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Selling Coupons on eBay

by: Lissa McGrath

In Skip’s weblog he talked briefly about baby coupons being a hot eBay item. I told him I was planning to test the market with some formula coupons I had received from the formula companies (all new parents get these) and write up an article for his Niche of the Month. The article became a bit too long for the newsletter, so Skip put it here on his free articles page.

When I got to writing it, I realized that it wasn’t just baby coupons that were hot sellers on eBay, there are coupons for almost any item you can think of! As of this writing, there are 12,751 coupons for sale on eBay.

Before I talk about the other coupon types, let me show you the results of my six auctions this week. I sold $45.00 worth of formula retail checks which are a bit more desirable than retail coupons because you are not limited to just one per transaction. Still, I have seen just coupons selling for a decent profit too. Remember – I got all of these for free in the mail.

$ Amount of Coupons

Selling Price

$18 (two x $7 and one x $4)

$14.66

$5

$3.24

$5

$3.58

$5

$3.58

$7

$5.53

$5

$3.55


Retail Value: $45.00
Sold For: $34.14
eBay Fees: $5.09
Inventory Cost: $0.00
Profit: $29.05

I know $29.05 doesn’t sound like a lot, but consider that it took me five minutes to write the listing and they are almost identical so I just changed the amount for each auction, and there were only six auctions. Also, there was no cost to me which is very important if you don’t have a lot of money (like a new stay-home Mom!) My total time invested in these six auctions including photographing the items was less than 30 minutes.

And, as I said, it’s not just formula coupons that are hot sellers. The following items are from an eBay completed items search for coupon that I performed today. I’m showing a sample, so these are by no means the only types out there.

Store/ Product

Type of Coupon

Selling Price

Victoria’s Secret

30% off total purchase

$195.00

Gymboree

$250 off $500 purchase

$125.00

Gymboree

20% off purchase

$10.00

NY and Co

$15 off $30 purchase

$4.25

Bed, Bath and Beyond

20% off purchase

$10.50

Home Depot

10 x 10% off purchase

$50.00

Home Depot

5 x 20% off purchase

$49.11

Ford

$750 off 2006 Ford vehicle

$50.00

Omni Hotel

50% off weekend stay

$46.00

Harrah’s Las Vegas

4 x $20 food voucher

$45.97

Marriott Hotel

Premium Pounds

$152.00

Sleep Comfort

15% off sleep number bed

$18.00

Seaworld

4 x 50% off admission

$50.22

Starbucks

25 free drinks

$67.26

Iams

$6 off dog treats

$3.00

Infusium (hair products)

Free product

$10.53

Gatorade

20 x $0.50 off product

$10.10

Swiffer

Free swiffer wet jet

$11.50

Bertolli

Free bottle Bertolli olive oil

$12.84

These are just a few examples of the tens of thousands of coupons that have sold on eBay in the last two weeks. Every one of these examples was a coupon the seller likely got for free in the mail, email or by signing up for a mailing list from the company.

Coupons are the easiest items to list. All you need to include is the store/product, expiration date, restrictions, and I like to put a picture of the coupon. You only need one picture, so if you are using eBay’s sell your item form or Turbo Lister, the picture is free. I like to add it into the gallery because most coupon sellers don’t bother. This means that my auction “pops” much more than others, and it’s cheaper than using bold.

As you can see from my results, it is better to list coupons as a set rather than individually. When you consider the listing and optional fees as well as the selling price, you can see that I made 74 cents on the dollar for my set of $18 worth of coupons. My $5 coupons sold for an average of $3.49 each, but after the fees that is actually only $2.75 profit, which is 55 cents on the dollar. My $7 check sold for 67 cents on the dollar.

However, if I list an individual coupon each day of the week, I have one visible low price auction “ending soon” at all times. That gets people clicking on my auctions (and hopefully clicking through to my other, more expensive, auctions). So, if you have lots of coupons available and a good number of other items listed, making a little lower profit on the coupons may be worth it in the long run.

In the Auctiva slideshow that displays at the bottom of each of my auctions, buyers can see all of my other items. Not only does that get me multiple bids on my coupons (the six auctions I listed had only three unique buyers), but it also gets them looking at other item types.

For example, the baby clothes categories are so full it is overwhelming for buyers to search through. If I have a good picture of baby clothing displaying in the Auctiva slide show in my formula coupon auction, a buyer with a baby in that size clothing will likely click through. The buyer may not have specifically been looking for baby clothes, but if it catches their eye they will likely take a look.

When I am selling clothing, I like to try to find a coupon for that store to include as an incentive. So if I’m selling a set of Carter’s baby dresses, I include a 20% off coupon for the Carter’s store. Or, if you have a website, you can include a coupon for a percentage off purchases at your website. This helps drive repeat traffic to your website where you don’t pay eBay fees. It also allows you to use the word “coupon” in your auction title which helps you access another niche other than your own.

Try it – Look through your Sunday paper coupons, and instead of throwing out the direct mail your mailbox is stuffed with, open it and see if there are any interesting coupons. Just because you have no use for it, doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t. You can also find some pretty good coupons online with a bit of searching.

eBay Regulations

eBay does have some rules about selling coupons. Here is the official eBay policy on coupon sales:

The following limits are placed on the sale of coupons on eBay:

  • Expired Coupons: The sale of recently expired coupons is not permitted on eBay, as such coupons serve no valid purpose and could be used in a fraudulent manner. Collectible coupons that clearly cannot be redeemed may be permitted.
  • Electronic "scanned" coupons: All coupons sold through eBay must be physically delivered to the buyer, and may not be delivered by electronic means for home printing. Further, to reduce the potential for coupon abuse, eBay asks that sellers refrain from placing clear, unaltered scans of coupons in their listings that could be copied, printed and redeemed in stores. The sale of scanned or photocopied coupons may violate federal copyright laws, and sellers of such unlawful items could face prosecution under federal law. eBay will not tolerate such transactions through its site.
  • Bulk coupon sales: Bulk coupon listings are defined as listings that contain more than 20 coupons for the same item, or more than 100 total coupons. If it is unclear how many coupons are offered, the listing will be considered in violation. Coupon inserts (packets of coupons typically found in newspapers) are limited to a maximum of 5 per listing, unless the seller indicates in the listing that the quantity of coupons for sale is under 100 total coupons.
  • Coupons for "free" products: Coupons for free products, with no purchase required, are limited to two per listing. Internet home printed coupons are also limited to 2 per listing.

 

Copyright 2006, Vision-One Press and Lissa McGrath. All rights reserved.






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