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The Washington Independent
How To Sell Online Safely

How To Sell Online Safely

05/10/2021 11:11
Adan Duran

Table of Contents

Stick to lower-value items onlyChoose your sales platform wiselyConsider restricting your sales listingsKeep your own details privateCreate listings that sell safelyBecome a delivery pro

With the world getting back to normal, it’s a safe bet that a lot of people are likely to start thinking about clearing up the mess of 2020 (and early 2021). This mess is probably going to be both physical and financial. That means a lot of people are going to be looking to sell their stuff online. If you’re one of them, here are some tips on doing it safely.

Stick to lower-value items only

If you’re an inexperienced seller, then putting high-value items up for sale online is just asking for trouble. From scam buyers to delivery issues to potential security issues, there are a ton of pitfalls waiting to trap you. What’s more, the profit margins on regular online sales can be a lot slimmer than you might think from looking at the listings there.

Remember that the sales prices you see on sites like eBay are only part of the story. For high-value items, you’re going to be paying a chunk in fees. Then there are postage costs and the fact that you’re responsible for the item until the buyer confirms that all is well. What’s more, there might be a holding period before you get your money.

Taking all that in mind, you may find you actually get a better financial deal from a reputable specialist buyer. You’ll certainly get less hassle and more peace of mind. The key point is to look for a buyer with a solid reputation. For example, don’t just look for a Rolex buyer, look for a top Rolex buyer.

Choose your sales platform wisely

The massive growth in online sales has led to massive growth in online sales platforms. Overall, eBay is still the main player if you just want a way to get rid of your unwanted stuff. Amazon, however, runs it pretty close in some regards. There’s also Depop for clothing and accessories.

If you want buyers to collect items, then it might be best to give these platforms a miss. Although eBay allows you to list items for local collection, it’s not really optimized for locally-based sales. Places like Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and Craigslist are likely to be better options.

You might also want to consider passing on official sales platforms and just selling on social media or your own website. If you’re just selling off your unwanted stuff, you don’t even need a proper website with your own domain and checkout facilities. You just need a way to let people see your stuff, get in touch with you if they want to buy it and, of course, pay for it.

In the old days, getting paid would have meant either taking cash or equivalents (e.g. checks) or getting set up for card payments. These days, however, there are plenty of other options including ewallets and cryptocurrency. Remember that some of these will have their own dispute rules (which can be exploited). Others will function more like cash.

Choose your sales platform wisely

Consider restricting your sales listings

Some platforms, like eBay, will allow you to place restrictions on who can bid for/purchase an item. You might want to consider implementing these, at least for your higher-priced items. This can put a stop to scammers who open accounts, buy expensive items and then put in a dispute to get their money back.

Keep your own details private

If you’re using a sales platform, then you may actually be forbidden from communicating with the buyer outside of the platform. If you are allowed to do so and wish to do so, then be careful about giving away your contact details. It’s easy to set up an email address just for online sales. 

There’s usually no need to give buyers a phone number unless they’re collecting locally. If you do need or want to give a phone number, then consider getting a prepaid cellphone or a VoIP number and keeping your regular number private. Never give out your home landline.

Remember, once you give your contact details to someone else, you need to rely on them to keep them private. Even if they’re well-meaning, they may not be the best at data security.

Create listings that sell safely

Listings that sell safely tell the buyer everything they need to know in a compelling way while protecting you against potential disputes. 

For most items, effective images are a must. You generally want to avoid using stock images, even if you have permission. These are fine if you’re selling an item new. If, however, you’re selling a used item, buyers generally want to see the exact item they’re buying so that they can judge its condition.

On that note, if the item is in less-than-perfect condition make sure that fact is made clear. If at all possible show pictures of the issue and make sure that you describe it clearly. 

List all relevant details and be as specific as you can. For example, instead of putting “small” give the exact size and try to show a picture that indicates the scale. If you’re selling clothes then try to put the exact key measurements because these days each manufacturer seems to have their own idea of what any given size means.

Become a delivery pro

If you’re sending items to buyers then getting them through the journey in one piece is your last hurdle to a successful sale. The key point to remember is that these days it’s not always enough to do everything possible to take care of the item. You need to be able to show that you did everything possible to take care of the item.

This starts by making sure you understand where it should be delivered. If you’re using a sales platform like eBay, there should be a verified address. It’s generally best to stick to that unless there’s a really compelling reason not to. If you’re taking the buyer’s details yourself, then get them to send you the details by email. This proves you mailed the item where they told you.

With higher-value items, you may want to film yourself packing the item. With anything other than the lowest-value items, always get proof of posting. For higher-value items, you may want to get a signature on delivery. If you need to give a return address, try to give your work address. If that’s not possible, try to find a friendly local business

Adan Duran | Adan is a high-energy keynote speaker who encourages audiences to use their focus to pay attention to what matters most at work and in life. His audience members adore his realistic techniques that they can use in their personal and professional lives. As a professional speaker, he has won several awards. His extensive experience in learning, growth, and leading large corporate teams makes his an ideal candidate. Employers recruit Adan because of his actionable techniques for avoiding disruptions, stopping interruptions, prioritizing everyday objectives, and saying no to demands that divert resources away from actual goals and priorities.


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