So you have a ton of vintage clothes taking up storage space, antique furniture gathering dust or a boatload of collectibles that are just now peaking in value? How can you get cash for your things right now without setting up a yard sale in your quiet suburban driveway and desperately hoping somebody will pass by? Well, that’s why they invented the internet. Ok, that’s not true. The military definitely didn’t invent the internet just so you could resell your gently used kitchen appliances and allegedly valuable Beanie Babies. But it certainly is an added benefit.
Now, before you get online and start selling your stuff, you should be aware that the web offers just as many opportunities to lose money as it does opportunities to make it. Be careful how you proceed, and take stock of these 10 Ways the Internet Tricks You Into Spending Your Money.
Otherwise, read on to determine the best way to sell your soon-to-be secondhand valuables online…
1. Build Your Own Website
The most self-empowering way to begin selling stuff online is to create your own website. Today, there are numerous e-commerce hosting services that can provide a hosting platform, commerce tools, and relevant plug-ins so that you can fashion a virtual storefront befitting your wares. For instance, “Shopify is the easiest and most reputable way to create your own store. As an ecommerce platform, one of the top online sites to sell, Shopify makes it easy to get up and running without tech skills or a huge budget. To date, Shopify powers over one million businesses and is known for its affordable prices, professional designs, and useful marketing tools.”
This method is really only recommended for those who intend to sell items on a steady and ongoing basis. For instance, building your own site may be a great move if you’re planning on selling off your massive baseball card collection piecemeal or if you plan to move your amazing wardrobe of vintage clothing one article at a time.
If your goal is simply to sell a few pieces of old furniture then move on with your life, you probably don’t need your own website. But if you do plan to sell on an ongoing basis, building your own site is a positive contrast to the popular storefront platforms like Amazon and eBay because you will net more money per sale. Whereas popular platforms typically take a hefty percentage of your take from each sale, a hosting service like Shopify will merely charge a flat fee for hosting and access to e-commerce tools.
2. Popular Storefront Platforms
There are countless storefront platforms that provide sellers with the tools to list and sell items straight out of your home. It should probably come as no surprise to you that Amazon is by far the biggest of these platforms, and is highly accessible for those who will sell everything from hardware tools and vinyl records to home decor and, of course, books. Amazon is the most popular place to buy and sell, particularly when it comes to traditional retail items. For instance, if you are building a business based on buying items wholesale, and consequently reselling such items individually, Amazon is a worthy starting point.
Shopify notes that “As the top ecommerce company in the world, Amazon’s fiscal numbers show that it made $96.1 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2020, a 37% increase from one year prior. It’s reported that Amazon sells over 400 products per minute, providing sellers with an active, built-in audience to sell to.”
If you plan to become a regular vendor of retail items, Amazon is an excellent way to tap into the world’s largest community of online shoppers. Though you will pay a percentage on every sale, you will likely achieve your greatest visibility through Amazon.
If you intend to sell your own homemade work—be it woodcraft, jewelry-making, art prints or otherwise—consider creating an Etsy storefront. This is the preferred outlet for those who will make regular and ongoing sales of homemade, personally crafted, or otherwise unique items.
Other popular platforms offer their own unique spin on hosting. eBay is ideal if you plan to auction off a few items and, unlike Amazon or Etsy, is advisable even for those who only plan to make a small number of sales. You don’t need to build a storefront. You need only to create an account and begin listing items. Here, you have the option to set a starting auction price—which is a good idea for collectibles and otherwise scarce items—or you can set a Buy Now price and attempt to move your item as quickly as possible.
3. Global e-Commerce Exchanges
While Amazon is the world’s most popular storefront, there are a number of online storefront services aimed at bringing your sales to a global audience of prospective buyers. Whether you believe your sales items would succeed particularly well in a specific geographic setting or you simply wish to expand your reach on an international scale, there are numerous popular ecommerce platforms that are tailored to the language, culture, and market conditions of their host countries. For instance, Mercado Libre is a leading shopping platform for more than a dozen Latin American countries, while Flipkart actually exceeds Amazon’s market share in India.
Companies like these are particularly valuable for helping online merchants tap into valuable markets that might specifically benefit from the availability of your sales items. For instance, Rakuten, out of Japan, makes it a great deal easier for vendors to reach Japanese buyers and for Japanese shoppers to find items that are otherwise scarce in the Pacific Rim nation.
Accordingly, Rakuten notes that “For U.S. based Shopify merchants, the ability to operate local stores on Rakuten Ichiba through Shopify allows them to expand their business in Japan with relative ease. It also provides Rakuten Ichiba users greater opportunities to buy overseas products, including major global brands that are difficult to obtain in Japan. From today, these support services will be launched in the U.S. and Japan, with plans also underway to rollout to other regions.”
4. Community Yard Sale Sites
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you may actually wish to concentrate the sale of your items on the local level. One of the simplest ways to get cash in hand now is to connect directly with those who live in your region. Fortunately, a number of online “community yard sale” forums now exist on social media, and are designed to connect independent sellers and buyers. Platforms like Next-Door and Facebook Marketplace make it easy for you to post items for sale, and make it easy for your nearby neighbors to see these items and contact you to arrange for purchase.
The benefits of this approach are many, from the fact that you don’t have to pay a percentage of your sale to any hosting platform to the simplicity of making a cash-only exchange with one of your neighbors. This is the virtual equivalent of setting up a table in your driveway with the added benefit of widespread visibility. It also gives you the ability to hit a more precise target audience by providing users with numerous ways to find your sale item.
According to Money and Mountains, “Facebook has made it a million times easier to have an online yard sale. You can find groups to sell in by searching for things like ‘your town’ + ‘online yard sale’, ‘online garage sale’, ‘classifieds’ etc….Try a few of these combinations to see if you can find an online yard sale group local to your area. That way you are selling to people who live nearby. This means you don’t have to deal with the hassle of shipping items.”
Generally speaking, while this approach comes with the added legwork of actually interacting with human beings—some of whom are genuinely inconsiderate and may simply fail to show up at your doorstep to complete a purchase—it may still be worth it if you have just a few times to sell, especially those too large to ship through the mail. Most notably, this is an ideal selling channel for those making one-time-only sales of large appliances, home fixtures or pieces of furniture, as opposed to those who might benefit from establishing a permanent storefront with established shipping rates.
5. Online Classified Pages
Online classified services remain an extremely valuable way of reaching potential buyers. In spite of its shady reputation, Craigslist is an online pioneer, one that revolutionized person-to-person sales and purchases. It has since been succeeded by countless competitors with somewhat more wholesome p2p reputations. By the way, early competitor Angi (formerly Angie’s List) has shifted its focus largely to home services, so if you are an independent contractor looking to market your services (as opposed to your stuff), this might be your best outlet.
Generally speaking, though classified may seem somewhat old-fashioned, even in the context of online sales, Analytic Steps says this method still offers a few noteworthy advantages for merchants. Among them, “Many online classified services allow companies to define the locations they serve, ensuring that their ad appears when potential clients search for businesses like theirs nearby. Using readership demographics, companies can target the exact portion of the populace they want to attract and avoid both wasteful expenditure and make the marketing process more efficient.”
Consider listing your sale items on a number of online classified pages. The best thing about this approach is that many of these sites are entirely free, so from a financial perspective, there is zero risk in trying.
Now that you know how to sell your stuff, perhaps it’s a good time to look at the bigger picture. If you’re thinking about transforming your modest online sales operation into a full-fledged home business, check out our look at these Ten Reasons To Get Yourself a Side Hustle.