Strategy & Gameplan: How to build a non-API eBay dropshipping business

20 March 2020
Chris Garrett

Over the past year or so, you may have heard about some mysterious eBay sellers that have been using “non-API software” to dropship on eBay and get up to 10x the sales of everyone else. Unsurprisingly, most have wanted to stay very quiet about the topic and keep the profits to themselves…


But today we want to go beyond the veil of secrecy that has cast a shadow over non-API. With the help of our lead mentors, Nate and Rob, we’re going to give you an inside look at what running a non-API eBay dropshipping business is really like, and how it’s different from working with API software.


Non-API Scaling StrategyUnconfirmed rumors suggest that if you type the corresponding digits for n-o-n-a-p-i (6-6-6-2-7-4) into an ATM, it randomly spits money at you 🤷‍♂


ARTICLE BONUS: Click here to sign up for our non-API software – including all our features, and the ability to list up to 500 items!



Introduction to non-API dropshipping


If you’re new to the idea of non-API dropshipping, or don’t know what a flagged account is, then this section is for you. If not, feel free to skip ahead.


Non-API v API eBay dropshipping 


Before we dive right in, let’s check that you know the difference between API and non-API eBay dropshipping.


API / API dropshipping – API is an acronym for “application programming interface” which is a technical way that one software allows another software to communicate with it and make changes. In this respect, API dropshipping is when you dropship on eBay with software that uses eBay’s API to make changes to your eBay store (e.g. to list items, update the prices of your listings, amend stock levels etc). 


Non-API dropshipping – This either means dropshipping without software, or using software to dropship on eBay that doesn’t connect to eBay via their API, but with other technical means instead.


Why does it matter if you dropship using eBay’s API?


If you’re using retail suppliers like Amazon and you dropship using eBay’s API, eBay will “flag” your store which will lower the visibility of your listings in their search results and render any promoted listings you have ineffective, resulting in a 5-10x fall in your sales. 


3 other useful things to know:

  1. Once your account is flagged, there is no way to “unflag it”.
  2. To start dropshipping with non-API you will need an unflagged eBay account (though this isn’t as hard as you may think, more on that later!).
  3. You can still make money dropshipping with flagged accounts using eBay’s API but you will get far less sales and thus it’s less profitable than working with non-API software.



Article Contents:



An inside look at our eBay non-API strategy 👀


If you’ve ever been to Asia, you may have heard the infamous phrase “same, same but different” – which is perhaps the best way to describe non-API dropshipping.


Is it similar to dropshipping on eBay with API? Yes.


In fact, if you login to Salefreaks API software in one tab, and our non-API version in another, you’d notice virtually no difference. It looks completely the same.


Non-API dropshipping


But that’s only on the surface.  Dig a little deeper and the game plan you need to use to succeed with non-API is very different. 


Before we begin, there’s one thing we should mention. We don’t hide the fact that non-API can be more time-consuming at the beginning, and that there are higher risks of getting suspended on eBay – but it’s all a case of risk vs reward. With non-API, the risks are greater, but the potential rewards are huge.


Non-API Scaling Strategy


If you’ve been scaling an eBay dropshipping business with API software, your game plan is about to get turned upside down…


How to scale an eBay dropshipping business…
Dropshipping with eBay’s API: Have a small amount of eBay accounts that each have tens of thousands of listings.Dropshipping on eBay with non-API: Have lots of eBay accounts that each have a maximum of a few hundred up to 2,000 listings each.


Having said that, if you’re just wanting to make a small side-income and aren’t interested in growing an empire, that’s cool too. You can get started with 1 eBay account and take it from there. Baby steps, after all.


The key point to remember is this; with non-API, you don’t need thousands of listings to get sales as your listings gain higher visibility in eBay’s search results, resulting in around 10x the sales that you get with API software. 


In other words, uploading 500 non-API listings can have the same sales impact as uploading 5,000 API listings.


Grow too fast or too big, and it starts to get risky…


Non-API dropshipping Strategy


With success, comes greed. An almost certain way to receive an MC011 email from eBay stating that your account has been suspended is to grow too big or too fast.


That’s why with non-API there will be times where you’ll need to raise your profit margins to slow your sales down. Yes, you did read that correctly – sometimes with non-API you’ll be getting too many sales.


By nature, eBay is a cautious company that wants to see that they can trust you to do a good job with their customers. After all, it’s why new eBay accounts are created with a listing limit of 10 items – they want to be sure that new sellers are handling orders correctly. If you decide to suddenly go from zero sales to huge growth, it presents a big potential risk to eBay – and is a little suspicious too!


…so go slow or go home!


When we say go slow, we mean go reeeeeeally slow – even if you start with an eBay account that has a high listings limit.


Non-API Scaling Strategy for bussiness



During your first 3 months in particular, eBay will watch closely to make sure you’re doing a great job of keeping customers happy. So show them you can. Be extra cautious. Before you even start dropshipping, list some actual items you have in your house. And when you start selling your first items, restrict yourself to a very small amount of listings each day.


As time passes and you prove yourself to eBay, you should be able to gradually list more and more items over time.


Looking for exact numbers of how many items you should list each day / week to stay safe with new eBay accounts? Signup and upgrade to a paid non-API plan and within a few hours, we’ll email you instructions on how to join our mentoring service and get the full non-API guides!


Opening unflagged eBay accounts


Remember when we said that to dropship on eBay with non-API, you’ll need an unflagged eBay account? 


Well, this is the part that most people start panicking about.



The good news however is that after reading this, you won’t be most people, and you’ll see there really isn’t any need to panic.


For newbies to non-API, your first goal is simply to have just one unflagged eBay account. And for that, you can just go to eBay and open an account – even if you’ve had previous accounts in your name connected to API software.


This is exactly what our lead mentor Nate did when he first got started and that account became his biggest earner.


So what about when you want to scale?


Scaling up is going to require more than 1 eBay account, here are a few ideas you can use to get more:


💡Idea 1: Ask Family / Friends


Do any of your friends or family have an existing eBay account that they’re willing to let you use? Or are you able to ask them to open one in their name?


💡Idea 2: Find a private supplier / ask other dropshippers you trust


If you go down this route, please beware. We are not condoning this method or responsible if you choose to do this in any way. Treat it as “for informational purposes only”.


With all that said, it’s well known in eBay communities that there are people offering to supply eBay accounts. If you start posting publicly for help, you’re likely to encounter the wild west with reputable and non-reputable suppliers reaching out. That’s why, to minimize the chances of being scammed, you could ask dropshippers that you trust if they know anyone that can help.


One such supplier’s WhatsApp, John, is linked below:


John’s Skype ID


Disclaimer: This is a private supplier that we are not affiliated with or responsible for in any way. Use at your own risk.


Raising account limits


The other way to scale is by raising your account item limits. If you want to get a limit increase, we do not advise asking eBay. All this will do is attract unwanted attention and increase your chances of receiving a suspension.


Instead, the best way to increase your item limits is to list consistently and get close to your limits. After a while, eBay should automatically increase your limits when they’re assured you’re doing a great job as a seller!


Promoted Listings


In return for taking a higher fee, eBay allows you to promote your listings to gain even more visibility in the search results – and thus get even more sales.


If you’ve never heard about running promotions, you can read eBay’s explanation here.


With API software, eBay flags your store, and prevents your listings from reaching the front page, even if you pay for promoted listings.


But with non-API, promoted listings are a fantastic way to get even more sales.


Just take a look below. This is the same person, using the same dropshipping techniques – the only difference is whether they’re using API or non-API software.





One word of warning, this method is so effective that you actually need to make sure you don’t trigger a suspension for getting too many sales, particularly when your account is relatively new.



Want to know how to set up and run effective promotions while non-API dropshipping? Find out in our 100+ page mentoring guide – signup and upgrade to a paid non-API plan and within a few hours, we’ll email you instructions on how to join our mentoring service and get the full guides!


Huge Profit Margins and a High Sales Conversion Rate (SCR)


Dropshipping with eBay’s API is a bit like being hidden in a hedge. 


Your listings are still on eBay, but they are so far lower in the search results that buyers need to make much more of an effort to find where they’re hiding.



This is where non-API starts to get really interesting.


Because you’re suddenly leapfrogging above all the other dropshippers in eBay’s search results, you don’t just need to compete on price.


Assuming your store has good seller metrics (i.e. high positive feedback & top-rated seller status), and you use market research to find items, then you should be able to command a front-end profit margin of up to 15-20% when dropshipping items from Amazon. And that’s not including any back-end profit you may get from using cashback websites, credit-cards or gift cards!


So what about your sales conversion rate (SCR)?


Sales Conversion Rate = This is a measurement of how fast your products are selling, measured by calculating the total number of sales as a percentage of the total number of listings you have. 


For example: If you have 10 listings, and 1 sale, this would be a 10% SCR (1/10).


With API software, most dropshippers average a SCR of ~10%. Yet with non-API you should be able to aim for a SCR of around 30% – 100%. In fact, at Salefreaks we’ve seen non-API sellers achieve up to a 200% SCR. 


This means not only is it possible to achieve far greater profit margins, but you can expect to get between 3x – 20x more sales per listing with non-API!


Would you like to get non-API mentoring and our full non-API mentoring guides?


Interested in mentoring? Meet our lead non-API mentor, Nate! 🙋‍♂ 


Nate is one of Salefreaks’ most successful non-API dropshippers, and runs our non-API mentoring service along with fellow dropshipper Rob.


This entire article is based around their thriving business, the challenges they’ve overcome and the strategies they’ve learned. Here’s a bit of background.


How Nate got into the world of eBay


Nate’s journey started back when he was a student at university. In need of an income, Nate drove around the country, finding undervalued items in charity shops, and flipping them on eBay.


While this was very profitable, it wasn’t scalable. There were only so many hours in the day, and only one Nate. Tired of the constant hustle, Nate heard about the concept of dropshipping from his brother and immediately fell in love with the idea.


Within a year, Nate’s tenacious attitude saw him go from making a little extra cash on the side to running a full-time eBay API dropshipping business, with 10 stores in the U.K. and U.S., over 100,000 eBay listings, 8 virtual assistants, and most importantly more than $13,000 profit per month.


But ask any experienced eBay seller and they’ll tell you that eBay is an ever-evolving game with new tactics and methods being discovered all the time. So instead of taking his success for granted, Nate knew he’d need to continue to look for the latest and greatest dropshipping innovations. 


That’s when in early 2019, Salefreaks invited Nate to join our top-secret non-API program…


From the get-go, Nate started noticing huge benefits by switching to non-API. 


With the 10x increase in traffic to his eBay listings, he switched back to fulfilling Amazon orders by credit card rather than discounted gift cards to provide better stability. By having multiple eBay accounts, he felt much more assured that his business was secure. And because you only need around 500-2,000 listings per store to succeed, his army of virtual assistants could handle around 10 of them each!

Today with everything automated, Nate is taking everything slowly, building up for Christmas this year and eager to help mentor new students!


Do you want to be mentored by Nate & Rob?


Our mentoring service includes:

  • A 1-1 video call with advice on how to get started
  • Regular coaching, advice and encouragement
  • Access to a private non-API community, and mentoring group


And what can you expect from their non-API mentoring guides?


  • How to get started with Salefreaks non-API. From finding items, uploading listings, placing orders, and configuring your settings – you’ll be guided step-by-step on what to do – even if you’re a complete beginner.


  • How to safely scale your business suspensions – with technical recommendations on which proxies to use, how fast to grow and how to scale.


  • All things eBay – How to pay fees, run promotions and when to switch subscriptions


  • How to overcome the challenges of managing multiple accounts – from customer service, sourcing accounts and scaling vertically v horizontally.


  • And lots more!



What could you achieve with help from our mentors?



Imagine making £7,000/month of profit from dropshipping on eBay. (That’s roughly $9,000 USD)


Then imagine doing so in just 8 months, and with only 11,000 items. 


With Nate and Rob’s mentoring, this dropshipper managed to grow a store with a sales conversion rate of 40-60%, selling around 200 items/day!




Or how about Matt? Matt started non-API as a complete newbie in September 2019, but within 4 months, and by using Nate and Rob’s strategy, he went from 0 to ~$100/day of profit!



Are you ready to join the 10% of dropshippers making 90% of the profits?


Signup and upgrade to a paid Salefreaks non-API plan for access to our non-API software including all features and mentoring to succeed!


Click this link to signup, and we’ll see you on the inside.


After signing up, we’ll send you emails with details on how to join our mentoring group.

Chris Garrett Content Editor
Chris Garrett
Content Editor

Chris is Salefreaks’ rockstar content editor. In addition to his work as a SaaS copywriter for various software clients, he enjoys playing chess and travelling. All views expressed in the articles are that of the company.

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