of experience on eBay - would you recommend it as I’ve heard mixed stories. Do you think it is a good avenue? 
  • soolinsoolin Forumite, Board Guide
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    soolin said:
    soolin said:
    Firstly this is the rules about the £1000 trading allowance
    https://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/discussion/6070793/1000-trading-allowance-is-made-clear-on-tax-return

    If you buy with the intention of reselling then yes you are a business and as such would need an eBay business account. However, I would personally suggest that before investing in stock you try out a few of your own unwanted items first, get the hang of it, get used to,listing, posting and seller protection rules. Open a private account, buy a few low cost items , see how sellers pack items and deal with buyers, get a bit of feedback. Then list some of your own u wanted items , practice listing, taking photos etc and build up a bit more feedback as a seller before you start listing as a business. 

    Whilst doing all that start researching the items you want to sell. EBay completed listings are the way to do that , concentrate on completed sales, what sold and for how much. Look at the ones that sold, work out what profit the sellers made after listing fees, FVFs postage etc and then decide whether your items will likely make you money. Don’t forget to build in the cost of buyer returns , lost items etc.

    also have a read of some of the sticky threads at the top of this eBay forum to understand postage, PayPal and general risks. 

    Lastly as a new seller you will have very low level of listings available, so start now and build up feedback rather than try and launch as a business straight away.
    Hi 

    this is very valuable advice and I appreciate your feedback. I do have a private account, done the odd bits of selling unwanted items but I’m more of a buyer. 

    I didn’t want to convert my private account to a business account. I wanted to start up independently, thoughts?

    as for research, yes I fully agree. I don’t plan to just buy stock and start selling straight away. I’m currently researching and looking into what I can do, how, is it going to be valuable etc. 

    Just a few words like this can be so helpful. For those going through a dark time of losing their jobs, I feel your pain. Onwards and upwards. 
    You need 'history' and feedback to start as a successful seller- and it is even more vital to have both for a business, for a start it will give you more listings. If you start from a brand new account you might only be allowed 2 -4  listings for the first month or two and then only increasing to 6 listings after that until you build feedback and experience. Therefore I personally would suggest when you are ready to sell that you convert your current account into a business one, and open a new one for your private purchases and /or sales. 
    Thank you, as a novice It’s sometimes hard to get your head around these things. Although I do think it’s time I looked at other avenues. Don’t get me wrong I don’t see this as a permanent solution but I just want to experiment as such. 

    It sounds like you’re somebody who has lots of experience on eBay - would you recommend it as I’ve heard mixed stories. Do you think it is a good avenue? 
    I won't deny that ebay has its issues and the amount of silly glitches can be frustrating. However for a base to get your items noticed it is a good place to start - if you sell 'similar' items then you can use ebay alongside your own little web page or whatever- so if someone buys a widget from you you can add a note in your packaging directing them to your web page if they want more. I'm not overly successful doing that but for certain highly collectable things  I do email them once - and direct (NOT through ebay) thanking them for their purchase and giving them a direct link to my facebook web page- I pick up a few extra sales that way.

    At the moment things are quiet for me, I have never been so slow , and facebook marketplace is actually as good as ebay for certain items. 
    I'm the Board Guide for the Ebay Board , Charities Board , Dosh & Disability , Up Your Income and the Local MoneySaving-England board which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. However, do remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com
    New to Forum? Guide
  • edited 16 September at 11:24AM
    the_lunatic_is_in_my_headthe_lunatic_is_in_my_head Forumite
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    edited 16 September at 11:24AM
    If something can easily be found from a wholesaler then typically there will be someone selling it for less than you can, the margins some are willing to go to is crazy. 

    A lot of people think buy for £5 and sell for £10 and you are winning, you may very well do with volume but need to consider the obvious such as fees and postage along side things such the electric you use, the fuel in any travelling, returns, non-receipt claims, dead stock, the cost of accounting, getting rid of waste. 

    There will always be some idiot looking to undercut and buyer loyalty is typically zero as they have purchased from eBay not mrsellerxyz.

    A niche product in an area you have some interest and as such some basic knowledge is best. 

    Generally with eBay you buy a few of something and they sell, so you buy a few more and they sell, so you buy loads and no sod ever buys it again. Once you throw that box of stock in the deepest, darkest corner of the store room under 200 other boxes because no one has purchased it for ages, guaranteed you'll sell one, but only one.

    Just to add as an aside some suppliers are looking after their existing customers if stock is in short supply by declining new trade. 
  • GabbaGabbaHeyGabbaGabbaHey Forumite
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    soolin said:
    I do email them once - and direct (NOT through ebay) thanking them for their purchase and giving them a direct link to my facebook web page
    That's almost certainly a breach of GDPR (using personal information for a purpose where consent was not given). I always leave negative feedback when sellers do this to me.
    Philip
  • edited 16 September at 12:46PM
    soolinsoolin Forumite, Board Guide
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    edited 16 September at 12:46PM
    soolin said:
    I do email them once - and direct (NOT through ebay) thanking them for their purchase and giving them a direct link to my facebook web page
    That's almost certainly a breach of GDPR (using personal information for a purpose where consent was not given). I always leave negative feedback when sellers do this to me.
    I've been lucky then in my 21 years on ebay :) In fact I often get thanked for confirming dispatch and reminding them of the tracking details in my emails and my communication star is currently at 5*.  I buy a fair bit and from business sellers nearly always get a standard email with information about dispatch and more often than not a link to their web page or a discount code and have never felt the need to neg anyone. 
    I'm the Board Guide for the Ebay Board , Charities Board , Dosh & Disability , Up Your Income and the Local MoneySaving-England board which means I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. However, do remember, board guides don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of MoneySavingExpert.com
    New to Forum? Guide
  • kangoorakangoora Forumite
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    You can convert a personal account to a business account, but not the other way around. I would strongly suggest you convert your current personal account to business when you are ready (and set up a new personal account) as it will already have a certain amount of feedback which is crucial when starting up to give buyers confidence. Don't underestimate how long it takes to get feedback as a seller, I think I'm doing well if I get 50% feedback on sales (usually 40%) and if you are doing low volumes 1 or 2 stroppy/stupid/customers from hell can wipe out your feedback reliability rating almost instantly.

    The biggest problem you'll have with wholesale goods is that Ebay shops will be able to get whatever you are buying at the same price (if not cheaper due to bulk buying) and sell it for ridiculously low profit margins as they sell in large volumes across a wide range of 'stuff', maybe making a £1 profit per item but selling 100's, whereas as a small business/startup you will sell less but need a lot more profit per item.

    Even if you find a niche item and start to make decent money expect 'someone' to pile in and undercut you at some point. This happened to my BIL on Amazon, he got a great deal on some toys from Ireland, they sold well with great margins for 6 months so he ordered a few pallet loads. Within 2 weeks of them arriving the manufacturer started selling on Amazon direct, undercutting him to the point where he was only making 50p per item gross profit (not even enough to cover his utilities/unit rental etc - never mind a wage). Look up something like bathroom taps and you'll see loads of different sellers all selling the same item and undercutting each other by 1p, 20p - all of them squeezing their margins to get that lowest price on a search.

    However, having said all the above, some people do make decent money. I agree with the above comment to sell something you have a knowledge or interest in, it could be HI-Fi equipment, golf equipment, baby strollers, toys, left handed corkscrews etc.

    Do your research, FULLY calculate costs and profit margins, identify possible opportunities and have a try if you feel you can make a go of it.

    As a final point, in a long post (sorry), IMO I think on Ebay that second hand selling is the way to go for a side hustle as long as stuff is bought cheaply enough BUT you do really need specific knowledge in the area at least to start with. I know an ex-golf pro who makes a decent amount of money selling 2nd hand golf clubs he picks up from car boots/auctions. Another I know is a session musician/band member who does the same with musical instruments/amps/stuff. The downside is a lot of time spent trudging around car-boots/reading auction lists to find those gems before other people do. Obviously we know what to buy, what to avoid, how much to pay and how much to sell for and I still end up with unsaleable/broken items around 10% of the time.

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