Cashing in on your Christmas giftsWhich? investigation into selling gifts

26 December 2011

Best ways to sell stuff

An iPod Shuffle bought for £37 was sold for only £24

If you’re thinking of selling off some unwanted Christmas gifts this year, a Which? investigation showed that it's worth carefully considering where best to do it, in order to make the most money.

Which? bought a selection of brand new items that would be likely Christmas gifts, a Human Planet three disc-DVD for £15.99, an iPod shuffle MP3 player for £37 and a Which? Best Buy Panasonic digital camera for £89 and sold them through various channels.

We tried selling the items on auction sites eBay and eBid, online retailer Amazon Marketplace, classified ads site Gumtree and on the high street at Cash Converters and CeX.

Speed of sale varies

The fastest sell was the DVD through eBay, where it went in just one day with the buyer paying the £12.99 ‘buy it now’ fee to immediately end the auction and earn us back £10.76 after fees.

The same item failed to sell at all through the other online avenues, while CeX and Cash Converters paid just £7 and £1 (a 94% drop in value) after fees respectively.

Amazon Marketplace was the slowest seller of the Camera taking eight days, although it did secure the highest price, which was still only £44.74 after we reduced the listing price to £50 to attract a buyer.

eBay earned £44.18 on the camera but it was CeX that made us the most money, paying £52 to take it off our hands, while Cash Converters paid just £30.

Consider the fees

No one sales method stood out as being the best, but if you’re happy to accept the fees, you’re most likely to secure a sale on eBay, which sold all the items within the timeframe.

eBay levies two main charges, an ‘insertion fee’ for putting your item on the site, regardless of whether it sells and a ‘final-value fee’, which is 10% of the final price, up to £40, at the point of sale. When selling the camera, this meant combined fees of £8.82 through eBay and PayPal.

eBid, which claims to be the ‘UK’s number one alternative to eBay’, charges a £1.99 fee to list for seven days and then automatically withdrew another £1.99 from our account when that time passed, although we managed to sell nothing at all through the site.

Sell safely

Amazon Marketplace charges an 86p per item completion fee and a closing fee of 17.25% (11.5% for electronics and cameras) of the sale price for each item.

The most we made on the iPod shuffle was on eBay where we got £23.95, Gumtree generated just £17.11 and both high street retailers paid £20.

It is important to chose a secure payment method, such as PayPal, when selling your stuff online and make sure you receive payment before sending an item to the buyer, which should be done using recorded delivery to prove you’ve sent it.  

More on this…

• Christmas 2011 - your one-stop shop to organising Christmas 2011 
Sell safely – Managing eBay accounts 
• Know your rights – the rules of shopping online