Ebay Question: Should I Offer Free Shipping?

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This is a beleaguered point within the eCommerce community. There are supporters of both sides. But here’s my point of view, offered specifically for you guys and gals who are focusing on reselling fashion on a small scale.

Don’t do it.

If you’re a small business, one or two person show, with a low operating budget, you don’t have the resources to absorb the cost of “free shipping” and believe me, it will cost you. The simple fact that you are buying at thrift stores and liquidation, and offering your items at rock bottom prices, doesn’t leave you much financial room for marketing strategies like “Free Shipping.” There is no such thing as free shipping, just disguised shipping, and somebody is paying for it.

Here’s the only advantage:

PRO:

  • It may bump up your listings in the Ebay search results.

Notice that I say it “MAY” as in, it also may not. Those search algorithms change and there are a lot of other factors playing into the search bot’s calculations.

CONS:

  • Your price appears higher than your calculated shipping competition, even  if it’s really not.
  • You have to charge more for shipping than may be necessary to account for shipping an item farther. This is especially true for heavy or awkwardly shaped items (like boots or coats).
  • Your buyer doesn’t know how much they are spending on the item and how much is the shipping costs.
  • If the item is returned, Ebay’s return management system does not give you the option of deducting actual original shipping costs. You just have to eat it.

The most compelling reason I have for using calculated shipping is that Ebay does not require sellers to offer free shipping to qualify for Top Rated status. So with that in mind, all those CONs staring me in the face, I offer calculated or flat shipping rates.

Do you agree? Do you have a pressing Ebay fashion resale question? Comment below!

What to Buy at Thrift Stores: Dansko Clogs & Comfort Shoes

pizap.com14552241652481Listed from top, left to right: Dansko, Dankso, Dansko, Dansko, Sanita, Dansko, Sanita, Sanita, LL Bean, Orthoheel, Orthoheel, LL Bean, Haflinger, Josef Seibel, Antelope, & Clarks Wallabees.

Women’s comfort shoes–reliable, supportive, and even kinda cute! You can expect to get $20-$40 per pair (sometimes more if you find a particularly hot design or brand). I recommend not spending more than $5-6 per pair to make sure that you can get a good enough profit to cover your expenses. Here are some of my favorite comfort brands to find thrifiting:

  1. Dansko
  2. Birkenstock (& sister brands: Betula, Papillio, Tatami)
  3. Sanita
  4. Orthoheel
  5. LL Bean
  6. Haflinger
  7. Josef Sibel
  8. Clarks Wallabees (this one is tricky, some Clark’s don’t sell well)
  9. Antelope
  10. Naot
  11. Alegria
  12. Earthies
  13. Kalso Earth
  14. Mephisto
  15. Rieker
  16. Sorel
  17. Taryn Rose

Some of these brands turn up more regularly than others in thrift stores (I find Dansko, Sanita, Orthoheel, and Birkenstock all the time) but some are more elusive. When you know what to look for, it’s a lot easier to grab those good deals when you see them. You can do more research by using ebay’s sold listings to find out if what you’ve come across in the thrift store is worth it.

 

Happy thrifting!

These 6 Mistakes Will Kill Your Ebay Fashion Resale Business

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  1. Stocking low value brands. See my previous post on “I NEVER BUY THESE BRANDS TO RESELL.” Even if inventory is priced super low, the wrong brands won’t bring traffic because the market is saturated and the demand is low.
  2. Using crummy photography. Bad lighting, fuzzy pictures, and lack of angles discourages buyers.  Buyers will pass over these listings for others that are displayed better, even if it means paying more.
  3. Skimping on your titles. “Women’s Brown Dress”, “Blue Jeans Size 10”, “High Heel Shoes” are non-descript titles. Always include brand, size, color, gender, and clothing type in your title. The more search terms in your title, the more chances a search engine crawler bot will find your listing and put it in a buyer’s top results.
  4. Pricing based on retail. As soon as an item leaves the bright, well organized showroom of a clothing retail shop, the value goes up in smoke. There is absolutely NO CORRELATION between MSRP its value on the secondary market. So find your item (or a similar one) on ebay sold listings. Find the average price of the last ten listings–making sure to account for size, condition, and current trends–and price it accordingly. Go too high and buyers will skip over your listing. Go too low and search bots will shove your listing to the bottom of the results.
  5. Listing items with no demand. Don’t try to sell sell bikinis in November or wool coats in May. Only list inventory that is in very good to excellent condition–even the most coveted brands are worthless if they aren’t wearable. Choose bigger sizes over smaller sizes since the average women’s dress size in America is 12. Follow some popular blogs and review fashion magazines to find out what’s in and what is so, so out.
  6. Overpaying for inventory. When you’re considering what pieces to buy, always calculate how much you can reasonably expect to make after ebay fees and shipping charges. If it’s less than $10, you aren’t going to make enough to cover your overall business expenses.

Know of any other ways to kill your fashion resale business? Comment below!

I Never Buy These Brands for Resell

 

There are hundreds of brands I absolutely never buy when I’m out thrifting. High quality, name brands that you and I both have in our closets because they are affordable and stylish. But when I see these brands at the thrift store, I pass over them without a second thought. Why?

Market saturation and low demand.

So let’s take an example:

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This is a Target dress, branded FLYING TOMATO, size small, originally priced at $34.99. Let’s say I was out shopping one day and found this at a thrift store for $5, new with the tags still on it. (If you’re skeptical, don’t be. Target regularly sells their overstock to Goodwill, with tags attached).

I do something STUPID and buy it without doing at research on my smartphone. Listing it for $17.99 (50% off a brand new item? what a bargain!), I figure it’s a solid sale. But it just sits. And sits.

Finally, I look it up on the Target website and find out the size small is on clearance for $6.48. I check other ebay listings and find out there’s 20 other sellers with the exact same listing for varying prices. Sold listings show me similar dresses have sold for less than $10 with free shipping. There went my profit–out the virtual window with ebay fees and shipping costs.

The brands I list here are carried by Walmart, Belk, JCPenney, Kohls, Target, and similar stores. There are over 7,300 of these stores across America carrying millions of dresses, tops, pants, suits and skirts. Most of these stores also have sales and reward programs– like Kohls cash or a Target Cartwheel App–which cut prices even more. Savvy buyers can find these brands in store for less than it costs me to list and ship it.

So what was that thing we learned in highschool Economics class? Oh yeah, when supply goes up and demand goes down, the price has drop too. With these brands, the supply is way too high and the demand for these items on the secondary market is way too low.

Here’s the exception: plus size. If you find a plus size item in terrific condition that is on trend, EVEN IF it is one of these mass produced brands, you will rise above the over-saturated market of size smalls and mediums. The demand for plus sized clothes is high, and supply is low. Therefore, you’ll probably get plenty of traffic and good prices for plus sized clothing. Just make sure you’re not overpaying for your inventory.

A Starter List of What Brands NOT to Buy:

alfred dunner
alyx
ambrielle
a.n.a
belle+sky
bisoubisou
blacklabelbyevanpicone
gloriavanderbilt
iheartronson
ijeansbybuffalo
lee
lizclaiborne
madeforlife
nicolebynicole miller
stylus
worthington
xersion
Target
walmart
CharlotteRusse
Forever21
Rue21
Maurices
Aeropostal
OldNavy
Gap
George
FadedGlory
WhiteStag
FruitoftheLoom
Dressbarn
Sonoma
LizLange
Motherhood
DuoMaternity
Byer
Axcess
Mossimo
Xhiliration
Merona

ps–Yeah yeah, I have some of these brands listed in my store. I got them for free from my mom/sister/random stranger. I’ll make very little money and probably end up cursing and swearing about what a waste of time it was to list them since they’re not making money.

 

Hot Resale: Vintage Wedding Dresses

What better way to have “something old” than to wear a gorgeous vintage wedding gown?I love finding vintage wedding dresses at thrift stores because retro themed weddings are very popular right now. Featured about is a dress I sold recently:

Purchased: $20 +tax

Sold: $59.99 + $7.99 shipping

This was a bit more than I wanted to pay for the dress, but the profit was over $20 so I went for it. In my title, I used “vintage” “steampunk” and “short” because those are popular search terms for wedding gowns right now.

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I marketed this gown towards 1950s style wedding themes using terms like “1950s” “short” “retro” and “full skirt”. I think this dress would have gotten a little more had it been a larger size (I think it fit a modern size 6).

Purchased: $5 + tax

Sold: $39.99 + $5.99 shipping. 

And here’s another!

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Purchased: $4 + tax

Sold: $39.99 + $6.99 shipping

Here’s what I look for in wedding gowns:

  • Excellent condition with no defects (or easily fixed problems, like minor stains or mendable tears)
  • Interesting details like high necks, long sheer sleeves, trains,  full skirt silhouettes, short dresses, or beautiful beading and lace.
  • Well known designers, of course. If you actually find a vintage Dior dress, grab it immediately!
  • Larger sizes. Without a doubt, it’s easier to sell a size 14 than a size 2.
  • Reasonable prices. A wedding dress takes time to properly display and special care to ship, so make sure your profit margin is decent. Find a good deal that will be worth the effort.

Happy thrifting!

 

 

 

The Holdout: A Vintage Bikini That Wouldn’t Go

I had this listed for ever. FOR EVAH, PEOPLE. We’re talking Spring 2015 I put this high waisted vintage La Blanca Bikini on my Ebay site with hopes of seeing $40-$50 come into my paypal account. I got those numbers from some ebay sold listings (that featured a hot model and great photography). But this swimsuit sat. And sat. Through summer and fall and winter. I priced it up, I priced it down. I think at one point I had it at $10.

I finally sold it February 3 2016.

Purchased: $5 + tax

Sold:$19.99 + 4.50 shipping

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So what took it so long? Here’s my hypothesis:

  • Small size–Let’s face it, there’s more size 8-10-12 ladies out there than size 2s and 4s. My resell market was significantly smaller since this was a vintage size 8, which fits more like a 4-6.
  • Lazy photos–I could have put this on my mannequin and improved its visual appeal  but I was too darn lazy. Those high comps that I found in sold listings were no doubt a result of the incredible marketing and live model.
  • Bad luck. There’s that. I could have just posted it at the wrong time, when there was plenty of other vintage bikinis available. But at least I didn’t give it away for bottom dollar. I knew by August my chances of selling it high were slim to none, since most women have done all the swim suit shopping they want to do by then. So I stuck with $20 and waited for Spring.

Lesson learned? Make those listings look as good as possible and don’t back down from a reasonable price. It will sell–eventually.

Ebay Score: Reselling Bloch Flats

 

I recently purchased this pair of Bloch leather ballet flats from another Ebay seller. It was a bargain since style of Bloch flats are $150 retail. They were also in wicked great condition showing very little wear.

Alas, they were a smidge too big for me. So I relisted them in my own Ebay store.

Purchased: $22.94

Resold: $56.98

Why did I get $30+ more than the original Ebay seller? After reviewing their original listings I found:

  • Photos in poor light
  • Typos in the title
  • Auction based listing

I searched sold listings of other Bloch ballet flats and found BIN (Buy It Now) listings commanded a higher price. I used the average sold price, set it as a BIN, and took photos in better light. I also made sure my listing was free of typos.

And then I tweeted and tweeted these bad boys to make sure my listing received plenty of traffic.

Sure enough, they sold within 48 hours and gave me a tidy profit of $21.35 after shipping costs and fees. Not bad for buyers remorse, huh?

 

 

 

Thrift Score: Vintage Tadashi Gown

 

Sheer accents have been a longstanding fashion staple for subtle sexy. Or if you’re Rihanna, not so subtle. I’d had good luck selling Tadashi items in the past, so when I spotted this Tadashi I grabbed it, even though it was priced higher than I’d usually pay for a dress at a thrift store.

This dress was probably made in the 1990s or even early 2000s. It was in fantastic condition and showed almost no wear.

Purchased: $20 +tax

Sold $99 +$4.99

I started this as an auction, just to test the waters, but I didn’t get any takers. I relisted as a Buy-It-Now and it sat for a couple weeks. Just when I was thinking it was overpriced (or undermarketed), it sold!

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I especially love the satin cuffs and wide bateau neckline. The fabric had just enough stretch to hug all the right curves. I’m so glad this showstopper found a home. 🙂