Selling shoes online is big business, and eBay, the world's go-to auction site, is no exception. One sign of the potential customer base is the market for used sneakers, which is a $1 billion industry -- and rose by 48 percent in one year on eBay alone, as CNN Money reported in June 2014. You won't get rich by doing it, but it's possible to earn a good income if you understand how the market works, and build a reputation of delivering value for money.
Build Your Inventory
Search your closet for shoes you don't wear anymore. This is a good way to start if you're new to eBay, or on a tight budget. Then visit auctions, flea markets and yard sales to find the shoes that you want -- including name brands -- for bargain prices. U.S. News & World Report also recommends downloading eBay's smartphone application, so you can check an item's potential selling price.
Choose an Appropriate Selling Format
Study completed listings to see how similar types of shoes are selling. Note each pair's selling price. To get more buyers, consider selling less desirable brands in lots, and start the bidding at 99 cents to $2.99, recommends the eBay guide, "How to Buy (or Sell) Used Shoes on eBay." This method works well for casual athletic, department store and dress shoes. If you focus on single pairs, choose brands that sell well on their own -- such as Dr. Martens boots or high-end athletic shoes.
If the pair you're selling is valued at $8 or less, donate it or include it in a lot with other similar shoes. Otherwise, you probably won't make enough on the sale to be profitable.
Create Appealing Photos
Shoot front, back and overhead photos of your shoes, as well as the soles, so the customer sees what she's buying. Also, take time to improve your shoes' look and appearance, which can raise their value. Replacing the laces in tie-up shoes is one common method. So is investing in shoe polish to clear up stains and signs of wear, states the eBay guide, "How to Sell Shoes and Sneakers."
Tape a few sheets of white posterboard together to create a distraction-free background.
Heed Manufacturers' Restrictions
Respect manufacturers' intellectual property rights for shoes that you do sell. Check eBay's homepage for its Verified Rights Owner Program -- where participating companies spell out their resale policies and procedures. For example, reselling a Nike shoe outside of its original sales territory could lead to eBay removing your listing, at the company's request. Nike then could follow up by filing an infringement claim against you.
Don't relist your item until the dispute is resolved. Acting too hastily could prompt suspension of your account. If you file a valid counter-claim, eBay will restore your listing in 10 days, unless the company files a restraining order to block it.
Offer Detailed Listings
Don't keep customers guessing what you want to sell them. Enter the brand, manufacturer, size and year in the listing's subject line, such as, "Men's Air Jordan Sneakers, Size 12X, 1999." Use similar listings as a guide if you feel stuck. Then write a description summarizing your shoes' best qualities and condition. If you never wore them, write DS, which stands for "Dead Stock." Write VNDS, or Very Near Dead Stock, if you only tried them on, or wore them for brief periods.
Pay Attention to Fees
Stick with an economical listing approach, or eBay' fees will quickly dissipate your profis. Avoid add-ons like Launch Scheduler or Listing Designer, which each add 10 cents per item to your listing fee. Using your own design templates and entering listings manually will save $520 to $1,200 per year, according to eCommerce Weekly. Also, pick the single best category for your shoes. Otherwise, you'll pay insertion fees on both items, and a final value fee -- which cancels out the benefit of your 50 free monthly listings that eBay offers.
Watch Shipping Costs
Customize packaging to protect the customer's purchase and your bottom line. Cut boxes and padded envelopes to size, and reclaim discarded packing materials from curbs and dumpsters, says the eBay guide, "Ten Tips for Sellers on Saving Money on Shipping Costs." Use rolled- or shredded-up newspapers, rather than expensive styrofoam peanuts, to prevent shoes from rolling around in a box. For thriftier customers, offer lower shipping on multiple purchases, and cheaper options -- like Parcel Post -- to save more money.