Is Selling on eBay a Good Business or Side Hustle? A Brief Overview

Explore the potential of eBay as a business or side hustle, diving into the prospects and challenges of selling new items, pre-owned goods, and automobiles.

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Is selling on eBay still a great business or side hustle? Well that depends.

In the massive ecommerce industry, eBay stands out as one of the most frequented online marketplaces, second only to Amazon in the United States in 2023.

With its origin as a peer-to-peer platform for buying and selling used or collectible items, eBay has evolved over the years, diversifying its offerings and shifting to a model that embraces auction and fixed-price sales. But the question remains: Is selling on eBay a feasible business model or side hustle?

Maybe there is an answer in the company's financials. According to eBay's first-quarter financial report of 2023, it generated a revenue of $2.5 billion, underscoring the platform's vast potential.

However, the Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) was slightly down. This dip in GMV could be due to a variety of factors, including increasing competition or shifts in consumer spending habits.

Quarter End Gross Merchandise Volume - U.S. (in millions)
March 31, 2022 $9,335
June 30, 2022 $8,982
September 30, 2022 $8,699
December 31, 2022 $8,894
March 31, 2023 $9,010
Quarter End Gross Merchandise Volume - International (in millions)
March 31, 2022 $10,074
June 30, 2022 $9,567
September 30, 2022 $9,016
December 31, 2022 $9,333
March 31, 2023 $9,400

So, it would seem that the eBay marketplace presents opportunities and challenges for individuals looking to start a small business or earn extra income. Let's take a closer look at the potential for selling new products, reselling items, and dealing in automobiles.

New Products

Selling new products on eBay can be a viable business option. The platform allows sellers to reach a broad audience — around 789 million visitors per month, according to 2022 data. The number of active buyers is lower but still impressive. For example, in the three months ending on March 31, 2023, about 133 million folks made a purchase.

Quarter End Active Buyers (in millions)
March 31, 2022 142
June 30, 2022 138
September 30, 2022 135
December 31, 2022 134
March 31, 2023 133

The platform's vast user base can provide a ready market for niche items or even popular goods. However, competition can be fierce, and success may depend on factors such as pricing, quality, and marketing strategy.

In this sense, eBay might be a secondary market for new ecommerce sales. If an online store can easily connect to eBay, there are very few reasons not to.

Reselling Items

As the pioneer of the recommerce sector, eBay continues to be a hub for reselling pre-loved goods.

eBay's inaugural Small Business Report revealed that more than 75 percent of sellers use the platform to sell pre-owned items.

This space provides an excellent opportunity for "accidental entrepreneurs" — those who didn't initially set out to start a business but find themselves doing so.

It's also a testament to the platform's flexibility, allowing for business growth while promoting sustainable consumer habits. However, sellers should be aware that the resale market can be unpredictable, and profitability may vary based on the items sold and their condition.

Sourcing the products —especially for recommerce— will be key for success on eBay.


eBay Motors has made a name for itself in the online sale of vehicles.

The convenience of browsing, bidding, and buying from the comfort of one's own home attracts many buyers.

As a seller, listing vehicles can be profitable but challenging. Trust and transparency are crucial in online vehicle sales, and sellers must be ready to provide detailed vehicle history reports, high-quality images, and thorough descriptions to attract potential buyers.

What's more, much of the competition on eBay Motors comes from dealerships using relatively advanced listing tools.

The Bottom Line

The sentiments of eBay's sellers reflect a largely positive view of the platform.

According to the same Small Business Report mentioned above, 72 percent of sellers believe that eBay's success is tied to their own, and 71 percent rely heavily on eBay for their business. Furthermore, 83 percent of sellers have managed to turn their passion into a business on eBay —this can be very common with eBay Motors. These stats are encouraging for anyone considering eBay as a potential business or side hustle.

However, eBay is not without its downsides. Sellers must deal with fees, competition, and the need to stand out among a sea of listings. Also, they must manage customer service, shipping, and potential returns — factors that can impact profitability and require significant time investment.

Whether eBay is a good choice for a business or side hustle depends —sorry no clean yes or no answer here.

Selling on eBay can be a great business or a bust and it will be the type of product you're selling, your willingness to navigate the competitive landscape, and your commitment to providing excellent customer service which will help determine the outcome.

With diligent research, clear planning, and strategic execution, eBay can indeed offer a profitable platform for budding entrepreneurs and those looking for a lucrative side hustle.