Side Hustle Spotlight: Mercari Seller

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Before we had eBay, Mercari, Facebook Marketplace, etc, when we needed to get rid of items and make money we had a garage sale. And even though our grandparents might not agree, technology made this even better. Selling online is now a viable side hustle. No HOA’s to get garage sale approval from, no wasting your entire weekend sitting in 90 degree heat…just snap a few pics, get an offer, and ship it out!

So what’s the deal with Mercari? It’s an online marketplace, through an app on your phone. Free to sign up. Free to post items. Only pay a fee if you sell something. And shipping charges are super cheap if you go through Mercari’s app to sell your item. With zero risk to get started, it’s a great way to make some extra money.

  1. Sign up! If you haven’t signed up yet, it’s FREE. And if you sign up through this link, you get $10 off your first order PLUS an extra $20 once you make your first $100. You’ll also occasionally get coupons from Mercari. I’ve received a few $10 of $35 coupons recently.
  2. Find items you want to sell. For me, I sell anything I have a better version of. I had PowerBeats & Air pods and sold my PowerBeats. I had a NutriBullet and a Ninja blender with a similar attachment, and sold the NutriBullet. Have you watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo? If it doesn’t spark joy, sell it! Knowing it will be used at someone else’s home and won’t be thrown away and put in a landfill (at least by me) is a great feeling. It’s just going to waste sitting in my closet anyway.
  3. List your item. I find it easiest to search for the item I’m planning on selling on Mercari, and see what price range the items recently sold for. When I find a similar item to mine, there’s a button half way down the page that says “Got something similar? Tap for an easy listing”. It auto-fills some of the post to match what someone else already did on their similar item. Time saver.
  4. Make your first (second, third, hundredth) sale. The buyer will either buy your item at full price or ask for it at a lower price. You can haggle back and forth, or you have all the power to say no to their offer. List, Sell, Repeat.

How to sell quickly (and get that $$$ fast)

  • Price your items competitively. See what other similar items sold for, and price your item near that mark.
  • Post your items in the “season” where the demand is highest. Yes, there is always seasonality to purchases. Christmas items are probably not going to move very quickly in April. However, I’ve sold Halloween and St. Patrick’s day items in late December, so it’s possible.
  • Turn on Smart Pricing. There is a feature in Mercari where you can enable “smart pricing”. After a few days of not selling, Mercari can drop the price on your items (you can set a base price it won’t drop below) and it will notify anyone who liked the posting. That notification spurs buyers to purchase your item before someone else does.
  • Bundle low-cost items together into 1 posting to get them to move more quickly.
  • Promote your post. This isn’t like standing on the street dressed at the Statue of Liberty type promoting. Although, with tax time approaching, that’s an excellent high-paying side-job coming up. By hitting the promote button, you will need to drop your item price by 5%. But in return, you will get bumped up in the search results to appear faster.  
  • Brand names sell faster. Popular brands on Mercari that usually sell quickly are: Nike, Apple, Lululemon, Nintendo, Funko, PINK, Victoria’s Secret, Disney, Adidas, Air Jordan, Coach, Michael Kors, Starbucks, Gucci, Sony, and more. Mercari will also regularly notify you of upcoming promotions on their main page. Sometimes they want more laptops in stock.
  • Add a lot of photos, good photos! People want to see what they’re getting. Take great photos of your items. If they can picture the item in their house, they’re more likely to use it. When I used to work for an industry leading company in the sports nutrition space, I took time to get some feedback from our own photography and creative departments. I asked what made for good photos to sell products with. At the time I was asking about photos for my Etsy shop, but this carries over into so many other places too. I learned that you don’t need an expensive camera or lighting setup to take a good photo. Use your smartphone and aim for sunlight. If you can’t get good sunlight, bring in a table lamp from another room. I find that holding the lamp just above and in front of the object creates the best lighting. Fill the frame and make sure your background is clear of clutter.

Tips for being a great Mercari seller:

Mercari sellers earn badges for shipping fast, responding to messages quickly and being reliable.  

  1. Ship within 3 business days. The sooner the better. I usually ship out same day or next day. By shipping within 24 hours, you can earn the quick shipper badge. I always hit “confirm shipment” after dropping it off at UPS or USPS to keep the “quick shipper badge”.
  2. Make sure what you ship matches your post exactly. Was there a charging cord in the photo and not in the box?
  3. Be reliable. To earn the “Reliable” badge, don’t cancel orders. Before you post the item, make sure you want to sell it and it is in sellable condition. The badge instills confidence in the buyer that you’ll send them the item.
  4. Respond to messages. Customer service 101 here. Respond in a timely manner. To earn this badge, respond on average within 12 hours to any message.
  5. Be nice. A handwritten note thanking them for their purchase is a nice touch and takes very little time and effort to include. I always include a nice note and if I suspect the person is buying it as a gift for someone else, I even include something to wrap it in. Little touches like that really go a long way and ensure a positive review. I also tell the buyer they can follow my debt payoff progress on Instagram and on my blog. A little shameless self-promotion, right?

Will selling on Mercari help me meet any financial goals?

Yes! You can even create a goal within Mercari. Mine is “Make $500 for my student loans” and Mercari tracks the progress on each item sold. It also tells me how much money I can make towards my goal based on all my current listings. So, if everything I had listed sold immediately, I’d be that much closer to my goal. It’s a great way to stay motivated and to keep adding items to your store.

Tips for dealing with haggling and offers on Mercari:

When I post an item, I have a bottom-line price in mind. I might budge a bit on cost for some items and others I won’t. As a buyer, the answer is always “no” until you ask. So, I don’t have any issue when an offer comes through. I don’t always take it, though. In my professional negotiation training, my biggest takeaway is “demand, repeat, silence”. And I use that with Mercari too. I recently posted an item for $45. Within minutes, someone sent me an offer for $35. I countered with $40 because in my mind that was the lowest I wanted to take. They came back at $36, so I countered again with $40. Within 10 minutes, I received an offer for full price from someone else. Items move very quickly on Mercari so you will be surprised at how many full price offers you get.

Costs with Mercari:

The service is free to sign up and use. There are no fees for posting items. When an item is sold, a 10% fee is applied. There is also a 2.9% + $0.30 payment processing fee for each transaction. Shipping costs can either be covered by the buyer or the seller, depending on how you set up your post. Including shipping usually gets the buyer to purchase the item sooner. Out of all the options, anything over 1lb and under 10lb, I ship with UPS. Their price is really good and all you need to do is tape up the box and bring it to UPS. They scan a QR code on your listing and they attach the label and handle the rest. I don’t even need to use my printer ink to print out a label. It’s great!

So why sell on Mercari instead of at a garage sale?

Time is money, honey. I can passively post items for sale and take advantage of the excellent shipping rates Mercari has with USPS, UPS and FedEx. If I were to coordinate this sale through Facebook marketplace and ship and item without Mercari’s shipping prices, I would spend more money and time than the Mercari fees are charging me. Also, as a young (ok, somewhat young) woman, I’m not about to go meet a stranger in a parking lot at night to sell an item. I’m happy boxing it up at home and sending it out via UPS.

Good luck. Get selling. Share your big wins so we can all cheer you along in your debt payoff journey!

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