Buying and Selling Antiques| Antique Dealer with 25 years experience reveals insider secrets of buying and selling antiques and collectibles

Selling Antiques Online Successfully


 
 
 
 
 Selling antiques online successfully should be a part of every antique dealer’s business plan. You might say, “I don’t know anything about the internet.” It is not nearly as difficult as you might think. There were a few months where we personally sold more antiques online than we did in the store. And yes, there were other months where we didn’t sell much online. But today, especially in this economy (early 2011) we need every tool we can get to help make us successful. I am going to recommend some sites as well as giving several keys on how to sell antiques on line successfully.

When you think of selling antiques on line or selling anything online, most people first think of EBay. Although EBay is the largest of the internet auction sites, it is not my first choice. In fact I rarely use EBay any more. When EBay was new I sold a lot of antiques and collectibles, I sold a lot of things. This was about 1996 and my English antiques sold especially well. This was before eBay went international and my things were more unique.. Now EBay is used when I just want to get my money back on something and turn it. Personally, I buy more on EBay, especially the U.K. site, than I sell.

My favorite site for selling antiques online is Ruby Lane. This is not an auction site, but more like a giant internet antique mall. Antique dealers from all over the world sell antiques online on this site. There are others but this is my favorite and it is where we sell. I will tell you the reasons I chose Ruby Lane and why I strongly recommend it.

  • They charge no commissions
  • Easy to get started
  • Great customer service
  • Inexpensive to get started
  • Give great statistics which are very helpful
  • Good instructions

I like a site that charges no commissions, so if you sell a $1000 item or a $10 item, the listing and maintenance fees are the same. The fees are simple to understand. There is a monthly advertising fee for all dealers which is $20 a month. Then it costs $0.30 to list an item, although they do have several free listing days each year. It also costs the same $0.30 per item for each month you keep that item on your site. In simple terms it costs $50 for 100 items. That s $20 for advertising and $30 for maintaining (or listing) 100 items (100 X $0.30). After you reach 150 items, the maintenance fee goes down to $0.20 for items 151-1000.

 

You need to submit 10 items to be reviewed to make sure you understand how to list your items correctly. Here are the things to make your items perform better. First and foremost, take good clear pictures. You know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” make sure you have a picture of every side, just like you would examine an item in person. Be sure to show markings and faults. Next give complete and accurate descriptions of every item. Some dealers make the item “come alive” with their descriptions, others just state the facts. I have seen both work. I would say the more expensive the item, the more elaborate the description needs to be. In the relax section, there is a Top 50 which shows the Top 50 dealers according to traffic in each category. Look at several of the top sites and you will see why they are at the top. But we all have to start somewhere, so don’t get discouraged by their items. Some have full time people doing their listings because they earn enough to afford them.

Be sure to have a way to remind yourself to remove an item whether it is sold online or somewhere else, especially those sold offline. If you get over 100 items and have these for sell in your booth or store, it is hard to remember to take them off your site when they are sold. It is embarrassing when someone wants to buy something off your site and it is already sold.

They give you statistics on everything you can imagine. The most helpful are how many visitors look at each item every day. This helps you to know what people are trying to find. Remember we want to sell people what they want, not what we want to sell them. So if you have an item that has been listed 100 days and no one is looking for it, it is either priced too high or there is just not much interest. If some flow blue plates are getting many lookers, you should probably list more flow blue plates. Another interesting statistic is where the visitors live. That is why selling antiques online is so essential. People from all over the world can now see your items, rather than just the visitors to your store. And the more people that view your items, the better the chance to sell that item.

This wasn’t meant to be a commercial for Ruby Lane. If you decide to try Ruby Lane, I have one request. Please list my shop nick name, “londonmarket” as the Ruby Lane shop that referred you. Most of the information applies to any online antiques site. Most people want to know “What should I sell online?” My answer my surprise you. Anything you sell in antiques can be sold online. On Ruby Lane we sold three antique Victorian leather sofas and two large antique writing desks. There are many delivery options available to handle large items. And many times the money the buyer saves in sales tax will cover most of the shipping costs. So don’t limit yourself to trying to sell only small items. You usually will need to list a good many items before you start seeing sales. The more items you have on the site, the better chance you have for success.

Again, I think every antique dealer needs to have an online presence. More and more people are using the internet to do their shopping. You need to get your share of this source. Selling antiques online is just another source to help make you a successful antique dealer. If you want to sell antiques online and have your own internet site, I will cover that in the next report, Selling Antiques On Your Own Website.

21 Responses to “Selling Antiques Online Successfully”

  1. Vikki says:

    Hello –

    Thanks so much for your website. I looked at the Ruby Lane site and didn’t see much for sale as far as glassware. I have lots of cut glass. Is that something that even sells anymore?

    I’m not an antiques dealer. My 83-year-old mother was a collector for many years. Was supposed to open a shop, never did. She’s in a nursing home now, and I need to sell several hundred pieces of glassware, porceline, silver, etc. I know very little about antiques myself. I wouldn’t know how to compose a description for the pieces that I have. Would they still sell if I photographed them correctly, showing the stamped information, etc.?

    Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • Chuck says:

      Glaassware still sells, but not like it once did. It is important to give accurate desciptions, including the pattern when possible. Becuase there is so much online, many people that collect certain things only look for specifics. For example in pottery, if they only collect Roseville, they don’t want to see all of the other pottery like Weller, Van briggle, etc. Some even only look for the one pattern of Roseville. I know that makes it difficult for someone that has to sell a lot of things they don’t know about. So just taking good pictures, while important will not get results like good descriptions. That might be why you didn’t see much glassware on Ruby Lane, you might not have looked under the right names. I am definitley not much help on glassware, one area I never carried much inventory, especially in Dallas. Although a friend had some and sold a few pieces, but ti was to a dealer who had to buy for resell, rather than a collector.
      With silver prices being high, if it is sterling and not silverplate (although some early silverplate patternse sell very weel), it is much easier to sell and at the makers are usually listed, but again knowing the pattern name helps.
      It is difficult to guide you without know more specifics. But it seems like you will probably need a professional to help. Do you live in a larger city or small town?
      A lot of glassware is worth very little, but on the other hand, some is worth a lot. Same for the other things you have. But it needs to be identified for you to know what you have. It helps if you know someone you can trust, but since you are commenting here, you probably don’t. Let me know where you are and maybe I can give further guidance. I know people from all over the country.

      I wish you the best of look and look forward to hearing from you.

    • Vikki says:

      Chuck –

      I’m embarrassed to tell you I haven’t looked at this website for two years! I left that message for you back in April of 2012 and read your reply just NOW! I lost my job around that time, so I forgot all about the antiques, as I was concentrating on finding a new job (I did). Anyway, the response to your question is I live in a small city in the Southeast. The people here have absolutely no appreciation for the kind of items I have. I am, however, within reasonable driving distance of Charleston, SC Charlotte, NC and Savannah, GA. I did take a trip to Savannah earlier this year and spoke to a couple of dealers there. One gentlemen told me that there’s no longer a market for the type of items I have because the generation of people who appreciated them are now passing away. Do you agree? Also, are there books I can purchase that would have photographs and descriptions of the items I have? Do I have to somehow register as a dealer in order to sell on Ruby Lane? Thanks for your help!

      Best Regards,
      Vikki

      • Chuck says:

        Vikki, I think I sent you an email. If not here is my response. Yes, you have to sign up and there is a monthly fee to sell on Ruby Lane or others similar sites. Things are definitely more popular in different parts of the country. And what sold 10 years ago may not be selling now. Coming from Dallas to northern AL> I know the markets are entirely different. I’m sorry I don’t remember what types of things you had.

  2. Marjolaine says:

    We have just moved in Plano, Texas from Ohio and we are downsizing. We have French/European antiques that we bought while living in France. I would like to sell them online but I’m very concerned about how to ship them and the cost of shipping (most are bigger pieces.) What is the best way to do so?

    I’m also considering finding a dealer around here to whom I may be able to sell our antiques but fear we may loose a lot on them.

    Any inputs on your part would be most appreciated.

  3. Tim says:

    I noticed your last reply was in 2012. Do you still reply to people that needs your help? Thanks for your response.

  4. Ted says:

    Please tell me what you believe to be the best way to ship antique furniture within the U.S.. I know some people use ground service and others even Greyhound, but I have read negative reviews of Greyhound service with much loss and poor customer service. I have had shops in various areas, but the recent location isn’t doing too well. I know the economy has much to do with that. I am thinking of just selling online for awhile and see how that does. I appreciate all that’s on your site. Thank you.

    • Chuck says:

      It depends a lot on where you live. I have used Greyhound, moving companies, and my favorite was Craters and Freighters. But they are not everywhere. I have also used some specialty people who travel around the country picking up and delivering antiques. Just Google “shipping antiques” or other similar phrases and get several options.

      Good luck and forgive the slow response. I missed your comment somehow.

  5. Matt says:

    Hello… Thank you for posting such great info! I found a great passion for buying antique smalls at estate sales and auctions and once I no longer had room in my home, I realized I couldn’t stop buying great items at very low prices. Long story short, I found myself selling antique items on ebay. Today I wake up to find ebay has suspended my account for an issue years ago. After reading all the info about ebay’s unjust suspension rules… I find I’m not alone. As an Amature seller, do you recommend RubyLane? Is it still a good site to sell antiques online? I have a room full of items I bought with the intent to sell, and now I’m at a loss!

    Lastly…. I HATE ebay!

    • Chuck says:

      Sorry for your experience with eBay. Everyone seems to have their favorite place to sell online. The online sites are very competitive and it takes a lot of work to be successful. I would suggest that you check out Ruby Lane and compare the type of things you are selling and how they might do there.

      I think eBay is a better place to buy collectibles than to sell them. However there are many things that sell well there. It takes some time on Ruby Lane or similar sites to get enough items on there to be successful. The important thing is to learn the market and see what is selling. See what the things you are wanting to sell are selling for on Ruby Lane or if they are selling at all. You might also check some of the other online sites. Just Google “antique sales online” and you will see the big ones which include Tias and GoAntiques, two of the other large sites.

      I wish you the best.
      Charles

  6. Yudhi says:

    I am digging your site right now. I found Ruby Lane the other day, but a bit hesitate of using it as we are just starting this online, kind of “trying the water” at the moment. Turns out, I was wrong. I see a potential of success from reading this article.

    Definitely gonna try Ruby soon, and surely add you as the refer, as a thank you for showing the way.

    Regards,
    Yudhie

  7. Jo' says:

    Hello, am from East Africa (Tanzania) and was thinking about establishing an online store for selling antiques designed by local craftsmen, where should i start with? am totally new in such thing, that includes auctioning and all sort of things concerned.

  8. Ricky says:

    Dear’s,
    I have a 100 years old Lamp.I want to sell it.But i don’t know how and where can i sell it or how can i advertize it.i am confused about the actual price of this antique lamp. plz help.

    Thanks
    Chayan

  9. Tracy White says:

    I have a painting of mother Theresa that was made in Italy on a piece of wood. It looks every vintage.
    Also I have 2 anitque candle stick salt and pepper shakers gold and iridescent made by holley Ross Alanna le.
    Can you please tell me their value?

  10. Hi I want to sell 3antique wood stand I’d u interested in buying let me know thanks

  11. bhargavi says:

    Hi i have a ANCIENT PALM SCRIPT,This a 2000 years old ancient Palm Script, no can t get easily, its a so precious one this is about prediction of the future life, used my many fa-miler kings in their dharbas,& they believed & works in their life history, this Script belongs to our very great grand fathers priest they get from Siddha Muni (Holy Man) who all great devotee of Lord Shiva, & also it includes with ancient coins also.

  12. Ali says:

    Am booking for a reputable auction dealer to buy my assets which are historical and rare valuable items such as 14 dear gold coins 30 and 40 grams 40 coins.
    And poetry items,silver zinc etc . Can anyone advise me where to sell my hard earning assets . My location is middle East Iran. Please do not hesitate to contact me for further inquiries you may want. Remarks: my assets belongs to 1500 years a go . My email is : alibonyadialibonyadi@gmail.com

  13. I want to know if you know a wholesale source To The Trade to buy French interiors? I have searched and searched and cannot find anything except the Ebay, Etsy, Ruby Lane, etc. Where do decorators go? I cannot find anything. I have my resale certification. Thank you, Barbara

    • Chuck says:

      Most have local sources where they live or go to the big trade shows that are held a few times a year. There are 4 or 5 of the big trade shows in major markets like Dallas, Atlanta, New York, etc.

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