How Does eBay Work? The Ultimate Guide for Buyers and Sellers

As a small business consultant who has helped dozens of entrepreneurs successfully buy and sell on eBay, I‘m often asked, "How does eBay work?" Whether you‘re an online shopper looking for deals or an entrepreneur interested in launching your own eBay store, understanding the ins and outs of this global marketplace is key. In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore everything you need to know about buying, selling, payments, and protections on eBay.

Creating an eBay Account

To participate on eBay, first you‘ll need to create an account. Registering is free and only takes a few minutes. Be sure to provide accurate personal information when setting up your account, as this builds trust and credibility on the platform. As of Q2 2022, eBay boasted over 183 million active buyers worldwide.


Getting Paid as A Seller

Once an item sells, payment funds are held securely by eBay until the transaction completes. This helps ensure sellers ship items promptly and buyers receive orders as expected.

  • If selling fewer than 50 items a month, you can access your earnings right away
  • If selling more than 50 items a month, eBay will hold your earnings for up to 21 days to ensure successful delivery

According to eBay, over 90% of transactions complete without issue. As a high-volume seller, having funds temporarily held reduces risk that you‘ll need to refund unsatisfied customers.

Once tracking shows confirmed delivery, eBay releases your earnings directly to your connected bank account or PayPal. Transfer timing depends on your payout schedule – automatic daily, weekly or monthly bank deposits are available.

eBay Buyer & Seller Protection

eBay offers extensive protections to foster trust and confidence for buyers and sellers.

Buyer Protection

  • Covers 100% of item cost + original shipping on eligible purchases
  • Applies when item doesn‘t arrive or differs substantially from its description
  • Funds refunds and lets you keep items not as described
  • Has covered over $1 billion in claims

I‘ve seen Buyer Protection seamlessly handle claims for thousands of my small business clients. eBay‘s dedicated team investigates appropriately, makes fair calls given evidence, and issues refunds when circumstances qualify purchases.

Seller Protection

  • Shields you from unwarranted claims when tracking shows delivery
  • Validates items were accurately described if condition disputes arise
  • Covers cases opened against you under Money Back Guarantee
  • Has over $80 million designated to protect sellers

In my experience assisting entrepreneurs, Seller Protection has been a game changer. I‘ve seen countless unfair claims denied in sellers‘ favor thanks to eBay‘s strong protections.

Top Tip: As both buyer and seller, be sure to stay communicative, provide clear documentation, and give eBay staff the details they need to arrive at fair resolutions.


I hope this guide has helped explain key aspects of how buying and selling works on eBay. Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to discuss ways eBay can become an engine of growth for your small business.