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How to make money from your clutter

Use your spare time at home to take stock

Qin Xie
Friday 24 April 2020 15:39 BST
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Now could be the time to clear out your clutter
Now could be the time to clear out your clutter

It has been several weeks since the UK went into lockdown, with many of us now spending more time at home than ever.

For some, a full gamut of online activities has taken over the usual offline ones – you can now find everything from livestreamed fitness classes to lessons for kids on the internet and on apps.

There are also offline options, ranging from gardening to learning new skills.

But for those who rarely spend this amount of time at home, now might be a good time to declutter too.

Even better, you can make money by selling your unwanted items on websites such as eBay and Amazon, even during coronavirus.

Here's what you should know.

Is it still safe to sell your products?

Yes, but there are things you should consider.

According to the World Health Organisation: "The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low."

However, you should obviously mitigate the risks as much as you can by, for example, washing your hands regularly with soap, wearing gloves while handling the items or using disinfectant wipes.

You should also follow the UK government's guidelines on social distancing.

Post Offices and drop-off points for certain delivery services remain open, but you should limit your trips to these. If you are experiencing coronavirus symptoms, you should not be using these services and should instead be isolating at home.

Many delivery services have also introduced contact-free pick ups. But again, make sure to mitigate the risks to yourself and the person who's picking up the parcel.

A spokesperson for eBay told The Independent that buyers "should consider whether the purchase is necessary at the moment and use a delivery service where possible. If the item is for collection-only, they should buy local items to minimise travel, incorporate it into their daily exercise outing, and agree on sensible social distancing principles prior to the collection."

As a seller, you should take this into consideration.

Ebay

You can sell almost anything on eBay – just register for an account and start listing the items you want to sell.

Compared to when the online market place first started, the process is easier than ever.

To list your item, you just have to enter some descriptive key words, and eBay will come up with a list of similar items to help you fill out the listing, including suggestions for categories that it will fit in as well as any key features you may have forgotten about.

Crucially, it also suggests prices based on previous items that have sold, so you can get an idea of what works and what doesn't.

You can list up to 1,000 items on eBay for free each month, and when it sells, you'll pay 10 per cent of the final transaction fee, including postage, to eBay.

In terms of shipping your items to buyers, you can of course use Royal Mail and send you items via the Post Office. Ebay also offers its own delivery service – Packlink – which is currently offering contactless pick ups as well.

You can find out more about eBay's deliver options here, as well as the restrictions they currently have in place.

Amazon

A great alternative to eBay is Amazon, which lets you sell almost as many different items. You may have spotted items from private sellers on the site already – it comes under the New and Used offers, next to the main price of an item.

However, there are restrictions, which you can find here.

You're only allowed to sell some products if they're new, such as sporting goods and baby accessories like prams. Other products, such as beauty and groceries, can only be sold as new and from approved and vetted sellers.

With that in mind, if you have a lot of unwanted books, games or even gadgets ranging from phones to computers, this could be the place to offload them. It's more worthwhile if they are higher value items though Amazon charges a fee for any sales.

On its basic plan (for those selling 35 items or less a month), your listing is live for an indefinite period of time. You pay a set 75p charge for every item sold, plus a percentage "referral fee", which varies depending on what you're selling.

In terms of delivery, Amazon will pay you a set "shipping credit" towards your costs but it's up to you to decide how you want to ship the items. In some cases, it may be that shipping your item costs more than the credit offered by Amazon.

Amazon says: "You must ship orders even if the shipping credit is less than your total shipping costs. To offset the difference, you can adjust your shipping charges or the price of your product."

Ziffit

If it's books, CDs, DVDs or games that you're trying to get rid of, Ziffit could be a good option.

It's really easy to use and much cheaper than Amazon and eBay – all you have to do is scan the barcode on your item using the app, complete the trade, pack your items and either drop it off at designated pick up points or wait for them to pick it up.

Their system automatically works out how much your items will weigh and for parcels that weigh 5kg or more (around 15 books), they will collect it from your home.

Once the items get to their depot, they will check it over and send you payment via bank transfer, Paypal or cheque.

The only downsides are they don't accept everything and for some items, they will literally pay pennies for.

Facebook Marketplace

You can also sell items on Facebook – the biggest advantage it has over Amazon and eBay is that while you can sell just about everything, you don't have to pay a listing fee, which means all the profits go to you.

To sell an item, simply create a listing and wait for the offers to come in.

Under normal circumstances, users would buy and sell locally and could go and see the item before making the purchase. Things are obviously slightly different under lockdown.

Facebook recommends following the social distancing guidelines from the government, which would limit home visits, and disinfecting the items.

However, there is no reason why you couldn't offer the buyer the chance to see it via a Whatsapp call or Zoom and then ship it as you would on other platforms and exchange money on a platform such as Paypal.

Christian Siriano demonstrates process of how to make sure face masks fit as designer offers to make protective masks

Apps

There are several apps that lets you sell your unwanted items, including Depop and Schpock, both of which will let users negotiate the price of an item.

Depop is focused on fashion, featuring new, old and vintage clothes. You create your own storefront, and sell your stuff from there.

Once your item is sold, you pay Depop 10 per cent of the total transaction fee. Payment is via Paypal, which means you will also have to pay a transaction fee to Paypal on top of that – at the moment it's 30p plus 2.9 per cent of the total transaction.

Schpock is similar to Depop in that you create your own storefront through the app – but you can also sell items such as electronics and home appliances, as well as clothing.

The fee you pay Schpock varies depending on the value of your product, but starts from 50p. And like Depop, the sale is done through Paypal, which means you will have to pay its fees on top of that.

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