There is no worse feeling than laying out hundreds or even thousands of dollars to start a side business only to find out you don’t like it, it takes too much time, or you fall in the “results not typical” crowd and just can’t make money.
The number one reason reselling online is a great option to make extra money is how easy and affordable it is to get started. Reselling has an extremely low startup cost. You certainly could spend a lot in the beginning, but my advice is to start with the bare necessities and then upgrade your business tools as you grow.
Your startup cost will be low, but there are some non-negotiables that you need to be an effective reseller right out of the gate. Luckily, you’ve probably already got most of this around the house.
You’re going to need a way to get online, run useful apps, research items on the go and take photos for your listings. That powerful mini computer in your pocket can do all these. Consider a laptop as well, but don’t go buy a MacBook Pro to get started. I prefer to do a lot of my listing work on a computer but there are plenty of resellers that do everything from their phones.
The number one thing that stings new sellers is shipping mistakes. To price your items correctly you have to know how much it’s going to cost to ship them. The only way to do this is with a scale. A bathroom scale won’t suffice, you want something that’s accurate to the ounce
I used this exact scale from Harbor Freight for two years before upgrading. It’s currently $22 and Harbor Freight always has coupons. You can definitely find a suitable one on Amazon or Ebay as well, plan on spending anywhere from $15-$25.
There is A LOT to learn about shipping. Most of it is simple, but mistakes can be costly. I suggest starting out with items that weigh less than a pound to get your feet wet.
Both Poshmark and Mercari email you a shipping label when you make a sale. On Ebay you purchase the shipping label after putting in some details about your package. You need a way to get the label from digital form and affixed to your package. You need a printer.
Technically, you could sell on Ebay without a printer and go stand in line at the post office and buy your postage but that would be crazy sauce. First, you don’t have time for that. Second, you’ll be paying full retail for postage instead of taking advantage of the steep online discounts that are provided by Ebay and other services.
Hopefully you already have a printer and can just dust it off when you need to print your first label. If not, you’re looking at investing $20-$30 at the low end for something used and up to $100 for something new. You don’t need anything fancy, but if you are planning to operate primarily from your phone you will need a wireless printer.
TAPE AND SHIPPING SUPPLIES
Don’t figure out how to ship something after you’ve made a sale. You’ll want to have some shipping supplies on hand so that once you start making sales you are able to get your orders out the next day.
Get yourself a roll of clear shipping tape for sealing boxes and attaching shipping labels. When you first start, printing on regular paper and taping the shipping label to the package is fine. That does use a lot more tape than you might first guess though, so consider upgrading to half sheet peel and stick labels as soon as you can. You can get a pack of 200 labels for about $13 and 1000 labels for $30. Once you start buying 1-2 black ink cartridges a month, you can start thinking about going to a thermal printer.
Beyond that, what you need is going to largely depend on what you sell. Light, soft items like clothing can ship safely in poly mailers. Small lightweight items like video games can ship in padded bubble mailers. Anything fragile, large, or heavier than a pound is typically going to go in a box.
You order from Amazon don’t you? Start saving those air poofs, bubble wrap and boxes that are in good condition. You can also order free boxes from USPS, but those will only be good for orders shipping Priority Mail (over a pound).
You’ll need accounts on the sites and apps you plan to sell on. I recommend making this one of the first things that you do, so go ahead and start setting up accounts on sites/apps like Ebay and Mercari.
Now, as you’re researching and ramping up, start buying from the platforms that you want to sell on. Have something you’re already planning to order from Amazon? See something on the list below that you’ll need to get? Search for it and buy it on Ebay. It will help you get some quick feedback as a buyer and help you get familiar with the buying experience on the platform.
Special note: if you’ve ever bought or sold anything on Ebay, try to find that old account info rather than starting a new one. Having an existing account with some established feedback is advantageous on Ebay.
One consideration here is also your email account. You don’t have to have a dedicated email address but if you like to be hyper organized you might consider setting one up specifically for your reselling business.
You should also head over to usps.com and set up an account there so that you can order free priority mail shipping supplies.
INVENTORY (STUFF TO SELL)
You could start with a modest investment. I started with $200 and a bunch of notes I took after watching thrift store haul videos on Youtube. After a couple of weeks of shopping, I had almost 50 items to list and never looked back.
You could start with a small investment. Take $40 with you one Saturday morning and hit up the yard sales in your area.
You could start with no investment. Look around your house. You have things there that you no longer want or no longer use. Start looking them up on Ebay and see if there is any value. If so, list it! I can’t tell you how many times I find something in a box that still sealed in retail packaging that we thought we needed and just never used. List it!. Most of your clothes you probably don’t wear. Look up the brands and see if they have resell value. Then list it! Got an old Playstation 2 in a closet somewhere? List it! Box of Pokemon cards under a bed? List it! You get what I’m saying.
Starting with items around your house is a great way to get started. You risk nothing monetarily since you already own the “inventory” and you can get the lay of the land of Ebay, Poshmark or Mercari by getting a few sales under your belt. Any profit you make, gets put into your future inventory fund.
Now get out there and hustle!