The market for used phones has grown year over year since 2017, which means there are more opportunities than ever before for motivated resellers to make a profit. Thanks to robust ecommerce platforms and reliable wholesale cell phone suppliers, resellers no longer have to stock thousands of dollars in inventory or even have their own website to get started. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to sell used cell phones online

How to Sell Cell Phones Online — the Basics

The most important things you will need to do to get started are register your business and decide how much startup capital you can invest in your new enterprise. Make sure you set up your business properly (there is helpful information on the IRS website), obtain a seller’s permit, and talk to your accountant about the tax laws in your state or territory. Some marketplaces like eBay and Amazon calculate tax for sellers by buyer location, but it’s worth knowing the rules. Be aware that if you are selling to companies that buy on eBay, your customers may be tax exempt. Read our article about reseller certificates for more information about who does and does not have to pay sales tax.

How much you should initially invest in your business will depend largely on your resources, but most microbusinesses launch with about $3,000 and 64% of small businesses are started with less than $10,000. Don’t forget that your startup costs will include not just inventory, but also packaging, the cost of shipping and shipping materials, fees charged by the marketplaces where you list your inventory, and possibly also storage space. You can keep costs down by storing inventory in your home, buying shipping materials in bulk, researching the best shipping options for resellers, and choosing marketplaces with lower fees (more on that below).

Don’t forget that time is money, and you’ll need to budget time to run your business. Packaging used phones and scheduling pickups or dropping off packages at the local UPS or FedEx store takes time, as does listing new inventory and managing customer service. You may also need to take steps to manage fraud because there are bad actors who will buy your devices and then return something totally different. Be aware that ecommerce marketplaces typically side with customers. 

Stocking Your Inventory

Many people have written about how to get money for old cell phones, but it’s actually quite simple. To succeed in this business, you need to find a wholesale used phone distributor that can guarantee a consistent supply of high-quality devices. Finding the right inventory used to be a tedious and risky process in which you could never be certain that you would get what you paid for. Leading platforms like WeSellCellular are changing this and making it easier for resellers to stock their inventories. At WeSellCellular, we get our wholesale inventory from major carriers and operators, and we have developed our own transparent and consistent testing and grading procedures so resellers can buy high quantities of phones online with total confidence. 

Where to Sell Used Phones

When you’re thinking about how to sell used cell phones online, one of the first business decisions you’ll make is where to list your inventory. While there are backend ecommerce platforms you can use to set up your own retail website, it’s easier and usually less expensive in the long run to use high-traffic marketplace platforms like Amazon and eBay, as well as sites like Rakuten, Back Market, Swappa, Newegg, and even Craigslist. You might be tempted to list your inventory on as many marketplaces as possible, but this is time-consuming and costly because most sites have monthly subscription fees and/or per-item selling fees. Another reason to focus on one, or most a small number of marketplaces is to build your credibility with these marketplaces over time. Building trust on a marketplace can reduce your customer acquisition costs, as most marketplaces have algorithms that favor experienced sellers.

Be sure to research platforms carefully. Before choosing one or more marketplace platforms, you need to be sure that you’ll still make profits after paying fees. You also need to be sure that your products don’t go against platform rules. For instance, Amazon limits the types of cell phones sellers can list. To sell Apple products, you must be an Apple authorized reseller or part of the Amazon Renewed program

Best Practices for Selling Used Cell Phones Online

What and where you list and how much you list your inventory for will depend on your target demographic and market factors. That said, there are some things you should be doing no matter what your stock list or customer base look like. Maximizing visibility and building a great reputation are both key to how to sell cell phones online successfully. Always be clear on your listings and tell customers exactly what they’ll be getting when they click the buy button. If you are selling something used, refurbished, or in any other condition than perfect, you must detail the exact condition of the phone. Post strong photos, write good descriptions, and to maximize visibility, look into search engine optimization and platform-specific product listing optimization. 

Transparency is key because that’s what leads to satisfied customers, and satisfied customers leave positive ratings. Most marketplace platforms will rank your product listings in search results based on those ratings. More positive ratings will translate to greater visibility, which in turn can translate into more sales. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling like-new used phones or fixer-uppers — when your goal is to make a career out of selling used cell phones online, integrity is the best practice of all. 

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