4 Reasons to Avoid Selling Luxury Handbags on eBay

Louis Vuitton handbag

Prayitnophotography / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

When people are new to selling on eBay, they often want to jump right in and sell the most expensive items they can think of to start generating cash as quickly as possible. Countless new sellers either want to start on eBay selling their own luxury handbag collection, or purchase designer handbags from a nearby outlet and mark up for a profit. Both are bad ideas. Steer clear of selling luxury handbags at all for the following reasons.

Luxury Handbag Brands

A shortlist of luxury handbags includes Brahmin, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, Fendi, Gucci, Hermes, Kate Spade, Longchamp, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Tory Burch, Valentino, and Versace.

Coach is the most affordable brand at less than $400 for a brand new authentic bag. At the other end of the spectrum, an Hermes Birkin alligator bag could retail for over $100,000. The high prices of these bags are what attract so many sellers to the handbag market. But remember, the selling price is not profit. You still have to get the bag cheap enough to make money reselling it. 

The Counterfeit Market

The #1 problem with luxury handbags is making sure they are authentic. Fake handbags are a huge problem out in the real world, not just on eBay. People buy them on street corners in big cities, off the internet on unscrupulous sites, and directly from China. The counterfeit handbag market fuels other industries like illegal drugs, prostitution, human trafficking, pornography, and illegal weapons. 

eBay does not want any part of the counterfeit handbag industry and does not allow fakes on the site even if the seller disclaims the item is a replica, knockoff, or counterfeit item. So, when you list a fake handbag on eBay, you risk getting suspended. eBay doesn't take "I didn't know" as an excuse. Counterfeit handbags are abundant in thrift stores, so always have a luxury handbag authenticated by a reputable service.

Brutal Competition on eBay

The handbag category is by far the most saturated category on eBay. A search for the brand Coach shows over 80,000 active listings. A search for just the word "handbag" results in just shy of 1 million active listings. The competition is brutal. Why would you want to put yourself in a position to compete with so many sellers and handbag products? That is a recipe for failure. The more there is of something, the lower the price is. If you are a new eBay seller seeking a product line to sell, you want to focus on items that are in short supply, collectible, or in a category with less competition. 

High Return Rate

Handbags have a notoriously high return rate. Why? Because buyers have figured out how to rent them from eBay sellers. Fashionistas who like to carry a different purse each month purchase a handbag, carry it for a few weeks, and then return it. If the seller has a 30-60 day return policy, this strategy is very easy to carry out. As long as the bag is returned in its original condition, the seller must honor the refund. It is easy to return a used handbag since it was already in used condition when purchased. If you plan to go into the handbag business on eBay, prepare yourself for frequent returns and the frustration that goes along with it.

Target for Scams

The handbag switcheroo is a common scam. Here is how it goes:

  1. The buyer already has a beat-up, worn out, or damaged designer handbag.
  2. She goes on eBay and purchases the exact same bag, right down to the style number.
  3. She chooses a seller with a generous return policy, maybe even one who pays return shipping.
  4. After receiving the handbag from the eBay seller, the buyer requests a return.
  5. The buyer ships back her own inferior bag.
  6. The seller receives an item she did not sell and the buyer walks away with a newer bag and is not out any money.

eBay is trying to crack down on this scam. Sellers can open a case with eBay and show photos of what the buyer sent back. Sometimes the seller wins the case, but eBay is generally buyer-centric, so don't expect to win the case if this happens.

Authentication Services

As a side note, if you do want to take a shot at selling a handbag or two on eBay, there are authentication services you can pay to authenticate the item. The best one is Authenticate First. This company employs experts who have extensive experience in the luxury goods market. For example, the Prada authenticator may have managed a Prada store for 10 years. They really know their stuff. In fact, authenticators must pass a grueling test to work for Authenticate First. 

Sellers can use this service by sending photos of luxury items via email. The authenticators look for telltale signs of fakes, such as crooked stitching, patterns that don't match up, or missing details. If the item is authentic, Authenticate First issues a COA (certificate of authentication) that the seller can use on their listing. The price for authentication starts at around $20 and is a great investment that could save your eBay account from suspension. 

The Bottom Line

These four reasons are why so many sellers are pickers and sell used and vintage items. You will be shocked by vintage items like t-shirts, dead tech, and McDonald's collectibles that sell for big money on eBay. Most sellers don't want the hassle of authenticating items or living with the fear that they may have listed a fake and their account could be suspended. It is much safer and less anxiety-producing to fly under the radar and sell things that wouldn't be faked and don't have so much competition. 

Generally speaking, handbags are not a great product to sell on eBay. You will be much more successful if you sell items with lower price points and that buyers actually want to keep. Selling luxury handbags on eBay is more trouble than it's worth.