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Best Practices for Selling Cars on eBay
Published at Oct 03, 2016.

Selling cars on eBay can really boost your dealership’s business. Stats are a bit scarce, but in 2013, the UK version of eBay sold one car per minute. You can bet that sales in the U.S. are much higher!

This fast-paced market is just one of the many advantages of eBay. The site’s high trustworthiness makes it way easier to get customers than on a website of your own, and selling on eBay is easy. It’s one of the best ways to get your cars in front of a nationwide or even international audience.

However, you do have to learn a few things specific to selling cars on eBay. It’s quite different from selling face-to-face, or even from selling other things on this giant website. Here are answers to some of the most important questions car dealers have:

How Do I Get My Car Noticed?

Car Dealership Lot

eBay is drowning in listings. Last I looked, there were over 700,000 results for “Subaru Forester” alone. So how do you get people to see your cars and buy them?

It all depends on mastering the art of eBay SEO. I highly recommend reading the article I just linked to, but here are a few key points for cars in particular:

  • Provide world-class customer service. Consider linking eBay to a helpdesk so you have an actual customer service system and aren’t just floundering about with an email address and cellphone.
  • Sell some cheaper items first to build up a decent Feedback score. Nobody wants to buy a car from a seller they don’t know they can trust. You’ll also appear in more searches if you can become an eBay top rated seller.
  • Post as many images as eBay will let you. Make sure they’re of high quality, and either taken in a brightly lit showroom or outdoors on a sunny day. Show the vehicle from all angles.
  • Create a detailed description. Explicitly mention any flaws or problems if it’s a used vehicle.
  • Price competitively.

Following those guidelines will make sure eBay’s huge audience notices your car among the sea of competitors.

Are There Any Legal Concerns?

You may need to be a licensed dealer to sell cars on eBay. Other state laws may apply as well—for example, online sales tax. eBay provides a handy directory of state websites for motor vehicle sellers.

Take the time to research the law or speak to a lawyer. The last thing you want is a DMV or department of taxes sending you nasty letters.

Are Auctions or Fixed-Price Listings Better for Selling Cars on eBay?

eBay has a wonderfully concise article about this that you can read here.

How Much to Sell a Car on eBay?

Selling Cars Online

Standard eBay Fees

You’ll generally hear that selling a car on eBay costs $60 if it’s priced at or under $2,000, and $125 if it’s priced over. This is a "successful listing fee," and those numbers are mostly accurate if you’re selling just one car.

If you put at least seven vehicle listings on eBay within one year, things change. You become a high-volume seller and work on a different fee schedule.

High-volume sellers pay $50 when they list a car (or just about any other large vehicle), but they don’t have to pay eBay anything when they actually sell it. This makes it much more cost-effective for dealers than individual sellers—so long as about half their listings are successful.

Once you are regularly selling cars on eBay, you might want to consider a national vehicle subscription. These can save you a substantial amount of money each month, but only if you create enough listings. The subscription will just cost you extra if you list fewer than five cars every month.

The insertion, subscription, and/or successful listing fees aren’t necessarily all you’ll have to pay, though. To really determine how much it will cost to sell on eBay, you need to consider . . .

Payment Processing Fees

Using PayPal to accept deposits means 2.9% + $0.30 will get taken out of the payment you receive. This is eBay’s recommended practice, so you may want to account for it in your pricing.

You don’t have to take PayPal if that’s too high. You can accept any form of payment you want. Just note that credit card transactions often have a higher fee online than in person, and wire transfers are frowned upon and discouraged.

Shipping Fees

Many car dealers on eBay succeed by selling rare cars long distance. If you’re planning to use this business model or otherwise sell the kinds of cars that people can’t buy at their local dealership, then you need to account for shipping fees.

It’s usually best to calculate the average shipping cost and incorporate that into the price of your vehicle rather than to charge for shipping separately. eBay’s search engine and its buyers love free shipping. Of course, you may want to charge actual cost for overseas or especially long-distance shipping.

You don’t have to worry about this if you require the buyer to pick the car up in person.

How Do I Get People to Trust Me?

Trustworthy Salesman

Getting a good Feedback score, posting lots of great photos, and including a detailed, honest description will have you off to a great start. On top of that, list your phone number and be fast about answering buyer questions. Transparency and availability will get people to trust you more easily.

Unless you’re taking payment in person, make sure you do the entire transaction on eBay so the buyer has the assurance of Vehicle Purchase Protection. Trying to complete the transaction off-site is considered a major red flag.

Summary

Selling cars on eBay can dramatically increase your sales volume. So long as you take the time to learn eBay SEO, comply with the law, and follow the best practices laid out here, your revenues should soar. Now go out there and make some money!

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