Like many old timers and work-at-home eBay sellers, I am not a drop-shipper nor a big business selling new iPhones, LCD's and laptops; I am just a mom who loves thrifting and trawling garage sales to find items to sell on my listings for a bit of pocket money for the family. I know I am not alone, but I am also aware how difficult eBay selling has become these days so I have complied this guide to help. The old days when it was all so easy...
Back when I started on eBay, around 1998, I could sell a freezer to an Eskimo (well almost) because collectibles, antiques and vintage items were huge on eBay, buyers were still competing with each other and the market was strong. Before eBay came along, finding collectibles to add to a collection was much more difficult; when it arrived, it was met with excitement because, with a click of their mouse, buyers could find THAT piece that was missing in their collection thanks to a new world with hundreds and hundreds of items.
Before eBay, collectors had to attend shows, antique and thrift stores, belong to collectors' forums and read ads in specialized magazines; when eBay arrived I could go to half a dozen of garage sales over the weekend, haul home tons of stuff that would end up being sold before the end of the week and do it all with no worries because I could start most of it off at a dollar and know I would get the right price after yet another ferocious bidding wars.
Of course that is all in the past and today Ebay has changed. It is now a much more accessible market with a new look, new consumer base and the negative influence of a new, much worse economy; an economy where buyers are not spending as much to build up their collection because they have a more limited budget and are less inclined to spend money on non-essential items. Buyers should never spend money they need for food and necessities unless they are sure to at least make their money back. In regard to the site's new looks, the front page now looks like you landed on BestBuy rather than a friendly retailer because all the small mom and pop pages, who sell collectibles and unique items thinking “I'll try selling that just in case it's hot” are being viewed as a thing of the past.
New attitudes, such as eBay's new idea not to show all the listings at all times – meaning you pay for your listing but it may not be shown on every related search – have reshaped the landscape and the additional fees have provided that final nail in the coffin for us casual, at-home sellers. Another important point to remember is that the market is ever-changing and things that sold well 10/15 years ago do not perform quite so well in today's bidding wars, either because they are no longer hot or because years of buying and trading has dented the competitive edge.
Among the things that have come to pass, here are a few hot niches I used to make a killing with: In the late 1990's I could successfully sell vintage clothes to those enjoying the current emo trend as well as practically anything with Roy Dupuis, the French-Canadian star of the TV show La Femme Nikita. Even magazines and clippings would go for impressive amounts of money and I could buy a magazine from a news-stand in Canada, put it on Ebay and end up selling it for $25, $50 or maybe even more. Once the early 2000s hit there was a huge craze for Star Wars' Hayden Christensen, where I again sold a few magazines at high mark-ups, and of course this more recently turned into all-things Twilight.
Selling on eBay may have changed but you can still be successful. As a seller, each of the points above is sure to have an impact, so what can you do to avoid losing money when buying items to resell online. Here are a few tips:
#1 – Know the market. Essentially this means putting in some research so that you know what is currently selling well, and by that I mean items that sell almost every time they are listed. Know what's hot and what's not in a few specific niches. For, example, board games and some very niche collectibles still perform above the current standard, with a sell through rate of close to 100%, and they can be found relatively easily in garage sales. If in doubt, pick an area that you feel comfortable with, one where you have prior knowledge and experience. Here's a great example of a niche that still work well: Rare Board Games You Need To Look Out For
#2 – Find an area where there is demand. There are some items that are on trend but experiencing a saturated market but there are others where the demand is equally high but supply is limited. Latching onto these more limited niches is a great way to start and should offer much better returns.
#3 – Buy things you can use and need but that also have a chance to sell. Taking a slightly more practical approach to your selling options could be the best idea for cautious sellers on a budget because if, for whatever reason, they fail to sell, they can still be used by you and your family. A good example of this is kids' clothes; buying nice, second-hand boutique and popular name brands that could sell well are a great idea because if they fail, your kids can wear them instead! The same goes for vintage household items; if you need mugs, glasses or plates then try to find cheap vintage brands and antiques that will look good in your home and have buyer appeal.
In short, the image and attitudes of eBay and its listings may have changed significantly over the years, and it may seem as though simple at-home sellers like us are no longer welcome, but by following these tips and understanding the new market it is possible to succeed.