I've been selling shoes on eBay for more than five years. I sell all types of shoes, but I love selling shoes in hard-to-find sizes. I've probably sold close to 3,000 pairs. Some are new, but many of them are gently worn. My friends are amazed that people actually buy used shoes on the Internet.
Selling shoes can be profitable, but it's important to educate yourself on the subject before going out and buying a truckload of footwear. As with all items on eBay, you first have to do your homework to ensure a successful venture. Below, I'll give you a few tips so you can start off on the right foot should you decide to try your hand at selling footwear.
Newer is better
First of all, the shoes you buy should be new or almost new. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but only a few. (Some people specialize in selling vintage shoes, for example). There are plenty of newer shoes out there. Women tend to buy shoes and not wear them—you just have to know where to find these newer items.
Inspect before you buy
When you do find them, bend and rub the soles before you buy. When shoes start to get old, the soles crack and crumble, and the linings fall apart. I have literally had shoes fall apart in my hands. As you inspect shoes, be sure that the soles are in good shape. Be careful when buying footwear from estate sales. Sometimes folks keep their shoes for a long time!
Shoes are ideal to sell on eBay: They're not breakable, they're easy to find and the return rate is very low
Define your niche
As you get further into the prospect of selling shoes on eBay, you may want to focus on selling specific types of shoes. Comfort shoes and men's footwear are hot properties. Men don't like to shop, and they tend to wear the same styles over and over again.
Selling shoes in hard-to-find sizes is another way to ensure that your eBay sales stay strong. I have a customer from Australia who wears a narrow size. She has purchased shoes from me three times in the last year.
When listing items, it's very important to include as much information about the shoes you list as possible. Definitely include the style name of any shoe you are listing. Sometimes you can find the style names inside the shoe, but one good online resource I like is Zappos.com.
I like to buy flip-flops made by Reef. They are the "Ginger" style. On the Zappos site, I type "Ginger Reef 11" into the search box. Zappos is also helpful if you're selling a pair of shoes in a European size. For certain brands, the site lists both the European sizes and the American equivalents.
It's also important to include plenty of pictures when listing shoes. People like to see what shoes look like from all sides. And always include heel height in your shoe listings. This will save you time. People often e-mail sellers asking about heel height.
Remember, time is money
Finally, don't waste time. Avoid buying shoes without sizes in them—unless you have several friends who are willing to try them on for you on a regular basis. Shoes without sizes tend to not get listed. And unless the shoes you are about to purchase are worth a lot of money, don't buy shoes that need to be cleaned. It takes a lot of time to get rocks and dirt out of the soles. The opportunity cost of doing this is too high.
I definitely recommend selling shoes on eBay. They're not breakable, and they're easy to find! Plus, the return rate for shoes is very low. My customers rarely return the shoes they've purchased. In fact, just about 1 percent to 2 percent of my shoes get returned. So the next time you are out thrift shopping, make a beeline for the shoe section and remember these tips!
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Miriam Otto is an eBay certified educator, based in Northern California. Her eBay Store, Blue Frog Shoes, features name-brand shoes, and hard-to-find sizes. Miriam sells more than 300 items per month, and finds most of what she sells at yard sales and thrift shops. When not teaching eBay classes or running her business, she enjoys writing about her latest "scores" on The eBay Life blog. In addition to living "The eBay Life," Miriam works as an independent study teacher helping adults earn high school diplomas.
Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.