How do people sell shit on ebay so cheap?

Not the only example of ridiculous prices I’ve seen on ebay but a good example. I just bought an LED watch to keep in my car, as my car’s onboard clock has malfunctioned. It cost me 99p, it’s being sent from within the UK, not China. The stamp alone is going to cost over half the purchase price; the other half includes the cost of the watch itself, the envelope, the seller’s time and ebay fees. The seller is selling 1000s of these watches, how can she possibly afford this, and other ebay sellers like her?

1000s times a small amount can equal a reasonable amount.

(All numbers theoretical.)

Buy watches at 10p each.

Sell them at 99p each.

Pay 59p shipping each.

Profit on each is 30p.

Now, sell 10,000 of them. You just made 300,000p (£3,000) which isn’t nothing.

We used to have a children’s holiday party when I was working. One year they bought inexpensive digital watches for the kids. They were damn near free, huge boxes of them. I think we paid about 20 cents for each one in bulk.

Then the organizer decided to set them all at the correct time. Oh boy. What an ordeal. Many of them would not respond to the buttons at all. Others did strange things like changing modes instead of the time. Others quit in a few days. We barely had enough. At least none of them burned up.


99p + s&h?

Good point, if they charge YOU for shipping then they could in theory charge more than they’re paying to ship it, increasing their profit.

If they offer free shipping though, they must be getting a deal on it, and it’s not cutting too much into their margins.

When I worked in a computer store many years ago as a manager, we made much more money selling the small, cheap things like cables and CDs than we did selling big things like PCs and monitors. Both because the profit margin was much, much higher (you can sell a USB cable at double the cost for example) but also by volume. We actually sold printers at a loss. The main reason we sold those bigger items was to get people in the door. They’d come in to eyeball the expensive things, buy some cheap things, then leave.

Learn to read.

$25 including shipping and handling is pretty cheap, assuming it is what they say it is. The fact that the item is described as “new” makes me have my doubts.You did say “shit.”

Now how do they cover their time and labor costs?

Maybe I’m inexperienced with ebay sales, but it seems to me that each individual ebay listing requires uploading pictures (that you have to take yourself, or at least search for and download stock photos of the product online), writing item descriptions, checking email regularly, packaging and shipping things individually, and dealing with bank and paypal fees/bureaucracy. So I’m thinking at the very minimum, several minutes of labor per item, if not more.

And you’re talking about selling 10,000 of them before we even get into middle-class paycheck territory?

Do they get robots to do all this? Or hire Ugandan children at pennies a day?

You can have a single listing on eBay that represents multiple items with a “buy now” price, and with those listings eBay functions like a regular online retailer (like Amazon) than an auction site.

the same way the guys at the swap meet used to buy pretty much disposable digital watches for 89 cents a piece if you bought a box of 500 and resold them for 4.99 each … they lasted a month maybe but they always sold out …

theyed drop off catalogs with wholesale "deals"every couple of weeks …just like you can find on the internet these days…

You didnt specify.

Did the 99p included S&H?

I’ll note that eBay’s “buy it now” option to sell at a fixed price has a minimum cost of $0.99 per item, I bet the UK version is 99p, I doubt that’s a coincidence.

Bolding mine.

Learn to read.

Two of several previous threads about this.

99p? You got robbed.:wink:

You implied it but weren’t explicit. I assumed originally shipping was free, but when the question was raised I had my doubts. It helps to make your scenario as clear as you can to avoid confusion. It helps even more to answer follow-up questions with answers rather than snark, especially being the one making the initial request.

In both those threads the item starts in China. Labour costs + heavily subsidised shipping is the answer there. In my scenario it is already in the UK, needs to pay UK postage rates and also have enough of a margin to make a profit in the UK all from less than a pound.

Moderator Note

There’s no need to be this snippy in GQ. Dial it back a bit while you are in this forum.

Postage from China is pretty close to free. Postal rates from China can be as low as the government sets them, and in accordance with the Universal Postal Union treaty, every recipient country is required to handle and deliver any arriving mail the same as if it had originated in country.

I’ve bought computer adapters and cords and USB chargers for 1.99 shipping included, shipped from China, arrived within about ten days.

If you have a well sorted system you could make this work. Just.

Batching orders, printing off all the mailing labels, bulk purchase of packaging, and a well disciplined small scale production line, and you could probably get it down to 15 seconds per watch. You would need a large number of orders ready to roll to get it this good. Even at one per minute, you might be making up to £18 an hour. Run it out of your home, and it isn’t a bad proposition.

Nobody is going to get rich doing this, but they may well make a quite reasonable living.