If you’re eager to get rid of some of your unwanted items/wedding gifts/whatever, Amazon is one of many companies that will allow you to hold an online tag sale. One way to do this is to sell directly on Amazon.com, but another option, particularly if your items are books, videos, music, or video games, is to use Amazon’s Easy Sell with Fulfillment by Amazon. The programs are quite different from one another.
When you sell directly on Amazon.com, you will be notified when an item has sold, but you have to mail it yourself. The company gives you a $3.99 shipping credit and takes a small fee. This is the option to choose if you’re really looking to make money, though it takes more time because you need to pack and ship the item yourself, which can be a pain if you are selling a large amount of items.
If you’re looking to rid yourself of a bunch of boxes of books, videos, music, or video games, and you don’t want to spend a lot of time on it, then you might consider signing up for Easy Sell with Fulfillment by Amazon. This program lets you mail all of your things to Amazon, and then Amazon mails them to the buyers.
As you pack your box of goods for Amazon, you input the ISBN or other product number for each item. When you’re done, Amazon generates a shipping label for you.
“It was phenomenally easy,” said Erica Kain, a Health.com contributor who recently used Easy Sell to rid her household of nine cartons of books and other media. “I am signed up with Stamps.com so I was able to pay for the shipping with the Media Mail rate. Then the mailman could pick the packages up right from my porch.”
Erica was eight months pregnant when she started using Easy Sell, and, not surprisingly, she appreciated the convenience.
“My favorite thing about EasySell is the constant little e-mails I get from Amazon.com, telling me that someone, somewhere, has bought one of the items we were selling, and that they are handling EVERYTHING from there — shipping it to the person, and then, every two weeks (or more often if we wanted) putting the money directly into our checking account.”
While Kain loved the convenience, she found that it came with a literal cost.
“They just don’t seem to be very coordinated in terms of communicating to sellers exactly how much they can expect to make from a sale,” Kain said. “When you initially choose a price for your items, Amazon automatically calculates how much profit you can expect from it. Except that this number isn’t accurate in many cases. There are random promotional fees, and Amazon.com Easy Sell fees often outstrip the originally calculated profit. For a while, we were owing Amazon money because the fees were greater than the price of the item.” (emphasis hers)
Kain went back and forth with Amazon’s support department about this, and finally, they sent her “a semi-snarky noncommittal e-mail about this problem, basically stating that if I didn’t want to end up owing them money, I ought to price my items higher.”
Which she did, though she was aggravated that “they can’t properly calculate the profit that a seller can expect right from the get-go.”
Kain sent me one of the Amazon support responses and it’s surprisingly complex. For an item she’d sold for $3.00, the Amazon fees included:
- $0.45 (Commission on sale price)
- $0.99 (Fixed closing fee)
- $0.80 (Variable closing fee)
- $1.00 (FBA per unit fulfillment fee)
- $0.06 (FBA weight based fee)
… which adds up to a grand total of negative thirty cents!
So, convenient, yes. Money-making? Not really.