Have you ever spotted a great deal at a garage sale, thrift store or discount retailer and thought about reselling it for a profit? If so, you already have the mindset of an online reseller. Buying low and selling high can be a lucrative side hustle or even full-time business with the right strategy.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started and succeed as an online reseller. You’ll learn how to source profitable inventory, choose sales platforms, price items, market your products and manage your reselling business.
Introduction to Online Reselling
Online reselling involves purchasing new or used items from various sources and reselling them through online platforms for a higher price. With the rise of ecommerce giants like eBay and Amazon Marketplace, plus social sites like Facebook Marketplace, it’s easier than ever to resell just about anything online.
Some of the major benefits of online reselling include:
- Low startup costs – You can get started reselling with very little capital.
- Work from anywhere – It’s an online business, so you can operate from home.
- Flexible schedule – Be your own boss and work when it suits you.
- Unlimited earning potential – Successful resellers can make a full-time income.
- Find hidden gems – Spot valuable items that others overlook.
- Environmental upside – Give used goods a second life.
Online reselling does take effort and preparation though. You’ll need to learn where to find inventory, how to price it competitively, how to market your products effectively and how to provide great customer service. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know.
How to Find Inventory to Resell Online
The first step to generating online reselling profits is sourcing inventory that you can buy low and sell high. With so many potential sources of products, it helps to have a game plan. Here are some of the best places to find items to resell online:
Garage, Yard and Estate Sales
Neighborhood garage and yard sales can offer treasure-hunting thrills along with bargain deals. Get up early on weekends to hit as many as possible. Look for collectibles, popular brands, sealed boxes and anything vintage or antique. Negotiate prices whenever possible.
Estate sales are sales to liquidate the belongings of someone who has died. The items are often priced to sell quickly. Watch for jewelry, art, furniture and household goods to flip online.
Thrift Stores and Charity Shops
Go regularly to scout for goods priced below market value. Check book, media, housewares and clothing sections. Inspect items closely for flaws. Name brand clothes, luxury sheets and rare collectibles can prove profitable.
Discount and Salvage Retailers
Dollar stores, warehouse clubs and retailers like Ross, TJ Maxx & Marshalls receive overstock merchandise and discontinued products from major brands which they sell at a deep discount. Scan for anything you can flip for at least double.
Retail Clearance Sections
Check store clearance racks and sections routinely, especially at the end of seasons. Look for new with tags items from brands that typically sell well. Toy, clothing and electronics clearances can yield products to resell.
- Liquidation sites – StockX, Liquidation.com and Bulldog Liquidators sell retailer returns and overstock products in bulk for low prices.
- eBay – Search for auctions ending soon with no bids. You can sometimes get last minute steals.
- Craigslist & Facebook Marketplace – Scan for people selling new, unopened items cheaply to resell.
- Wholesalers and manufacturers – Some will work with small resellers, selling new products at wholesale prices.
- Online clearance sections – Retailers like Kohl’s and Best Buy have deals under clearance or special offers.
If you have time, check out storage unit auctions. The units are sold off when renters stop paying. You may find antiques, collectibles and other treasures. Units do get bid up quickly however.
What to Buy to Resell Online
When sourcing inventory, keep an eye out for:
- New with tags clothing and shoes from brands like Nike, North Face and Calvin Klein.
- Popular toys and video games around the holidays.
- Limited edition sneakers and collectible dolls.
- Vintage electronics, cameras, watches and other collectibles.
- Jewelry – sterling silver, gold, gemstones.
- Luxury bed, bath and kitchen linens still in packaging.
- Small kitchen appliances and home goods new in box.
- Antique furniture, art and decor.
Avoid broken, stained or obviously well-worn items. They’ll be hard to resell. Keep quality and demand in mind.
Choosing an Online Sales Platform
Once you’ve sourced inventory, you need somewhere to sell it. Here are the most popular online reselling platforms, with the pros and cons of each:
- Massive visitor traffic provides exposure and sales.
- Low listing fees of usually 35¢ or less.
- Mature platform with reputation ratings.
- eBay takes 10% cut of sale price + PayPal fees of around 3%.
- Lots of competition from big sellers.
Best for: All products, especially collectibles.
- Millions of buyers visit Amazon daily.
- Fulfillment by Amazon option ships items for you.
- Can list as an individual or professional seller.
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- Commissions vary from 8-15% of sale price.
- Strict policies for sellers.
- Need professional account for high volumes.
Best for: New in box and used books, media, toys and games.
- Free to list. Handy mobile app.
- Local pickup saves shipping time and costs.
- Facebook user base provides built-in audience.
- Less search features and fewer categories than eBay.
- Need to arrange meetups for exchanging goods.
- Scam buyers and tire kickers a problem.
Best for: Bulky goods like furniture, locally sourced items.
- Mainly for clothing. Built-in audience of fashionistas.
- Flat $2.95 fee for sales under $15, 20% above that.
- Good for listing lots of inventory easily from phone.
- Caters to trendy, low to mid-price brands.
- Commission fees higher than other platforms.
- Lots of casual sellers with closet cleanouts.
Best for: New and used women’s, men’s and kid’s fast fashion apparel and accessories.
- Low 10% selling fee on all sales.
- $0 listing fee. Discounts for high volume sellers.
- Strong user base of young, bargain hunters.
- Caters to low-priced mainstream goods.
- Less seller protection than eBay.
- Maximum price per item is $200.
Best for: Low-cost clothing, books, toys, consumer electronics.
- Leader for handmade, vintage and craft supplies.
- Just $0.20 USD listing fee. 5% transaction fee.
- Can also sell vintage and crafting supplies.
- Very competitive with artisans and hobbyists.
- Must have truly handmade or vintage items.
- Some sections saturated.
Best for: Vintage and handmade clothing, jewelry, decorative items. Craft supplies.
Pricing Inventory for Optimal Profits
Setting the right prices on your resale items is key to success. Price too high, and your items won’t sell in a crowded marketplace. Price too low, and you leave money on the table. Use these tips to price profitably:
Check completed eBay listings, Amazon and other sites to see what similar items have recently sold for. Base your price at the higher end of the range for the condition.
Factor in Fees
Account for all selling fees so you make enough profit. On eBay, you lose 13% of the sale price. On Amazon, fees range from 13% to 25%.
Condition Sets Price
If reselling used items, condition heavily influences price. Be realistic – something flawed should be priced much lower than new.
Leave Room to Negotiate
On platforms like Facebook Marketplace, most buyers will try to bargain you down. Price items a bit higher than your minimum acceptable price.
Discount Hot Trends
Capitalize on hot toy or consumer electronics trends by discounting just below the going retail rate. This strategy moves inventory fast.
Know Your Brands
Top brands like Apple, North Face and KitchenAid sell well even used. But generic brands should be priced much lower unless new.
Set Shipping Costs
Add actual shipping costs into your pricing. On eBay, set calculated shipping rates based on box size and destination.
If an item won’t sell, lower the price incrementally until it moves. Some profit is better than none.
Marketing and Listing Your Items
Creating compelling listings and marketing your products effectively are vital to generating sales. Here are some top tips for success:
Lead with important keywords buyers search for. Include details like brand, color, size, condition. Keep it short but descriptive.
Write Detailed Descriptions
Note dimensions, materials, damage, signatures – any useful info about an item’s history and condition. Help buyers feel informed.
Show All Angles with Photos
Use the maximum number of photos allowed. Show any flaws. If selling clothing, include photos with it styled.
Leverage Item Specifics
eBay allows you to select condition, brand, material and other specifics that make listings more searchable. Fill these in accurately.
Highlight Fast Shipping
Note if you offer expedited shipping. This perk appeals to impatient buyers. Print shipping labels fast too.
Cross Promote on Social Media
Share listings on your Facebook page or Instagram account. Hashtags help more people discover your products.
Run Sales and Promotions
Offer site coupons or limited time free shipping occasionally. This tactic stimulates sales during slow periods.
Learn SEO Best Practices
Use keywords frequently in listings, especially at the beginning. This boosted search ranking equals more views.
Ask Satisfied Buyers for Reviews
Reviews lend you credibility with buyers. Politely ask happy customers to leave positive feedback.
Providing Outstanding Customer Service
The key to encouraging repeat business and positive word of mouth is providing excellent customer service. Follow these rules:
Respond to questions within 24 hours. If there will be a shipping delay, notify buyers right away along with the new timeframe.
Print shipping labels as soon as payment clears. For platforms like eBay, ship within 1-2 days. Don’t let boxes linger!
Use bubble wrap, peanuts and boxes with a snug fit. Seal securely with tape. Include any special instructions.
Resolve Issues Quickly
If the buyer reports a problem like damage in transit, work promptly to make it right with a refund or replacement item.
Show customers you appreciate them by tucking in free bookmarks, stickers or other small branded promotional items with purchases.
Follow Up After Delivery
Check in a week after delivery to ask if they are fully satisfied with their purchase. Offer help if needed.
Let all buyers know how much you value their business. A handwritten thank you note also creates delighted customers who will return.
Ask customers for suggestions on how you could better serve them. Implement improvements that are feasible.
Managing Your Reselling Business
Growing from selling as a hobby to managing a profitable small business takes structure and smart planning. Follow these tips:
Track Miles, Expenses, Profits
Use spreadsheets or an app to log business mileage for deductions, inventory costs and selling platform fees. Calculate net profits.
Create a Legal Business Identity
To open business accounts and pay taxes, you need to establish a legal business name, tax ID number, and business bank account.
Decide on Bookkeeping Software
Programs like QuickBooks help track income, expenses, profit margins and other key metrics. Or use a shoebox method.
Consider Hiring Out Shipping
Services like ShipStation can automate fulfillment tasks like printing labels and tracking packages. Outsource to save time.
Get Accounting Help If Needed
Work with an accountant or bookkeeper if you don’t understand small business taxes. Deductible expenses boost profits.
Set up LLC Protection
For legal and tax protection, establish your venture as a limited liability company (LLC). Costs vary by state.
Keep detailed records on what you paid for items and profit earned. Maintain enough stock to continually list new products.
Grow Slowly and Steadily
Don’t take on more than you can handle as a solo entrepreneur. Prioritize keeping customers satisfied as you scale.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
Set up an office, supplies and system that supports efficiency. Organization and productivity are crucial when reselling online.
Outsource Where Helpful
Consider hiring assistants to photograph products, clean items or share listings on social media. Outsourcing can boost output.
Frequently Asked Questions About Online Reselling
How much money can you make reselling full time?
It depends on your level of investment, time commitment and sales skills. Many full time resellers report earning $50,000 to $100,000 or more per year. Top eBay sellers can make over $300,000 annually.
Do you pay taxes on reselling income?
Yes, income from reselling is taxable. Keep detailed records so you can pay estimated quarterly income taxes and claim all applicable business deductions.
Is reselling illegal?
Reselling is legal in most cases, with some exceptions around tickets and brand name counterfeits. Avoid knocking off trademarked brands or bands. Authentic resales are fine.
What sells best on eBay?
Clothing, shoes, accessories, collectibles, jewelry, video games and small electronics sell particularly well on eBay. Rare coins, funko pops and niche hobby items are good too. Avoid bulky or super cheap items.
Do you need a license to resell?
Most individual resellers don’t need a license. But if you form a corporation and want to buy wholesale, states often require a reseller permit or exemption certificate. Check your state’s rules.
Is reselling worth it?
Reselling can be highly profitable and scalable if you enjoy treasure hunting for deals and master key skills like pricing, marketing, shipping and customer service. For the right entrepreneur, it can be a rewarding full time business.
How do you start selling successfully on eBay?
- Set up an eBay seller account and PayPal to accept payments
- Source profitable inventory and create quality listings
- Price items competitively based on comps
- Take clear photos and provide full details
- Ship quickly with tracking and packaging that protects
- Provide stellar customer service to get reviews
What sells best on Facebook Marketplace?
Furniture, toys, baby items, women’s clothing and electronics are especially hot on Facebook. Listing locally makes coordinating pickup easy.
How can I get my products seen on Amazon Marketplace?
Optimize SEO, run promotions, get reviews, keep stock levels high so you show up as buying options for products, and consider paying for product ads. High ratings also increase search visibility.
Reselling unwanted and underpriced goods into profits takes some effort and skill development. But the ability to be your own boss while potentially making an excellent income makes it an appealing opportunity for many entrepreneurs.
By scoping out deals, learning to price competitively, creating compelling listings, providing great service and doing the necessary planning and organizing, you can successfully run a reselling business working from home. Keep overhead costs low, but invest enough to grow profits. Most importantly, pay close attention to customer satisfaction.
Online reselling allows you to turn your passion for finding unique treasures and nose for bargains into income. With this comprehensive guide, you now have the knowledge to get started and succeed. Happy treasure hunting and reselling!
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