Welcome back everyone! It’s been a while since my last post so I figured that it’s about time I checked in with you all, and you with me! This post will hopefully help you to make a little money through selling your unwanted items.
First, I’ll share a little story with you. Recently I had the misfortune of being swindled by an eBay member. I was the seller in this transaction, and duly sent off my items to Azerbaijan after being paid. Now, feel free to comment on this transaction as you see fit. All I will say is that my eBay feedback was over 1,300 and I’d sent goods to plenty of countries since I joined eBay in 2009.*
Around 10 days after sending the item, the buyer filed a PayPal claim stating that they had not received the goods. PayPal asked me to provide proof of postage, which I did, however this was still not enough. They wanted proof of recorded postage; however this was never selected by the buyer. Therefore, you guessed it, the item was never sent through recorded delivery.
Needless to say that PayPal found in favour of the buyer, and he was refunded in full. Hence my decision to now close both my PayPal and eBay accounts**
So this leads to the matter at hand. I’ve been researching alternative marketplaces to sell my unwanted goods, and wish to share my findings with you.
Please read on, and feel free to offer comments or suggestions at the bottom of this page.
Amazon: The future – and present – of online retail
It’s quite staggering to comprehend just how far Amazon has come in a relatively short space of time. I recall opening an account with Amazon way back in 2005, and it was a little known book store. At the same time as opening my Amazon account, I also opened an account with a company called Play.com and back then it was Play that offered the better savings. Play.com was my go to store; however Amazon evolved at such an alarming rate, and muscled out everyone in its path. Amazon is now quite simply the first place that I look for almost any purchases, and offers literally millions of products from pepper pots to snow shovels.
Amazon now offers a robust selling marketplace in a bid to lure away both casual and professional sellers from the eBay platform. It allows your products to be exposed to a vast amount of consumers, and also uses an algorithm that will recommend your products to people who might be interested in them based on their past search histories.
Amazon vs. eBay
By default, eBay is an auction house, and so forces you to sell your items through an auction format. So unless you choose to list your item as “Buy It Now” your potential buyers will have to bid and it may take a while to sell your item. Amazon is a straight forward traditional retail format, and so your sales transactions are instant and with a fixed price.
Another drawback of eBay is that they will charge you a fee as a seller just for listing on their site and this is payable regardless of selling success. Not only this, but eBay also take a commission each time that a sale is made. You can list on Amazon for free, which is great as you have nothing to pay if a listing is unsuccessful. You’ll pay only when the sale is made, and this can be broken down into a basic or pro account. Essentially, if you’re selling only unwanted items, then a basic account works fine. You can read more on Amazon’s fees by clicking here.
As you read at the beginning of this article, eBay’s customer service for both buyers and sellers – in my opinion – is poor. They leave the buyer and seller to iron out their differences (which sometimes cannot be done) and rarely intervene in a useful way. eBay isn’t great about providing extra services to buyers , as it doesn’t actually sell anything itself. Amazon however offers numerous perks for those who’ve paid for the Prime membership which act as incentives to draw in more repeat buyers. It should also be noted that Amazon’s customer service is simply outstanding, and a benchmark for every single retailer in almost every single sector should Amazon’s growth continue.
So, should you sell on Amazon?
No matter what you are selling, I thoroughly recommend using Amazon. Not only does their customer base reach far and wide, but the attention to detail which they place on each transaction is commendable. If you’re a small seller looking to offload some unwanted items then I would use Amazon without doubt. For larger sellers, just be mindful of the fact that Amazon’s size can work against you; competition to sell can be fierce and your prices will have to be competitive in order to encourage potential buyers to place orders with you and not someone else.
Craigslist: Going retro
Craigslist really is the most basic of the second-hand marketplaces. The website works pretty much as a forum, and for this reason you’re not bound by classifications and sub-sections that don’t quite apply to your items. You can sell almost anything on there, however one word of warning is that Craigslist simply provides a link from seller to buyer, and so you’re on your own in terms of communication and – heaven forbid – disputes.
Is less really more?
Unlike with eBay, Craigslist will allow you to advertise your products for free. The website will only charge you should your listing fall into a small number of select categories, and these generally relate to job listings or expensive items like vehicles.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Craigslist will not get involved in any type of dispute between buyer and seller. Due to this, the website will be seen as higher risk. However if eBay only intervene to simply pick a side without weighing up other/all factors, then what use is their intervention anyway?
Craigslist is limited with regards to just how far your advertisements will reach. The website requires you to sell locally and also arrange the logistics of how the item – and money – will get from A to B.
As a seasoned Money Marathoner, without doubt my favourite section of Craigslist relates to the free items. You’ll be amazed at just what some people throw out, or better still, donate. Be careful not to get carried away here, and only take what you need.
So, who is Craigslist suited to?
Craigslist is best suited to sellers who are selling locally, and prefer to manage their transactions personally. Think of it as a primitive version of eBay. It can be a good option for selling items that are perhaps too big or expensive to send through the post, and so have to be collected personally.
It all depends on your preference however some people will favour Craigslist due to the social element that is involved in buying and selling in person. Not only this, but you’ll often be paid in cash, which avoids the long line of people who can take a cut of your payment when money is being sent electronically (think PayPal & Western Union). That being said, if you’re concerned about this human – and somewhat trustworthy – side of retail, then Craigslist may not be for you.
Protecting yourself with Craigslist
As always, due diligence is advised. By using Craigslist, you’re agreeing to go a little more traditional with your selling. Accepting payments in person can be good, but be careful when deciding where and how you meet people.
As a seller, you can make a lot of money using Craigslist. Think of it as a second-hand or antique store where you can pick up items at next to nothing, or in some cases nothing! You find these small independent stores in every town, and f you’ve a specialised knowledge or talent, then why not put it to good use? You may be able to repair electrical equipment, or even restore old mahogany doors ready for sale. All of this equals profit, which you and I love.
Sadly, the majority of people prefer trying to get rich quickly, and so for this reason Craigslist again may not be for them. If this is what you wish for, then try buying wholesale items and reselling them, or even drop-shipping, which I will touch more on in later articles.
Shpock: The self proclaimed car boot sale
Shpock is a relatively new entrant into the second-hand marketplace, and thoroughly embraces the power of technology. Shpock – SHop in your POCKet, geddit?! – is an app which is available on both iOS and Android, and was designed to rival eBay amongst others.
It was founded by two Austrian entrepreneurs who wanted to offer people a platform to “buy, sell or give away unwanted beautiful things in their local area”.
The app launched in the UK in March 2014 and as of February 2017 it operates in 3 countries, namely the UK, Germany and Austria
It is as easy as they say?
To get started you just need to download the free app for your iOS or Android mobile device from either the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. You can also access Shpock online on a computer, rather than your phone, if you wish.
You can then list an item just by uploading a picture, writing a short description, picking a category and suggesting a price.
There are nine main categories you can choose from: Fashion and Accessories; Home and Garden; Electronics; Movies, Books and Music; Baby and Child; Sport, Leisure and Games; Services; Cars and Motor; and ‘Other’.
Other Shpock users will then be able to see your listing. If they’re interested, they can get in contact to either agree to pay the asking price or make a counter offer. Once a price is negotiated, it’s up to the buyer and seller to reach an agreement about the item’s delivery and the method of payment. Shpock doesn’t get involved and will leave you to agree these things yourselves. Please be very careful here, as you will have limited support as both a buyer and seller. My advice would be to advertise and send your items through recorded delivery. Don’t make the mistake that I did!
How does Shpock compare to existing second-hand marketplaces?
The Austrian wizards who created Shpock haven’t reinvented the wheel, however they have done one very important thing, and that’s to reduce the costs that are associated with selling online. After all, the whole point of using these services is to maximise your income, something that us Marathoners preach by!
Shpock is free to use and doesn’t charge any listing or transaction fees. The company only has optional charges for extra features that help to promote an item, which range from 69p to £13.99. Perfect.
In addition, Shpock brings traditional classified ads (where you buy and sell locally) into the 21st century, and eliminates endless reams of text. Think Pinterest crossed with your local free newspaper. Shpock is built on images to inspire those who are browsing and has useful features like being able to promote items through social media, which allows people to self-promote.
Shpock is cheaper than eBay, but there’s no doubt that your wingspan will be far shorter than what the older online giant can offer. Not only this, but your ads will be far more basic. However, if you’re selling second-hand dining chairs or a hallway mirror, then how much do you really need to write?
The app is gaining traction here in the UK, so you should be able to find local buyers for your unwanted items. However, I cannot stress enough the importance of protecting yourself by using traceable sources of payment and delivery. Just my preference.
Your own website: Everything is yours
Without doubt this is the best option for selling your goods; however it does not apply to everyone. Your own website or online store gives you complete control over how your products are marketed; however there is a lot of work involved in creating this. For those of us who simply want to offload a few items, then this will likely be a step too far.
Just like writing this blog, starting an online marketplace of your own requires you to build up an amount of traffic whereby your items – or in my case my writing – become visible to the masses.
When creating your own online store, it is you who is building the brand. Your brand. Think about it, when people buy things online they say “I got it on Amazon” with no mention whatsoever of who the real seller was. It is Amazon who is promoting themselves in this transaction, not the seller. You’re ultimately contributing to the success of Amazon by selling here, which is fine for part-time sellers who are letting go of old items. However if you want to get really serious with your selling, then you need to step out and create your own brand.
Do you need an online store or website?
Pretty much anyone can get their own website and make a profit. I have plans to do the same thing right here on MoneyMarathon.org but for the moment I do this for the thrill of inspiring others. Setting up your own website isn’t nearly as difficult as you may think, however it may not be for everyone as not everyone has a lot of things to sell. I’m just trying to provide every option.
Creating a website was once a long and laborious process, and the clever people at SaleHoo saw this as their call to arms. With SaleHoo you can have an online store up and running in no time, however there are of course costs involved with this, which may defeat the whole point of selling your items: to raise cash.
Selling your items online doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be stressful. I’ve done this many times in the past, and have only recently decided to no longer use eBay. In all honesty, I believe that they have become a little too greedy with the fees that they charge, and when this is multiplied with the PayPal fees, your earnings can become diluted.
The world has evolved, and we now demand lower fees and costs in almost everything that we buy, or every service that we subscribe to.
With that in mind, I hope the above has provided a little insight into the alternatives to eBay, and allows you to do as I have, and turn your unwanted items into cash.
I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions regarding selling your unwanted items, or if you think that there’s anything I may have missed here. Please feel free to comment on this page, or send an email to me.
Happy selling =)
*Please note that I’m not an eBay “seller” in the sense that I use it as form of income. I have done this in the past, but have recently sold only my unwanted/unused personal belongings.
**The reason for closing the eBay account is due to their insistence on PayPal being correct, and offering no help or support to me during the dispute.