How To Start Or Grow Your Online Reseller Business

Online shopping has been booming for years, but amid a global pandemic, it’s officially our new normal. It’s no longer enough to have a website or social media page simply to support your reseller business — you have to make it possible for people to shop your inventory online. 

This can be daunting to think about if you have little or no online presence to begin with. But modern technology has made it easier than ever to start and grow an online reseller business. Here’s how.

First, Decide Where Your Inventory Will Live Online

You have a couple options for this. You can choose to build an e-commerce website, use existing marketplace websites, or some combination of the two for maximum exposure. 

Utilize Existing Marketplaces

eBay, Facebook, Craigslist, and our new Marketplace on StorageUnitAuctionList.com are existing marketplace platforms for buying and selling. You can also find countless niche sites for vintage clothes, toys, jewelry, music, auto parts, etc. Handmade, antique, and vintage items like painted furniture and upcycled artwork can go for a premium on Etsy.

Pros:

  • Framework is already established – just list, sell, and ship.
  • Payment and communication is sometimes managed through the site.

Cons:

  • For best results, you need to cross-post inventory and utilize niche marketplaces.
  • Most charge fees and/or commissions. 

Build An E-Commerce Website

Today, it’s easier than ever to build a website, even for someone with no technical knowledge! There are several e-commerce out-of-the-box platforms to choose from, such as Shopify, WooCommerce, SquareCommerce, Weebly, and Wix. 

We like Wix because it is the easiest for a beginner-beginner to get up and running in no time. While their website builder is completely free, you will have to upgrade to a paid plan in order to be able to accept payments. 

Pros:

  • No commission or contract fees
  • Only one place to keep inventory updated
  • E-commerce platforms are usually easy to install and maintain

Cons:

  • Monthly hosting fees and possible credit card fees (compare multiple platforms to find the best deal)
  • Your inventory only lives in one place – miss exposure of being on multiple marketplaces

Next, Get Your Inventory & Digital Needs In Order

Being a reseller means you buy and resell items you find at storage unit auctions, thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, etc. But you need a physical place to store your inventory. For many, this becomes a roadside brick and mortar location. If you’re just getting into the online reseller business, this may be a garage, basement, or even spare bedroom. The key is to keep your inventory organized, be able to quickly locate items, and make sure you get really clear pictures to use online. 

Organize Inventory

Customers may be accustomed to perusing a disorganized antique or reseller store in-person, but that won’t fly online. If you’re putting your inventory online, this is a great time to get organized. Identify categories and subcategories of products and make sure everything has a home. Spend time developing the navigation of your website so that shoppers can drill down to what they’re looking for. A search function is essential, and detailed product descriptions will help your website return the most relevant results. 

Take Stellar Product Photos 

Dark, blurry pictures will not help sell your items online. Remember, a customer can’t see and touch an item like they can in a store. Pictures should be clear and well-lit and include multiple angles of the product. 

You don’t need a fancy camera to take great pictures – a smartphone is the perfect tool! If you’ve never taken product photos, check out this beginners guide to product photography

Write Stellar Product Descriptions

This may seem tedious, but it can help sell your products when shoppers cannot see and touch them. Not all of your products require in-depth descriptions; some will be self-explanatory. 

However, your product descriptions also play a role in your website’s SEO (search engine optimization). The more details you include on a product page, the more likely it is to come up in Google when someone searches for a similar item. For example, if you’re selling a still-in-the-box collectable sports bobble head, including pictures of the box is sufficient for shoppers to look up the model number and research the value. But if you include that model number and other identifying information about the manufacturer in your product description, your listing could show up in the search results if someone is searching for that particular product. 

What else should be on a product page? Dimensions, weight, and shipping information. Product images should also include “alt text” which should describe the picture as if someone isn’t able to see it. This is an accessibility feature as well as an important factor for improving SEO.  

Not sure how to write product descriptions? Start here

Expand Delivery Options

It’s no secret that shipping costs can incite sticker shock in a small business owner. Honestly, how DOES Amazon do it? If you’re going to be shipping a lot of small to medium packages, it pays to get pricing from all the major carriers (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.), or there are several third-party logistics companies that can do all or some of the fulfillment for you. If you are selling furniture, cars, or other large items, you’ll also want to have a relationship with freight carriers.

And let’s not forget the newest version of Craigslist’s original “porch pickup” — curbside and drive-up services! In a year where it’s on-trend to be “contactless” in everything we do, your customers will appreciate expanded delivery options. If you’re still primarily selling locally, then listing your inventory online, accepting online payments, and offering curbside pickup will go a long way in helping customers feel safe and remain loyal. 

Then, Market Your Online Presence

If no one knows you’re selling your finds online, you won’t have any business! Here’s how to get the word out about your new shop. 

In store – If you have a brick and mortar store, promote your website there. A chalkboard behind the register, fliers or business cards, or a roadside sign can announce your online store is open for business. Consider hosting an in-store contest to drive visitors to your website and sign up to win something. 

Social media – setting up social media pages for your reseller business is free and a great way to find followers and communicate with customers. We recommend Facebook (especially if you’re selling on their Marketplace) and Instagram, since it is image-heavy and automatically lends itself to the industry – especially if you master product photography! 

Your website – If you already had a basic website, use it to announce where people can shop online. Even if you don’t create an e-commerce website, include links to your profiles on external marketplaces and even a few featured listings from there.

Email marketingEmail still beats out social media as the best way to reach your audience with targeted messaging. If you’ve been collecting customers’ email addresses over the years, you likely already have a robust email marketing strategy in place. If you’re building your list from scratch, there are many strategies, such as collecting email through your website with onsite retargeting offers and newsletter signup boxes. You can also run contests on social media, or offer tutorials, webinars, or e-book downloads in exchange for prospects’ email addresses. 

Advertising – When you’ve exhausted your free resources, there’s nothing wrong with some good old fashioned paid advertising to get the word out about your new online shop. Google Ads is one of the most complete and flexible advertising solutions, as it enables you to display ads in mail, maps, search results, and websites that your target audience visits. You can set a monthly spend cap, and you only pay for results – like clicks and calls to your business from the ads. 

Finally, Embrace The New Normal

The reality is that doing business online has become our new normal. As businesses scramble to give their customers an amazing online experience, and as parcel carriers adjust to meet the demands of online shopping, there are going to be some growing pains. 

But meeting your customers where they are shows you care about their safety, convenience, and their needs. Today, it’s easier than ever to move or expand your business online, and we’re here to help! Don’t forget that storage unit auctions are reopening across the country.

Sign up for a free 7-day trial of StorageUnitAuctionList.com to find exclusive auctions near you. 
Don’t forget to check out our newly launched online Marketplace. To celebrate our launch we’re offering free listings to the first 1,000 resellers who join today using the coupon code: LIST1NOW. Contact us at 800-353-8417 to learn more.