In case you haven’t tried it, eBay is the digital equivalent of Dacre, Son and Hartley’s saleroom. You offer up each of your items with a starting price and, if you like, a reserve, and wait for a week to see how many bids come in.
For many, this is in itself a form of entertainment. If your goods sell, you pay a commission, await your buyer’s payment on PayPal, and pop along to the Post Office with your parcel. However, you may have to be content with far less than you’d hoped for - and if there are no bids at all, you may still be charged a fee, albeit a small one.
Amazon takes a different approach. Most of us us will have bought new goods from them, but it’s becoming increasingly common to use their site as a personal clearing house.
Amazon’s Marketplace, traditionally a hub for independent booksellers, is actually open to any seller, big or small, providing the item for sale is already in the Amazon inventory. It offers three key advantages over eBay: your item will stay on the site for as long as it takes to sell, you can set your own price, and there’s no need to create a listing for each item because Amazon has already done it.
On the flip side, you can’t set your own postage rate because Amazon has done that, too, and the commission you will pay is likely to be higher than eBay ‘s. You don’t need a PayPal account, but you must wait for your money until after a “grace” period during which a buyer can ask for a refund.
Amazon offers a complete online inventory management system for even the smallest sellers, so all you need to do is post your goods and wait for the cheque. It’s ideal for selling books, DVDs, computer games and other easy-to-post items that you no longer need, and if you pitch your prices correctly, it’s entirely possible to list, sell and dispatch an item in a single day.
Gumtree and Preloved are other options for second-hand sellers, especially if you want to part with furniture, vehicles or appliances. If you’re selling a car, your first two adverts on Gumtree are free, with further listings costing £15 each. Preloved is free for individuals, though not for business sellers.
MusicMagpie is another interesting option. It’s not itself a marketplace but an online version of a “we buy almost anything” stall, which purchases discs, phones and other electronics from individuals and then sells them on, often via Amazon. It will send a courier to pick up your goods, but the price it will offer is invariably less than you can get on eBay.
If it’s convenience rather than the best deal you’re after, MusicMagpie is a good option: otherwise, you may be better off cutting out the middleman and going direct to Amazon.
I am also contractually bound to point out that it is still entirely possible to list and sell an item in the classifieds columns of most newspapers. This way, you may even get to meet your buyer - now there’s a novel way to do business.