Overcoming Your Fear of Selling Used Items on Amazon

Selling Used ItemsI’ve heard it many times before, both online and in person:

“Selling new items on Amazon is easier.”
“Selling new items on Amazon is much safer than selling used items.”
“Does Amazon even allow me to sell used items?” 
“Selling used items on Amazon is a pain. It’s not worth my time.” 
“Isn’t it easier to get suspended on Amazon for selling used items?

It surprises me just how many people are afraid to sell used items on Amazon. It’s money that people are leaving on the table. Now, I admit that the majority of what I sell on Amazon is in new condition, but we make good money from items that are no longer in new condition. Used items remain a staple of my online selling strategy. There is so much money that can be made selling used items, but as with anything profitable, you want to be sure you are doing it the right way. 

fear-300x260Today, my goal is to erase your fears of selling used items. I want to replace those fears with truth, equip you with the knowledge you need to move forward, and challenge you to apply what you’ve learned. Soon enough, you’ll have the confidence you need to sell used items on Amazon without worry — and increase your bottom line as well. 

Important note: Amazon’s guidelines state that used items must be in working order and include all their parts. Unlike eBay where you can tell the buyer in your description if a piece is missing, you should never list a used item on Amazon and note a missing piece in the condition notes.

Here are my responses to several of the myths of selling used items on Amazon:

MYTH – Selling used items on Amazon is not worth my time. New items are just easier.
TRUTH – While processing new items to sell might not take up that much time, it doesn’t mean that selling used items is a waste of time. Determining if it’s a waste of time all depends on which used items you’re selling. If it’s a collectible (used) board game, then the ROI of the board game needs to be high enough in order for you to take the time to BoardGameBook Minimake sure all of the pieces are present. If I bought a used board game for $2 and can sell it as collectible for $40, then it makes sense to me to spend a few minutes double checking that all the pieces are there. Used books only require an extra few seconds of your time as all you need to do is flip through the book and note if there are any highlights, notes, folded pages, etc., in the condition notes. I’ve purchased boxes of used books for a few dollars per box and ended up making hundreds of dollars from that same box. Used items, as long as they are complete and in working condition, can be a valuable addition to your sourcing strategy. 

MYTH – Amazon won’t let me sell used items.
TRUTH – In almost every category, Amazon will allow you to sell used items. Be sure to check the Amazon Seller Guidelines, but there are only a few categories where you are not allowed to sell used items. The main categories that used items are never allowed is Baby, Shoes, Clothing, and Grocery (used groceries? gross!). Used items are also not allowed in Toys & Games, but they do allow “used” items to be sold as “collectible.” Amazon sees collectible toys as toys that are no longer able to be bought at most retail locations… and are therefore, collectible. Again, as long as the item is complete and in working condition, you can sell it in almost any category as used.  

MYTH – Other than books, people don’t like to buy used items.
TRUTH – People buy used items all the time. I’ve sold many toys and games in collectible condition that were obviously opened and used before. Some people want to buy a used item because it will cost them less. When it comes to toys, some parents know their kid will probably destroy the toy in no time, and they would rather pay less to get them the toy they will not open-lego-moulding-box-kittake good care of. Others know that buying something as “used, like new” is basically getting a new item in an open box. If the item is hard to find, the rank good, and the profit potential great, then selling a used item on Amazon is something you should consider. We have sold used Lego sets for hundreds of dollars a set. When the sets are retired by Lego, they become hard to find, and collectors are willing to pay $300 for a complete used set rather than pay $600 for a new one. (Bonus BOLO: look for complete used Harry Potter Lego sets, and you can make a ton of money. Find an incomplete set? You can often sell the individual minifigs for a tidy profit as well.)

MYTH – Selling new items on Amazon is just safer than selling used. If I sell used items, that will probably increase my chances of getting my seller account suspended.
TRUTH – As long as your used items are complete and in working condition, then you will likely not be increasing your chances of Suspension Prevention 1getting your Amazon seller account suspended. Cynthia Stine, author of Suspension Prevention: Get Reinstated and Protect Your Amazon Seller Account, says that one of the main reasons Amazon sellers get suspended is that they try to sell used items as new. She says that from the hundreds of people she has helped reinstate their seller account privileges, none of them were because of an item listed as used. Selling used items, unless they are broken or incomplete, will not increase your chances of getting your seller account suspended. 

The bottom line is this: If you’re avoiding used items, then you’re leaving a lot of money on the table. 

Your Homework – Look around your house for items that are used, complete, and still have the original box. Think used board games, used kitchen appliances, used DVDs, used video games, etc. Scan these items and see at what price other Amazon sellers are selling that item in used condition. If you no longer want these items, then do an experiment and send a few to Amazon. Be sure that the item is complete (including instructions, if applicable), and be sure that you list the condition as detailed as you can in the item description. 

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Do you sell used items? If not, what’s stopping you? What used items do you try to stay away from? Do you have any “home run” stories you’d like to share about selling a used item? I’d love to hear from you, so comment below. 

17 responses to “Overcoming Your Fear of Selling Used Items on Amazon

  1. Another great blog Stephen.

  2. Audrey Hamilton

    Hey Stephen!
    Regarding including the instrucrions, do you know if it is acceptable to include a print out of them from an online source (i.e. a PDF copy from the company’s website, etc.)?

    • Hi Audrey,
      Yes, it is acceptable to include a print out of a PDF. We have done this in the past with board games and with Legos. You will want to include in your condition notes something along the lines of “Original instructions not included; replaced with printed PDF from Lego website,” for example.

      Another possibility is to find a second set of whatever it is you’re selling as used, and use the instructions from that second item to complete the first item. For example, we’ve purchased two incomplete sets of a board game, used the instructions and pieces from one to complete the other to sell on Amazon, and then keep the incomplete one on hand to use for parts in the future.

  3. Thanks for sharing! I sell used items, and write detailed condition notes. The thing that makes me nervous is if I were to have the buy box and the buyer doesn’t see the condition notes, then gets mad that they don’t get what they’re expecting. I recently sold an Amazon kindle case that was only available in used condition and mine had a few scratches on it. I included photos, but I don’t know if they saw them, so I’m nervous about a return and bad review!

    • Hi Sarah, thanks for commenting. I think you’re doing absolutely the right thing to add the detailed condition notes and photos. I think it’s rare that a used item gets the buy box over a new item, and if it does happen, I think you would be covered with Amazon as long as you’ve included your condition notes and photos. If you want to go the extra mile, you could take a screen shot of the listing on the Amazon product page with your store name and the description and photos. Then if someone were to leave you negative feedback or complain about the item, you could open a ticket with Seller Central and let them know how thorough you were in your description, and they should remove the negative feedback. Hope that helps!

  4. Great Article! I bought a used book about airplanes for $1.50 and sold it for $430! Most of my profits come from used items.

  5. Great post, Stephen & Rebecca.
    A large part of what I sell is used, but they are new items in damaged or opened packaging. Essentially, my competition is Amazon Warehouse Deals, and I have a lot of success with this. My return rate is about the same as new items. I think the key is to under sell your items…by that I mean if there’s any chance it would not meet the Used – Like New criteria, then go with Used – Very Good. Also, a good description is very important; noting the packaging damage and any visual defects with the product.

    • Great strategy, Chad!

    • Do you think intentionally underselling is a gdp strategy for exceeding customer’s expectations?

      For example like you mentioned, instead of listing under “Used – Like New” list under “Used – Good”. This could suprise customer in a good way and potentially prevent “Changed my mind” type of return because it would give customer perception that he actually had a good deal.

      Or if item is expensive and came with bonus, then intentionally avoid mention of the bonus it comes with. This would exceed customer’s expectation and give a feeling of a great deal.

      • I think that condition wise it’s a good idea to try and exceed expectations, but as for a bonus, I don’t think that would be good as it’s against Amazon’s rules to include anything extra that is not in the product description.

  6. Stephen
    this post really did answer a lot of questions for me. I was curious of how it really did work with used items on FBA. I am soon to be brand new to FBA and I have found your YouTube channel and your site To be a lot of help on multiple questions. I had about Doing FBA. Just wanted to say good post and thanks a lot for the help You put out there.

  7. I’ve started with used items recently and I must say this is a great post. I was afraid to start, but I did it. I bought some used cameras with good ranks and I’ll see what will happen. Still I have some questions: how is it with disappointed customers? I mean what if they say that an item is not authentic or something similar? How do I prove it is authentic? Generally, are there any drawbacks of selling used items FBA?

    For me it’s a lot easier with used ones than new.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *