How to Start a Reselling Business (tips for success)

If you want to start making money from home, then it might be time to start a reselling business. Reselling items online (or even locally) is the easiest and most accessible business idea to start making extra money online or from home. Not to mention one of the quickest ways with the best profit margin. With different ways to earn an income from home like blogging, youtube, or starting a service-based business it can take some time to build up. But with an online reselling business, you can generally start making money within a few days to a week and then build it up from there.

how to start a reselling business

Stick with me because in this post I’m going to go over everything you need to know to start a reselling business. If you’ve been wanting to see what it takes to be a reseller, then this ones for you!

>> Just getting started? Sign up for my FREE Training: How to Start Making Money on Ebay (for Beginners!)

I started selling on ebay back in 2016 when I was a full time stay at home mom to my son who was a year old at the time. From there, I grew it to be a pretty good part time income and then into enough money that my husband was able to work at home with me. We recently transitioned away from reselling because we moved into a travel trailer to travel full time, but I have no doubt we’ll be reselling again as soon as we have a home because it really is a great business model. For now, I’ll help others start and grow their own resale businesses!

This article contains affiliate links. See bottom of the page for full disclosure.

First I wanted to go over some frequently asked questions that I get from those who are looking to start a reselling business.

More resources for new resellers:

What is a reselling business?

A reselling business is basically any business where you buy items and resell them in an attempt to make a profit. You can resell almost anything, but it’s pretty popular to resell clothes, shoes, antiques, electronics, and more.

Can you really make money reselling thrift store items?

You can definitely make money reselling items from thrift stores, yard sales, etc. Just because an item is used and from a garage sale doesn’t mean it no longer has any value. Many people look for used items in order to save money, be more environmentally conscious, or to find something that is no longer made.

Keep in mind that while sourcing at thrift stores is most popular, you can also make money shopping at a retail store. You just need to know what to look for.

Can you really make money reselling?

Yes! While there are a lot of people out there who will say it’s too hard or that you can’t make money because fees are too high, it’s important to note that just because reselling isn’t for them doesn’t mean you can’t do it. It’s not for everyone, and that’s ok. It really is a great way to earn an income from home and there is definitely money to be made. Many people make part-time and full-time incomes from reselling. You can see my previous income reports here.

Which is the best reselling app?

There are a lot of online marketplaces to resell items online. The best ones are Ebay, Poshmark and Mercari. They all have their pros and cons such as different fees, shipping, etc. so if youd’ like to see a comparison of the three you can find that here.

Who should start a reselling business?

Anyone can start a reselling business! When I started mine the first time I was just out of high school reselling vintage dresses on Etsy. That was a long time ago. Then about 10 years later, I was a stay at home mom and wanted to start a business I could work on while my son was asleep, but I didn’t want to take on clients. So I started a reselling business which eventually led to my husband being able to quit his job and though we no longer resell full time because we travel full time in a travel trailer, I still think reselling is one of the best side businesses out there!

If you’re willing to put the work in, have a little bit of money to invest (you can actually start with $0!) and are motivated to learn this business it can be a great income.

how to start a reselling business selling on ebay poshmark mercari

Steps to start a reselling business

Below I will go over the basic steps for starting your own reselling business! I honestly think that it’s one of the most accessible ways for someone to start a side hustle.

>> Want to know more, but don’t know how reselling works? I have a FREE Ebay Beginners training that you can watch here!

Decide what you want to sell

The first step is toconsider what it is you do and don’t want to sell. You don’t have to make a final decision to only sell one thing, but consider what types of items you have access to or have knowledge about.

If you have a love for women’s fashion then you might want to focus on that. If you know a lot about specific types of electronics, you could look into selling those types of items. It’s really about using the knowledge you have, or knowledge that you can build up, to find items other people are looking for.

>> Grab my free inventory spreadsheet so you can easily keep tack of your inventory!

Choose a marketplace. Start with one.

The next step is to choose an online marketplace. When you’re just getting started, it’s important to master one online platform before expanding. Once you’re confidently selling on one marketplace, you can slowly start to build up another one.

Also keep in mind that what you’ll be selling will determine where you should sell. For example, on Ebay and Mercari are the best places to sell almost anything. However, Poshmark is a little more strict and is more geared towards fashion, although they have recently added home goods to their allowed items. Any of these can be a great place to start and they all have millions of potential customers.

Below you’ll find detailed beginners guides for the most popular selling platforms:

Open a separate bank account for your business.

If you’re going to make this a real online business (especially if you want to make it full time in the future!) it’s really important that you keep all of your personal finances separate from your business finances. The easiest way to do this is to simply open up a separate business bank.

Most of us already have a bank account, so you can just go to your local bank to open an additional account. Figure out what to bring in to start a business checking, but to be honest, when I started, I just started with a personal account. The key was that it was separate from my personal spending. Talk to your bank to see what is allowed.

Some banks will even let you just open an account online like Capital One and Ally.

Figure out if you need any licenses or permits

Whether you’ll need any special licenses or permits to resell online depends on your local area. I would check with your city and/or state. Most of the time all you have to do is apply, sometimes you may need to pay a very small fee. But this will ensure that your resale business is legally running.

Create a list of sourcing opportunities

Since every area is different, but there are good deals to be found everywhere! Try to think of all the places you could source inventory to sell. The most popular places that resellers find their inventory when they start are thrift stores, yard sales, flea markets, and clearance or discount stores. But there are so many opportunities out there that once you start reselling, you’ll constantly be on the lookout for items you can sell.

To find thrift stores in your area, you can google your city and the word “thrift store” and you should be able to get quite the list going. You can also do this for flea markets.

For yard sales, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and the Yard Sale Treasure Map app are all great places to look.

I recommend checking out a few to see how their pricing is, what kind of inventory they have, etc. Don’t write off a store just because they didn’t have anything good the first time you go there. For most thrift stores, it’s all going to depend on donations, so trying the same one a few times will help you get a more accurate feel for the types of items you’ll be able to find.

Learn how to research what sells

Successful resellers spend a lot of time researching and don’t just buy on a whim. On most marketplaces, you’re able to look at what has recently sold to give you an idea of what you should be looking for when you’re out sourcing. Remember you need to be able to sell an item for a much higher price to make a profit.

Another great website for eBay is where you can put in keywords and see what has recently sold and what is listed. So if you want to check a specific brand or kind of item you can do that.

It’s important to remember that just because you like something, or it was expensive brand new, doesn’t mean it will sell. Some items you can buy at retail price and sell for a good profit, while some items you can buy for $1 and never sell. It all depends on the market and what’s in high demand.

When you first start just spend a lot of time learning, looking up items and absorbing the knowledge. You’re still going to make mistakes and buy items that won’t sell for as much as you’d hoped (or at all), but over time you’ll learn how to avoid that.

Figure out an inventory system

Once you start buying items to resell it’s going to quickly become important that you have some sort of way to keep track of your inventory. As much as you’ll convince yourself that you know where stuff is, it can get overwhelming fast and spending an hour looking for that one thing that sold is never fun. But it happens to the best of us! 

You’re going to want to figure out two things: how you’re going to store inventory and how you’re going to keep track of individual pieces.

If you want an in-depth look at how we organized our eBay inventory you can check out this post.

>> Grab my free inventory spreadsheet so you can easily keep tack of your inventory!

Some of the supplies we use for inventory:

Take good photos

Good photos aren’t that hard because camera phones have come a long way. Back when I started reselling, I had to actually use a digital camera, upload the photos, crop them and then upload them to the website. Now with a phone, you can take much better quality photos and, with some apps, upload them directly to the listing.

The best way to take good photos is with: bright and even lighting, plain/clutter free background and to have the item in focus.

A simple trifold board on the floor near a window can work wonders, but there are tons of different options out there. It’s important not to jump in and spend a bunch of money if you don’t have it. Over time you can always add things like backdrops, ring lights and mannequins.

Learn how to list

Other than sourcing, listing will likely be what you’ll be spending most of your time on. This means uploading your item onto the marketplace of your choice. 

Many people are a little put off by listing at first because it seems complicated, but I promise you after you’ve listed some items you will get used to it and it will get easier.

When listing make sure you include good keywords which are words that people will search for when looking for your item. It can help to pretend that you’re the buyer looking for the item you have and think about what you would search to find that item.

Here’s what your listings should include:

  • Title with good keywords
  • Condition (be honest!)
  • Any flaws
  • Measurements (if needed, depending on item)
  • Any features such as material, etc. that you can note for the buyer
  • Good photos (as many as posisble, but at least 4)

Have shipping supplies ready

When you sell your first items you don’t want to be scrambling trying to find shipping supplies. Make sure that you have some shipping supplies to get started. You can totally reuse boxes that you’ve received in the mail as long as they are clean, sturdy and still look good.

What you’ll need will truly depend on the items you’re selling.

If you’re mostly selling clothing you’ll probably be fine with just some polymailers.

If you’re shipping items that need to be boxed you will need boxes, tape and packing material.

Keep learning

One of the most important things about starting a reseller business is to keep learning! At first it seems hard because you don’t know what to buy, you don’t want to waste a lot of money, etc. But as you gain knowledge and start to recognize things that sell without having to look them up it’ll become easier as with anything else.

Over time you’ll find better places to source inventory, you’ll change the way you ship, you may change what items you sell. Your business will evolve as you get used to it and start to gain that experience.


how to start a reselling business inventory system

Best Reselling Tools & Supplies

While you definitely don’t need to go and spend a ton of money to get started, I did want to mention my favorite tools and supplies for reselling.

Like I said above, you don’t need all of this to get started! I literally started with $0 and just bought stuff as I had to. Starting a reselling business is one of the easiest ways to start making money from home, but you still have to be strategic and treat it like a business. Constantly research new products, have a business plan in place, don’t put yourself into credit card debt while growing, understand your target audience, and you’re on the road to a successful reselling business.

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  1. Martha Rash says:

    Thank you for this post. My husband and I have been collecting items for reselling a long time. We are considered hoarders by family and friends. This information is a great helping start our internet business now we are retired.

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