Ok, let's get to the good stuff right away - how many Top Rated Sellers are there on eBay?

Who are the major players in the eBay arena? I've sourced information about the number of top rated sellers on eBay from various publications online and came up with several estimations:

Getting to the number of "top rated" sellers is quite tricky as eBay doesn't provide this information in any of their public reports nor do they provide information on the number of sellers they have.

There are very few sources online that provide any kind of information about the number of active eBay sellers. However, I managed to find one of which is a 2006 study conducted by ACNielsen on behalf of eBay which found that approximately 1.3 million sellers around the world use eBay as their primary or secondary source of income. Let's take this number as an anchor and try and calculate the number of eBay sellers if they grew in the same rate that B2C global eCommerce grew between 2005 and 2014 (9 years): the CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of global B2C eCommerce is around 20%, taking this into account, the number of eBay sellers by 2014 should be around 6.7 million. Note that if we take a CAGR of 25%, the number would jump to 9.7 million.

Now to your question: you are looking for the "top rated" sellers only, if we let's say that 5% of all sellers are top rates, the number of "top rated" sellers would be anywhere between 335K to 485K top rated sellers.

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There are thousands and thousands of top rated sellers on eBay. If you want to get started selling online, if may behoove you to check our quick list below of Pros and Cons to selling on a shopping engine.


Now that we know who the heavy hitters are, and how many of them are, how incredibly easy or painstakingly hard is it to be successful on eBay?

Pros of Selling on eBay

  • eBay is one of the biggest selling platforms online, as such the exposure is huge. This means you'll have an automatic shot at getting noticed. A lot of people say, "List it, forget about it, and let the eBay work it's magic"
  • Which brings me to rule #2: there is absolutely no need to invest heavily in marketing - once you upload a listing, you get automatic exposure.
  • Therefore you do not need sell your soul (and possibly a kidney) to invest in a physical store.
  • You can reach potential customers from around the world immediately; you are not limited by your location.

Cons of Selling on eBay

  • The competition in enormous, so selling often boils down to a buy box price war unless you are in very specific niche.
  • The platforms make up the rules - they can shut you down for not complying to their rules. (And oh you bet they will!)
  • The participation fee in some platforms can be very high, thus shrinking your margin.
  • Most platforms have a feedback system, which in some cases can be abusive towards the sellers.

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After all that good (and not so good) stuff you're still in it to win it?

Great! Now here's how to play ball with eBay without the sugarcoating - the tips and tricks you're going to really need when selling online.

1. As you may already know, eBay is swayed in favor of the buyer. They have incredible purchasing power, but above all else, eBay ensures online purchasing by setting up a claims system completely slanted in the buyer's favor. Buyers can at any time file a claim charging back money - forcing a refund if the "item not as described," or if it is anything other than what it is advertised. This is why it is infinitely crucial to stress that as a seller, you must be as honest and accurate as possible to avoid claims and charge-backs.

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2. Provide the most accurate information on your listings, don't hide/misrepresent anything. We mean it. Honesty is the best policy.

Yes, yes, yes it is! Images must be up to date, package includes must be accurate, don't leave room for the customer to feel they are being misinformed or mislead in any way.

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3. Your listing description is your own personal billboard for advertisement; customize it to boost your sales. Photo galleries, video reviews, and accurate descriptions make or break sales on eBay. A lot of people have no idea how to approach editing their listing description (their free advertisement space that eBay has so generously provided every listing), so they either ignore it or butcher it with cheesy designs. There's a way to produce clean designs without knowing HTML or just opt for generic templates that you can customize. It's called CrazyLister.com and it's an easy and free web based platform that allows you to edit listing descriptions and add cool design widgets like tabs, galleries, and videos all with a great little drag and drop editor. The best part is that your listing descriptions look great both on a desktop and on mobile devices. I know it's great because I designed it (with the help of some real programmers and developers). It's a tool made by eBay sellers for eBay sellers.

4. Accurate policies and information. Most importantly, stating truthful delivery time is critical and must be correct. The best way to strategically work this information into discreet tabs in your listing description so that they are easily discoverable.

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5. The customer is always right, even when they are wrong. I cannot stress this enough.

6. As experienced sellers on eBay, I can say that the customers who try to cheat the system are few and far between, the vast majority just want to get what they ordered. If a customer complains it means that they have a genuine problem, so be quick with a solution, don't try to buy time, or even worse ignore the complaint.

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Problems with customers don't just go away on their own, and due to the fact that eBay favors buys, they have the power to shut you down (via negative feedback rating, etc...) Even if it costs you few extra bucks, solve their problem! And do it quickly.


Where are people buying? And why do people buy?

The answer is pretty straight forward - more and more people are flocking to their phones and tablets to purchase online. The distinction that sets listings apart from one another can be classified as easily as inverting the old adage, "don't judge a book buy its cover."

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On the internet, all you've got is your branding and name to back you up.

Strategically advertised testimonials, design that calls viewers to action, and authenticity via social proof all work to create trust between every serious seller and their potential buyers - trust is the cornerstone of conversion rates.

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Is it possible to make a decent living off of eBay?

I'm sure the question begs - what's the bottom line?

From my own experience, yes it's possible to make a real living as an independent seller on eBay. eBay has become a marketplace where even big consumer chains sell products and some of them have sales volume of tens of millions. But we're talking specifically about independent sellers, not the market giants, so take a look below:

Just to give you an example, this is a link to the top eBay sellers as of last year and the amount of feedback they have garnered:

The World's Top eBay Sellers - Lean Commerce

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Let's take the the seller ranked 29, they had 350,000 feedback reviews in 12 months.

From my experience (my team and I have reached over 20,000 feedback reviews), about 40% of buyers leave feedback. So, let's assume that for that seller even 50% left feedback which means in total they sold 350,000 x 2 = 700,000 products in 12 months.

Let's say that they are selling items for an average of $30 (which is quite low), that puts their revenue over a year are $21,000,000 ($21 million).

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Now let's assume that they are working on very low margins of 5%, then their net profit would be $1,050,000 for 12 months.

Now this is just an example and I don't think anyone has ever grossed $21M right of the bat, but it goes to show that you can generate a net profit of $40,000 even if you are a much smaller merchant.

In fact, if you are grossing a margin of 10% (which is very reasonable for someone who's working from home, has no employees) and the only expenses are:

cost of good + eBay fees + PayPal fees + shipping fee

then with a 10% margin you have to sell for $400,000 a year to have $40,000 net profit.

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$400,000 yearly is ~$33,000 monthly.

If your average sale is $100 then you have to make 330 sales a month, which is about 11 sales a day, this is not trivial but very doable within a few months if you are able to source a reliable supplier with good quality products that have reasonable demand.


Wrap-Up

So now you know who is out there in the world of eBay, who controls the market, who knows how to play the game, and even a few tricks to help you get started yourself.

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About the Author:

Viktor Levitin has been selling on eBay since 2008 as a top rated seller. His experience and expertise in the world of eCommerce prompted the development of leading automation and optimization software for eCommerce businesses.