QUESTION ON Starting an Online Yard Sale
I’m interested in starting an online yard sale. I have many goods such as clothing, house ware, shoes and some small furniture that’s in almost perfect condition. My question is I don’t know how to set up an online website to show the items that I have. Any info will be greatly appreciated.
First of all, what is your overall goal in creating an online yard sale website? If you are just thinking of selling your stuff at home accumulated through the years, you do not really need your own website to do that.
Creating a dedicated website that will act as an online yard sale may be a good idea, but to launch and implement such as business would require significant effort, resources and technical know-how on your part. If you cannot do it yourself, the mere setting up of the web site may cost you a fortune. To give you an idea of what it takes to create a website, here are some things you will need to do:
1. Register your domain name.
Domain name is the name of your website. Find a suitable name that will make it easy for users to remember your website name. Domain registration can cost anywhere from $2/year to $35/year.
2. Set up your web site.
Your site must be capable of e-commerce. Components of an e-commerce site include:
- shopping cart software
- SSL security to allow for secured transactions
- merchant account to process credit-card payment
- a back-end software to take care of customer management.
Prepare to shell out anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 to get all these, including any customizations you may require for your business. Shopping cart software alone costs anywhere from $250 to as much as $25,000. Good rates for your merchant account may be difficult to get if you are an online merchant (card not present transaction).
Writing the content of the site, designing the look and feel of the site and putting together all the functionalities you need for an online yard sale site are all part of this stage. You also have to take pictures of each item you want to sell; and of course, the more professional looking, the better. A digital camera becomes a very essential equipment to cut short the process of taking and developing the pictures.
You will then transfer the pictures to your website, then provide descriptions and the condition of each item, then provide the measurements and exact weights of each for shipping purposes, then have your merchant account in order to accept payment by credit cards, get your secure server for your order forms, etc.
To give you a detailed idea of what you need to successfully set up a website, read the article 7 Steps to Successful Website Development
3. Get a web host.
You can get a hosting service to host your site and make it publicly available on the Web. You can choose to find a dedicated server, which is expensive, or a shared server where you share a server with hundreds or so other websites (cheaper, but slower and more limited in functionalities). Or you can join shopping networks like Yahoo Shopping which charges for $300 a month at the minimum plus other fees.
4. Prepare to run your online yard sale.
Once you have your website up and running, then you have to think of the processes involved in running a website. You have to do shipping and handling, institute measures for returns, handle customer inquiries, among others. You also need to do online marketing to get the word out about your website.
There is also the risk of fraud on the Internet, where people falsify credit cards or steal other people’s credit cards then buy items from you. Once the customer’s bank is notified that the card was stolen, you will be asked to return the money (called a chargeback) even though the thief has run off with your items. Adding insult to injury, you will be charged by your bank a chargeback fee of about 15% of the purchase amount.
In the real world, you simply post a small notice in the electric post to announce your yard sale. On the Web, you need to go through a lot of processes to create, market and grow an online business. I would recommend that you do the yard sale in your yard. Online, you are better off selling on eBay or Craigslist, which are already established in the marketplace and have their huge customer base.
However, if you are thinking starting an online yard sale as a business where you — and others — can sell their yard sale items online, then here are some questions that you will need to consider:
- What are the needs online of those who are going to run yard sales?
- What is your business model? Do you want an online business where you list all ongoing yard sales (think Craigslist), or do you want a business where your customers can actually post their items on your site?
- Will you will have a constant stream inventory that you will be listing or selling?
- How are you going to market your website?
Response from our Reader:
“Thank you so much for your very helpful info. I had no idea that all this stuff was involved in setting up a website, that’s all you hear about these days. Well I guess I’ll have to sell in my own yard or on ebay. Your help was a life saver it saved me for having to find out on my own that’s why I always research first and talk to other people. Thanks, Phyllis”
Recommended Resources on Starting an Online Yard Sale
- eBay 101: Selling on eBay For Part-time or Full-time Income
- Sell It on eBay: A Guide to Successful Online Auctions (2nd Edition)
- CPG 101: Strategies to Get Your Consumer Product to Market
- It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff
Article originally published in October 2001. Updated February 16, 2012
Category: Q & A