Selling used iPhones, electronics, devices, and books can be a lucrative venture, provided you understand the used goods market well enough to capitalize on current trends. Pro sellers know what to buy, when to buy, and when to sell in order to earn a profitable return. The following presents an overview for buying and selling used iPhones and other goods at maximum return.
What to sell
While you can attempt to sell just about anything, certain markets have traditionally proved better than others. On Flipsy.com, our users typically sell iPhones, iPads, other smartphones and tablets such as BlackBerry and Samsung models, books, video games consoles such as Sony PS3 and Nintendo DS3, and Macs. Those general categories can be further broken down by model/generation.
If you want to maximize your return, it pays to conduct market research to help you select what to sell. Choose a niche to help you focus your efforts on your target audience. Working within a specific niche also helps you learn the market faster so you can optimize your return. Then, you can expand to new markets.
For example, let's say you want to sell used electronics. You would be better-served cutting your teeth on a sub-niche such as smartphones, for example. Then, you can further carve out your niche by focusing on a specific smartphone brand, such the iPhone. You could drill down even further by singling out a specific model or generation; however, this strategy will require you to change your niche as new models are released and older models lack demand.
During the market research phase, you'll collect information that will help you decide what to sell. The following lists what you need to know to best position yourself for success.
Supply and demand
The first thing to consider when selecting a product is supply and demand: basic economics. You want to sell a product that is in high demand but short supply. This vastly increases the chances you'll be able to reliably sell your used iPhone and other goods.
Start by searching for your product on Flipsy.com, which displays real-time pricing information for many popular smartphones, video game consoles, tablets, and books. Study the buyback vendor offers to see what platforms such as Amazon.com and Technollo, among others, are currently paying for your device.
Next, compare buyback vendor offers to third-party sales figures aggregated by Flipsy. In many cases, you'll notice a significantly higher private party sale price than buyback vendor offer. This illustrates what the buyback vendors already know: they can purchase used electronics and books at their offer price and resell them at the private party price.
Scroll down below your search results to study recent sales trends. Two charts visually map trade-in prices and Craigslist private party sales prices over the past 30 days. Together, these charts help you identify whether prices are currently increasing or decreasing for a given product.
Make a chart that compares these current prices and trends for each product you're considering. Then, search for your product on popular websites such as Ebay and Amazon.com. Note the number of available products and, on Ebay, determine how many auctions are completed and at what average price. If most of the products sell for a favorable price, you might have found your niche.
Average potential profit
Pay attention to what the average potential profit will be for your used products. The idea is to maximize your profits by selling used products you can buy at low prices and sell at high prices. More on this in the next section, “How to price for profit.”
Condition at sale
Another factor to consider is the condition of the product at sale (see the iPhone condition guide). Most buyback vendors will only purchase used iPhones, devices, and books in “very good” or better condition. Most private party consumers want the same; however, repair shops and hobbyists might purchase items in poor condition, because they're more interested in parts than they are working devices.
Be sure to note specs for each product you're considering selling. How many GB of data sell best? Which color is in highest demand? What smartphone carrier do customers prefer? What book edition sells best? These details might help you identify untapped in-demand niches your competitors are missing. At the very least, they'll help you choose products that are in high-demand.
Target audience and where to sell
Your target audience is the people you will sell to. It's important to understand what their shared demographics are so you can reach them with your marketing efforts. You also need to determine where you'll sell your used products: on sites such as Amazon, Ebay, and Craigslist? On your own website? In the Flipsy marketplace? Perhaps all of these and more.
Finally, make sure you understand what level of competition you're up against. The more competitors you face, the more difficult it is to get noticed. No matter what products you sell, you should develop a strategy to beat your competitors.
How to price for profit
The key to pricing for profit lies in your ability to buy low, sell high, minimize sales-related fees, and deliver an excellent product presentation.
Buy low, sell high
Buy low and sell high to maximize your profits. It's common sense, but it can be tricky to set your prices if you don't have good market research. This is where Flipsy is such an invaluable resource, because it lets you instantly see what buyback vendors are paying and what third party buyers are paying.
One strategy might be to offer more than buyback vendors are offering for a given device, then sell it to a private party. The 16GB Verizon iPhone 5, for example, in fair condition might net $305 from a buyback vendor and $520 via private party sale. If you can find customers who want to sell quickly, you might consider offering more than the buyback vendors – say, $330 – and then selling the iPhone at $520 for a profit of $190.
Watch extra fees
Always be careful to factor in any additional fees that go along with the sale. Packaging and shipping fees, in particular, can threaten your profits. Moreover, seller fees on sites such as Ebay, Amazon.com, and PayPal will cut into your net profits. Know how much it's going to cost to package, ship, and sell your products, and determine who pays those fees, before you take your used products to market.
Deliver an outstanding presentation
Trust is a major component of winning online sales. Take photos that accurately represent product condition. You can also add videos to many sales and auction websites. Craft compelling product headlines and descriptions that command attention, and be sure to display all relevant specifications. The goal is to deliver a professional presentation that creates desire and generates trust so buyers want to buy from you.
The following pro seller tips will help you maximize your profits.
Make your products more valuable
You can make your products appear more valuable when the sale includes original packaging, cords, chargers, accessories, and manuals. The more “new” you can make your product “feel,” the easier it will be to sell.
Perks such as free shipping (even when it's built in to the price) make your offer seem more attractive to buyers. Bonuses, or additional accessories such as headphones and car chargers, might also make your product more attractive – so long as it doesn't cut into your profits. You might also consider offering a guarantee; if it doesn't arrive in the condition stated, you will offer a full refund on product return. Again, this strategy helps customers trust you and want to buy from you.
Sometimes, timing is everything. You don't want to try to sell a used at the end of its product cycle or right after a newer model has been released, since the value of older models will decrease. Track release cycles to find out when new models will hit the market, then make sure your old models are sold before the release dates. Once the newest models are released, older models will flood the market. Demand may increase, but so will supply.
Wipe it clean
If you're selling your own used iPhone or other electronics, make sure you've removed any personal data from the systems to avoid identity theft. You should also reset the device to factory settings, which lends an impression of being new or like-new.
Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people you need to be sure to avoid. Trust your instincts: if a deal is too good to be true, it is. You should also never ship a product until you have received payment for it. Using an escrow service or a third-party service that has buyer and seller protection features will minimize your risk. The Flipsy Marketplace, for example, lets you sell old iPhones with no face-to-face meetings, so it's a safe and secure way to sell your old iPhone online.
The following resources will help you maximize your profits when buying and selling used iPhones, iPads, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, and books.
Flipsy.com – Find real-time pricing for private party sales and buyback vendor offers
Flipsy.com Blog – useful tips and tricks for buying and selling iPhones, books, and other used goods
eBay Cell Phones Selling Guide – expert insight from Ebay
Where to Sell Your Used iPhone – About.com experts list outlets for selling used iPhones
Buying and reselling used iPhones, other devices, and books can be a lucrative business, but only when you dedicate the time and effort to learn your market and apply that knowledge toward maximizing profits. Take advantage of the tips in this article, and you can make more money buying and selling used iPhones and other devices starting today.