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pikipupiba's avatar

Is making money off eBay really as simple as 'buy low, sell high'?

Asked by pikipupiba (1629points) February 15th, 2010

I have made quite a few ‘steals’ on eBay recently, and I was just wondering if I was over-thinking the concept of making money off eBay. If it really is that easy, I think I have a new day job :)

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21 Answers

The_Idler's avatar

Well PM me, if you nail it.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

There will come a day when ebay’s time has passed.
That will be the day that consumers decide to stop paying opportunistic shiesters double what a product is actually worth.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

If you approach ebay with an actual plan.. yes.. it can be profitable. But if you do like so many others… it can have the opposite effect.

ArtiqueFox's avatar

Isn’t that the same “principle” with every business generally? It’s kind of a “everyone knows it” strategy… This is a good basic principle for you to grasp, but it won’t give you the diamond edge. Especially since half of eBay knows that same factor…

There are other parts to succeeding on eBay, like time, what you sell and buy, when you sell and buy etc. There is no way its as simple as the above.

pikipupiba's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy I don’t understand, are you saying that I am an opportunistic shiester? I will still be selling the items at a level well below retail price.

Here is my plan: The focus of my business would be to help other college students who want a great deal on electronics but either don’t know enough, don’t have enough time, or just don’t want to find those deals online. I will take a personal approach, assessing an individuals needs and either sell them an item I have already won, or go looking for them. I will NEVER try to unload an item on someone just cause it isn’t selling.

I think this is the textbook definition of ‘everybody wins’. (am I wrong???)

jaytkay's avatar

Yes, as long as you take into account your shipping/packaging fees, Paypal fees, ebay fees and your time.

majorrich's avatar

Shipping used to be where most of the profit was. The problem is in coming up with sufficient inventory at a low cost to sell at a profit. I’ve nearly given up on finding a good source.

The_Idler's avatar

Yeah I have found loads of great drop-shippers, but all of their products are already on eBay for something like 1p more than the wholesale price…

sweetteaindahouse's avatar

My friend buys cell phones of all different types and sells them. He made enough money to buy a Macbook. I don’t know all the details but I guess it worked for him.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, it’s just that easy. However the hard part comes in getting paying customers. There are far more sellers on ebay than there are buyers, so there is a lot of competition. Many buyers are flakes that don’t send the money, so you have to have a fail safe collection method.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Nah I wasn’t referring to you Piki.
I had a bad experience where I felt I overpaid for a limited edition collectors item that was unavailable commercially because all supplies were bought up instantly by these opportunistic shiesters on ebay. So to get it, I haggled with a seller who had a good rating, and he proceeded not to ship me the item I paid for and he wouldn’t even give me the tracking number. I’m almost positive he sat on the item and sold it to someone else if he ever had it to start with.

I’m still trying to get that money back. So unless you’re like that guy, I have no problem with you so long as your business practices are ethical.

However, EBay allows things like this to happen and they should not.
People will get sick of this.

SeventhSense's avatar

I find incredible deals and turn significant profits at times. The problem is consistently finding the deals. One approach is buying items with a high opening bid at the last moment assuming they are good deals. Use sniping software. Often a high opening bid will not get bid even though it’s well below the value of an item whereas a low opening bid auction will generate lots of interest and often go over its worth by the nature of bidding war. Strong market research is key though.

P.S.- eBay has a global customer base of 233 million which is more than every adult male and female in the US…it’s not going anywhere.

Val123's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy Just curious…have you gotten your money back? I sold on Ebay for a few months, and they’re very, very serious about their sellers being top quality.

Ebay is just like anything else….you get out of it what you put into it. Like I said, I sold there for a few months. Trouble with me was I’d buy something for $2.00 at garage sale, and sell it for $4 or $5…..and all the shipping and packing and work just was NOT worth a 2.00 profit. I think, all in all, I made about $100 profit over four months before I quit.

I’ve never had anything but the best of luck on Ebay, and was definitely sold products at below local retail. There was one thing I wanted…a day planner…that I couldn’t find ANYWHERE except on Ebay. Well, I found a couple that would work at Walmart and at Galaxy Office Supply, but they wanted some outrageous price like $20 – $30. HAIL no! I found one on Ebay, 10 times nicer than anything in town, for only $7 + $3 shipping…it’s beautiful!

SeventhSense's avatar

Think rare and unusual. And if it’s worth it be ready to spend. I spent 800 on a toy and sold it for over 1600.00 recently but also bought at 20 and sold at 700. But these were at live auctions. They’re rarely at estate or garage sales. The real valuable stuff is not overlooked but deals can be found.

Val123's avatar

@SeventhSense I know…I thought about rare books. But I’d lose a fortune before I’d ever figure what what was really rare v what was just old. I came across a book written and that edition was published in the 1860’s. Thought it was worth something. Wasn’t. Think I got $19 for it. Well, since it was free in a big box of books I got at garage sale, it was an OK profit. But the packing, hell, that’s $20 worth of labor right there! And nice work on your turn around. How did you learn the trade? Why toys?

SeventhSense's avatar

Books can be had cheap almost everywhere.
And if you’re having trouble packing a book then you are obviously going about it all wrong. You’re only cost should be the tape to seal it. Priority boxes from the Post Office are free and newsprint is free or relatively cheap if you need it without print. A large box of it at a moving store costs about 10.00. And books can be some of the most lucrative and overlooked sources of all. Books both old and new are overlooked at almost every sale I go to. Look for books with original dust jackets and First editions, complete sets, color plates, old maps, interesting illustrations, famous artists, writers, forewords and early works by known authors.
Check out for the most comprehensive list of books and book values on the web. For example. An excellent First Edition of Jaws by Peter Benchley can fetch 600.00. And you know that there are more than a few around from the 1970’s on shelves in peoples homes and at garage sales completely overlooked. There are literally thousands to be made from the right books.

Val123's avatar

@SeventhSense I don’t have trouble packing, but the way I was selling (buying a lot of little things and selling them out cheaply) just wasn’t worth the effort. And it’s not just the packing. Books are easy, plus you get a discount for mailing literature. But all the other things, things that were breakable, especially. It’s also finding boxes, all different shapes and sizes, storing them, then going through them to find just the right box to fit whatever…well, I’m Catdancing123 on Ebay if you want to go take a look at some of the stuff I sold.

It is important to choose a specialized niche for yourself, which I didn’t do.

Thanks for the link! I’ll save it and keep my eyes open! I’d love to deal in books!

SeventhSense's avatar

Yes it definitely helps to find a niche. In addition to making your life easier it also streamlines your market research and increases your profit. Buyers who specialize almost always get more for the goods in their category then casual sellers in that category. It’s a trust that the consumer has and a confidence that one has in their expertise. Also, I’ll never pass up a deal, but when considering making 100 bucks on a china set or a matchbox car, I’ll always lean towards the latter.

Val123's avatar

Well, my “niche” was anything quirky. A bit too broad me thinks!

Val123's avatar

@SeventhSense However, I never had anything that didn’t sell. This one thing comes to mind…I had found this really cool batiked Tshirt at a little, funky store off of the highway. I loved the colors. They faded from red to pink to purple to blue. It looked like a sunset and kinda Jamaican. It was really cool! Until I got home and really looked it. ..... It had the Flintstones stamped into the patterns! Fred, Barny, the whole gang! LOL!! It sold on Ebay. I wonder if someone out there feels really, really lucky!

SeventhSense's avatar

Easy to ship too. Don’t have to worry about that being fragile.

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