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 weselling-antiques-online-successfully1 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.

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