Tips for Selling Furniture on eBay

Man using a tablet to photograph furniture to sell on eBay.

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Many people think that selling furniture on eBay is a difficult and expensive proposition. However, if you craft a strategy, think about how to overcome some minor obstacles, and use a few specific settings, small furniture can be a profitable item to sell on the world's largest marketplace. It just takes a little planning and forethought. 

Sell Smaller, Shippable Items

It isn't practical or cost-effective for the buyer to pay for shipping for a mahogany wardrobe or cherry wood 12-piece dining room set. On the other hand, smaller items are fair game on eBay. You'll see all kinds of small furniture showing up at antique markets, flea markets, garage sales, thrift stores, and estate sales. Combined with the repurposing movement, small furniture can be a win on eBay.

When looking for small furniture pieces to sell, focus on items such as:

  • Ottomans
  • End tables
  • Barstools
  • Plant stands
  • Mosaic tables
  • Accent tables
  • Child-size rocking chairs
  • Lamps
  • Steamer trunks
  • Wicker items
  • Office chairs
  • Folding tables and chairs

If the item is unique enough, buyers may overlook the shipping cost. A lot of millennials have eclectic taste and are looking for the most unique items they can find. So go ahead and list the item on eBay and see what kind of offers you get.

Figure out the Shipping

It's important to plan your shipping process before you list the item. Can it be packed in a box? Do you have the right-sized box on hand? You'll also need items such as shipping tape and shrink film, bubble wrap or kraft paper to cushion the pieces during shipping. Visit your local home improvement store and look at the moving boxes. You can always fashion two boxes together to make the right-sized box. Moving boxes are a great choice for shipping furniture because they are strong, heavy-duty, and inexpensive.

Do a dry run packing the item up before you list it so that you can estimate your shipping costs. If the box is oversized, you will incur extra charges shipping through USPS or other carriers. Oversized packages are 84-104 inches in girth. It is very important to know the shipping charges before listing the item because if you don't charge enough, and the item sells, you are stuck, and cannot go back to your customer to ask for any more money. The eBay site will not let you charge the buyer more after the sale because you didn't do the math. 

Be careful about assuming that buyers won't pay an expensive shipping rate. If they want the item badly enough, shipping won't be an issue. If the item is an antique, collectible, or has other intrinsic value, the shipping costs won't matter to the customer. Just do your homework before listing the item so you charge the right amount and pass the shipping charges on to the buyer. 

Offer Local Pickup

Another option for large, bulky, or heavy items is to offer local pickup. Some buyers will travel hundreds of miles to get the right item, so don't assume your item won't sell if you only offer local pick up. 

Here is eBay's official word on local pick up:

Sellers who don't want to ship large, heavy, or fragile items, or who would simply prefer not to ship an item, can offer a local pickup option.
Items listed with, "Local Pickup" as the shipping option appears in search results along with items offering other shipping options, no matter where you or the item is located. Read the listing carefully to determine the location of the item and the shipping or local pickup options the seller offers. 
In addition to PayPal or a credit card, you can sometimes use a check, money order, or bank wire transfer to purchase a local pickup item, as specified by the seller in the listing. For more information, see the accepted payments policy.

After the item has been picked up, you will need to go to your, "My eBay" section of the website and mark the item shipped. If you leave the item in your shipping workflow, the eBay system will think you have not shipped the item, and your metrics will suffer.

Always require payment before the item is picked up, and always use Paypal so that you will know the funds are good. Even for an item that is picked up, it still isn't a good idea to take a check because you have no way to get your money if the check ends up bouncing. 

Selling furniture on eBay can open up a whole new set of possibilities for you, and can generate a nice profit as long as you make sure to find out your shipping and other costs upfront.