How to Start and Manage an Internet Reselling Business
Despite our nation's climb out of the deepest of its economic troubles, many Americans are still struggling to meet their monthly obligations. If you've created a personal budget, are paying down your debts and keeping your bills in check, but still having difficulties, you may want to think about generating additional income in your spare time. One of the most intriguing ways to do this is with an internet reselling business. If you work hard and approach it intelligently, online reselling can evolve into a solid and consistent stream of income. Here's how to get started:
1. Get your initial inventory. Check your closets and drawers for no-longer-needed electronics, used college textbooks, old and unused toys, and anything else you find that you didn't even realize you had. You're going to be surprised what people are willing to pay for, so open your mind — and your dresser drawers — and gather up anything that might be of value.
2. Choose your platform. The big players in internet reselling include eBay, Amazon.com and Craigslist, the latter of which should be used for bigger items like furniture, flat-screen TVs and desktop computers. Use Amazon for more standard fare like small electronics, and try eBay for anything that defies classification. I've sold on both eBay and Amazon in the past and have found that website commissions, charges and any shipping credits all tend to even out in the end. The process for listing items on Amazon is a bit simpler since you don't have to photograph them like you do for eBay and Craigslist.
3. Price items aggressively. If your goal is to develop this into a full-fledged business, you're going to need capital. Therefore, it doesn't make much sense to price your items exorbitantly. Don't give them away, but try to price them a bit lower than what they're selling for on eBay or Amazon. Use the Completed Listings tab on eBay for guidance or check to see what items are listed for on Amazon.
4. Ship promptly and securely. Shipping your items quickly is going to be a challenge, especially if you're working a full-time job. Just be sure to check your email often, keep track of all orders as they come in and try to ship them within one business day. Make sure all items are packaged safely and securely. Use old grocery bags for padding or get yourself some bubble wrap or styrofoam to protect your goods. Both the post office and UPS offer free shipping boxes, so take advantage of them.
5. Purchase more inventory. Once your home inventory is cleared out and you have some capital to work with, it's time to start hunting for deals. Sure, you could scour the internet for hours on end researching retail websites, but a better option is to sign up with a website like FatWallet or SlickDeals, where members do the research for you. You get timely email updates on all the latest bargains, and all you have to do is decide when to pull the trigger. Factor in shipping costs and website commissions to determine if you're actually going to be able to turn a profit. Checking out the clearance sections of local retailers like Staples, Target and Office Depot may help uncover a deal or two as well.
Too many Internet resellers overlook the importance of customer service. Even though you're running an online venture, taking care of your customers is just as critical as if you were shaking their hands every morning. Whenever you receive a question or complaint, respond to it immediately. If you have a return request because of a fault of your own (e.g., late shipping, incorrect item), be sure to overcompensate the buyer.
And go the extra mile. If you've shipped an incorrect item, offer to buy the correct one from another internet reseller and have it shipped to the customer as soon as you receive your item back. Focusing on customer service can help you maintain a stellar online feedback rating, which goes a long way in developing a consumer base and positively impacting future sales.
Barry Michael is a business owner and online reseller who writes about technology, shopping tips and e-commerce.