Tips for selling on Half.com or Amazon


In my previous blog I talked about getting started selling and swapping online.  Here are some tips for selling on Amazon and Half.com or swapping on Swap and SwapaDVD / SwapaCD / PaperBackSwap.

  • Research the going price for items in the same condition as your item on the site your plan on listing your item. If you list your item for significantly more than what other people are selling it for, your item may never sell. You don’t need to price it lower than all the others but I would suggest pricing it on the lower end of range.
  • If your item may command a significant amount of money, you may not want to list it on the swapping sites. Keep in mind that most of the trading sites treat all items as equal, so a $4 child’s paperback would be worth 1 credit, the same as a brand new hardcover bestseller that costs $25.
  • List items on multiple sites at once.  If you have to type the product code into a site it’s easy enough to copy that code into another site.  If you need to come up with a description of your item then use that same description on other sites.
  • Be patient. If the item is not a popular item, it may take a while for it to sell. You may need to consider lowering your price after a few weeks. On a regular basis, I review my inventories on the site and lower the  prices slightly (1-2%)
  • When pricing your item keep the commission and shipping allowances for each site in mind . Half.com charges a straight 15% commission on your selling price (if your item sells for less than $50). The shipping allowance differs depending upon the type of item you are selling. See here for a list of shipping allowances on Half.com. Amazon charges a commission of 6-15% of the sales price, a per-transaction fee of $0.99, and a variable closing fee, which means you are probably looking at at least a $1.50 commission, even if your item sold for $4. Amazon will, however, reimburse you the full amount of shipping that is charged to the customer. You may decide to price the same item differently on the two sites. I find that some items command a higher price on Amazon.  For more information on Amazon’s fee structure see here.
  • Find the cheapest way to ship an item. For standard shipping, many books, CDs, and DVDs  can be shipped cheapest using US Postal Service First Class Mail. For books, CDs, and DVDs that weigh 8 oz or more, ship using USPS Media Mail.   (Note: Video games do not qualify to be shipped using Media Mail.)mailer
  • If your item is small enough, package it in a lightweight bubble mailer instead of a box to save on shipping cost. Find out your shipping cost before you list your item so you know if the shipping allowance will cover your cost. If not, you may want to increase the price to make up for it. The swapping sites listed in my previous blog require you to pay for shipping of any items that are requested from you.
  • Reuse packaging material from items you receive in the mail. If you have to buy boxes or bubble mailers that will add to your cost and detract from your profits.  Ask friends and family to save packaging material for you.
  • Think about investing in a digital postal scale so you can ship items from your house and qualify for online shipping discounts.  See my post about postal scales.
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6 thoughts on “Tips for selling on Half.com or Amazon

  1. Am a bit disappointed here. I am a new seller (less than 3 weeks) and these tips are simple common sense rules I’ve been practicing from the start. I was hoping for something new. I find it hard to believe that someone who doesn’t instinctively understand these things could be successful. If you understand the meaning of the word “profit”, then these rules are a given. I should point out that I am not a business major.

    That said, the minimum cost to sell on Amazon is 2.35, not 1.50 unless you are a pro seller. There’s a 1.36 closing fee and a .99 fee for individual sellers. If you pay $40 a month to be a pro seller, the 99 cent fee is waived.

    Bubble envelopes tend to be quite costly, even in bulk. Often, my profits from Amazon are quite slim in order to be competitive. Instead, I buy rolls of bubble wrap and packages of yellow envelopes from the dollar store. I only wrap certain books in bubble wrap before putting them in the envelope. Often though, for paperback books, I just place in the envelope, fold and tape it so it’s wrapped nice and tight. In lieu of envelopes, thick brown paper can be used (also available at the dollar store). I also reuse plastic sleeves and envelopes that items come packaged in. This can be useful for wrapping a book to prevent pages from getting damaged inside a larger package.

    Other packaging materials I have used: metal tins from Christmas cookies or gifts, boxes packaged inside a larger package, boxes with lots of decoration, marketing, etc can be wrapped in brown paper, cardboard inserts can add extra protection for items packed in envelopes. To prevent items from sliding around in the box, you can make use of plastic grocery bags.

    If you’re worried the packaging looks tacky or unprofessional, mention in your thank you note to customers that your company reuses packing materials whenever possible to preserve the environment.

    Another tip: abebooks has a great buyback service. I have often found their buy price to exceed the lowest price on Amazon. They also provide prepaid shipping labels.

    • Deborah

      Thanks for the feedback and tips. I am a very casual seller on Amazon/Half/Ebay so I do it in my spare time but wanted to share some general tips with others. I agree some of them are common sense. But I’ve had people who’ve charged me $3 shipping for an item I’ve bought and then they shipped it priority mail and it cost them $5. I also believe that people go out and buy expensive bubble envelopes instead of trying to re-use packaing material.

      I like your tips for checking the dollar store for packaging materials. Luckily I never need to buy any packaging material. I have a large supply of bubble envelopes and boxes from purchases I’ve made or which friends and family save for me. I’ve also picked up material from work, which I realize not everyone has access to. I try to use the lightest packing material possible so I can minimize my shipping cost.

      Michele

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  3. Pingback: Amazon or Half.com? « How to maximize money for your stuff

  4. the first thing i figured out when i started selling DVDs on amazon. The bubble envelopes were just too expensive, and the 6×9 ones cost more than the 9×12 ones. so I bought a large pack of the 9×12 (that i fold in half when needed) and a large roll of bubble wrap. I feel that i can actually pad things better this way anyhow, and it worked out better when i started selling other items that I was able to use the envelopes or bubblewrap for, meaning less packing material inventory.

    all of these guides always mention get a scale to buy shipping from home. it is not really needed at least not for media – amazon will give you an estimate of the weight of the item – media mail is billed on a per pound basis not a per ounce basis. I would say nearly 90% of the 50 or so shipments I have made in my first month the weight of package has been under the amazon estimate, but is always pretty close. if you are selling other things besides media where shipping is calculated per ounce then a scale would be a good investment, for me however, it was $$ out of my profits.

    • Thanks for the helpful info. I didn’t realize that Amazon supplied a guestimate on the shipping. If you can save the cost of a scale then that’s the way to go. I also like what you did with the envelopes and bubble wrap, very economical.

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