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27 Apr 2022

How to sell second hand online

Our tips to ensure you can sell safely on platforms like Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree and Vinted.
Olivia Howes
Smartphone being used to take photo of blue shirt

Whether you want to off-load clutter, make some cash, or are committed to the circular economy, the abundance of selling website and apps certainly gives plenty of options for selling your stuff.

Second hand online buying and selling has seen an explosion since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. But how do you choose where to market your wares? Our advice takes you through some of the most important things to consider.


To find out how new challenger marketplaces such as Depop and Vinted compare against established sites such as Gumtree and eBay in our customer survey, visit the best and worst places to shop second hand online


Vinted app on smartphone

What do second hand sellers think?

In January 2022, we asked 4,000 sellers about their experiences of using 10 of the most popular second hand marketplaces. Overall they painted a very positive picture. Of the 4,000, 63% had used an online marketplaces to sell or give away something.

The most popular items sold were clothes (32%), books (26%) furniture (21%) and games (21%).

79% of sellers were satisfied with the selling platform they used and 78% would recommend it to someone else.

But experiences weren’t entirely problem free - 12% of sellers raised a complaint with customer service about the platform they used. Of these people, 32% were unsatisfied with the platform’s response. Reasons for being unhappy include not being able to speak to a real person when contacting customer service and concerns that the process is stacked too far in favour of the buyer.

One seller complained that the marketplace always sided with the buyer ‘irrespective of natural justice’, with another claiming the platform ‘settled in the buyer’s favour despite proof he was lying and past examples of similar behaviour’.

We’ve got tips on how to protect yourself from dodgy scams and make successful sales.

Before you sell something online

  • Write a detailed description of your item and make sure you are not mis-representing the item you are selling. If it has parts missing, make sure you make this clear, if it’s used, point out its defects or signs or wear and tear. 
  • Research the right price to sell your item at. Look for similar products rather than deciding on what you think it’s worth.
  • Consider your market – if you are selling very high value items, such as designer clothing, it may be more appropriate to use platforms or selling sites that have authentication services such as HEWI or Vestiare Collective.
  • Most platforms will tell you not to use stock images as these will be copyrighted. Additionally, stock images won’t show the condition of the actual item you are selling so use your own. Using lots of photos is often a good idea – include a full view, close ups of any defects, labels, true colours. Clear photos will also help you fight a claim against you if a buyer claims there is a defect that wasn’t there when you sold it.
  • If the platform requires you set the postage, be careful you are setting it as accurately as you can. Too cheap could obviously leave you out of pocket and if you charge more than what you end up paying you could end up with an aggrieved buyer.
  • If you’ve sold to buyers before that have been difficult, unreasonable or acted fraudulently, some platforms will allow you to block them from buying your listings.
  • Pay attention to the platform’s T&Cs – if their buyer protection means an item must be sent within a certain number of days or sent in a certain way, make sure you are prepared for this.
  • Is there any seller protection? Some sites offer seller protection as well as buyer protection.
blue jeans being put into cardboard box

During an online sale

  • Don’t ask for or agree to payment outside of the marketplace if there are secure options within the app available. If there is no option, use PayPal or another secure method for online payment. 
  • Keep communication within the platform wherever possible, as not doing so could invalidate any protections in place.
  • Agreeing to send to an address other than the one that is given on the invoice, or that is given to you by the marketplace, can invalidate any protection you might have with the marketplace. If the buyer is adamant they want the item sent to a different address, it’s advised you cancel the purchase and ask them to rebuy after updating their delivery address.
  • Take photographs of your items packaged up. Send items tracked and make sure you keep all tracking details so you have proof if a buyer claims something hasn’t arrived. Insure high value packages.

If there’s a problem

  • Make sure you respond to any issues raised by a buyer quickly, or you could invalidate any seller protection in place.
  • Don’t offer any kind of refund or partial refund outside of the platform if payment was originally using the platform.
  • Provide evidence. If an item is claimed not to have arrived, the platform will want evidence from the shipping company. If the item was collected from you, you’ll also need evidence. eBay suggests you print a copy of the eBay order details and get the buyer to sign it at the time of collection or use the eBay app – the seller can scan the buyer’s QR code or enter a buyer’s pick up code. If the item is claimed to be not as described, detailed listings photos will help you prove otherwise.
package being handed over

What is seller protection?

Seller protection can protect you if a buyer claims an item hasn’t arrived when you have proof that it has, or if they say they never ordered the item. It may also protect you if a buyer falsely says something is not as you described it.

Depop and eBay offer sellers protection for most sales, provided certain conditions are met.

You can also gain seller protection when you use PayPal for receiving payment.

Read our advice guide: am I protected when selling with PayPal?