Could private sales on eBay soon be free in the UK?


Currently, private UK eBay sellers are charged 12.8% commission on every sale. However, eBay in Germany has just scrapped its charges entirely for private sellers. ParcelHero says the online marketplace may be tempted to do the same in the UK.

Could the giant online marketplace eBay soon offer entirely free sales to UK private sellers? The home delivery company ParcelHero says the UK version of the online marketplace may consider following the example of its German sister site in scrapping all charges for non-trade sellers.

Says ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks: “Private sellers on Germany’s eBay site now enjoy completely free sales, with no commission to pay. Here in the UK, non-trade sellers still pay 12.8% final value fees, plus a 30p fixed fee, on the majority of sales.

“German private sellers now have no fees to pay, following a major change in’s pricing strategy. From 1 March all listing fees and final value fees have been axed. German non-trade sellers previously paid 11% commission plus a 0.35Euro fixed fee.”

Bold move

Germany’s eBay site is its third largest, behind only the US and the UK. That means that eBay’s UK bosses will be looking at the change closely. Why has made this bold move? German consumers are struggling with higher living costs in a similar way to Brits. Oliver Klinck, eBay Germany’s Managing Director, said that the removal of fees for private sales will boost’s attractiveness, increase the variety of offers on the site and drive business.

Klinck says: “We are living in a time when many families lack money in their wallets.” He claims there is a “great need in Germany to generate additional income through private sales.” With UK shoppers facing equal, if not greater, cost of living pressures, it could be a gamble eBay UK decides to take as well.

There is another good reason for the axing of charges, eBay Germany says: “A look at our numbers shows that customers who sell on shop on average twice as much on as customers who only use eBay to buy.” So, by luring more people into the whole eBay buying and selling eco structure, in theory eBay could double its sales – an intriguing thought.

Of course, the move does not apply to registered traders. There will be no change to commercial sellers’ costs on Commercial sales, according to eBay, account for approximately 80% of trade on the platform. However, the move could revitalise the marketplace, which is in danger of stagnating.

According to its latest results, eBay’s revenues tumbled by 4% year-on-year, to $2.5 billion (around £2.09bn), during Q4 2022. It’s urgently seeking new ways to find new sales, now the Covid sales bubble has burst.

Used items outperforming new

This thinking won’t be lost on eBay’s UK execs. Globally 80% of items sold on eBay are new, these are items most likely to be sold by commercial sellers rather than individuals. Could it be worth the risk to drop charges here in the UK for the share of the remaining 20% of items which are more likely to be sold by private sellers, in the hope of boosting sales and encouraging more visitors to the site?

Interestingly, used items are actually outperforming new items on the site. Globally, more than half of all used items listed on eBay get sold, as opposed to one-third of new items. So, while eBay generates more profit from registered traders, many of its customers are drawn by its used products, which are more often listed by private sellers.

“We’re not expecting eBay in the UK to follow suit any time very soon, as its financial model is rather different than its German sister-site,” says David Jinks. However, is supporting the move with a TV and social media marketing campaign. “Let it go. For free. If the strategy is seen to generate significant new traffic to the site and a notable boost in sales, it might be an offer eBay here in the UK can’t refuse,” he adds.

If someone is thinking of selling on eBay for the first time, it’s worth keeping in mind that occasional sellers can set themselves apart by offering great shipping rates to eBay customers. Using a parcel price comparison site, such as ParcelHero, to fulfil eBay orders makes shipping at home or abroad fast and simple. 

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Chris Price
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