When was the last time you looked at stuff lying around the house and thought, “Hey, I can make good money off this”? Probably never.
The internet is overflowing with fancy how-to’s and in-depth guides on Amazon product research, market differentiation (making products unique), and anticipating best-selling products for the coming year. But not many talk about how you can sell used items online to create a self-sustaining business.
All it takes is a little bit of effort—along with some convincing on our part—and you’ll soon realize that the next big product was hidden in plain sight all along!
In this blog, we’re going to go over the what and how to sell used items on Amazon.
When creating a new product listing, Amazon asks would-be sellers to state the product condition. You have the choice of selling:
Out of these 5 options, only the Used category is further divided into 4 types.
There are many types of used items sold on Amazon. Read each description carefully to determine how to classify your product.
A used item that must be in perfect working condition. The original protective wrapper could be missing; however, the original packaging should be intact and in sound condition. Minor damage is acceptable and the product must contain instructions.
An item that has undergone limited use but still appears to be in good working condition. Listing products as Used – Very Good entails that they were handled with care even though minor scratches, blemishes, and signs of wear and tear may exist.
You must mention any missing accessories. Items that are repacked or contain damaged packaging may still be listed in this category.
Despite the signs of consistent use, this product functions as intended and remains in good condition. Similar to a Very Good Used product, this item may be repackaged or arrive with damaged packaging.
The product could have minor cosmetic damages, be marked, or have identifying markings on it. Accessories, parts, or the instruction manual may be missing and should be mentioned clearly in the details.
The lowest type of used goods Amazon is willing to let sellers list on the marketplace. A used ‘acceptable’ good has experienced considerable use evident by how worn it is. Despite its appearance, these products must still function properly and may arrive repacked or with damaged packaging.
Dents, scratches, and worn corners are expected. The item may contain markings from previous use and have parts or accessories missing. Examples include a USB cable or mouse for a laptop or screws originally included in a piece of furniture.
Renewed is also a type of Used. What makes these products qualify for a completely different category is that they are tested and inspected to work like brand new by an Amazon-qualified vendor or supplier. These products have little to no cosmetic wear and tear and come with a 90-day guarantee in case they don’t function properly.
But what about refurbished? Some products are labeled “Certified Refurbished”, what does that mean?
Broadly speaking, a refurbished item is one that is inspected by the original manufacturer or refurbished to see if it works as though it was new. Any aspect that is found lacking or damaged is often replaced or repaired. On Amazon, renewed or certified refurbished are interchangeable terms that carry the same meaning.
Sellers need to exercise caution when selling used products on Amazon. That’s because should a used product be perceived to be of a lower quality than advertised, negative reviews will soon follow. There isn’t much in terms of quality to separate the different types of used products. So, for example, if you list an item as “Used – Good” but the customer perceives it to be in “Used – Acceptable” condition, you may be reported for misleading buyers. As a safety precaution, set the quality standard to one level below what you’re selling.
Aside from product quality, there are some items or items in certain conditions that are prohibited from sale (not including restricted products, which is a completely different topic). Here are the guidelines to keep in mind when selling used products:
To list a product with multiple conditions, go to Manage Inventory, from the drop down menu select Edit, and click on Add another condition. Doing so will replicate the current listing but with a new condition.
After knowing what constitutes a used product, the next step is to figure out the categories in which selling used products is allowed. We’ve compiled a list of product categories on Amazon based the selling criteria
Finding used products that customers want to buy is our main goal. To do that, you need to discover places where you can purchase used goods and resell them at a profit. After all, there’s a limit to the amount of unwanted stuff you have lying around. You’re soon going to need new ideas for selling used products.
First, we’ll discuss the various ways of sourcing used products and then talk a bit about validating our product ideas using accurate Amazon seller tools.
Buying products from an online retail platform and selling it on another is what’s known as “online arbitrage”. People engaged in this form of selling usually seek out brand new products to resell instead of ones that are used or refurbished.
While new products allow for more accurate profitability estimates, the price fluctuation with used items between different marketplaces can play to your advantage.
Let’s start with eBay. Start by searching for any item that comes to your mind. We thought of “trucker hats” and gave it a go. After typing in the search term, make sure to set the product condition as “Used”. You can do so by using the filters found just below the search bar.
Here are two products that caught our attention.
For $30.00, one seller is offering 17 vintage-style trucker hats. Now let’s head on over to Amazon.com to see what we find. Using the same search term (and also the same condition i.e. used), these are a few items on display:
Clearly there is an opportunity for us to sell used products on Amazon.com at decent profit margins. Mind you, this is what we found after barely five to ten minutes of searching. Imagine the products you can unearth with a little bit of extra effort!
Another research strategy to add to your arsenal: Facebook Marketplace!
In the presence of Amazon, eBay, and Walmart, it can be easy to forget that Facebook has a marketplace of its own. The 5th largest in the US in fact, according to ModernRetail.
Image Caption: Facebook Marketplace – the lesser-known alternative to eBay
The platform is a great place to start for a couple of reasons.
Some categories for finding used goods include:
Give Facebook Marketplace a go and adopt the same strategy mentioned for eBay.
The growth of eCommerce platforms and the pandemic has resulted in fewer garage sales happening throughout the States. However, the trend is still alive and kicking especially in suburban and rural areas. If you’re really lucky (and determined), you might even snag a few vintage items who’s worth the seller isn’t aware of.
Things like Pokémon cards and collectible coins can fetch a really good price on Amazon. Some buyers are also into old gaming consoles or DVD and cassette players so don’t hesitate to cash in on the nostalgia. Sure, it might not be as easy as buying used goods off eBay but the probability of getting your hands on rare goods and artifacts always makes the trip worth it.
Of all the used products to sell on Amazon, selling used books makes the most sense.
Discussions about selling used goods on Amazon usually revolve around books—and for good reason. Selling used books is one of the easiest and fastest ways of making money online (after all, it’s the very first category with which Amazon started its business).
Image Caption: Purchase used books from book sales for as low as $0.25!
You can either have old books lying around (if you were born during the comic books era) or go and visit book and/or library sales. There’s plenty of opportunity to purchase rare or in-demand books that can net high profit margins on Amazon. In case outdoors is not your thing, try doing bulk purchasing on Facebook, Craigslist, or eBay.
The biggest upside in doing business with second-hand or used books is the lack of investment needed. You don’t have to purchase and ship over thousands of items to Amazon’s warehouse—just start small, get a feel for how things work, and scale accordingly. Used books are cheap and you can always list them for free on Facebook Marketplace if things don’t go as planned.
Step one is always finding out whether a book has enough demand i.e. how easily you can make a sale. Let’s say you have a few books that you want to start out with. Simply search for the book on Amazon and check out its Best Seller Rank (BSR). Here are the product details for a book called “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell:
Image Caption: BSR, ISBN, and other important details can be found in the Product details section
As you can see, the book has a BSR of 960 in the entirety of the Books category making it a really good book to list and sell on Amazon.
The last part of this blog is understanding how to sell used items on Amazon. The whole process can be completed in three steps:
Let’s begin with the selling plan.
Subscribing to the individual selling plan will cost you $0.99 per sale whereas the Professional plan has a flat $39.99 per month fee. If you have plenty of items on hand e.g. a collection of comic books by a single author then the Professional plan makes more sense.
In some cases, people have just two or three items like a rare old cassette or CD player that can fetch upwards of $100. Here, opting for the individual plan is better.
Note: Switching between plans doesn’t cost any extra money. If you want to know how profitable selling used goods is then start with the individual plan—you can always switch to Professional selling in the future.
There are two shipping options at your disposal: FBM and FBA.
FBM or Fulfillment by Merchant refers to self-fulfillment i.e. you’ll be the one solely responsible for safely packing and delivering used goods to the customer. FBA or Fulfillment by Amazon on the other hand involves outsourcing these tasks to Amazon. All you have to do is drop off the goods to a nearby fulfillment center where Amazon'’ employees will pack and ship your orders.
Choose FBM if you have few or large dimensional items to sell. That, or you already have a logistics network of your own which proves to be cheaper than Amazon (highly unlikely as you’re most likely just starting out). FBA comes with a fee but in most instances is cheaper than self-fulfillment. FBA also makes more sense in the long run as the storage is near unlimited.
The product is ready, you’ve settled on a fulfillment method, all that is left is to head over to Amazon and create an offer. We use the word offer instead of listing because we’re interested in selling used products. Usually, such products already have an active product listing on Amazon.
Sellers are not permitted to create new product listings for items that are currently listed, even if they don’t feature used offers. For example, you have a mug holder tree that you’re interested in selling in used condition. Note down the ASIN of the product found under Product information.
Image Caption: Product ASINs are located in both the URL and product detail sections
Now, follow these steps to create your own offer on this product listing:
For used books, the process is slightly different. Instead of the ASIN, type in the ISBN (the UPC equivalent for books) in Amazon’s search bar. It resembles something like this:
An ISBN (short for International Standard Book Number) is located on the book itself. Books that were printed before the 1970s don’t have an ISBN in which case you will have to type in the book title manually.
Once you land on the product listing, scroll down to where the buy box ends. Here, if other sellers have permission to sell the book, you’ll find a “Sell on Amazon” button. Select it, fill in the required details like you would for any used product, and you’re good to go!
Good job on making it this far!
You’ve learned about the categories that allow the sale of used products, the various types of product conditions, and how to list used items on existing product detail pages. In a nutshell, all the information needed to sell used items on Amazon!
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