How to buy and sell online safely

woman preparing a shirt to be listed online

Buying and selling second-hand goods online can be a good way to make some money as well as snag a bargain or two.

But like any financial transaction, there are potholes and speed bumps on the road ahead, so what are some of the tips and tricks to make your online ride to selling and buying a smooth journey?

The price is right

Buyers. Don’t buy the first thing that floats your boat. Have a look around, compare prices and visit all the alternatives such as Facebook marketplace, eBay or even your local buy, swap, sell page.

It’s exciting to find exactly what you want, but it’s a big wide world out there – something similar, or the same product, will probably turn up.

If nothing else, shopping around first should provide a solid price guide on what you are looking for.

Sellers. You may think your nana’s handcrafted furniture is worth a fortune, but you may well be mistaken. It’s a good idea to explore the price range that similar products are going for so you don’t waste time with a listing that is unreasonable and won’t attract offers.

Be honest

Buyers. This seems like no brainer, but be honest about your offer if you are buying and about your listing if you are selling.

If you are buying, make your offer clear, see if you can negotiate some ‘wriggle’ room and assess how you will pay.

There are too many scammers out there and sellers will simply move on to another offer if you drag the chain or seem a bit dodgy in a bid to bring down the price.

Sellers. Add measurements, condition, payment methods and how the item will be delivered. Several quality photos from different angles will help you shift your item. It’s also a good idea to list if you live in a pet-free or smoke-free house, as those smells can stick around.

How to get the best price

Buyers. If you want to haggle, the best position of power you have is if the listing has been up for a week or two. Using your previous knowledge of pricing as above, make an offer you believe to be in the price range. Don’t be too cheap though, the seller probably has a good idea what the price should be too.

Also check out if the seller has multiple items listed. You may be able to bundle and save.

Sellers: Highlight something in your listing that makes the product stand out such as condition, rarity or your willingness to deliver it. Start the price at the top of the range, but be prepared to drop it. If it sells at the top price, well done you. If you sell it for a lower but acceptable price, well, as a rule, both buyer and seller walk away happy.

Protect yourself

Buyers: If you are not comfortable with the price, condition and especially payment method, let it go. Never be afraid to keep asking questions until you are satisfied the product is what you want. And it goes without saying, watch out for online scams. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Sellers: Don’t agree to a potential customer visiting your home to view a product. Negotiate a public place instead. Also, the same with scam payments, don’t agree to anything that looks a bit dodgy such as giving out your personal or financial details.

Know your market

Buyers. Location may be important – you don’t want to buy or sell a car in Perth if the buyer lives in Melbourne. Seek out a platform that specialises in what you are looking for, for example, Etsy for crafts or carsales.com for a second-hand car.

Sellers. If you are looking to sell a collectable item, search out specialist Facebook pages or online groups – you may just have the product they have always been looking for

If you think the item may appeal to friends, don’t be shy about promoting it on your socials, it could save a lot of time and effort selling to a friend whom you know and trust.

Have you bought or sold second-hand goods online? Did you get what you wanted? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: How much can you trust online reviews?

Written by Jan Fisher

Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.

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