Ch 3: Item Categories
I’m going to first explain how to search within the marketplaces and then discuss specific categories. Here’s the best way to research the items in eBay and Amazon. First, type just the brand into the search bar. Then, select the item’s category by drilling down to the last option the channel offers so it can reduce the results. I’m using a pair of Cole Haan brown leather boots as an example. Type Cole Haan in the search. Next, select the category: Clothing > Men’s Shoes and then if you can refine it by selecting material and color. Hopefully this can display less than 1,000 results for whatever you’re searching. Other refinements would be New or Used. If you can’t find an exact match, look for one that is in similar condition. Don’t look at the highest price and assume this is the value. On eBay, you can switch the view to show Sold items. This reduces assuming the item is valued higher than it actually is.
Regarding other channels such as Etsy, Bonanza or Craigslist, you’ll find the prices are all over the place because people are putting their own value on the item. When this happens, generally buyers will look for the cheaper option. This may not fully be the case for handmade items.
Best Way to Search
I have all of the marketplace apps installed on my smartphone. Amazon has a nice barcode scanner so you can look items up from the barcode. This is helpful when you’re in a retail shop that has 80% off of a product. eBay, Amazon, Etsy and Craigslist have great apps to do your research.
Just because it’s discounted in that store doesn’t mean people won’t pay more for it on Amazon. My friend found Chapstick on sale at a Walgreens, scanned it with her phone to find the value, then bought cases of it leaving 3 stores empty. Then she shipped them all to Amazon FBA advertising them as add-on Amazon Prime items.
Where to Sell Certain Item Types
High value name brand items sell best on eBay and Amazon. However, Amazon has restricted categories that require approval to list on those categories. Meaning, they’re only looking for stores, not individuals to sell in those categories. The main issue you’ll be up against is accidentally selling fake items or your items being flag for review for looking fake. An example would be Coach purses. I got a few at an estate sale and one of them was flagged on eBay as being fake so it got removed and I got my first warning as a seller from eBay about selling faux products. You have to be careful selling items that you didn’t buy from the store yourself.
High value non-name brand items can be difficult. If it’s clothing, Etsy and eBay would be my starting points. Etsy focuses on handmade and vintage so you can sell items based on the type of item while eBay shoppers focus on the brand name. An example I ran into was wedding dresses. I’ve listed 4 in my life and only one had a brand name people would be able to search for. When ladies are looking to get as close to what they paid for the dress, it can be quite difficult and the owner might have to rethink how much they are willing to drop down to in order for it to sell. Creatives are looking for unique or style over the designers name and Etsy might be a good place to begin research.
Electronics are separated into 3 categories: small high value, large items and vintage items. Small high value items such as smartphones might do better on Amazon than eBay. Possibly small low value items would sell better on eBay than Amazon, but your research will show if that is true for your particular item. I stood in line at Walmart opening day of the Nintendo DS and bought 3 of them, some games and created packages on eBay. While the stores sold out, mine sold for an 80% profit on eBay.
I would start looking for large items on Craigslist first and then eBay. The killer with large electronics such as a 5.1 surround sound system is the shipping cost. The cost of the item plus shipping could easily end up the cost of a new system in the store where shipping doesn’t exist. Be sure the item can be shipped and you can still make a profit.
Vintage could be tough just because people paid premium in 1996 for their computers but they’re not even worth stripping them apart for parts. I saw an old yellowed CRT Computer Monitor on eBay listed for $100 plus $30 shipping. You can’t give those away. The best items to sell are either smaller vintage electronics or items that haven’t depreciated in value. Either way, research is needed before jumping into selling.
Automotive parts are king on eBay and exist on Amazon. Large parts could do well on Craigslist. The main thing is ensuring you enter a manufacturer part number (mpn) so it can pull up all vehicles the item fits. This is called Vehicle Compatibility or Automotive Fitment. Without it, your part may never be found because people tend to search year, make, model before drilling down, unless it’s a universal accessory. I’ve sold over 70 cars on eBay before they changed their policy to 4 cars per year when you’re not a certified dealer. I sold my own car on eBay and shipped it to Texas. I’ve also sold a boat and freighted it to Germany.
Handmade crafts are in Etsy’s wheelhouse. I used to find old electronics and build steampunk lamps for fun and then listed them on Etsy for $70 each. What I made for personal use turned into a profitable hobby. Amazon has recently launched Amazon Handmade but it’s not nearly established for buyers looking for hand crafted goods. Another site you can check out is DaWanda. As a seller, I would definitely list products on both and measure the amount of sales from each.
Antiques could be sold on eBay, Etsy, GoAntiques and Craigslist. If you can find the brand on eBay, this could be a starting point. If you can’t, I would look up the item on GoAntiques or the type of item on Etsy. After taking photos and writing a fully accurate description, I would suggest finding a big enough box and packing material before listing (if this is your first antique). Most people don’t realize how much packing material is needed to keep the item safe nor what size it will end up being. It’s easy to overspend on shipping without learning the technique of shipping. Selling a delicate set of 93 pieces of 1950s English China and then figuring out how to ship this is a daunting task but could be very costly. You might think $50 would cover it when you discover that UPS charges $90 for your 3 large boxes.
This post is third in the series of 2016 Online Selling Guide