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If you’re looking to clear out some unwanted items or want to develop a side hustle, you may have considered Mercari. Or perhaps, you haven’t. Mercari doesn’t get as much attention (in the U.S.) as eBay, but it’s still a very popular platform that you should consider. Mercari has plenty of buyers, and you won’t face as much competition as you would face by selling on eBay.
Here we’ll explore how to sell on Mercari, so you can have the information you need to make an informed choice.
What is Mercari?
Mercari is a marketplace where you can sell and buy almost any item that can be shipped. This platform is based on an app that restricts meetups in person to protect both buyer and seller. The platform also processes all the payments to prevent rip-offs and minimize fraud. There is a transparent fee structure, so you can see exactly how much you can make from a sale.
What Can You Sell on Mercari?
Mercari operates on the core principle that you can sell almost anything on the platform. There are categories for items including clothing, accessories, shoes, jewelry, furniture, artwork, appliances, toys, sporting goods, and electronics.
Essentially, you can sell practically anything except items that are prohibited elsewhere, such as illegal items, drugs, and firearms. There is a full list of prohibited items in the Mercari help center.
As a general platform where you can buy or sell almost anything, Mercari is much more similar to eBay than it is to a niche platform like Poshmark (where you can sell clothing and accessories. See our article eBay vs. Mercari vs. Poshmark for more details.
Why Sell on Mercari Instead of Other Platforms?
There are a number of reasons why you might choose to sell on Mercari rather than other platforms. In addition to being an established and well-respected platform, Mercari offers:
- The Lowest Commission Structure: Mercari has a flat 10% commission rate on all items sold. This is one of the lowest commission structures of all the seller platforms, apps, and websites. Although there may be more hurdles to list and sell your items compared to some other platforms, the low commission structure means that you will get to keep more of the profits of your sale.
- Free, Easy Listing: Mercari has made many great improvements in recent years. You can now include up to 12 pictures on your listings, which puts it on par with eBay. The app will also allow selecting multiple pictures at once, you can move your pictures around, take long pictures rather than being restricted to a square format, and you can also automatically fix any lighting issues in your pictures. All of these features make listing faster and better. You can list directly from your phone or computer, so you can even list on the go.
- Promos: Mercari also has some great promotions to list items. For example, you may only pay a 5 percent commission on certain items listed on a specific day, or you can lower the price of items to receive a bump in the search results.
- Private Chat: Mercari also has the facility to message buyers and sellers without having to make the comments public. This allows for private negotiations or even asking questions. While this feature is available on some other platforms, it is still a plus for Mercari.
→ Related reading: How to Sell on eBay for Beginners
How to Get Started with Selling on Mercari
As we touched on above, selling on Mercari is easy. However, there are some essential steps to ensure you have attractive, visible listings.
Step 1: Create Your Account
The signup process is straightforward, so it is simple to create your account. Firstly, you’ll need to click “sign up”. You can choose to continue using your email address or your Facebook account. You’ll need to enter a username, contact email, and a password. Mercari then needs you to verify your account through a phone number. Once the verification is complete, you’re ready to get started.
Step 2: Find Some Items to Sell
Even if you want to develop selling on Mercari as a side hustle, it’s a good idea to start with selling your own stuff by finding things you can sell from your unwanted items. This allows you to get some experience under your belt without the need to buy anything (plus, you can declutter at the same time).
Have a spring clean; clear out your closets, basement, attic, and garage. The items should be in good condition, but even if it is something you no longer use, you could find a buyer on Mercari. Mercari does allow listing of “poor” condition items, but these will command a lower price, and you may struggle to attract a buyer.
Helpful Resource: Need some ideas of things that you could sell? Be sure to read our article What Can I Sell? and you’ll get plenty of ideas that you can put into practice right away.
Step 3: Take Photos of Your Items
The key to a good listing is to have great photos. As we touched on above, Mercari has made it even easier to take great photos for your listings. You can edit your pictures directly in the app; cropping them to highlight the item, changing it to a 1:1 square photo ratio for smaller items, or even defaulting to a vertical image, which is great for dresses or larger items. You can also rotate the photos in the app, so your items can look their best.
There is also a magic wand that you can use to automatically improve the look of your pictures. If you take pictures with your phone, you can select multiple photos at once to speed up the process.
Since you have the option of multiple photos, you can have a main photo showing the item and use the other photos to highlight features or flaws. You can take a picture of the clothing label, tag, or size. You can put the photos in any order you like, so they are in a logical order for anyone viewing the item.
Step 4: Give the Item Title (include the most important keywords)
The title is an important feature of your listing. You’ll have a 40 character limit, so try to feature the brand name, style name, and model number. These can be important keywords, but if you have space, try to add other keywords. The size, pattern, and color are not necessary for the title, but it can make it easier to track your listings and buyers to find your items.
Step 5: Write the Description
If your item is brand new, you don’t need to describe it in complete detail, but it can still be a good idea. Think of it as a retail store listing that is crafted to attract buyer’s attention. If your item is used, a thorough and accurate description is crucial.
Your description should be as detailed as possible. You should include not only the brand name, model name, style, and size, but also the condition. If there are any flaws, you should write about them, even if you have taken pictures. You can even reference the flaw in a specific picture number. This will ensure that buyers are fully aware of the condition, which can help you if the buyer tries to file a case for a return.
Clothing items can also benefit from measurements. While some sellers argue this is not necessary, you only have to compare sizes in the shopping mall to find that they can differ greatly. By including measurements, your potential buyer will have a clearer idea of whether the item will fit without needing to try it on.
Mercari also allows you to put up to three hashtags in your description. Although this is not necessary, it can be a great tool for both buyers and sellers.
Step 6: Select the Appropriate Category
Mercari will autofill some of the information for your listing based on the title you write. One of these is the category. However, be sure to check the auto-filled category is correct. Most of the time, Mercari will get it right, but there are occasions when you can manually select a more appropriate category.
Of course, there is not a category for everything, so you will have to use your discretion. There is an “other” category that can be used to avoid miscategorizing something. This will not help your buyers who are searching for a specific item, but miscategorizing an item could be held against you if your buyer tries to open a case.
Step 7: Fill In as Many Details as Possible
You’ll then be presented with some detail options. Many of these are auto-filled based on your item title, but again, it is a good idea to check whether there is a more appropriate option.
You will also need to select the condition of your item. There are five choices; Poor, Fair, Good, Like New and New. If you’re unsure which best fits your item, there is a short description for each condition. This can be helpful as the definition of used can vary from person to person, so it is a good idea to stick with the Mercari definition.
Try to be as accurate as possible with all the details, as this will help you to avoid any potential misunderstandings.
Step 8: Enter Shipping Information
Finally, you need to specify your shipping information. Mercari does change its shipping options periodically, but as of July 2020, there are two options.
- The first option is that your buyer will pay for the shipping. If your buyer is going to pay for shopping, you will need to select the item weight and shipping company in your listing. There are different increments of item weight, so remember to take packaging into account. The shipping companies are UPS, FedEx, and USPS depending on the item weight. Lighter items can only be shipped with USPS First Class mail, while items over 20 pounds can only have FedEx shipping.
- The second option is to offer free shipping with your items. There are some additional options for this. You can pay for a prepaid label that can be downloaded from the app or sent to your email inbox, or you can choose to pay for a prepaid USPS, UPS or FedEx label, depending on item weight. Alternatively, you can ship on your own. You’ll need to provide a tracking number to release the funds if your buyer does not confirm receipt, but this can be a good option if you can access discounts on shipping services.
One consideration about which option to choose is that Mercari states that listings are twice as likely to find a buyer when free shipping is offered. Just remember that if you do offer free shipping, you’ll need to adjust your item price to account for it. Weigh your items, including packaging, to calculate your shipping charges, or you risk compromising your profits when your item sells.
Fees for Selling on Mercari
Although creating a listing is free, there are fees that apply for selling on Mercari. The standard selling fee is 10% of your listing price. This includes the costs of processing your buyer’s payment. So, your earnings will be the listing price less the selling fee and any shipping charges, if you offer free shipping. These fees are only applied to successfully completed sales.
There are other fees that can apply for sellers on Mercari. For example, if you choose to cash out via direct deposit, there is a $2 fee if your bank is unable to process your request. However, direct deposits of $10 or more have no fee. The other payment method is Instant Pay, and you can request Instant Pay of up to $500 per month for a $2 flat fee. However, this is a super-fast payment method, and it only takes up to 30 minutes to receive the payment into your bank account.
The other possible fee that can apply to sellers on Mercari is a cancellation fee. If you are unable to fulfill a sales order, a fee of 5% with a maximum of $25 may apply. You may be charged a cancellation fee if you are unable to ship the item, you do not ship the item within three business days, or the item is no longer available for sale. However, it may be possible to avoid cancelation fees by communicating with your buyer.
Tips for Selling on Mercari
Although we’ve explored the basics of how to sell on Mercari, there are some tips that can help you to display your items to their best and make a sale. These include:
- Take Photos in Natural Light Where Possible: Since buyers will make a purchase based on your description and pictures, it is best to try to use natural light for your photographs. This will provide a more accurate representation of colors, so there are no disputes from unhappy buyers.
- Use a Simple Background: Buyers click on listings because they are interested in an item, so don’t distract them with a cluttered background or useless props. Keep your photos clean and simple, with clear shots of your item.
- Inspect Before Listing: While you may recall that summer dress at the back of your closet being in perfect condition, don’t create a listing before you have a chance to double-check. You should examine all of your items carefully to check for any flaws. Be sure to check the back, front and inside out, so you can check for any holes, tears or other flaws. There is nothing worse than having to issue a refund because you discover a problem as you’re packaging an item to ship to your buyer.
- Have Shipping Supplies on Hand: Since Mercari requires sellers to ship items within three business days, it’s a good idea to have all your shipping supplies ready. This can include poly mailers, boxes, bubble wrap, and other packing materials. You don’t want to have to delay sending an item until you have a chance to go to a stationery store.
- Disclose If You Have Pets or Don’t: If you don’t have pets, be sure that you state this in your listings. Whether a buyer is allergic or simply is wary about odors or pet hair, stating your items are from a pet-free home could secure you a sale. However, if you have pets and don’t let buyers know, you’re likely to find you get return requests if your buyer finds any animal hair.
- Set a Fair Price: No one wants to pay full retail for used items, but this doesn’t mean you have to give your items away. Generally, new, unused items can achieve about 80 percent of the full retail value, slightly used may reach 30 to 60 percent, and damaged items could be worth 20 to 40 percent. Just remember that if you’re offering free shipping, you’ll need to add to your listing price to cover the costs.
- Include a Thank You Note: A little letter or business card inside each of your packages will let your customer know you care. This small human touch could be enough to have buyers returning to consider your other items. It also helps for giving buyers a little extra motivation to leave positive feedback.
- Keep Some Cash in Reserve: Remember that people can return items, so it is a good idea to keep some of your earnings in reserve to cover any returns. Returns usually occur within 30 to 90 days, but keeping some reserve cash will save you from having to dip into your own checking account.
- Use a Mannequin to Display Clothing: If you’re planning on selling a lot of clothing, it is a good idea to use a mannequin. Although it is possible to photography your items laid flat, a mannequin provides a better idea of what an item of clothing actually looks like, so it can increase the chances of securing a sale.
How to Turn it Into a Side Hustle
Once you get into the swing of selling on Mercari, you may consider turning it into a side hustle. After you’ve sold your unwanted items, you’ll need to source other items to sell. Fortunately, this can be quite easy (see our list of the easiest items to flip for profit).
Lots of people lack the time and inclination to go to the trouble of selling their items online. You may find great quality items at flea markets, yard sales, auctions, or even on Craigslist. You may even find people are willing to give boxes of things away for free just so they don’t have to bother getting rid of them. While some of these items may not be worth much, you may find some hidden gems.
The other option is to source new items from warehouses and manufacturers. This can take a little more research, but if you find a supplier of products that offer a decent profit margin after shipping costs and fees, give it a spin on Mercari.