How to flip anything on eBay for profit?
Updated: Jun 2
These are the fundamental steps used by many eBay flippers to generate thousands of dollars of profits each month.
In addition to this tutorial, it’s important that you continue to look for changes and make adjustments when using 3rd party platforms such as eBay, Craigslist, and Offerup.
This tutorial will not go into much detail on how to use these platforms because there are already many great resources for this. Instead, this tutorial will focus on the fundamentals of creating a thriving eBay flipping business.
What to sell?
The short answer is, almost anything! Besides contraband or illegal items, you can flip almost anything on eBay. Everything will eventually sell. The only thing you need to be mindful of is how long it will take for the item to sell and for how much profit.
That leads to the long answer, which depends on how much capital you have on hand.
I will keep this as simple as possible. The sell-through rate for most eBay product categories is above 90% according to Terapeak. That means 9 out of 10 items listed will eventually sell. The caveat to that statistic is it doesn’t tell you how long the items took to sell or how much the seller had to discount the items from the original target price.
Unless there are mistakes in your listing, which we will go over later, the most common and practically the only option you have if an item isn’t selling is dropping the price. So, just because an item sold doesn’t mean the seller achieved their profit target for that item.
Once you begin searching for products to sell you will come across many items that can be resold but because some products are in less demand it requires sourcing them at the right price. Otherwise, you risk tying up capital or eventually cutting profit targets to sell the item.
Targeting more niche categories such as new/used medical devices, antiques, luxury fashion can be an advantage but you must remember that unless you list your items at the right prices you could be tying up capital that can be used to buy more popular and faster-selling products.
So the point is you can sell anything, but you must purchase it at a price where you can resell quickly and earn a profit.
How to check product values and profitability?
Below are the steps to assess an item’s popularity and profitability. This process should take only 2-3 minutes for any item.
1. Start your search using the search bar on top of eBay’s home page. You can do a broad search by limiting how many words you use in the search or you can do a narrow search by using more words in the title.
Examples: Broad search - ‘iPhone 12’ Narrow search - ‘iPhone 12 Verizon 128GB Gray’
The broad search will return many more results because it will include all listing titles with the words ‘iPhone 12’. The narrow search will parse the results and return listings that only include all the words ‘iPhone 12 Verizon 128GB Gray’. It does not matter what order the words are entered into the search. So ‘iPhone 12’ should return the same results as ‘12 iPhone’.
2. Search how many identical products are currently active for sale. First find the exact model, color, condition, and bundle (accessories) then count how many active listings there are.
If there are many (more than 20), then that is usually an indicator that the item is popular. However, some rare items will not have many active listings (less than 10) but are also in greater demand. In which case you can check how many similar items have sold. If the sold search shows many sold items then the item can be considered rare but popular.
These types of items are the unicorns of eBay. Finding rare but popular items can become very profitable if you can do so on a regular basis because they usually sell for higher values and quickly. We’ll show you how to increase your chances of finding these items later in this tutorial.
3. Check the lowest price for the identical product currently active. Next you will need to sort your search to see what are the lowest-priced listings in your search.
Generally, buyers will do a similar search before purchasing an item so if all products in the search are equal they will likely purchase the lowest priced item next.
Example: If the price of your item is $200 but there are 5 items listed at $190 then your item is essentially in the 6th place in line to be sold. You also need to consider new sellers listing their items lower than yours. The target should be to list your items for at least $5 below the lowest item and monitor the search every few days.
Usually, it takes popular items 24-48 hours to sell using the Buy It Now (non-auction) method. Less popular items take 1-2 weeks but consider lowering your price or checking your listing for errors if your item doesn’t sell within 1 week.
4. Check popularity (how many have sold recently). Select the “Sold” filter to see all items, which have sold (price highlighted green) then sort by “Recently ended”.
This search will indicate whether an item is popular or not.
If there are not many sold items then this could be a warning that this item will take longer to sell at current list prices.
Remember what we’ve discussed before, everything eventually sells once the price is lowered enough. So you do not have to avoid these types of products altogether but you should only consider purchasing them if the price gives you the opportunity to sell well below the current market prices.
5. What is the average of most commonly sold prices? An item is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. So after sorting the sold items by “recently ended” in step 4 you then need to determine what are the most commonly sold prices.
Usually, for popular categories, you will see a wide price range for items that were sold. For whatever reason, some products are sold for $50 to hundreds more, or less, than other, similar items.
For this reason, you should look for the most common selling prices.
Example: If there are 10 recently sold items where 2 items sold for $700, 1 sold for $750, 2 sold for $600, and 5 sold for $650 then what can we gather from this. The most common sold price is $650 so this price should be considered your target-selling price.
6. Determine the product’s profitability
So what do you now do with the information you’ve just researched? Plug the number into a calculator to determine how much potential profits can be earned by selling the item.
Inside your 3web1 dashboard, you will find a profit calculator that will allow you to enter the selling price, price to acquire, profit target %, as well as expenses.
After entering this information you will know exactly how much potential profit will be earned when your items are sold. It’s advised to complete this research before purchasing all new items.
So what items are most profitable to sell on eBay?
Getting back to the original question of what products you should buy. You can buy anything as long as you do the proper research.
Overpaying for items puts a strain on your eBay flipping business because it ties up capital when the item doesn’t sell quickly plus it wastes time that can be spent purchasing and reselling more profitable items.
Whether you’re making $10 or $100 on an item, it takes the same amount of time and effort. So ask yourself, would you rather make $100 dollars selling 1 item or $100 selling 10 items. Selling items with larger profit margins generate more profit with less time invested.
These steps may seem long but once you’re familiar with the process it can be completed in a couple minutes.
Where to begin advertising for products?
So now that you have an idea of what products to flip you now need to find a steady supply. The best place is right in your city. Each day there are hundreds, if not thousands of people looking to make quick cash because of some sort of financial emergency. These people usually resort to selling their personal items. Rather than thinking of this as taking advantage of the misfortunes of others, you should understand that you are helping them in their time of need.
Two popular places many of these sellers go to sell their items are on local classified services such as Craigslist and Offerup. These are two good places for selling items locally but they are even better for sourcing good products to resell. The reason why is because when you try selling items on these two platforms, which were both built for local meetups, there are just not enough people locally that are willing to pay you the price you want for your items. What usually happens is these sellers will drop their prices. So being vigilant of listing on these platforms and making offers to these customers can yield great results.
All you have to do is make a qualifying offer and meet them to purchase their item(s). This is also a great way to meet long-term suppliers who are looking to sell their items.
Cell phone stores
Another strategy that works is advertising to cell phone businesses.
Let them know you will buy their old inventory. Reach out to them through email, phone, and text messaging and give them your web address.
Many independently owned cell phone shops have no reliable way to get rid of old devices and will sell this inventory to you. This is a cyclical behavior where once or twice monthly these same sellers will contact you to sell their old inventory.
In time they will reliably bring you products every 2-3 weeks and become valuable customers. The key for you is to be reliable when they call.
You’ll need to have available capital every time the seller needs to sell their items so reselling your items quickly to have available capital is important. Once you prove yourself to be a reliable buyer these sellers will keep coming back when they’re tight on cash.
How to scale your business to become the best?
Reputation is everything. We’ve shown you what products to buy and where to find them to get your eBay flipping business started but in order to scale your business to high six or seven-figure revenue, you need to become efficient.
Although we recommend starting your business by posting ads on classified platforms and negotiating with customers, these things will become more difficult as you begin to buy more products. The best way to solve this is to start developing your online reputation and expand your reach beyond of classified platforms such as Craigslist and Offerup.
You should create an online presence as soon as possible so that Google can start indexing your business in online search results.
The best way to do this is 2 steps.
First, create a website with a keyword as the domain such as sellmyiphonemiami.com. You should use a service such as 3web1.com, which offers free and instant setup for buyback, repair and selling websites. Just pay them the monthly hosting fees and they will set up and update the prices for your buyback website. A buyback website also offers your customers a quick and easy way to check prices and sell items to you.
It typically takes a website 3 months to climb to the first page of Google when someone searched “where can I sell my phone locally”. Once your website starts appearing on the first page for local searches you’ll be able to scale back both Craigslist and Offerup advertising.
It’s great to have another, more independent, option for finding customers. You never know when Craigslist or Offerup may make it more difficult to post your ads so be prepared.
Second, once you have a website you should also create a Google business listing that links to your website. Google prioritizes these listings in local searches and displays your business on their map. This along with your website rankings should be nurtured from day one so they can continue to improve.
The best way to increase your Google ranking is to get reviews and the best way to get reviews is to ask your customers. Every time you buy an item from a new customer you should offer $5 extra for a Facebook like and Google review. This does two things. Firstly, the Facebook like will notify your customers’ friends about your service. Secondly, the Google review will increase your ranking with Google and speed up your rise to the number 1 spot in local searches.
Once you establish your website and Google business listing you will start to acquire customers more consistently and become less reliant on Craigslist and Offerup ads.
Also, while your website does its job giving prices to your customers, you will have time to focus on other parts of your business.
How to negotiate with customers?
DO NOT negotiate your prices. Staying firm on your offer could save you $30,000 a year. $100 daily x 300 days is $30,000. That’s if you pay $20 more for 5 items daily.
We made this mistake our first two years because we thought we would lose customers if we didn’t lower our prices. Once we stopped negotiating prices our business remained stable and profits increased because we stopped giving it away.
Negotiating prices is never recommended. Instead, offer your customers great service and convenience. Once you lower your price you compromise your integrity by indicating that your initial price was not your best price. It also sends a signal to your repeat sellers that you are willing to lower your prices next time also. This will create an unhealthy practice with these sellers.
Instead of negotiating prices, you should focus on adverting so much that you will have enough customers that will happily accept your prices rather than wasting time by chasing a few extra dollars.
If you establish your business reputation and implement the advertising we showed you there is no need to negotiate. The customer you may lose because of prices will be replaced with customers willing to accept your original offer. Set your prices on your buyback website and stick to it.
How to quality check all products?
Be sure to verify functionality and authenticity when buying products from customers. If the item is a branded item then visit the manufacturers website or Google the model to compare it against genuine products.
For electronics such as cell phones and computers you should do basic functionality tests to make sure the battery charges, powers on, and all buttons are working. There are also many websites that offer information such as warranty, blacklist and cloud lock statuses. The Quick links page in your 3web1 dashboard contains links to many of these sites.
It’s very important to check the blacklist status for cellular devices because many carriers will blacklist a device if the owner breaks their service contract. If a phone is blacklisted offer the seller a broken/for part price. However, if the device is blacklisted and reported stolen you should not buy it.
If you gain the reputation as a dealer that buys stolen property then you will attract these sellers and you will be breaking the law. There is no need to compromise your integrity and the reputation of your business for stolen devices.
How to process products quickly?
Part of how I was able to grow my eBay flipping business to 7 – figures yearly was building a system that cut steps without compromising quality. It takes time to deal with customers, quality control products, take pictures, listing products on eBay, then package and ship products. Listed below is a tried and proven process that works.
Automate customer service with a website for customers to check prices and schedule drop-offs.
Clean and quality check products during the initial inspection with the seller. Use this time to check and clean your items so you don’t have to do it again. Store products in clear plastic bags sourced from eBay
Add the products to an inventory tracking system and print unique labels for the items. Add a description for each product so it will be ready when you list the items for sale on eBay. These features are included in your 3web1 dashboard. You can purchase a used Dymo label printer on eBay for printing labels.
Take at least 3 pictures of each product with your smartphone then upload it to Google Photos. Take more pictures when needed to show major defects. Include the unique label in the photos you take so it will be easier to locate images.
Create listings to sell your products on eBay. Download the images from Google Photos to your computer to add to your listings. Copy the eBay description template generated when you added the item to the inventory tracking system in your 3web1 dashboard then paste to your eBay listings. Add the unique inventory label number in the title of your eBay listing so you will know exactly what item to ship after it sells.
Order free shipping boxes from USPS.com and use it to package your products after they sell. You should order Small, Medium, Large flat rate boxes along with 7” x 7” x 6” and 12” x 12” x 8” boxes. 1 pack of each should be enough to start but you can order more whenever needed.
Use eBay or PayPal shipping to print shipping labels. You can print shipping labels on any standard black and white printer on 8-1/2” x 11” paper. You can go a step further and purchase 8-1/2” x 11” self-adhesive shipping labels on eBay to save time when applying the labels to your shipping boxes.
Match the label number in the eBay title to the label number of the item so you do not ship the wrong item. Shipping an iPhone worth $600 to someone who bought a phone worth $100 can prove costly if the buyer doesn’t return the item. You will also need to order bubble wrap, peanuts, and 3” clear shipping tape.
How to sell products quickly?
Working capital is very important to keep your buyback business running smoothly. One of the biggest problems you will face is not having enough capital to pay sellers.
The avoid this you will need to sell your products as quickly as possible. It’s important to keep your business running efficiently by processing new inventory as quickly as possible.
The quickest way to sell your products is to price your products correctly and list them for sale on eBay as soon as possible. As we’ve gone over before, you can expect popular items that are priced correctly to sell within 24-48 hours.
Once your product sells you can then transfer the available funds from PayPal to your bank account immediately.
Additionally you can also list your products for sale on your selling website the same time you add them to inventory. Selling products directly from your 3web1 website would save you up to 10% in fees compared to selling on eBay.
How to avoid fraudsters?
9 out of 10 customers have good intentions and will complete a transaction without any problems. However, that leaves 10 out of every 100 that will try to mislead you.
It’s very important when buying items that you verify each and every item before issuing a payment.
Follow the steps we listed earlier in this tutorial to prevent becoming a victim to scamming sellers.
In addition to scamming sellers, you also need to be wary of eBay scammers.
The good news however is eBay offers seller protection as long as you follow these guidelines:
Never ship to an address other than the buyer’s eBay address no matter how nicely they ask. Tell them it’s against eBay policy. Use eBay or PayPal shipping and it will automatically load the customer's address.
Make sure all shipments have tracking numbers and require buyers to sign for items that are sold for over $750.
Additionally, you should keep a picture of the serial numbers for every item so you can verify that customer returned items are the same items you shipped.
What worked for me and what didn't?
There is one constant with eBay flipping businesses that all but guarantees success. It’s taking care of your customers. Your customers are your most important commodities. Treat them well and they’ll become evangelists for your business.
There is an 80/20 rule that applies to an eBay flipping business where 80% of the products you buy will be sold to you by 20% of your customers. You never know which person that contacts you will be a repeat customer or whom they can introduce you to. Make it a goal to treat every new customer as if it’s an introduction to a business partnership that will help grow your business. Repeat customers and referrals will make your business grow much faster.
The same is true for selling on eBay. Treat all customer complaints as a mistake that you made and respect your customer’s time. 9 out of 10 customers are honest and fair people that just want good service. Be sure to describe your products exactly as they are, including every little scratch.
Make customers aware of all details for each item especially its defects. Take as many pictures as possible. Every item will sell as long as they’re priced right. If you did your due diligence before buying an item then you should have paid a price adjusted for defects.
Price your eBay listings according to the items’ conditions. This is another reason to be firm with your offers when buying products. Avoid putting yourself in the position of needing to embellish or omit defects in your description for an item because you paid too much for it. Adjust your offers accordingly when buying.
How to get capital to expand your business?
Once your eBay business begins to grow and sales are consistent for 3 months you may be eligible for loans from PayPal working capital. The great thing about these loans is that approval is based on your eBay business performance. So once your business is generating consistent monthly revenue you should qualify for some amount.