Modern life is full of things purchased and rarely used. Minimising clutter has been shown to have a significant impact on mental health. Why not make some extra cash while decluttering? Online selling has a reputation for ease and efficiency, but as with most things, some research and planning before you start can save time and stress later on.
What can you sell?
According to CedCommerce, the most popular items to buy on eBay this year have been, unsurprisingly, focused on home-based entertainment, including gardening, gaming, homewares, arts and crafts, and exercise gear. Clothing and kitchen storage is also typically popular.
Each state has rules around what can and cannot be sold, so research whether your items are appropriate before creating an ad. However, there are few restrictions around the most typical items people sell (bric-a-brac, clothes, books, gaming and entertainment supplies, and Tupperware).
As the seller, it is your responsibility to set a price for each item, and research is needed to identify a fair price. Each price will depend on item popularity, condition, and value. Items should be in good condition- the more pristine, the better. The better the quality and condition, the better the odds of a successful and profitable sale.
What do you need to sell an item?
To sell an item requires images of the item, a description, and depending on your delivery method, postage supplies such as boxes, stamps, and bubble wrap. Oftentimes, the hardest part of selling online is ensuring your potential buyers know exactly what you’re offering and clarity of message is vital.
Make sure your photographs are clear, focused, and showcase the item well. Find somewhere with good lighting, but without glare or chaotic backgrounds- or set up a plain coloured sheet to act as a backdrop. Take a few photos from different angles, and images of any important details.
The goal is to make it easy for potential buyers to find your item and buy it. The more complicated or vague your description, the less likely someone will hit ‘buy’.
Keep descriptions concise without being vague- and mention the item’s condition, and sizes or weight as necessary. If there is damage, be honest- this will minimise the risk of complaints.
Keywords are useful but easy to abuse. It may be tempting to broaden your parameters, for buyers it can be deeply frustrating if, say, their search for Halloween costumes shows books or Christmas decorations. Help buyers easily find what they want ensures a more positive experience for buyers and sellers.
Where should I sell my items?
The three most popular sales venues, eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace, each have their own strengths and weaknesses which we explore.
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eBay provides 40 free auction-style or fixed price listings a month, with additional listings incurring a non-refundable insertion fee that starts at $1.65 for items below $100. Insertion fees are charged per category, not per item, so items listed in multiple categories incur fees for each category. All items sold incur a ‘final value fee’ of around 10.9% of the total amount paid (including shipping and handling costs), with a maximum charge of $440 per item. Paid, opt-in services are also available, with prices listed here.
Unlike Marketplace and Gumtree, eBay provides protection for buyers and sellers, and monitors for and responds to scams. As well as this, eBay purchases can be made without buyers knowing your location or contact details. As the preferred method of delivery is postage rather than pick up, there are fewer safety risks inherent in the system. While haggling is common on other sites, the eBay set up makes this difficult.
eBay is the most expensive option of the three, and the sheer volume of sales within categories can make it difficult for your items to stand out, especially if there is a glut of similar items being sold. However, clear descriptions and effective keyword use can help minimise this issue.
Gave away some old bricks on @Gumtree & they’re being repurposed into a #hedgehog feeding station 🦔 Fantastic diversion from landfill to help look after a species that is on the decline #reducereuserecycle #derbyshire #gumtree #zerowaste
— fellrunlikeagirl (@ruthkeeley) January 9, 2020
Most listing categories on Gumtree are free, with fees applying to pet and animal listings, boats and jet skis, real estate, jobs, services, cars and vehicles.
Gumtree is a cheaper, simpler version of eBay with a focus on local purchasing. While you can include email or phone details, there is an inbuilt messaging system within the site so that you do not need to give contact details to potential buyers to discuss purchases.
While the option to post items to buyers is available, many buyers use Gumtree as a one-stop garage sale from which to purchase and collect items within their local area. This means that buyers can be required to go to your home to collect their purchases, though if the buyer is willing, you can arrange a neutral meeting place.
Unfortunately, scams are quite common on Gumtree, and unlike on eBay, there are no protections in place through the website if something goes wrong.
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There are no listing fees or sales costs associated with Marketplace beyond those of your bank or payment provider.
Facebook is a popular social media forum with millions of views daily, and with our time on social media increasing, more users than ever are exploring- and buying from- Marketplace.
With free sales options, you get what you pay for. As with Gumtree, there are no seller protections offered, and all responsibility for sales, and issues, rests with you. As you are using your Facebook account, buyers can access the basics of your profile.
Whichever platform you choose, a little research and planning can ensure you get the most out of selling your unwanted items, with the least amount of stress.
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Oiyo is a consolidated online resource, we are not financial advisors. We work with a range of industry professionals and compliance check our articles to ensure factual accuracy. However, we do not provide professional financial advice. Consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation, or other advice to check how the information and ideas presented in this article relate to your unique circumstances.