Selling second hand goods online with Craigslist
David Bryan

The Internet; Empowering Us to Sell Second Hand Goods Online Profitably

As a race we as humans have been successfully buying and selling for thousands of years, all the time responding to the available marketplaces we have. When you analyse it all that has changed is the “route to market”, we are doing what our forefathers did, so why not take advantage of the most modern of marketing tools – the internet?

The internet is not really new now, it’s already been available for c20years to the mass populous but even now for many they are only beginning to explore the potential opportunities that the internet brings. This article “how to sell second hand goods profitably online” is primarily intended for traders as opposed to people who are making a one-off sale, but it will be beneficial for both as well as people wishing to buy second hand goods online.

Reasons that selling second hand goods make sense

There are many reasons to sell second hand goods; we have listed just some of them in the section below:

  • Environmental benefits – In this environmentally conscious age a high proportion of the population are heavily incentivised to buy and sell second hand goods for the environmental benefits. After all, why throw a product in the landfill site when it can still be used, think “sell rather than skip”?
  • Make some cash – If for no other reason, many sell second hand goods just for the cash.
  • Full/part-time job – Many people get “bitten by the bug” of buying and selling second hand goods and trading becomes a full or part-time job. Traders focus on buying low and selling high (e.g. buying from charity shops).
  • Speed of income – In times of poor cashflow and economic adversity selling second hand goods is a ready well of obtaining income quite quickly.
  • It’s fun and rewarding – For many people they get a “buzz”/thrill out of both buying and selling second hand goods. It can be a fun side-line to a regular “9 to 5” job.
  • Dispose of surplus goods – Selling second hand goods is ideal to eliminate clutter and make space in the home/office and at the same time earn some cash into the bargain!
  • The goods still work – We live in a consumer society, but why if the goods still work and aren’t broken should we throw them away? It makes sense to sell them, even in situations where goods are broken they may still have a resale scrap value (e.g. mobile phones and white goods).

Why sell second hand goods online?

So why sell online? There are many great reasons to use the power of the internet, a few of these are provided in the section below:

  • Low cost – There are numerous different methods of selling goods online (e.g. auction websites, classified websites, social media websites, etc.) Generally speaking it is very low cost to sell online (but this does vary according to the method selected) and can even be free if classified websites are used to sell online.
  • Access to customers – Selling online provides access to a large number of customers who are often ready and waiting to buy the second hand goods available for sale. These can be sub-grouped into the following types of customers:
  • Local customers – The internet provides access to customers local to the seller. This can be a deliberate tactic (e.g. selling on a city page on Craigslist), or maybe optimised on certain sites by geo-location matching. Local customers can be ideal for selling heavier/bulkier goods (e.g. white goods, cookers, etc.) or perhaps a method to achieve cash on delivery and therefore reduce transaction handling costs.
  • National customers – The internet also provides ready access around the nation, which obviously increases the chance of making a sale as the number of potential customers dramatically increases. Trading nationally reduces the complexities associated with international trading (e.g. customs clearance), but usually means that distribution methods are needed to send the goods.
  • International customers – The internet also provides access to the entire world and although most sellers don’t sell internationally this is an option and is right for certain circumstances. International sales can work well for countries in close proximity (e.g. France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, etc.) to each other but can also be effective to sell niche products (discussed below) and also products which are light to mail (e.g. collectibles such as stamps and bank notes).
  • Niche specific customers – When selling a niche product it’s often easy to sell if a person with the niche interest can be found. This is why the internet works well for selling collectibles, for property sales and may other niche items. There are a growing number of websites and international companies, such as Mitula and eRowz which provide specialised online classified advertising offerings. These sites tend to provide more targeted search capabilities than traditional search engines which in general are less product specific. Entire niche sites have been developed to meet these needs (e.g. AutoTrader to sell cars).
  • Ease and convenience – Many sellers find selling online remarkably easy. It doesn’t have to involve meeting people (which selling locally often does) and it’s usually easy to post an online sales advertisement, these usually take just a few minutes to post.
  • Higher selling price – Due to the access to a wider number of customers selling online achieves a higher selling price than selling locally would typically achieve. Higher prices can particularly be achieved by selling on niche sites where specialist products are sold and bought by targeted interested buyers.

What second hand goods can be sold online?

There are many types of second hand goods to sell, we have provided a list of some of the logical groups below, all of these are great to sell online:

  • Whatever you have – We need to start with this section, whatever you have to sell can (potentially) be sold online. “Necessity is the Mother of Invention” and often it’s the need to sell (e.g. need for money) which will ensure the sale is made.
  • Electrical goods – A large range of electrical goods sell well online, particularly smaller electrical appliances. Classified and auction websites regularly feature items such as mobile phones, digital cameras, laptops, tablets, audio and video equipment, etc.
  • Clothing (especially premium) – All types of second hand clothing can be sold online, particularly premium or specialist clothing. Items like formal wear, wedding clothes, designer and brand clothing, uniforms and baby goods all sell well.
  • Collectibles – A wide-range of collectibles can sell, these are especially suited to niche websites. Examples of products which can be sold include postage stamps, artwork, china and porcelain, brass, coins, limited edition prints, etc.
  • Jewellery – Items such as necklaces, rings and watches can all sell well, especially once again on niche related websites.
  • Cars – Second hand cars sell extremely well on the internet. It’s a high-value item where exposure to more customers can pay rich dividends; it’s not surprising that may niche sites have been developed specifically to exploit the potential of the used car market.
  • Sporting goods – Sporting goods sell well online, including fitness equipment, golf clubs, football shirts (particularly signed)

How to make more profit

There are a number of techniques to make higher levels of profit when selling second hand goods online, these include:

Buying from low cost sources:

  • Charity and “junk“ shops – these can reveal some absolute bargains, it’s perhaps best to visit shops in more affluent neighbourhoods, which tend to have better quality merchandise
  • Freecycling schemes, which are usually available locally
  • Auctions – there are various types including (lost luggage, police, surplus stock, bankruptcy and more)
  • Notice boards – adverts for local low priced goods can often be found in shop windows and on notice boards
  • Car boot, garage sales – these are often a rich source of low-cost finds
  • Local classified news advertisements – these can reveal some great buys and also sellers can also place their own “Cash now for quality goods” advertisements

There is no such thing as a “free lunch“, but there are ways to reduce costs

  • Buying online – If it works for selling goods why not buy online too? The secret of selling has always been buying quality goods at a low price. There are various techniques and websites available, such as buying from classified advertising websites like For Sale and similar niche sites. The key is doing your research, buying low and selling high, buying locally and selling nationally/internationally can work well as it opens up a larger audience
  • Provide an excellent service – It stands to reason that by providing an excellent service there will be fewer refunds and more repeat orders, which will increase profit!
  • Consider shipping costs – For anything other than local orders shipping costs can eat into profit, so don’t forget to charge for them, but also try to keep the costs to a minimum. Certain heavy and irregular products may need to be sold locally (e.g. fitness equipment)


The opportunities really are there for everybody, so why not experiment? Maybe, start with a few small transactions and see how well you succeed; this could be a fun part-time or even full-time income.

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