eBay Dropshipping – Is It Still Worth It In 2020? (Case Study)

Many beginners have never heard of eBay dropshipping, and think that the only possible way to dropship is on Shopify using a wholesale supplier, such as AliExpress.

Haven’t heard of dropshipping before? See this post.

Truth is, dropshipping is just a fulfillment model! It doesn’t belong to a certain platform.

eBay boasts 182 million active buyers worldwide and is often seen as the lower level cousin of Amazon. It has 1.2 billion live listings, which in itself is a ginormous number!

So, 182 million buyers versus 1.2 billion listings. Is eBay saturated? Is it still worth it to try eBay dropshipping as a beginner in 2020?

What Is eBay Dropshipping?

dropshipping business model

Dropshipping is a product fulfillment method, where you get to sell an item without ever having to touch it.

It’s a marketing middleman approach, where you find the audience that would like a specific item. Then, find where to source the said product for a cheap price. Lastly, you sell the product for a higher price to make a profit.

eBay dropshipping varies in some ways from the “common” dropshipping approach that YouTube gurus often preach.

  • Price wars – on Shopify you try to differentiate by creating a branded look and focusing on one or a few niche wholesale products. eBay dropshippers usually re-sell from branded, established stores, like Walmart or Home Depot. Sometimes AliExpress or Banggood. There is no way to differentiate. The cheapest offer usually wins. eBay seller sales are publicly available, so when others try to compete by listing their own – sellers can enter a price war and drive profits to a minimum.

  • Numbers game – since there is no way to differentiate, the best eBay dropshippers have thousands of listings. There’s plenty of them who sell 20.000 different items but have less than 100% sell-through. This means that each of their products sells less than once. These sellers can still make around 7k USD monthly, out of which 15-30% is profit.

  • Automation software is crucial – handling the fulfillment of thousands of different products by hand is impossible. Automation software is necessary if you want to scale your store. And you do want that since that’s the only way to make decent income with eBay!

  • Chinese competitors – eBay has a bunch of Chinese sellers. You don’t deal with this when Shopify dropshipping, because you present yourself as a brand. On eBay, you can be whatever! Buyers only care if you have the item they want and if you’re the lowest price. Chinese sellers tend to win in these cases, as they can offer the cheapest wholesale prices.

Is Dropshipping Allowed On eBay?

Yes, and no.

You can see the eBay dropshipping policies here.

To sum up, you cannot re-sell items from an established retailer or marketplace on eBay. However, you can purchase items in bulk from a supplier, and then sell them on eBay.

Well, the former is what everyone does, and the latter is… not really dropshipping, now is it?

So, a situation like this would be allowed on eBay:

  1. You buy 100 vintage glasses from Alibaba and ship them to your home
  2. You list them on your eBay store
  3. Customer buys your item
  4. You ship the item to the customer

Now, a situation such as this would not pass eBay’s dropshipping policies:

  1. You find a lamp on Walmart for 10 USD
  2. Realize that the same exact lamp is selling on eBay for 20 USD
  3. Create a lamp listing on eBay by copying the listing on Walmart
  4. Customer orders from your eBay store
  5. You order the lamp on Walmart and have it shipped to your customer

So, most eBay dropshippers do re-sell from those big retailers. And that’s what caused eBay to deck down on these kind of sellers, and any dropshippers on the platform. And that’s when it gets ugly…

eBay wants you to add value to the platform. They don’t consider re-selling valuable. If they find out you’re doing it, they can remove your listing, lower your seller rating or suspend your account (alluding to a later point in this article).

Many sellers are hanging on to dear lives, because they know that at any moment, if eBay sniffs them out (and eBay is a pro sniffer by now), their whole dropshipper career is done for.

My Beginner eBay Dropshipping Experience

Driven by a dash of desperation, I decided to give eBay dropshipping a go.

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t find much online education or excitement about it. Not nearly as much as there is about Shopify dropshipping.

There isn’t really much to learn, other than finding the most profitable items (and there are tools for that), figuring out the logistics, and trying not to get sniffed out.

It is certainly not a legitimate business long-term. It is not something you can openly tell about or sell once you want to try something else.

Mostly got my inspiration from this video showcasing a beginner who got great results, nearly 100 USD in profit after dropshipping for a little while. With only 20 listings.

Education

So, before any good deeds can be done and any profit made, I had to get to know more about this system.

I tried to Google and Pinterest search for only the greatest eBay dropshipping summaries out there.

I found a couple of uninspiring and rather shitty superficial posts on the subject and decided to give YouTube a go.

The greatest one was this by Oberlo, which was titled something like “Ultimate eBay Dropshipping Guide”, and then it ended like this:

oberlo ebay dropshipping guide

Bummer.

Couldn’t get discouraged that soon, right?

YouTube revealed more curious results

I found an oversimplified guide on dropshipping, which deemed that eBay dropshipping is just a copy and paste job. While in a sense I do agree on that, it’s not just that. In any case, this video helped me get an overview of how it all works.

I then watched multiple videos of this guy called Paul J Lipsky, who apparently is the biggest eBay dropshipping YouTuber. He has a course called “Dropshipping Titans”, where he goes more in-depth about how to set up policies, finding winning products, processing and tracking orders.

I found the course somewhere on the web for free. Maybe an out of date version of it. But it still helped me a little.

Don’t want to make the URL public, but you should find the link if you search for it on Google.

Lastly, I found this UK eBay dropshipper, who went really in-depth about the whole process and had his own methodology, which I didn’t follow.

But! He had great tips on how to use a certain eBay dropshipping tool called Zik Analytics.

I was certainly trying to rush the whole process. I didn’t believe there could be much education involved in this.

Furthermore, I’m not green when it comes to dropshipping, so I know the basics.

But when it comes to eBay, people really just don’t care. Maybe people would scroll-stop at a nicely picked picture. But then the price will come into play. The description matters, but only the content does, not the style.

For the eBay algorithm – the only thing that you could really optimize is the listing title, and maybe the description. But when you’re listing thousands of items, there’s not really much time to worry about the description.

Software Tried & Used

As I mentioned, eBay dropshipping requires automation. This is a numbers game and we’re competing with items already sold by other brands. We need software that can help us find winning products, list them, and keep track of the price variations.

I tried a few main eBay dropshipping software programs, just because they had free or semi-free trial plans.

Zik Analytics (1 USD 7 day trial, paid after that) + Zik Booster Google Chrome Extension

zik analytics

Zik Analytics is hands down the most fun and helpful seller analytics tool. It has an insane level of analytics embedded and can ruin many an established eBay dropshipper lives!

It works essentially by dissecting existing sellers’ listings and uncovering the winning products. So, all you have to do is just head to the eBay profits calculator and see if you could source the said product for a profit.

Some of the great features that it has:

  • Dashboard – showcasing your store performance, and current market best sellers.
  • Product analysis – allows you to enter a product name, and it pulls in the top 100 best selling products under that name. Then you can arrange them and see the stats of the product. You can conclude whether it’s selling well, stale or saturated.
  • Competitor analysis – this allows you to spy on any seller on eBay. You can even follow successful sellers to continue spying on their listings. You can see their sell-through rate, listing count, earnings, sold items in the previous month and all time, and much more. These that I mentioned were enough for me to find some profitable products.
  • Category analysis – just as checking a product’s profitability, this one scans the leading products of a category. This way you can establish the most popular categories on eBay.

Zik Booster extension is useful for the sole purpose that it shows the country and flag of the seller as such:

zik booster extension

The logic is that if the seller is Lithuanian, but the item location is China, there is a high chance that the person is a dropshipper!

DSM Tool (free up to 25 listings, paid after that)

dsm tool

DSM tool allows you to save time and list items quickly. It also allows you to track the price changes, monitor quantity, and communicate with customers. The free version doesn’t get you much, but it is enough for you to start.

I loved this software (for the little time that I got to use it). I followed the “Dropshipping Titans” free course that I found one web in order to set it up, and prepare my description templates.

The product importing was a very seamless task and worked smoothly.

AutoDS (7 day FREE trial, paid after that)

auto ds

So, AutoDS works almost exactly as DSM tools and has the same purpose. It does have a few neat features, but I found it a bit outdated and hard to use.

When I first started using it I faced multiple errors when trying to upload items. The status of the item would sit at “pending” for quite some time and I would need to manually stop it, because it would get stuck.

The worst thing is that the error messages I received didn’t help at all. Simple error codes with no particular meaning. After some digging I found out (on another section of the software) that the problem lies in my eBay settings.

Imported product descriptions were also cumbersome to edit. The editor template was outdated and had to be replaced completely.

One good feature this program has is AutoDS Finder, which literally finds good selling items for you. It searches for items that sold 3-8 times last month and automatically lists them onto your store.

Now, the drawback of that is that some items are seasonal, so you never know what you can get. Getting a beach towel in September, because it was selling well in August is not the best thing. Moreover, this feature is not free. It costs some credits to list an item. I believe you get a set of credits when you start, but then you need to buy more.

Alitools Shopping Assistant Google Chrome Extension (FREE)

alitools shopping assistant

AliTools extension is great and does a lot of things like tracking the AliExpress supplier’s rating, prices, and performance.

But the best purpose of this app for eBay dropshipping is that you can right click on an image and search whether it exists on AliExpress. That way you save yourself some time looking for the items manually as you don’t know what they might be called on AliExpress.

Game Plan & Results

I had a seasoned, old eBay account, all the way from 2017.

ebay profile

I only ever bought random items from eBay while I was living in the UK. Once I sold a camera I didn’t need. But that was the only sale I ever made.

Apparently, I had great feedback I never even realized I had! 34 x 5-star ratings as a buyer. Fortunately, eBay buyer and seller reviews go to the same pile. So, I was a flawless member of eBay society.

I rebranded myself as Supplium, after some long minutes looking at random words combined by Namelix.

I then updated my PayPal, double-checked automatic payment settings, listing allowance, connected the shop to Zik Analytics, and AutoDS.

Don’t even get me started about how I had to re-set my password, and how much of a hassle it was. eBay customer support is a nightmare and all over the place. Sometimes they only allow you phone contact, sometimes it’s live chat, sometimes you get e-mail!

My phone was outdated, so I had to power my way through until I got to e-mail them.

I tried to list the 1st item, which I thought was a mega winner.

But it did have 52 variations, so I don’t know what I was thinking, really. It took me a loooong time to configure it all to work.

I then thought eBay allowed me to have 100 listings, while they actually allowed me to have 100 items. Meaning if listing 1 has a quantity of 100, that’s it, my quote is reached!

Customer Support didn’t manage to explain that to me though.

Day 2

Day 2 comes. I have 0 listings active as of then.

And I wake up to this.

ebay unauthorized email

I’m locked out of my account, can’t get it back, can’t contact eBay.

What on earth could’ve happened? I had 0 items. I just used AutoDS. Thought that might’ve flagged my account. Even though it shouldn’t cause any issues.

I manage to contact them via chat somehow. They insist they tried to protect me, say my account is in 100% health and return it to me.

Lo and behold, I then try to make a listing active, and I can’t! My account is still restricted. I try to talk to Support once again when they tell me I necessarily have to call eBay.

What a test of patience.

I couldn’t call with a Lithuanian phone number (I tried), so I had to fish out my remaining British one.

I manage to call eBay, quickly explain my situation, and get the restrictions lifted. As if it was no problem at all. So, why did I need to call you to ask? I was told I’d need to give supplementary information. But was asked none of it!

I then go on a listing spree, and for 2 days everything seems fine. I list about 6 items, I believe, should sell well.

Some of my listings started to naturally get some views. The girl on YouTube who inspired me to start all this got a few sales after 120 listing views. So, it’s really not much. I had about 20 or so at the time.

Day 5

On day 5 I got the same “Unauthorised use” email!!! At this point, it really was driving me crazy. I texted them again, made sure they know I’m frustrated. They re-instated my listings they had taken down.

I then ask them what the problem was since I don’t want this to repeat. They respond with “your account is at perfect health”, that something got triggered on their side. They give me a random number to call and talk to their account execs.

The number is most likely from the US, so I cannot reach it from where I am.

Day 6

Day 6, I get the final bomb.

I hadn’t done anything since day 5. No more listings. Just the ones I had got revived.

Nevertheless, in the evening I receive this:

ebay suspended email

I didn’t read the full message then, so I thought it’s yet again one of those “Unauthorized use” e-mails. So, I find the live chat, and converse with an agent about this decision.

She tells me it’s final. Non-negotiable. That I am gone permanently from the platform.

I was only a bit mad.

Honestly, I’m glad this happened when I had 10 listings, and not 10.000. When I was earning nothing yet, had no disputes, and fees.

I don’t give up yet, though!

Day 7

On day 7, I create a new account. One for a different e-mail, phone number, country, address, and so on. I use DSM tools instead of AutoDS and not use AliExpress.

I go completely rebel mode and use Walmart as a supplier. Nothing out of the ordinary, since many people do that openly on YouTube. It is against eBay dropshipping policies, though.

I change the account settings, and make sure everything is spotless.

I opened one listing for a ghost woman Halloween prop, and for a while (1 day) I thought it might work.

But, lo and behold, next day I get suspended!

eBay is a professional at sniffing you out. This comment on Reddit pretty much sums it up:

reddit user opinion about ebay

I’m also glad that fate had it so I didn’t end up like this eBay seller:

reddit seller suspended by ebay

This is pretty much how I felt when I had 34 great feedback, dropshipping like any other eBay seller. Not doing it exactly right, but I was still getting my items from a wholesaler. I guess they had a problem with me being in Lithuania, and my item’s location – China. But again, many sellers do that.

eBay just wants to shake off the small fries.

Conclusion

eBay dropshipping is not worth it in 2020.

I cannot believe I’m writing this right now. I was so eager to make it work, but…

You gotta quit, when you gotta quit!

I have to apologize to Oberlo for being skeptical about their advice, but eBay dropshipping is really not worth it.

Not for me at least!

Maybe some competitors flagged me since they didn’t want to enter into a price war with me.

Maybe eBay is just being ruthless to dropshippers and is kicking them off the platform.

Who knows! But living every day being afraid your account can get suspended is not the kind of life I want!

Even more afraid if you’re dropshipping from established retail shops like Walmart, Target or Home Depot.

Certainly not the kind of financial independence I am after.

The only “proper” way (still not worth it) to dropship on eBay is buying bulk inventory, paying listing fees, not even having your consumer base, and risking being kicked off the platform.

Sounds good to you?

Heck no!

I know eBay dropshipping seems lucrative and tempting, but you’re better off putting more effort into one special product and dropshipping on Shopify.

See how to get 30 day free Shopify trial in 2020.

You can then:

  • Built a brand
  • Differentiate
  • Scale
  • Own your store and your business
  • Create something useful

I wish you success and to learn from my mistakes! We’re all gonna make it.

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