Whether you're interested in selling shoes on eBay as a side hustle or as your full-time job, you need a plan to make money from your efforts. Otherwise, it's easy to get frustrated and throw in the towel. Don't be fooled by the online aspect of each sale. Enjoying success as an eBay seller requires a solid business plan, excellent customer service and daily effort, just like a brick-and-mortar shoe store.
Selling shoes on eBay has some appealing advantages. You can reach an international audience if you wish, and you can avoid some of the significant overhead costs associated with a physical storefront, such as rent, utilities and payroll. However, saving money doesn't equal making money. So, how do you make money selling shoes on eBay?
Narrow Your Focus
Shoes sell. Period. Everyone needs at least a few pairs of shoes, and they need to be replaced or updated periodically. You're already ahead of the game by wanting to sell shoes on eBay because you've chosen a popular product.
It's wise to narrow your focus even further. Otherwise, it's easy to get overwhelmed when choosing your stock, trying to maintain a connection with your buyers and keeping up with trends. You can always expand later if it makes sense to do so.
Have you noticed a lack of certain types of shoes on eBay, and you want to fill that niche? One of the best ways to get started is to choose shoes in which you're genuinely interested. Your excitement will seep through into the listings, and you'll simply enjoy the research that you need to do as part of this job.
Selling Shoes on eBay in Categories
Not sure how to narrow your focus? Take a look at the categories on eBay as a starting point. They are divided into three broad categories: women's shoes, men's shoes and kids' shoes. Of those, which do you want to target?
Within each top-level category, you'll see additional categories, and basic styles get divided even further. Pick one or two basic styles on which to focus. For example, kids' shoes are either for toddlers, girls or boys. Women's shoes include boots, flats, heels, sandals or athletic shoes, and men's shoes include boots, casual shoes, dress shoes and athletic shoes.
Say you're a huge fan of flats and sandals. Because that's what you tend to personally buy and wear, you're probably familiar with some great brands and not-so-great brands. Chances are you could give someone a quick speech on why these are your favorite styles of shoes, which means you'll hit all the highlights when writing each eBay listing.
Know Your Product
You not only need to get excited about your product, but you need to know it like the back of your hand, which is why it's useful to have a narrow focus. Which brands run true to size, and which run small? Which tend to stand the test of time while others fall apart? Are there styles or colors that had very limited runs?
Knowing your product will help you snag great deals and avoid bad ones as you search for shoes to sell. It will also give you information that makes it easier to sell those shoes. Buyers appreciate knowledgeable sellers who can quickly answer questions.
Start by reading as many reviews as you can find. Create your own cheat sheet of your findings. Search for complaints or praise about sizing and workmanship in particular so you know which brands to avoid and which to snatch up.
Find Shoes to Sell
Now that you've done your research, it's time to find shoes to sell. At first, you should plan to just dip your toe in the water and see how it all works out before you run out of steam and money. Set an initial buying budget and stick to it.
First, you need to make one more decision: Will you sell brand-new shoes, used shoes or both? If you want to sell brand-new shoes, you'll need to search online for wholesale discounts and choose a popular shoe. Search the sold listings on eBay to see how often a certain shoe gets sold on the site and for how much.
For used shoes, you'll need to do some local investigation. Start with yard sales, estate sales, flea markets and thrift shops, especially those in more upscale areas. You'll begin to learn which places tend to have the best shoes the more you visit.
Tips for Finding Quality Used Shoes
When it comes to finding quality used shoes for selling on eBay, be extraordinarily picky about the quality of the shoes and the price you're willing to pay for them. Ideally, you want to get great-quality shoes for a fraction of what you can sell them for.
Search for signs of wear on the soles and inside the shoes, damage to the outside and any mechanical problems with zippers, laces or buckles. Real leather always commands a higher price than fake. Is a brand label clearly visible? If not, it may be a knock-off.
Boost Customer Confidence
The next key to making money selling shoes on eBay is to boost your customers' confidence. Give them no excuses to pass up your product. That means you need well-lit pictures of both shoes from every angle, including the sole. You don't need to have a model wearing the shoes, but you do need to do your best to create professional-looking photos with a backdrop.
You also need accurate measurements of the shoe, preferably with a picture of a ruler next to it. If possible, removing the shoe's insert and measuring its width across the widest part and length from toe to heel will provide more accurate sizing information than taking those same measurements outside the shoe.
Finally, allowing returns on shoes gives customers peace of mind and makes them more likely to buy your shoes to try them on. If you provide accurate sizing information, you should not have to worry about too many returns. Simply having a return policy can convince someone to buy from you.
Calculate the Sale Price
Finally, you need to calculate a sale price for your shoes that will give you profit. You need to consider eBay's fees and PayPal's fees before you do because both companies take money from the sale or transaction. EBay charges 10% of the final sale price, and PayPal takes 30 cents plus 2.9% of the final sale when conducting the transaction.
Next, you need to factor in your shipping costs. Although buyers get charged shipping, you might end up eating some of the cost if you do not have an accurate shipping charge. It's a good idea to invest in a postal scale to quickly calculate costs when making listings.
Next, how much did you pay for the shoes in the first place? Finally, you'll have to set aside some of the money you receive from the sale for taxes. All of these factors can make it difficult to decide how to set the price in order to get the profit you want. Online eBay fee calculators can help.
Cathy Habas specializes in marketing, customer experiences, and behind-the-scenes management. Cathy has contributed to sites like Business and Finance, Business 2 Community, and Inside Small Business. She served as the managing editor for a small content marketing agency before continuing with her writing career.