Selling Diabetic Test Strips on eBay & Other Sites
By: Skip McGrath
Before we get started, there are three things you need to know about the Diabetic Test Strip Market:
If you scan this article, it may seem really complicated and difficult -but it's not. I suggest you just read the entire article first, before deciding if this is something you would like to try.
Diabetic Test strips test for Glucose levels in the blood. Diabetics must test their blood several times a day (as often as 3 to 6 X a day) with glucose Test Strips. But glucose test strips are very expensive, often costing up to $100 per box at retail! The diabetic test strip market on eBay helps diabetics save between 25% to 50% on their strips. There are millions of diabetics who can only afford them this way.
Before we get into the details, lets take a look at some completed auctions for this product.
As you can see, Test Strips sell very well (over 15,000 completed sales in the past 30 days). Sales average between $30 and $60, with some brands of strips reaching $100.
So where do these sellers get their strips?
This is a very interesting market: Thousands of diabetics, people with short-term diabetes, and women with gestastational diabetes (diabetes associated with pregnancy), are often sent strips through the mail by their pharmacies.
Once they no longer need them, the strips usually keep coming for months. (I once bought 400 test strips from a woman who continued to receive them for 11 months after she delivered her baby).
Another source is from spouses of older diabetics who have passed away. Here again, it is not unusual for mail-order pharmacies to keep sending the strips for up to a year.
These people have no use for the strips, but they know they are valuable and rarely throw them away. So, the simple answer to where do you get strips, is to advertise.
Advertise in Craigslist, local online free classified ad sites, your local newspaper and the throwaway papers like the Little Nickel and Pennysaver.
Your ad should read something like this:
Cash paid for unopened non-expired boxes of Diabetic Test Strips. Call John at 777-888-9999
You will start getting calls from people. If they ask why you want them, just tell them: "You are getting them into the hands of people who need them." That is a true statement -details below.
People also Google terms such as sell my test strips. So dozens of websites have sprung up to service these people. That is something you may eventually invest in, but I would wait on that until you get some experience.
eBay sellers typically pay about $10 to $12 dollars for each 100 strips ($4 to $6 for a box of 50), and sell them for as much as $40 to $90.
Don't worry if you don't get any calls at first. Just keep advertising.
For some reason, ads like this don't work until people see them 2 or 3 times. So, just keep advertising and believe me, you will get calls.
On Craigslist, old ads fall to the bottom of search somewhat quickly. So kill your ad after one week and upload a new one to replace it.
This is one of those products that eBay requires a UPC number on when you create your listing. That is not a problem because the number is usually right on the box.
A lot of eBay sellers just put a minimal description in their listing with little, or no, information, but the more successful sellers treat test strips like any other product where a good description always improves their sales.
If you buy boxes with an imprint that says "Not for retail sale," you can still sell those, but they go for very little money, so you should pay almost nothing for them. You don't see these very often, but there is nothing wrong with them.
They are usually marked this way because they were an inner pack of a larger set sold at a discount. For example, a company may sell a case of ten 50-count boxes at a discount. When they do this, they sometimes mark the inner 50-count boxes as Not for retail sale. If you are selling a full case of these then that is a different matter. You can pay more and sell for more. Just make sure all of the packs in the case have good expiration dates.
A Few Important Rules
1. Only buy unopened boxes of strips to sell on eBay. If you do buy an opened box, you can only sell those on Craigslist. Opened boxes sell for much less, so you should pay much less.
2. Do not buy the Johnson & Johnson brand, as they will file an intellectual property complaint if you sell them on eBay or Amazon. If you get stuck with any of these, try dumping them on Craigslist at a low price so they sell quickly.
3. The OneTouch Ultra Brand seems to bring the highest prices.
4. Always use an actual photo of the box you are selling in your listing (not a generic or manufacturer's photo).
5. If the box has a prescription, or a Medicare label on it, use a label peeler with lighter fluid or Goo Gone to remove the label before photographing the box. When you buy boxes, let the sellers know you will do this. A seller may tear or damage the box if they do this themselves, without the right equipment. Sellers are usually worried about having their name on a label. Here is what I tell people I buy strips from:
We will remove prescription or Medicare labels in a way that does not damage the boxes. We promise to destroy the label to protect your privacy.
You may use a magic marker to cross out identifying information if you'd like, but please do not remove the label yourself because any damage caused to the box could disqualify your purchase.
6. Make sure the expiration date has not passed, or would not pass, before the strips are used. If a diabetic uses 3 strips a day, then a box of 100 strips would need to have at least 35 days left before expiration, in order for you to sell them. There are many products on the market with phony expiration dates designed to get you to buy more products. Diabetic Glucose test strips are not one of them. They really do expire when they say they do.
7. Always put the expiration date in the listing. This will increase your sales over others who don't. It also prevents emails from buyers asking what the expiration date is. (Remember - NEVER buy or sell expired strips - you could literally kill someone.)
8. Offer free shipping. Diabetic test strips are small and lightweight, so the shipping cost is very low and the profit margin is enough to do that. Since most other sellers are doing this, you should too or you will lose sales.
9. Do not buy or sell the meters. And only sell lancets as a free bonus with a set of strips and if you get them for almost nothing, as there isn't any money in them.
10. Offer a 30-day, no-questions asked, money back guarantee. Don't worry, you will rarely get a return, but having this policy will really increase your sales.
11. Offer a no-questions-asked, free return and refund policy to improve your conversion rate and final values. You will get the occasional return, but you will sell far more at higher prices to make up for that. Returns on test strips are quite rare and offering a free return and refund policy will dramatically increase your sales.
Before you start Selling read eBay's policy on medical devices. eBay's policy covers prescription drugs and medical devices that require a prescription such as Sleep Apnea machines. Currently there is nothing in there that would negatively affect test strips.
Be sure to store your strips cool dry environment until they sell. If they are subjected to heat swings, it can affect the results of the tests.
One consideration is transportation. When you first start out, you will need a car, or access to bus or subway transportation. Once you get going you can do everything by telephone and mail.
If you are just too shy to visit people in person, hire someone part time. Train them and give them a checklist to use when they buy strips. There is no cold calling involved because everything is done by appointment.
It really is that simple. We often use this method with our new coaching students to help them generate cash flow while they are learning and building their eventual business.
The success rate is over 90%, and a few of our students have earned as much as $2,500 a month doing it very part time.
One fellow I know is so successful at this he employs part-time people who answer the phone for him. They answer questions and do the buying. He advertises all over the US, and even pays the postage for people to send him the strips. The last time I spoke with him, he was clearing over $2,200 a week after expenses and fees. In addition to eBay, he has two websites -one for buying strips and one for selling.
About the only time this is difficult is if you live in a very rural area, far from a medium size city as it can be very hard to find the strips to sell. But if you are willing to drive, you can even find test strips in these areas too.
© 1999- Harry McGrath, Inc., DBA Skip McGrath, Auction Seller's Resource and Vision-One Marketing. All Rights Reserved.
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