How Long Does It Take To Sell On eBay?

“What’s It Worth” Antiques Minute

August 25, 2019

There is no precise answer to this question. Some individuals sell items faster than others. It takes longer to sell differing items than similar items. And professional eBay sellers will sell much faster than rookies. However, based on my experience, it takes the average person approximately one hour per item to sell on eBay.
And here’s why. Once you have selected an item to sell, you’ll have to do the following steps, and this assumes that you already know how to sell on eBay:
Item description. You’ll have to think about how you want to describe your item, making certain to include all important details and being 100 percent accurate on condition. If you miss a flaw, it will almost always be returned, and/or you’ll receive negative feedback.
Digital images. You’ll have to take good pictures to sell on eBay.
Image editing. You’ll have to edit your images, which does take time.
Upload descriptions and images to eBay. This isn’t difficult, but it adds to the time.
Respond to questions. Any questions must be answered in a timely fashion, so you’ll need to pay daily attention to your emails and your “My eBay Dealer Dashboard.”
Will your item sell? Most items listed for sale on eBay fail to sell. And regardless of whether your item sells or not, you’ve done a lot of work up to this point.
If your item sells, you’ll need to get paid. Once you get paid, the real works starts.
Timewise, you’re about halfway done. Now you must meet eBay shipping standards. All sold items must be shipped fairly quickly. Whether your business is, with thousands of people working in your fulfillment department, or a mom and pop operation working at your kitchen table, the requirements are very similar. Get it out on schedule or be penalized. And if you fail to ship fast enough, you may receive negative feedback from an impatient buyer, and you could lose your eBay seller status as well.
Locate the right shipping box. Larger businesses have ample shipping supplies at their fingertips. Smaller eBay sellers may have to go dumpster-diving to locate an appropriate shipping container.
Box it up. You must package the item so it will safely arrive at its destination.
Ship it. Whether you go to the Post Office or a UPS Store, this can take the most time. Driving to and from, and then waiting in line, can sometimes take nearly one hour alone, at least in my home area.
But you’re still not done. Now you cross your fingers and hope the buyer will be happy with their purchase. If you’ve done your due diligence, most will be happy. But if you’ve missed even a little scratch on a 100-year-old item or if you’re a little late in shipping, you’ll be hearing about it and possibly having the item returned. Then you will have to refund all money, sometimes including their return shipping fees, and all your work will have been for naught. Even if any shipping delay is the fault of the USPS or UPS, it doesn’t matter, you’re still responsible.
Selling on eBay is not for the faint-of-heart. The rewards can be wonderful, but is all the work and aggravation involved worth it? Some say yes, while others say no.
And this doesn’t yet take into account any of the eBay scams that you may have to deal with. The “eBay Switcharoo,” the “eBay Shake-Down,” and the “eBay Refund without Return,” are just a few of the scams you may have to deal with. We’ll be covering these in future “What’s It Worth” Antiques Minute columns.
What’s it worth? We recently sold some photographs purchased for $20 at a local flea market for $1,100 on eBay. The buyer was from England. How else could we have found that buyer Without eBay? On that transaction we absolutely loved eBay. On another transaction, we purchased some photos, also for $20 at a flea market, and they sold for $60 on eBay. The buyer claimed to be unhappy, and we refunded the $60, but the buyer never returned our photos and refused to respond to our calls or emails, eBay support offered no support, and we eventually gave up and accepted the loss rather than waste any more time on it. On that transaction, we hated the eBay system, which favored the buyer over the seller. However, whether you love it or hate it, eBay does have its advantages. And it’s not going away.

Mike Ivankovich is an auctioneer, appraiser, home downsizing expert, and host of the "What's It Worth? Ask Mike the Appraiser" radio show. Now in its fifth year, “What’s It Worth” airs live on Friday mornings from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on WBCB 1490 AM in the greater Philadelphia area. It is available on the internet at
Listeners can also visit the radio show website at
To contact Mike Ivankovich, call 215-264-4304.


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