How to Start Second-Hand Items Selling Business Online

If you’ve ever wondered how to turn your clutter into cash or contribute to the circular economy, you’ll be delighted to know that the world of online second-hand buying and selling offers a plethora of options. Whether you’re looking to sell pre-loved clothing, books, furniture, or games, there’s a digital marketplace for you.

But with so many choices available, how do you select the best platform to showcase your items and ensure a successful sale? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with our expert tips and guidance to sell with confidence on platforms like Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and Vinted.

What Sellers Think: Insights from the Second-Hand Market

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of successful online selling, let’s take a moment to understand what other sellers have experienced. In January , a survey gathered insights from 4,000 sellers who had used ten of the most popular second-hand marketplaces. Overall, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. A significant 63% of respondents had utilized online marketplaces to sell or give away items, with clothes, books, furniture, and games being the most popular items sold.

An impressive 79% of sellers expressed satisfaction with the platforms they used and would readily recommend them to others. However, it’s essential to acknowledge that not all experiences were flawless. About 12% of sellers raised complaints with customer service about the platform they used. Some expressed dissatisfaction with the buyer-centric approach, where the platform seemed to side with buyers even in situations where evidence suggested otherwise. Therefore, it’s crucial to equip yourself with the right knowledge and strategies to protect yourself and ensure a smooth selling experience.

Preparing for Success: Tips Before You Start Selling Online

1. Craft a Detailed and Accurate Description

When listing an item online, your description is your sales pitch. Be thorough, honest, and transparent in describing your item’s condition, including any defects or signs of wear and tear. Providing an accurate depiction builds trust with potential buyers and minimizes the likelihood of disputes later on.

2. Research the Right Price

It’s essential to price your item competitively to attract buyers. Take the time to research similar products and their selling prices on the platform to determine the appropriate value for your item. Don’t rely solely on your perception of its worth; data-driven pricing is key.

3. Know Your Market

Different platforms cater to distinct markets. For instance, if you’re selling high-value items like designer clothing, consider using platforms with authentication services to assure buyers of their authenticity. Understanding your target audience helps you make informed choices about where to list your items.

4. Use Original Photos

Stock images might be tempting, but they can be copyrighted, and they won’t accurately represent your item’s condition. Use clear and high-quality photos of the actual item from various angles. This practice boosts buyer confidence and reduces the likelihood of disputes over item appearance.

5. Accurate Postage Costs

Setting the right postage fee is crucial. Undercharging could result in financial losses, while overcharging may deter potential buyers. Take care to accurately estimate postage costs to provide a fair and reasonable price.

6. Utilize Blocking Features

If you’ve had unpleasant experiences with particular buyers in the past, some platforms allow you to block them from purchasing your listings. This feature can help you avoid potential conflicts and ensure smoother transactions.

7. Understand the Platform’s Terms and Conditions

Each platform has its own set of rules and guidelines, including buyer protection policies. Familiarize yourself with these terms, especially if certain actions or deadlines are required of sellers, to prevent any inadvertent violations.

Mastering the Sale: Tips for a Successful Online Transaction

1. Stay Within the Platform’s Payment System

Avoid accepting payments outside of the platform whenever possible, as this may void any seller protection offered by the platform. If secure payment options are available within the app, opt for those. Alternatively, use reputable online payment services like PayPal.

2. Maintain Communication Within the Platform

Keep all communication with buyers within the platform’s messaging system. Doing so ensures that you remain eligible for any protections provided by the platform. Avoid switching to other channels that might not have the same level of security and documentation.

3. Stick to the Shipping Address

Always ship to the address provided by the platform or the one on the invoice. Deviating from this practice may compromise any protection you have in place. If a buyer insists on an alternative shipping address, request them to cancel the purchase and reorder with the updated details.

4. Keep Evidence of Your Shipments

For added security, document your shipments thoroughly. Take photographs of your items packaged for delivery, and send them with tracked shipping services. Retain all tracking details and receipts to provide evidence in case a buyer claims non-receipt.

5. Respond Promptly to Buyer Issues

Should a buyer raise any concerns or issues, address them promptly and professionally. Failure to do so might result in the nullification of any seller protection you might have. Be proactive and respectful in your communication.

6. Refunds Should Be Within the Platform

If a refund or partial refund is warranted, process it through the platform’s official channels, especially if the original payment was made using the platform. Avoid external arrangements, as they might not be protected.

7. Provide Evidence to Support Claims

In the event of a dispute, evidence is your best ally. If a buyer claims an item hasn’t arrived or is not as described, having detailed listings with accompanying photographs will bolster your case. Keep records of the shipping process and any interactions with the buyer.

Understanding Seller Protection

Seller protection is a valuable feature offered by some platforms to safeguard sellers from certain buyer claims. For instance, if a buyer falsely claims an item hasn’t arrived, seller protection can help if you have evidence of shipping, such as tracking information. Additionally, it may cover cases where a buyer disputes the item’s description, and your documentation proves otherwise.

Platforms like Depop and eBay offer seller protection for many transactions, subject to specific conditions. When receiving payments through PayPal, sellers can also benefit from seller protection. It’s crucial to review each platform’s seller protection policies and understand the requirements to ensure you’re eligible.


Selling second-hand online offers a fantastic opportunity to declutter, make some extra money, and contribute to sustainable consumer practices. By following our comprehensive guide, you can confidently navigate platforms like Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, and Vinted to achieve successful and secure transactions. Remember to craft detailed descriptions, research pricing, and utilize original images to entice buyers. Stay within the platform’s communication and payment systems, and be prepared with evidence to resolve any potential disputes.

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