What You Need to Start Selling

File this information as "obvious" … but we'll go ahead and tell you anyway. Listed below are the essential items needed to operate an eBay Business. If you are all set up, skip this list.

  • Computer. Just about any computer that can get you on the Internet — PC, Mac, or Linux — will all work fine for eBay but you'll be most efficient with a computer manufactured within the past three or four years. Older computers, particularly with older operating systems (such as Windows 98), may not perform as well or as quickly and may prevent you from using certain auction management tools. Expect to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,500 for a new computer.

  • Broadband connection. There's no way around it. eBay buyers and sellers need a broadband connection (also known as a "high speed" connection). Some eBay members operate with dial-up modems, but most eBay businesses find dial-up too slow to process a meaningful number of sales. Broadband is commonly provided by cable television companies, telephone companies (known as "DSL"), and satellite Internet services companies. CNET offers a guide to locate broadband providers. Expect to pay $30 to $50 per month for broadband.

  • eBay membership. You must be an eBay member (with your own unique eBay ID) in order to buy or sell. See below for registration and ID information. eBay membership is free.

  • Digital camera and/or scanner. You will need digital pictures of the merchandise you are selling. eBay supplies pictures for most media merchandise (covers of popular DVDs, CDs, and books), but for all other items, you'll need to create pictures. We discuss cameras and photography in List an Item for Sale. Expect to pay between $100 to $300 for a digital camera and $50 to $200 for a scanner.

  • Something to sell. For information about tracking down suitable merchandise, see What Will You Sell?

  • Shipping supplies. Bubble wrap, anyone? You'll need packing material, mailing envelopes, and whatever else is required to guarantee safe delivery of your merchandise. Your shipping performance is actually a crucial aspect of your reputation in the eBay community. Badly packed items can ruin your feedback ratings — the ratings provided by other members to your transactions. For more, see Rules, Disputes, and Feedback.

  • Credit (or merchant) card account and PayPal membership. Most eBay members consider essential both PayPal membership and the ability to accept credit cards from buyers. (For more information on PayPal, read PayPal Basics) Note that you can operate on eBay without credit cards or PayPal (for example, instead of providing a credit card to register as a seller, you can participate in ID Verify), but it is not recommended. Buyers feel safer and prefer to work with sellers who have credit card and PayPal capacity. There is no charge for joining PayPal, though there may be transaction charges.

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