5 tips to get you started

Starting an Internet Reselling Business to Raise Cash

by James Currier

The economy's engine is finally up and running again, but it's certainly not at full speed yet. To drum up some extra income, some of you might be thinking about starting a side business such as a consultancy or another services-oriented venture, but have you thought much about Internet reselling? I took it up as a hobby a few years back and with some hard work and smart moves it eventually blossomed into a viable small business. If it sounds like a venture you'd like to pursue, follow these steps to get yourself off on the right foot:

1. Start Slow

Acquaint yourself with the sales terms and interfaces of both eBay and Amazon and decide which service you prefer. The fees work out to be roughly the same for both. Once that's done, dip your toe in the water before diving in. Start off by listing some very basic items you have around the house such as cooking equipment or old college textbooks (note that less common items may have to be sold on eBay, as the rules for selling on Amazon are a bit more limiting). Once you understand the inner workings of your chosen reselling website, it's time to expand.

Related: Becoming an eBay Power Seller

2. Concentrate on Customer Service

Providing excellent customer service is going to be essential to the success of your venture, especially at the outset. Include a detailed description of each item on its listing page, particularly if it's used. Note any imperfections whatsoever, and if selling on eBay, be sure to include detailed photos of the flaws. Plan on shipping within one business day of receiving your orders. If you get a question about an item, respond to it immediately. The quicker you can establish a solid feedback rating, the better off your online reputation is going to be.

3. Package All Items Securely

Once your business grows a bit, returns are bound to become part of the process. To cut down on them, package all items safely and securely. Invest in some bubble wrap or use old paper grocery bags for cushioning. Don't put your faith in any courier to care for your shipments the way you'd like. Take every precaution possible to protect your sale.

4. Offer a Liberal Return Policy

Many eBay resellers offer no returns whatsoever. If you buy it, it's yours, plain and simple. To me, that's not only unfair, but it's also a bad business strategy, especially if you're just starting out. When I launched, I decided on a 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy. However, I noted that if buyers simply changed their minds about an order, they had to pay return shipping fees. Whatever policy you come up with, make sure you include it in your account information.

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5. Use the Internet to Find Deals

Once your closets and drawers are cleaned out, you're going to need to find yourself some inventory. Consider websites like SlickDeals and Woot.com for bargains. Just make sure you run the numbers to ensure that you can in fact make money. With Amazon, compare your total purchase price for what the item is currently listed for, and with eBay, use the "completed listings" tab, which shows you how much an item recently sold for.

Since the IRS is going to want its cut of your success, it's important to keep a running tab of your profits. Create a simple Excel spreadsheet listing your earnings and expenses, such as shipping costs, inventory purchase, and so on. Starting an Internet reselling business is a great way to generate cash, just keep accurate records and file your taxes promptly to ensure your business has a long, healthy life.

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Have you thought about starting an Internet reselling business?

Reviewed March 2018

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