Should your business be on eBay?

Lately a lot’s being said about businesses needing to stake their claim on the social media arena.

But does your business need to have presence on an online auction site such as eBay as well?

Nestor Arellano

If you’re selling something or looking to buy something, the answer could be yes. eBay is no longer just a place where kids hock their tired Nikes of adventurous souls like Canadian Kyle MacDonald try to trade up a single red paperclip for a house.

Over the years, start-ups and big businesses alike have found buying and selling on eBay both profitable and affordable.

Imagine the potential market. Canadians now buy more than $1 billion worth of goods on eBay every year and sell more than one million items each month on the site, according to the company.

Last year, the average Canadian eBay buyer purchased more than $400 million worth of goods from the online auction site. Over the last 10 years, more than 5.7 million Canadians have bid their way to shelling out no more than $7 million for stuff featured on the site.

Since the year 2000, more than 14 million items have been sold by Canadians on eBay.

eBay Canada has made big business our of small businesses, according Andrea Stairs, the company’s country manager for Canada.

But start-ups have also found eBay their ticket to the big time.

Take for example,, a business started by Shaun and Korey Shienfield of Thornhill, Ont. during their teen years in the late 1990s. My story on their company tells of how eBay help them scale up their company from its humble used golf ball operation into a multi-million dollar business.

“eBay helped us get noticed by millions of buyers around the world. We now have wholesale buyers based in Europe who resell our stuff,” says Shaun.

Established businesses also find eBay useful, according to Stairs.

Century-old photography company Henry’s sees eBay as another store location where they can sell extremely marked down items and other merchandise that they have difficulty selling in their bricks and mortar locations.

eBay sellers come in four fundamental categories:

Casual sellers – People who want to get rid of the occasional items they no longer have any use for

Micro-sellers– Typical mom & pop operations who have added an online or e-commerce component into their sales operations

Smalls biz operators – Small companies that see eBay as an additional revenue stream or offices and rental stores that use the site to auction off their used equipment

Bigger companies – Retailers like Henry’s that use eBay to improve online presence and develop another revenue stream.

“Very often big stores accumulate a lot of ‘open box’ items, returns or have refurbished merchandise that they don’t want to sell at their locations,” according to Stairs. “eBay becomes a perfect market place for these goods”.

Similarly, some companies also go to eBay in search of deals on equipment that would otherwise cost more in regular stores.

For businesses or entrepreneurs looking into becoming eBay sellers, here are some things to consider:


  • Decide how an eBay store will fit into your business’ image. Do you want direct links to your company or would you rather remain incognito.


  • Research the competition. Before putting goods up for sale, determine what’s the prevailing prices on eBay for items similar to those you’ll be selling.


  • Create templates for price listings and item descriptions. You’ll soon find that creating these pages will become tedious and time consuming as your inventory grows.


  • Take good care of your eBay seller reputation. Negative feedback from eBay buyers can tarnish your store’s image. Buyers put a premium on four key areas:


Communication – Buyers want answers to questions typically within 24 hours.

Item description – Make sure you describe items accurately.

Price – Starting with a low price is always attractive. Make sure your prices compare favourably to similar items on the site.

Shipping – Pick a shipper who delivers items promptly. Charging too much for shipping and handling is always a downer.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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