Ebay, how does it work?
August 12, 2016 11:43 PM   Subscribe

I have a huge collection of "high fashion" magazines (think Vogue Italia, Paris, Numero, Pop, etc.) that I bought throughout my early 20s and now I'm ready to let them go. I've looked at past sold listings on ebay and I think I could sell lots of them for pretty decent prices. Now here's the problem: I've never sold anything on ebay before and I'm completely confused about shipping/fees, etc.

I think I understand how to "list" items properly, take a lot of pictures, describe everything about the item, etc. That stuff's fine, but shipping is what confuses me the most.

How do I decide/know how much to charge for shipping? I'm in Canada, so I know that I'll be dealing with Canada Post. I'm sure I'll be shipping most of these magazines outside of Canada, so what do I need to know about that.

What else do I need to consider before selling on ebay?
posted by VirginiaPlain to Work & Money (12 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
In general people are hesitant to buy from people without any eBay feedback. You might want to buy some stuff to build up a reputation.
posted by k8t at 11:51 PM on August 12, 2016

Response by poster: I have bought a few things here and there (ironically, mostly magazines) on ebay throughout the years. My feedback is all positive, but my score is "low" at a 16.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 11:56 PM on August 12, 2016

In the UK our postal service has a postage calculator where you weigh your item and put in what service you want to use (on ebay, it is a good idea to choose a service with insurance/a signature at the other end, in case of "it didn't turn up" type disputes). Then it tells you how much this will cost. Hopefully Canada has something similar. Add a little bit on for packaging, and this is your postage cost. OR set your prices higher by this amount and select "free shipping".
posted by intensitymultiply at 1:51 AM on August 13, 2016

As a business, eBay takes a cut of whatever you receive from selling your item. Unfortunately, that includes shipping, so price accordingly.

I don't know what the market for fashion magazines is like, but you may want to consider listing in bulk as opposed to individually. You'll probably get less for a bulk sale since there will be fewer buyers who want multiple issues as opposed to that one special issue, but you'll save time and frustration.
posted by Borborygmus at 3:01 AM on August 13, 2016

When you list an item on eBay, you have several options regarding shipping. You can designate it as having free shipping, which means you build the likely shipping charges into the asking price. Or you can opt for their shipping calculator which tells each prospective buyer what the shipping charge would be to their location. To use that, you'll need to figure the weight of the item plus any packing materials you'll use. IIRC, you can even designate a small surcharge (to cover "handling") that the buyer will never see. Another option is to set a shipping price for specific countries to which you are willing to ship so, from the buyer's perspective, there is a flat shipping charge.
posted by DrGail at 4:49 AM on August 13, 2016

If I were selling standardized items like magazines, I'd probably divide them by size (assuming that some are very light and some are those giant Vogue seasonal numbers), weigh a few of each size and make a note, then use that weight and the volume of the padded envelope that I planned to ship in. Ebay's shipping calculator will take care of the rest. The shipping calculator goes by pound increments, more or less, so you don't need to know that this magazine weighs 1 pound 2 ounces and that one weighs one pound 6 ounces.

I prefer to charge shipping, myself. Free shipping really cuts into your profit on lower value items unless you are a super high volume seller, and I have not found that offering free shipping really boosts my sales. I sell mostly shoes and vintage that I used to collect, so YMMV.

It's actually pretty easy, and I think that if you are selling lower-risk items like not-super-expensive magazines, your quantity of feedback won't matter as much, especially with lots of good photos. I have bought cheap things that were badly photographed from people with little feedback precisely because I was willing to take the risk - and good photos would have made me even more willing to buy.

Note that it's a pain. I always think I'm going to list lots of stuff diligently and end up listing only three or four things because it takes a while.
posted by Frowner at 7:26 AM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd suggest starting out by listing 2 or 3, to get a sense of how it works and to build up your feedback.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:38 AM on August 13, 2016

If the value warrants, folks love tracking numbers. Also include in the photos the tiniest markings so there is no misunderstanding.
posted by sammyo at 8:11 AM on August 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Pick the biggest heaviest one and weigh that and figure out shipping cost. That is the only shipping cost you will use. Life is too short to waste on calculating shipping costs and your time is also worth money.

(I live in the US so there's a bigger ebay user base and therefore it's easier for me to say this, but...:) Oh yeah oh fuck no I'm not shipping shit out of the country. Likelihood of buyer scamming you basically quadruples and your ability to do anything about it is basically nil. To reiterate: oh yeah oh fuck no,

Make a pile of the magazines that are unlikely to bring in much/anything. Make a pile of the ones likely to bring in $$$. When listing the expensive ones add a line like FREE SECRIT SURPRISE BONUS MAGAZINE OMG!! and double the shipping to cover the extra weight.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:38 PM on August 13, 2016

Figure out the exact shipping materials you're going to use, and the rate calculator is a breeze. You can get a small scale for $30 or something, then you can input exact dimensions when listing. Print your shipping through PayPal. Your customers will be charged counter rates and you will get the business discount. With PayPal labels the only difference between domestic and U.S. shipping is the latter you have to sign.

Even with the exchange, Canada Post rates seem high to US buyers, particularly for anything that can be sent media mail. I feel accuracy is the way to go. You can specify a handling fee but I think if you want more, better add it to the upfront price.

Take a look at average shipping for the category, see if it's possible to keep it around there. Costs me $17 to ship a record (or any sub 1kg item) to the states with tracking and while I prefer to charge *actual* shipping, I call it $14 for the sake of optics (and bump up the price accordingly.)
posted by Lorin at 11:06 PM on August 13, 2016

Many buyers know good deals can be had from new sellers so I wouldn't worry about that aspect.
posted by Lorin at 11:08 PM on August 13, 2016

Fees are relatively straightforward: 10% of sale price, 10% of shipping, 3% to PayPal . Math is not my strong suit so I use salecalc to quickly figure what I need to charge to net x dollars.

Note that eBay doesn't take its cut automatically, they send a monthly invoice. Buried in the seller tools is a "one time payment" option which lets you keep that up to date.
posted by Lorin at 11:25 PM on August 13, 2016

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