Prior to the Internet the only options to sell used items were garage sales, flea markets, the classifieds, or on consignment – and it was only in your local area. These days, you’re able to sell used products to buyers all over the world with just a few clicks of the mouse.
Launching an ecommerce store can be easy and affordable, and you don’t have to have a degree in computer science to be successful. Many new ecommerce sellers get started by listing stuff they have around the house. It’s a quick way to declutter and to make some extra money. But for some, it’s the path to a prosperous online business.
If you’re interested in starting an ecommerce business selling used products, we have some great information for you in this post. First we’ll cover the pros and cons of selling used items online, then where to find items to sell, how to price used items, and the best places to sell online.
Pros and Cons of Selling Used Products Online
While there are some great benefits to selling used products online, there are also some drawbacks.
- You can get started quickly. Unlike opening a brick and mortar store, you don’t have to look for or lease a storefront for a brick and mortar store or even invest in a large amount of inventory. You can have your own used or vintage items listed in one afternoon on a marketplace such as eBay.
- You can sell vintage items. There are many buyers searching for used items that are considered “vintage” online because they have exhausted their local sources. Clothes, collectibles, music, jewelry, and other retro items are perfect.
- You’ll reach a larger audience selling used products online than you would locally.
- You can sell 24/7. Shoppers can buy your products around the clock.
- Online stores are easily scalable. While you’re starting out with used products, you may branch out to sell new items as well. While you can outgrow a physical store as your business increases, you can’t outgrow the Internet.
- It’s relatively inexpensive. Opening an online store or signing up to sell on a marketplace is far less expensive than opening a brick and mortar store.
- There are more ways to sell online. Marketplaces like eBay allow you to sell to the highest bidder in auctions or sell products for a fixed price.
- There’s a lot of competition. The ecommerce industry is huge, and that means that the competition is fierce. It can be more difficult to stand out when there are endless options for online buyers.
- It can be impersonal. Some customers prefer to shop in a physical store with access to a sales team.
- There’s no tactile experience. Customers aren’t able to touch or examine products before they buy online. This is especially important when you’re selling used products. Buyers want to be able to see for themselves how “used” the product is.
- Customers have to wait for their products. Instant gratification is a huge motivator for shoppers. When buying online, customers are left-empty handed while they wait for their product to be delivered.
- There are tax implications. Like retail store owners, you do have to keep track of your income and business expenses, and report them accurately when you sell used products. Depending on the volume of your sales, you may have to hire an accountant to make sure you don’t end up with a huge IRS debt.
- Credit card fraud. Credit card fraud is a growing issue for ecommerce businesses. It can lead to chargebacks that result in the loss of revenue. Unfortunately, it’s easier for criminals to take advantage of online sellers than those in brick and mortar stores where cards are physically presented.
Sourcing Used Items to Sell
One of the best things about selling used products is that you can find inventory almost anywhere. Some of the best places to look for second-hand items to sell in your ecommerce store are:
Garage sales (yard sales and estate sales, too) tend to have valuable items that are in great condition. Because the folks having yard sales aren’t professionals, and they’re really just trying to get rid of their “junk,” they often price products low so that they sell quickly. Like the old saying goes, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”
You can find some great products at thrift stores, even though you might consider them to be your competition. While you might not find prices as low as at yard sales, there are still deals to be found and profits to be made.
Some items at auctions end up costing too much for you to make a profit reselling, but sometimes you can find unusual items that have a higher potential for earning a profit. Look for police auctions, where you can find just about anything that law enforcement has seized or confiscated (cars, jewelry, electronics, clothes, and more). Also, make sure to check out auctions at storage facilities. You have to bid on the whole storage unit without being able to inspect the contents, but you never know what you’ll find.
There are a wide variety of goods at a flea market, where there are both professional sellers and everyday people.
Craigslist is a good option if you know what kind of products you’re looking for, but browsing for products on this platform can be time-consuming.
Craigslist items will vary in both product type and quality. Be sure that you inspect each item carefully to be sure you can resell it for a profit.
Pricing Second-Hand Products
How do you price your used products? Here are some tips to put you on the right track:
- Know what the current retail price is. Search online to see what your product sells for when it’s new. Be sure to look at the same design or model in your searches. Your model may have distinctive features that are no longer available in current models – and that can increase the value of your item.
- Take depreciation into account. Everything goes down in value. Professional resellers suggest pricing fairly new items at half of their original cost, 25 percent for items that are a few years old, and 10 percent for everything else. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, so be sure to do your homework before pricing items.
- Look at your competition. This might be the best way to price used products accurately because you can gain valuable information about what products like yours are actually selling for.
- Stay on top of your pricing. It’s important to review your pricing often and make adjustments as needed. Ecommerce product pricing can fluctuate widely, even in short periods of time.
Where to Sell Used Products Online
Here’s a list of the top online spots to sell your used products:
Selling used products on eBay is a no-brainer. eBay is the original auction marketplace and it keeps getting bigger. The platform allows you to sell your items either at a fixed price or as an auction. While you’ll find more competition on eBay than on other, smaller marketplaces, you’ll also get far more exposure.
Sellers with a basic eBay account can list up to 50 items for free ($0.35 each after that), and there is a 10% final value fee for most items, up to a $750 maximum.
Amazon started out as a book selling website, but it has grown into a huge marketplace that sells just about everything, including used products in some categories. Like eBay, Amazon has a huge number of online shoppers (213 million per month, in fact), so you’ll have great visibility. Of course, that also means you’ll have more competition.
Individual sellers pay $0.99 per item sold, in addition to a variable closing fee that can range from $0.45 to $1.35. The Professional Seller plan, designed for sellers who sell more than 40 units per month, does cost more.
While Etsy specializes in handmade goods, it’s also a marketplace for vintage items, the only type of used goods you can sell on the marketplace. Etsy considers vintage items to be those that are 20 years old or older. This puts limits on the types of used products you can sell, so you may find that this isn’t the right marketplace for you. However, if you do have vintage items and decide to start an Etsy store, it can be a lucrative endeavor.
Etsy charges $0.20 each to list items (for 4 months), and a fixed 3.5% commission.
Poshmark is an easy solution if you sell used clothing at any price point. You can sell apparel for men, women, and kids, and customers can buy directly from their phone with Poshmark’s mobile app. The best part of selling on Poshmark is they take care of the financial side of the transaction, send you a prepaid shipping label, and provide customer service for your shoppers.
Fees on Poshmark are taken from the listed price once your item sells. They charge a flat $2.95 fee for items under $15, and 20% of the listing price for everything else.
DeCluttr allows you to sell your used media items like DVDs, CDs, video games, books, LEGOs, and other technology items. There are limits on the types of items you can sell, but DeCluttr is an awesome option for selling your media products.
DeClutter is a little different than other online sites where you sell products. It works like this:
- Enter your item via the website or mobile app and you will get an instant valuation from DeCluttr.
- If you decide to accept the valuation, DeCluttr will send you a free shipping label to send your item to them.
- The day after they receive your item, you will receive payment via direct deposit, PayPal, check, or as a donation to your chosen charity.
On the Bonanza website, sellers can create their own webstore and sell on the marketplace. The platform is one of the easiest ecommerce marketplaces to navigate, and it’s growing in popularity. Not only that, it’s completely free to list products on Bonanza. You only pay a small percentage of the final selling price, which can be as little as 3.5% – considerably less than eBay.
OfferUp allows you to buy and sell things online in your local area. When someone is interested in buying your item, you can communicate with them about the logistics of the transaction. Many sellers will meet up with buyers to complete the sale. If you’re uncomfortable with choosing a safe place to meet, OfferUp has a Safe Trade Spots finder tool to help you. Shoppers access OfferUp from the mobile app, and it’s free for buyers and sellers to use.
Selling used products online can be profitable when you know the tricks of the trade. Sourcing second hand products can even be fun and exciting – you never know what kind of amazing items you’ll find! Understanding the pros and cons, how to source and price used products, and where to sell them, provides you with the basics you need to know to start selling.
Are you already selling on one of the sites listed above? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.