As some of you may remember from my "A Decade of Collecting", I briefly mentioned my past as someone who worked in consignment and as a reseller. I also mentioned the "one in-one out" policy which has not only kept my spending in check, but has helped me become pretty comfortable at buying and selling bags on the resale market. These days my collecting has definitely slowed down (even pre-COVID) but I still wanted to share some insight with you readers as a more in-depth follow up to this tricks and tips post. I know a lot of us my be in a position to sell soon, so with all that being said I created a detailed guide full of advice, red flags and more to make your selling journey as smooth as possible.
Pictures Say It All
When it comes to the online world photos are everything, so you'll want to make sure yours are as clear and straightforward as possible. It is SO important to really try and use photos that show your bag as accurately as possible. In general it's best to shoot on a clean simple background with open, bright natural light. Shooting this way will help insure that things like hardware and colors are presented as accurately as possible (which is why I don't recommend artificial light). Aim for soft, filled, shadows so your photos are easy to decipher, you don't want any shadows being misinterpreted as stains or marks. You can use a white or light grey card (like a piece of paper or poster board) to reflect onto your hardware so you can easily see any scratches or dents. I also recommend slightly side lighting your bag to better pick up all the details in the grain of the leather. It's also super helpful to include a size reference shot in your listing so that people online can better understand how big the bag actually is. Having your dimensions in the description is always helpful, but having a visual comparison is much easier to understand.
So here are some suggestions for your shot list. Remember, the more thorough you are with documenting the details the less likely it is you'll get a return.
Body: front / back / sides / interior
Wear: blemishes / scratches / stains / dents or creases in the leather
Production Details: hardware / any stamping and embossments / zipper hardware / sewn in tags
Extras: packaging / dust bags / receipts / documentation or authentication cards
There has been a trend of people stealing photos of authentic bags to sell fakes and this has happened to me personally! To avoid this you can write your user name, handle, nickname, or initials on a card and include it in all of your photos. You can have these in your listing or on hand incase a customer requests them. If you do decide to have it in your listing be sure to place it somewhere it is not easily cropped out.
Do Your Research
Know what makes your bag special. Know the exact type of leather, and if the brand has a special name for the color try your best to find it. Not only will this make your bag easier to find but to a lot buyers these things really matter and listing these things will also help prevent returns. Look for what your bag is being listed for on places like eBay both on the high end and low end. Then, check the complete listings to see what it ACTUALLY sold for, and for most bags it won't be retail. I would also check the usual online consignment stores like Fashionphile, The RealReal, and Yoogi's Closet. That being said these large reselling sites can often charge a premium that individual sellers may not, so that's something to take into consideration. While doing your research start thinking of what your bottom line price would be and be ready to commit to that "walk out number", or you may regret the transaction and be left feeling taken advantage of later.
Descriptions Are Key
Be sure to explicitly spell out any flaws or damage in the description to avoid any misunderstandings or misinterpretations of what is happening in the photos. If there is something you aren't sure comes across well enough in the photos, make sure to mention it in the description. Be sure to write out any damage, always, even if you have a photo of the damage in your listing. If it's not written out in the description you are more than likely going to have to accept a return if a customer changes their mind. Mention if it comes from a smoke free, pet free home as you never know what certain people are sensitive to. On that same note, mention any odors! Even if it's just a light trace of perfume or something that's not necessarily a "bad" smell, it should still be mentioned. Be as transparent as possible, remember you don't want to come across as misleading in anyway. In general be as honest as possible, not only for the sanity of your buyer, but to avoid any chance of a return.
Pricing & Negotiating
I always recommend listing the item with enough wiggle room to negotiate and still reach your bottom line. People love a deal so the more flexible you can be the more likely you can make something work out. I know this process can feel really uncomfortable, and it's easy to get upset over low ball offers. I know to some this process is even considered rude, but it comes with the territory. Try not to take things personally, as any offer is a start to a dialog that could eventually end in your favor. And don't be afraid to counter—they may know their first offer is low but may be expecting your counter, eventually leading to a middle ground that is more realistic. If you find yourself nearing the bottom line of what you're willing to accept then put down a hard line and let them know that that's your limit.
Also, if the circumstances allow you to, YOU can make the first offer. For example eBay has a feature where you can offer a certain percentage off to everyone following the item to start negotiations. This may sound silly but in my experience there are some huge advantages to going about a transaction this way. Not only does your first offer feel like the beginning of a really good deal to the buyer but it also comfortably keeps the transaction in your control, as you now haven substantial influence over subsequent offers by setting an expectation.
Negotiating can really take a toll, it's a lot of effort, and if you're prone to anxiety like myself it can be quite stressful. Take a step away, counter offers don't always have to be instant, you can totally wait things out and catch a breath. When you're back in the headspace and had a moment to re-evaluate your priorities for the transaction, jump back in. Worst case is you let them know you will need more time to think it over and ask for a way to get in touch once you've come to a decision. Could you lose a sale this way? Yes, but that might be better than buckling under pressure and regretting letting the bag go later.
Get insurance and delivery confirmation! I know it makes the item more expensive to ship but if your buyer is serious about wanting your item they will understand. The last thing anyone wants is for their item to get lost in the mail. The buyer is left disappointed and you're going to be really upset about having to refund them. It's a lose/lose for everybody involved. Protect yourself by documenting every aspect of the shipping process, especially for high-priced bags. That way if anything gets damaged in transport you have documentation of the item's condition when it left your possession. Personally, when I sell a bag I find a table at the post office and pack it there and record myself or bring a friend to help. I record from the moment I begin packing to the very second I drop it off so that I have solid proof that the bag left my possession in the condition as described. Hold the bag to the camera to show the condition, and don't forget the bottom and corners! While packing be mindful of the kind of tissue paper or plastic you use it with as some may bleed. If the bag has a chain or anything that hangs consider wrapping that separately so it does not indent the bag. Lastly, be sure to check that the address is indeed PayPal verified so that you're protected and make sure the buyer isn't purchasing through fraudulent methods.
This one is out of personal experience as I once had a buyer ask me if I was willing to ship internationally and for this particular bag I said no, as the item was of high value and I did not want to risk it. To my surprise the buyer ended up purchasing with a U.S. address, so I decided to Google it. Turns out it was an international forwarding service and here is why this is bad for a seller. If I purchase insurance, I'm covered from point A to point B, but now there is a point C that my insurance doesn't cover, yet if the item still arrives damaged or goes missing on the way to point C they can still open a case against me. Now I have the potential to lose my bag AND the money. Here was my solution: ship it in a really big box because they pay by dimensions at these forwarding services. Then attach the bag to the box itself (on one of the inner box flaps with a zip tie), perhaps by the handle or dust bag and document it. That way if they open the package to put it in a smaller (cheaper to ship) box, they would have to rip or cut your packaging. If they were to open a case against you, you have documentation that shows that the original packaging was changed on the way to point c.
Red Flags and Scams
It is very easy to get scammed as a seller, and unfortunately there isn't a whole lot of room for error. One mistake could leave you responsible for refunding a customer, especially if they paid through PayPal. So here are some things to check out before the bag goes out.
Do a deep dive into your buyer. Check out what their feedback and spending looks like. Some red flags would be buyers with little to no feedback, or buyers who only have purchase feedback on items that are dramatically less expensive. Are the items they have purchased in the past relevant to the fashion / accessories world or is it just $10 basic items? Scammers will often purchase lots of little things for reviews to make their account feel more legit. Also be sure the address you're shipping to is PayPal verified. Forwarding centers, like the one I mentioned earlier can be an indication of foul play. A common scam is for the item to go "missing" or "get damaged" in the forwarding center on its way to the buyer. If you cannot prove this didn't happen you may get stuck paying the refund.
Another common scam is when the item is "Not Received". These scams are often pulled on sellers fresh to the reselling game that don't yet understand the PayPal protection policies. The "buyer" will purchase through PayPal and wait for the item to be delivered, and if delivery confirmation wasn't used then they will claim it as not received and you have no proof or defense. Signature confirmation scams are also very similar. What most people don't realize is that if the item sells for $250 or more it requires signature confirmation. Without it the scammer can simply open a dispute with PayPal and claim the item was not received, and even if the seller used delivery confirmation that shows the item was indeed delivered, it will not be valid without the signature confirmation specifically. Refund it is, ouch!
Swap scams where a buyer buys an authentic bag and returns a fake or damaged bag is another scam that as a seller would keep me up at night. This isn't limited to the reselling world either as I have seen this happen in boutiques and department stores as well.
These are just some common things to be aware of and truth be told there are many, many, more so be on your toes, and document EVERYTHING! Thankfully the purseforum offers a really great community of knowledgable bag buyers and sellers over in the eBay Forum. There you can read through and discuss the experiences of our members so you can prevent getting scammed yourself. Best of luck on your selling adventures! Got some tips to add? Drop a comment below!