Pack a box, post it – and let someone else sell the contents for you
FBA – Fulfilment by Amazon – is that simple… You choose which products to sell and make money from, describe them and pack them up and send to Amazon.
Amazon lists those items, sells them, takes payment, fulfils orders and deals with after-sales enquiries. Then, not long afterwards, Amazon sends you a predetermined share of the proceeds.
There are problems to contemplate, but for most people FBA works like the proverbial charm – requiring the minimum of input by sellers, who then don’t have to stock goods and make daily journeys to the Post Office or waste time dealing with nasty buyers.
I’ve heard many more good than bad experiences reported by product owners using Fulfilment by Amazon, even where final profits are lower than from marketing and delivering products direct to buyers (and taking into account the less time and effort required).
So FBA and similar propositions sound perfect for people in full-time employment or lacking space to store goods.
But you don’t want all your eggs in one basket, so I’ll tell you about a similar service operating through eBay.
What you’re going to hear is pretty similar to how most commission selling companies work. The kind you’ll find on many high streets or advertising inside their own eBay listings – even FBA is a commission seller of sorts – but the trading partner we consider now is partnered with eBay.
The partnership, in pilot stage, is with Stuff U Sell (www.stuffusell.co.uk), based in London.
This is what you need to know to get started…
- You research and source products, from flea markets and car boot sales, or wholesalers and direct from manufacturers, for example; or you make those items yourself, or have someone else create them for you.
Choose items with high profit potential, because you’ll be sharing your earnings with Stuff U Sell – as happens with FBA and other commission resellers.
Box your items and Stuff U Sell will collect them by courier, for which you pay according to pick up location, weight and size of box, and the contents. The selling process will begin soon afterwards.
As a rough guide, Stuff U Sell quotes collection of a box from anywhere in mainland UK for just £15 and single large-item furniture collections throughout England & Wales for just £100.
1. Make every item pay its way in your box or other delivery option. You could place dozens of small collectibles in a container the size of a shoebox, for instance, but you’ll need a much bigger container and possibly a large van to transport furniture and paintings with heavy frames.
Factor the cost of delivering your item to Stuff U Sell into prospective earnings after the sale.
2. Stuff U Sell regularly attracts high prices for cast-off designer clothing, so pay regular visits to jumble sales and charity shops in your area, and also small auction rooms, for newly-acquired items that haven’t been spotted yet.
Study the ‘for sale’ advertisements in local newspapers, looking for designer-label wedding gowns and other items that are expensive purchased new. Look up successful listings for similar items sold recently on eBay and consider buying goods available locally, with at least £100 resale profit potential.
3. Be on constant lookout for items that don’t attract high prices in your local area, but do fetch high prices from eBay’s international marketplace. Items with topographical appeal, such as antiquarian books and atlases focusing on non-local areas, will usually fetch low prices in out-of-the-area locations which attract few visiting traders, and can then make twice, thrice, or several times greater profits on eBay.
Small auction rooms without their own Internet presence and based miles away from main rail and road routes attract limited bidder numbers, very few traders, and relatively low prices on products with high resale profit potential.
Much the same goes for remote flea markets and car boot sales, jumble sales and other itinerant events.
- Unlike FBA, Stuff U Sell does not charge for storing goods, but there is a minimum commission of £25 per lot. Product owners will also pay £25 for every item they personally withdraw from sale and the same amount for setting a reserve price.
So you must make sure whatever products you send to Stuff U Sell will earn a minimum £25+ to generate money for you. Focus on products that rarely go unsold and you won’t need a reserve price.
A good example might be an antique painting other bidders have overlooked at flea markets or in a small regional auction room, which sells for just a few pounds and resembles items recently fetching several hundred pounds from eBay’s massive international buyer base.
Don’t laugh: it happens a lot and I personally know several people who pay low prices at events attracting low visitor numbers and selling through high-profile companies like Bonhams, Sotheby’s, and companies like eBay and Amazon.
- Selling fees vary according to the price Stuff U Sell achieves for your product, but expect to pay 33% for most items.
Stuff U Sell says: ‘We charge a commission of 1/3 of the net sales value of your item up to £1,000 and then just 10% above that. So if your item sells for £3,000, you will get £2,467 – an average commission of 18%. The buyer pays any postage charges and eBay and PayPal fees as part of their total payment – the remaining amount is the net sales value, which is what your item sells for. We do not charge commission on the postage or eBay fees.
‘For example, we sold a valuable 19th Century Rudall and Rose flute for £2,053. The buyer paid £20 for tracked and insured next-day shipping and 13.4% eBay marketplace fees (for a total of £2,394). Our commission is calculated only on the £2,053 sale value: 33% for the first £1,000, i.e. £333, then 10% on the remaining £1053, i.e. £105, so our total commission was 21% i.e. £438, and the seller received £1,615.’
Product owners can fix their own prices, similar to how a reserve price works at auction, and Stuff U Sell will continue listing an item until it sells – or proves unlikely to sell.
Items that are unlikely to sell are usually donated to charity or returned to their owners for a specified handling fee detailed at the company’s website.
Other actual and possible fees and rules regarding payment include:
‘Collection and reserve fees are payable in advance. To secure your collection slot, we can take a credit card payment over the phone.
‘If there is no agreed collection fee then the fee will be based on an hourly rate of £50 per person per hour, including travelling time. Cancelled collections will be charged 50% of the paid amount if cancelled within a day of collection and 25% if cancelled within three days of collection.
‘Kitchens and large in-situ items have commission of one third regardless of sale value.
‘For unsaleable items, we offer a week’s free storage for you to collect it after we notify you. After this time we may dispose of an item at our discretion.’
- Stuff U Sell will reject fake and unsaleable items and any that don’t meet national and international selling standards, or which have over-ambitious prices set by their owners.
So toys, for example, must meet international safety standards; and products may be returned to owners setting a prohibitively high reserve price.
- Scam and customer-service market research company Trustpilot gives Stuff U Sell a rating of 9.5 out of 10. A similar score is given by Google’s rating service. But bear in mind those scores are more often from people buying through Stuff U Sell than product owners. Nevertheless, as long as buyers are happy, then sellers will probably be happy too.
You can visit Stuff U Sell in person at 8 Commercial Way, Abbey Road, London, NW10 7XF (open Monday to Friday, 10:00 am. to 5:30 pm and Saturday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm). Or call them on 0800 046 1100.