Thinking about buying and selling online? You’re not alone. Whether you’re into sports cards or flipping furniture on the weekends, knowing how to buy and sell online is a valuable skill.
Of course, buying and selling online is nothing new, but if you’ve never done it before, where do you start? Everything seems to be happening on the internet these days. Unfortunately, that means there’s a lot of misinformation out there as well.
While your goal is to earn a profit, there are no guarantees. Savvy sellers who know their market can do extremely well, and you may already be an expert in your field.
If you’re not sure what you’re going to sell though, or who you’re going to sell to, it’s normal to expect some losses along the way. It’s inevitable. Using the right tools and strategies will certainly help you minimize the risks.
In this guide, I’m going to break down the different types of buying and selling online, how to get started and where you can find the products and resources you’re going to need.
Here are the broader topics I’m going to discuss with a deep dive into each one…
- Buying and Selling Goods Online
- How to Get started Buying and Selling Online
- The Best Products to Buy and Sell Online
- Is Buying and Selling Online Worth It?
- 10 Best Places to Buy Items For Selling Online
- 10 Best Places to Sell Online
- Starting Your Own Buy and Sell Online Business
- A Few More Online Buying and Selling Tips
- What I Like About Buying and Selling Online
- What I Don’t Like
- Where Do You Go From Here?
Buying and Selling Goods Online
To understand how buying and selling online works, we should first talk about the principles of buying and selling in general. Of course, it sounds simple enough.
… buy items at a low price and resell them at a higher price. Easy peasy… that’s how profits are made.
That’s true, but it’s easy to underestimate your expenses. In fact, it’s easy to flat out ignore the costs of doing business because let's be honest, it feels good thinking you’re making more money than you actually are.
I’ve done it.
When you’re selling online, you may have online tools and memberships you need, which add up, like marketing costs. If you’re selling products that you buy locally, you may have fuel and storage expenses. You may need accounting software and an accountant to do your taxes, and so on…
None of these should overwhelm or discourage you, but they’re important to be aware of. And certain expenses like paying an accountant is a good thing. It means you’re actually making money, which is why you’re here in the first place.
And let’s not forget the products.
When you’re buying and selling online, you will need to buy products (new or used), market them on the internet, and sell them to those who want them.
So, to summarize… buying and selling in any niche to make money online means buying low and selling high. Simple enough, yes, but the actual logistics and marketing of those products add a little complexity. And a little fun.
Depending on your buy and sell strategy, you may (or may not) encounter the following:
- A middleman (the platform you’re selling on)
- Membership fees
- Shipping and handling
- Transaction fees
- Marketing costs that may include online tools and paid advertising
- Fuel and other transportation costs if you’re buying products locally
- Web hosting and a domain
If you’re still interested and want to learn how to buy and sell online for business, stick with me here; I’m going to discuss the process in more detail in the following sections.
By the end of this guide, you will have a much better idea of buying and selling online and getting started.
Types of Buying and Selling Online
Dropshipping is one of the most popular methods of buying and selling online. Here’s how it works…
- Choose the products you want to sell.
- Find a supplier that provides dropshipping services (and good prices) for the products you’ve chosen.
- List your products on your chosen online marketplace(s).
- Market your products at a higher cost than what you paid.
- When a customer purchases your product (at retail cost), you use that money to place an order with your supplier (at wholesale cost).
- Your supplier packs and ships the product to your customer.
There are a few obvious benefits here…
First, your supplier does most of the heavy lifting, at least as far as handling the product goes.
Second, you don’t pay for the product upfront. You only purchase the product AFTER your customer has paid you unless you’re buying in bulk to get a better wholesale price.
Purchasing items from your supplier one at a time will cost more than if you were to buy in bulk. But until you have customers and established knowledge of the products and market you’re selling in, buying them one at a time makes is extremely helpful.
That’s why dropshipping is one of the most popular buy and sell strategies online today. You don’t need a lot of capital, and you also won’t have to deal with storage problems.
It’s not all good though.
The biggest challenge with dropshipping is that you’re at the mercy of your supplier and the shipping company.
If shipping times are too long or the product your customer is getting is different than what you’ve advertised (remember, you don’t see the product either), you’ll be dealing with an upset customer and possibly a refund. In other words, when the supplier or shipping company screws up, it’s you who has to give the customer their money back, and you won’t always be able to recover that cost.
2. Buying Bulk from Wholesalers
While dropshipping can be great, it’s not the most cost-effective if you have money to invest. Buying products one by one doesn’t give you much of an advantage over anyone else who’s dropshipping online.
However, if you can find a wholesaler who can offer you very low prices for buying in bulk, you can significantly increase your profits.
Of course, the challenge is that you need capital upfront and most likely a place to store and ship the product from.
On the one hand, this gives you far more control of customer service and logistics. On the other hand, it’s a lot more work.
The biggest issue when you buy in bulk though is a risk. If you don’t know your market, there is always a chance you’ll end up with a bunch of products you can’t sell, and for most people that’s a deal-breaker.
If you do know your market though, buying your product in bulk from a wholesaler is one way to earn some serious money and possibly turn your buying and selling adventure into a full-time gig.
You can also access some online marketplaces that offer storage and shipping services like Amazon (which I’ll talk about below).
3. Buying Bulk from Manufacturers
This is a strategy popularized by Tim Ferris in the 4-Hour Workweek.
A “wholesaler” is just another middleman, and from your customer’s point of view, you’re a middleman (or a middlewoman) as well.
At best, when you buy from a wholesaler the supplier chain looks like this…
- You (Retailer)
- The Customer
There may be even more wholesalers in the chain, and each time someone touches the product there are additional profit margins and shipping costs added to the final price. Therefore, by going directly to the manufacturer (instead of a wholesaler), you can increase your profit margin even more, save your customer some money and gain a significant advantage over other sellers.
Some manufacturers will even give you the option of branding your products with your own labels.
So far, we’ve talked about “buying” products, which I’ll get more into below, but what about “selling” them?
Who can sell online and how do you sell?
How to Become an Online Seller
Who Can Sell Online?
The good news is that the qualifications are minimal to qualify as an online buyer and seller. As long as you desire to succeed in this type of business (and willing to put in the amount of work required), you can be successful at it.
Buying and selling online can be a work-from-home side hustle or a full-time gig.
You can also scale it into something much bigger with offices, warehouses, and employees if that were something you wanted to do. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it right away, but at one time, even Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, started as an online buyer and seller.
There are no age or educational requirements at the end of the day, and you don’t need any experience either. Buying and selling online is available for anyone willing to learn and put in the effort.
Of course, money is required if you’re going to buy and sell online because, at some point you need to buy products.
You can go the dropshipping route, but even then you’re often dealing with customer service issues and lost shipments. It’s a good idea to have some savings to handle those situations. If you don’t, your buying and selling venture may be short-lived.
If money is an issue, my recommendation would be affiliate marketing, in which case you earn a commission on the sale of products you recommend without dealing with the products themselves, or the customer for that matter.
Either way, the flexibility of building an online business, whether you’re buying and selling or doing something else, is extremely rewarding. You can do it full-time from an office, your home, or anywhere there’s an internet connection…, or you can do it part-time while working your full-time job and even combine it with other work-at-home jobs.
Tips to Becoming a Good Online Seller?
To be a successful online seller, it goes without saying you need to know what you're doing. It’s not a skill you develop overnight, but that’s the point of it being a skill, right?
If everyone could do it wouldn’t really be a skill. At least not one with any unique value.
Knowing where to buy and what to buy for your online business is only where it begins. Your real business is in serving customers. Giving people what they want and doing it well so that they either return, give you a good review or word-of-mouth recommendation.
Below are some tips on how to become a good seller…
- Aim to provide the best customer service – be reachable and respond to all queries. This can’t be overstated. Think of every time you’ve ever had an issue AS A CUSTOMER. What’s the one thing you need in that situation?
And to get help, the company or individual you were dealing with must not only be reachable, but they must also respond to you. Preferably within a very short time-frame. Treat your customers as you yourself expect to be treated.
- Be polite to your customers and give them the respect they deserve. The cliché, “The customer is always right”, is a constant reminder to all businesses. Of course… customers are not always right.
In fact, quite often they’re wrong, but that’s not the point. The customer “thinks” they are right and you must approach every resolution with that in mind.
- Be honest. I know… it’s crazy this even needs to be mentioned, but I’m sure you’ve come across your fair share of dishonest businesses. I know I have.
Show your customers they can trust, don’t just tell them.
- Be patient with customers and understand their needs. They are usually not in the same “headspace” that you are, nor are the operating at the same speed so to speak.
Keep an open mind to their current situation and environment when they contact you.
- Shipping, shipping, shipping. No amount of charisma and goodwill matters until your customer gets what they ordered.
Depending on your market, there are expected wait times. If you’re selling something that’s also available on Amazon or even locally in a store for that matter, people expect it to be delivered overnight.
If it’s a rare sports card or comic though, they are usually a bit more forgiving. Either way, always stay in contact with your customers and inform them if there are delays. Don’t let days (or weeks) pass and let them find out by surprise.
- Keep your eyes open to new trends so that you can provide related products to your already existing inventory.
- Enjoy what you do (your business) because this will show your attitude and how you deal with your customers.
The bottom line to becoming a good seller is to please your customers. Master this skill and your customers will always be loyal to you.
If you’re not certain catering to customers is your thing though, buying and selling online might not be the best option.
They can also be a stepping stone to something more serious like an online business that does NOT require you to cater to customers.
You may be at home because of difficulties with your health for example, or young ones to look after.
If that’s the case and a full-time income online is what you want, knowing how and where to get started is what you need in order to get what you want.
How to Get Started Buying and Selling Online?
Now that you have a general overview of the online buying and selling process, we can get into more specifics like what to buy and sell, where exactly to buy and sell and so on…
What Can You Sell Online?
You can sell just about anything online. You can sell physical products like books, clothing and appliances, and you can also sell digital products such as software, ebooks and online courses.
You can also sell used products like antiques or old cell phones, as well as products you create yourself.
Of course, some things are less practical to sell online than others. You don’t want to buy and sell illegal products on the “dark web”.
And digital products eliminate the need for inventory, packing, shipping and defects.
One of the trickiest parts of this business is knowing what the best products to sell are.
Which ones have the most profit potential and which ones attract the most buyers?
Sadly, there’s no exact formula. Trends and competitors change. People’s tastes and expectations change as well.
There was a time when you could make a fortune online selling backpacks and CDs. Today, there needs to be something special about those backpacks and CD’s to make a profit. A survival backpack with a parachute (okay, I’m just making that up) or ultra-rare CD’s.
So you must keep up to date with the latest trends in your market.
I also recommend going into a market you enjoy. If the products you buy and sell are part of your world so to speak, you’ll have a massive advantage over those who are throwing mud at the wall trying to find a hot a product to flip.
There are some obvious factors you need to consider:
- Demand – People must want it and be willing to pay for it.
Note, people are far more likely to spend money on what they want than what they need.
For example… some people will literally spend tens of thousands of dollars making their cars fast and furious, but when the brakes need replacing or the radiator leaks, they’ll complain about a couple of hundred bucks.
People spend thousands on big screen TV’s but won’t spend a hundred bucks on a high-quality pillow to get a proper night’s sleep. They'll spend 6 bucks on a coffee but debate with themselves over the $2.99 toothpaste or the one for $2.49.
- Price – Here again, people will spend more on stuff they want than they are on stuff they need. Beyond that though, the question is whether your target audience can afford what you’re selling.
If you’re trying to move high-ticket items, make sure you’re marketing to people who can afford high-ticket items.
- Item Size and Weight – When selling online from home, you may be able to compete on price, but it's harder to compete on shipping costs. Seller's who move high volumes will have special rates with courier companies so the size and weight of your item is important.
Heavier and bulkier items are better to sell locally.
- Your Competition – This is big. You need to look at your competitors and find out if the market can still accommodate you.
Can you do what they do better than they’re already doing it?
Again, this is why it’s good to know and enjoy the market you’re in.
- Marketing – There are entire courses built around this topic, but your marketing strategy may affect the products you market. There are certain audiences on Instagram for example, that might not be as active on Twitter or Linkedin.
Audiences searching Google are searching for something more specific than they’d find on their Facebook feed. Know your audience, who they are, where they are and what they’re looking for.
The “Best” Products to Sell Online?
As mentioned above, the best products to buy and sell online are always changing (unless you’re a giant retailer and you’ve already locked up the market on a particular product).
If you’re Audible for example, the best product for you sell is audiobooks. That was true 5 years ago, and it will probably be true 5 years from now.
Of course, if you were a big-time retailer, you wouldn’t be reading this.
There is one factor you can’t ignore though…
Whether you’re selling comics online or hard to find electrical components to ham radio hobbyists… I’m pretty sure you want to make money. So, you must ask yourself this…
- Can you make a profit? Costs to consider are…
Sales margins (what you pay vs. what you sell it for), online marketplace fees, membership fees, transaction fees, referral fees, and so on…
You will also have marketing costs and possibly packaging, shipping, etc.
- Can your potential customer get the item cheaper somewhere else, and how likely are they to find it if they go looking?
Remember, people will pay for convenience. The entire coffee shop industry would go bust if that were not true because you can save a ton of money making coffee at home. But people will pay for convenience.
- The demand level, not just “is there demand?”
Sure, there may be some demand for a product, which is a good start, but is there enough to justify buying pallets of it for a quick sale?
You may get the deal of a century on 3D printers if you buy them by the truckload… but before you can sell that many, the model you're stuck with may be obsolete.
It’s one thing to assess whether there is demand for a product; it's another to get good at predicting how much demand.
- How good is your competition?
Just because there’s competition in a particular market doesn’t mean they’re serving their customers well. They may be complacent. They may be jerks.
Maybe they haven’t had any real competition in a long time have gotten away with treating their customers poorly.
You often see this in specialty industries. You may work in a particular maintenance industry for example, and have access to hard-to-find parts that people still need. If there are only one or two competitors in that entire industry who’ve had it all to themselves, there’s a good chance they took their customers for granted.
That's a great opportunity for you.
Quick Summary So Far…
- Pick products related to your interests, products related to something you love, such as a passion or a hobby you have a genuine interest in.
Your innate experience in the niche will allow you to enjoy what you’re doing as you help your customers with their wants.
- Get ideas from products that are trending. If you can catch trends before the market gets saturated, you can make a fortune. Sellers in industries they love are great at this.
A quick tip here is to pay attention to what kids are doing.
Long before “slime” became a big thing, I noticed the kids in my family were addicted to the stuff. They couldn't get enough of it.
The same thing happened with the controversial social media platform TikTok. I was watching kids go crazy over it, publishing their quick lip-synced clips. That's all it was. Kids.
A year later, it became a juggernaut that experienced marketers used to promote their products online and make significant money.
Kids have an uncanny ability to know what's hot and what's going to be hot.
- Research your audience, research your market, research the products.
You can never do too much research. Well, that’s not entirely true, but you get the idea.
Use platforms like Reddit, blog comments, and Facebook groups to learn not only what people want, but why they want it.
If they’ve bought similar products in the past, what are the problems they’ve encountered with it? How did the product make them feel? What did they like about it?
You may stumble on a product people loved but could no longer get. That’s an opportunity to go hunting for the supplier of that product or find something similar.
A great example of this is the Cuban Lunch Chocolate Bar. It was a Canadian chocolate bar that hadn’t been made for almost 30 years and an Albertan woman was able to acquire the trademark and revive it.
You never know what opportunities you’ll stumble upon when you do your research.
Popular Niche Products to Sell Online?
So we’ve talked about products in general, but I hear what you’re saying… What are some examples?
Unless you’re already in a particular market and have an eye for up-and-coming bestsellers, you’ll likely have too many competitors by the time you find out about it.
If there’s one thing you can count on in marketing is that every “good thing” will get ruined. Once one person stumbles onto a trend and others find out about it, there’s a mad rush.
Still, certain niches seem to be fool-proof in terms of constant demand. And so, no matter how many competitors there are, new businesses can survive and become successful. Here are some of them…
1. Home improvement – There’s a continuous need for building homes, so there’s always room for sellers in this area. But it would be best if you niched-down your product choices to find items that will meet your requirements (demand, competition, price, etc.).
2. Pet supplies – People not only love pets, but they also love pampering them. Again, it would help if you did your own research on which pet-related products have high demand and low competition. You can check out pet food, toys, clothing, and even training programs.
3. Baby supplies – Baby needs will always be in demand. And if you can find a product that will meet your research requirements, you can probably make profits from this niche. If you’re a parent, you probably already know what baby products are most needed every day.
4. Food supplies and accessories – Who doesn’t love food? People like using the most convenient devices to prepare their food. So think appliances, coffee supplies, cookbooks, etc.
5. Self-improvement and fitness – Research shows that humans want to feel good about themselves and are more than willing to spend on this. This can come in the form of cosmetics, exercise equipment and gadgets, books, courses and so on…
High Profit Margin Products – Tips and Suggestions
So, you’re learning how to buy and sell online because you want to make a profit from it, right? Below are some tips that will help you accomplish your goal…
- Buy from stores that are closing down (they give big discounts to dispose of their products quickly).
- Buy from clearance sales and take advantage of old stock being sold for a bargain.
- Before buying an item (even if it's on sale), check, double-check and triple-check how much you can sell it for first. It's tempting to jump on what looks like a great deal, but sometimes things change in the market quickly, and what would have been a great deal yesterday might not be so great today.
- Digital Products. By far, you will consistently find the highest profit margins on digital products because there are no material costs and they are cheaply re-produced. In most cases it's just a download or a password to get behind a paywall.
Digital products are a little different than “buying and selling” online though, because you don't have to buy each digital product to sell it.
Instead, you may buy one copy or one membership to the digital product and recommend it to hundreds or even thousands of other people to earn a commission.
And because digital products are cheap to re-produce (note: I said re-produce, not produce. The initial product, such as a software for example, could costs thousands or even millions to produce. It's the copies that are cheap to re-produce), you can often find commission rates ranging from 20 percent to as high as 70 or 80 percent on some products during special promotions.
This process is called affiliate marketing.
Is Buying and Selling Online Worth it?
Your profit and effort will determine if buying and selling online is worth it. Only you know whether buying and selling online is worth it or not, but be fair. If you're not happy with the results, you may need more time or to look into another market, possibly.
Money-wise, you can do the math even before starting with your buy and sell online business. For example, you can determine how large your inventory should be every month and estimate your sales.
But beyond the money, you'll need to decide if the amount of time and effort is worth it. And don't be too hard on yourself. It's easy to look back and regret certain decisions, but you're learning.
Maybe buying and selling isn't your thing, but buying and selling is not the only way you can make money online.
You can also earn a few bucks with online survey sites. Not a lot of money of course, but sites like surveyjunkie.com and inboxdollars.com are simple, don't require an investment on your part, and don't come with the risks that buying and selling does.
If you're the entrepreneurial type though, surveys are also not as fun.
In that case, you might be interested in an affiliate marketing business.
You may be at home because of difficulties with your health for example, or young ones to look after and a full-time income online is what you want.
Knowing how and where to get started is what you need in order to get what you want.
If you buying and selling online is your thing though, and it is for many people, keep on reading…
10 Best Places to Buy Items for Selling Online
Below are places to find items to sell online. Of course, not everything you sell online must be bought online. Some of these places are found online and some are local.
1. Garage sales – You can find treasures at garage sales. You may even find brand new items still in the box.
And remember, reputation is everything. Well, maybe not everything, but it's important. If you're buying second-hand items, as often as possible, buy the ones in good condition.
If you find something valuable but there's something wrong with it, be honest with your potential customer.
2. Thrift stores – Again, try to find items that are new and still sealed in their original packaging. These are the unique finds you can buy cheaply and sell at a good price.
3. Flea markets – You can also find brand new items at flea markets because some closed-out businesses get rid of their stuff in these places. Flea markets are also great for vintage and antique items.
4. Wholesale businesses – As I’ve mentioned before, you can buy in bulk from wholesalers at very low prices. Since you will be selling these items individually, you can make a profit from their retail prices.
5. Closing-Out businesses – As more and more stores are set up online, you may find that some stores in your area are closing. These stores will usually put their products on sale, and being aware early can nab you some great deals.
Of course, waiting may lead to bigger discounts as well. If you're aware of the business that's closing though, at least you can keep an eye on it.
6. Online clearance sales – You can also find clearance sales from online stores because most of the time, they just want their items moving.
7. Black Friday deals – Black Friday deals are great and happen every year. If you know a product is going to be popular, you can stock up for the year.
8. Cyber Monday deals – After Black Friday, there are also Cyber Monday deals that can save you a lot of money. If you plan what you intend to sell online, you can purchase them when they go on sale.
9. Craigslist – Craigslist has a free section where you can get stuff for FREE. If you’re lucky, you might find brand new items or second-hand items that are still in great condition for reselling.
10. Direct suppliers – If you’re going to learn how to buy and sell online, it’s important to have your own suppliers as sources of products to sell. You can go to SaleHoo for this because they’re a good source of suppliers who are selling a wide range of products at very low prices.
SaleHoo was founded in 2005 and has been BBB-accredited since 2006 (they have an A+ rating on the site). They verify their suppliers to make sure they’re legit and trustworthy before adding them to their directory.
AliExpress is another place to find suppliers of low cost items.
When you have contacts with direct suppliers, you can negotiate for the best deals and maximize your earning potential. Building good relationships with suppliers can also be the source of bulk discounts, bonuses, and other considerations.
10 Best Places to Sell Online
Buying products to sell is only half the battle.
For the best places to sell online, I'm going to talk about the different platforms you can use to buy and sell online.
There are many platforms to choose from, but the best one for you will depend on what you’re selling and which platform you’re comfortable with.
Here are some of the things you should consider when choosing a platform to sell your products…
1. How big and popular the platform is – If a platform has many members, you have many potential customers. At the same time, if the platform’s members are mainly comprised of sellers, the competition will be high.
You need to find a balance when deciding if a platform is suitable for your business.
2. Fees – Platform’s fees are, of course, important because these are added costs to you. High costs will lower your profit margins.
3. Type of platform – Some platforms are specifically intended for certain products. For example, if you’re selling books, a platform for books might be more suitable for you.
4. Credibility, Reliability, and Reputation – If you’re going to sell on a particular marketplace, it would be wise to choose one that can stand the test of time. You wouldn’t want to put your online store on a platform that could be gone tomorrow, right?
Founded in 1994, Amazon is BBB-accredited since 1996. They have an A rating at the BBB and is undoubtedly one of today's most popular online marketplaces.
You can sell anything on Amazon, but some specialized categories need approval from the site first.
Amazon’s Individual selling plan is free to join, but you need to pay them 99 cents for each item you sell on their platform. Aside from this, they also charge a referral fee of 8% to 20% (depending on the product).
Amazon’s professional selling plan costs $39.99 per month, but this is a flat rate fee – which means you won’t have to pay them any fees if you sold products using their site.
If you want, you can sell new things you purchased from somewhere else like eBay, thrift shops, and garage sales. If you see something that you think is worth buying and selling, check first how much you can sell it on Amazon to gauge if you can make a profit.
What’s really nice about Amazon is they have many buyers on their site with a single click ability to buy. They also have the FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) service where they’ll store your inventory for you as well as package and ship items as they’re sold.
They charge a fee for this service – between $.45 to $1.35 per unit.
eBay is also a great site to consider for buying and selling online. It was founded in 1995, and they’re BBB-accredited since 1998. At the time of this writing, they have an A+ rating on said site.
Like Amazon, you can sell a variety of products on eBay. It’s actually known for second-hand items. And you can also sell single items through the site.
EBay’s fee structure is quite simple – they charge 10% from the final sale price.
Please note that eBay is also a major online marketplace like Amazon. Because many people are buying stuff from eBay, you have a good chance that your products will also get noticed on their platform.
Established in 2012, Swap is a specialty shop for clothes (new and used). They’re BBB-accredited since 2014 and currently have an A+ rating there.
Swap is a great place to sell clothes that you find on garage sales and thrift shops. You can also decide to declutter your closet and sell your used (or unused) clothes through Swap.
The way Swap works is you ship them your clothes and they’ll sell these for you (if your products pass their criteria, that is).
To ensure that your items are accepted, make sure these are free from wear and tear (fading, shrinkage, stretching, etc.). In short, clothes should be as close as new when you ship them to Swap for selling.
Swap will take care of the processing, promoting, pricing, and selling of your clothes if your items are accepted. You can earn around 15% of the selling price for items sold below $8 and 70% from sales above $8 (but this includes a fee of $4.95 per item). And, they’ll charge you fees for items that don’t pass their criteria – so be careful.
Bonanza started in 2008 and was accredited on BBB in 2013. Right now, they have an A+ rating on BBB.
Bonanza is similar to Amazon and eBay so you can sell all types of products on their platform.
When it comes to their fees, Bonanza charges based on the selling price of each item. At the time of this writing, they’re charging 3.5% for sales under $500. And for sales over $500, they’re charging 1.5% per sale.
5. Ruby Lane
Ruby Lane is a marketplace for antique and vintage items. It started in 1998 and became BBB-accredited in 2013. They have an A+ rating on the site.
There’s money in antiques and vintage products if you know where to find them and if you know their real value. If you’re lucky, you can buy these things for a few dollars and sell them for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Ruby Lane charges $100 to set up a store on their platform. They also charge 19 cents per item on your list. They also collect a monthly maintenance fee based on the number of items listed in your store. According to my research, they’re charging $69 per month for a maximum of 80 items.
Unless you’re an expert on antiques and vintage items, you might find Ruby Lane's fees too costly. Remember, you need to calculate your possible income against your costs to run your business and gauge if you’re going to profit from your business. In the case of Ruby Lane, your initial investment is a bit high.
Established in 2005, Etsy is BBB-accredited since 2016. They also have an A+ rating on the site at the time of writing this review.
Etsy is another specialty shop that’s popular with jewelry and accessory sellers. While you can use the site to buy and sell things you buy, you'll also find many sellers who prefer Etsy to sell their own creations through the site.
The way Etsy works is they charge 20 cents per item on your product listing and 5% for each sale. You also need to use their own payment system in processing payments, and they’re charging an additional 3% for this service.
Newegg is a tech and electronics platform that was founded in 2001. They’re also BBB-accredited since 2001 and currently have an A+ rating there.
You can choose from 3 membership plans on Newegg – their Standard plan is free, their Professional plan costs $29.95/ month, and their Enterprise plan is priced at $99.95 per month.
You can list up to 5,000 items on their Standard plan, which is not bad. But of course, their paid plans come with more features. In fact, you can list up to 25,000 items on their Professional plan, and their Enterprise plan can hold an unlimited number of items.
Newegg also has a shipping service called Shipped by Newegg. This service functions a lot like Amazon’s FBA. Therefore, you need to ship your inventory to Newegg, and they’ll take care of the packing and shipping for you (when you get sales).
Founded in 1962, Walmart Marketplace functions a lot like Amazon, and its product categories are also similar to Amazon.
What’s nice about Walmart is they’re not charging any fees for joining their site. They’re only charging a referral fee per sale, which can be anywhere from 6% to 20% (depending on the product’s category).
Walmart also has fulfillment services similar to Amazon’s FBA (it’s called Walmart Fulfillment Services). And so, after shipping your goods to Walmart, they’ll pack and ship your sold items for a minimal fee.
Shopify was founded in 2004 and became BBB-accredited in 2012. They currently have an A+ rating on the BBB site.
If you join Shopify, you’ll have your own online store on their platform where you can buy and sell your goods. Their Basic Shopify membership costs $29 per month, Regular membership is $79 per month and their Advanced Membership costs $299 per month.
Shopify doesn’t have a free membership offer. However, they’re usually giving a 14-day free trial to their would-be members. At the time of writing this review, they’re giving a free 90-day trial,
If you join Shopify’s platform, you first need to set up your account and store. You can then add your products to your online store. Shopify also has a built-in shipping feature, which lets you calculate shipping fees via USPS, UPS, and DHL.
10. Facebook Marketplace
As popular as the platforms mentioned above are, none are quite as personal as Facebook Marketplace.
To be honest, I'm not a fan of Facebook as a social media platform but when it comes to hobbies and business whether commerce or connecting with like-minded people, it's useful.
Selling on Facebook is about as easy as it gets. Once on their site, you'll see a button that says [+ Create New Listing], which will take you to a menu asking whether it's an item you're selling, a vehicle, or a home (a home for sale or for rent).
Buying and selling on Facebook often puts a face to the name and unlike the other platforms, Facebook is primarily a community which if used correctly, is good for building buyer/seller relationships.
Starting Your Own Online Buy & Sell Business
You’ve just seen some quick reviews on 10 of the best platforms and marketplaces to sell your goods online. What you'll notice though, is that all the sites I mentioned have rules, guidelines, and fees.
Needless to say, they also all have their terms and conditions when you join their platform, which means the can change the rules at any time. They can also suspend your account if you commit what they perceive to be a violation of their terms and conditions (quite often without you even knowing it).
Because of the possible problems you can encounter with a third-party platform, many find it more practical to sell products through their own website.
With your own site, you're in total control.
There are also no membership fees if you use your own site for buying and selling products. And surely, you also won’t be charged referral fees for sales in your own business.
Having said that, it's not entirely free. You must purchase a domain for about $10 and $15 per year and domain hosting, ranging from $5 to $50 a month depending on the amount of site traffic you have.
Yes, selling through an already established marketplace has its advantages – it’s easier and faster to set up and handle the storage, packing, and shipping of your products.
With your own website though, you get to set your own rules and the look and feel of your business as well. Yes, there are costs as I’ve mentioned earlier, but you can also avoid the hassle of dealing with products. In fact, you can avoid the hassle of dealing with customers.
Most website owners prefer affiliate marketing over buying and selling because it's far easier and cheaper. You don't have to purchase products to sell them; you only have to recommend products and earn a commission when someone buys.
When starting your own online business, the important thing to remember is to find your niche and stand out from the rest. You don't want to be an everything store and compete with Amazon or Walmart.
And by recommending products vs. buying them, you don't have to deal with things like invoicing, product returns, and warranty issues.
You may be looking for a way to make money from home because of your health for example, and in that case, the added stress of buying and selling may not be for you.
Less stress and peace of mind are what you want, and knowing how and where to get started is what you need in order to get what you want.
A Few More Online Buying & Selling Tips
1. Sign up for store cards to get discounts on products.
2. If you’re going to handle the stocking and shipping of products, choosing a niche with light and compact objects can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.
3. Try to avoid selling products that can get broken during shipping.
What I Like About Buying and Selling Online
- You can buy and sell online as a work-at-home gig.
- The niche and product possibilities are almost endless. Whatever you can think of getting into, you can probably get into.
- Online businesses require low investments when compared to traditional businesses.
- You have the option to maintain inventory and stock yourself or you can leverage platforms, shippers and suppliers to do it for you.
- I like the flexibility – you can buy and sell online, part-time or full-time.
What I Don’t Like
- It’s not as simple as it sounds. It's not just buying and selling online to make money… it's also marketing which is an entirely different skillset.
- It can take time to make sales and see results.
In other words, it's not an online job where you do a thing (whatever that thing may be) and immediately get paid for it.
It's a business that requires a lot of upfront work without getting paid, and although the potential rewards for that work are far greater than any “job,” a time and financial investment upfront isn't for everyone.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Now that you know how to buy and sell online, you can see that it’s not as easy as it sounds. However, I can assure you that it works – in fact, many people are successful at it.
I know you want to make money online and believe me, I can relate. As an online freelancer, it wasn't easy for me either. But I know the benefits of earning a living from home and I can't recommend it enough.
And the good news is, you can make money online.
You might be a student in school or a single parent at home. You may have health challenges that make regular work difficult, or maybe you hate your job and you’re desperate for a way out.
If that’s the case, an online business is certainly what you want.
With all the scams and schemes out there though, knowing how and where to get started the right way is what you need in order to get what you want.
Of course, they won’t make you rich, but if you’ve never made money online before, they can be a good first step to bigger things down the road.
I hope this guide to buying and selling online has been helpful and if you have any comments or questions, please share in the comments section below.