Looking for a fun and easy way to make some extra money? You could try sourcing for new or secondhand products online and then selling them for a profit. Administrative manager Florence*, 35, says that she’ll “buy anything that catches my eye, that I think people want to own”.

Florence says that it’s most important to “do research on a product first”. Before buying or putting up something for sale, you always should trawl through forums and websites to suss out “its retail value, what people are willing to pay for it, how in-demand it is”.

Be smart online shopper with these tips shared by
Singapore Polytechic lecturer Mark Johnson. Image: Corbis

She adds that buyers against getting “too anxious to buy or sell anything”; wait for the right opportunity if you want the best deals.

Mark Johnson, an online consumer/retail expert from Singapore Polytechnic, gives some tips on what to look out for, and how to know if you’ve scored a good deal on these websites.

  1. Buy vouchers direct from the companies, rather than third-party sites. You are likely to get a better deal by avoiding such additional costs from third-party services.
  2. Stay away from sites that sell fake designer products. To avoid being conned into buying imitation goods, check details like the price, the materials, and the place of manufacture/origin.
  3. Use your credit card when buying online, as you can still do reversals if anything goes wrong. You should only do bank transfers when you’re very sure of the seller’s reputation.
  4. Stick to less bulky items to cut down on shipping costs, if you’re selling to an international market, through, for example, Ebay.
  5. Use Vpost’s concierge service: for a small cost, Vpost receives products on your behalf at a US address and then sends them to you. Sign up for a Vpost account at www.vpost.com.sg.

Mark suggests the following websites to meet your different online shopping and selling needs:

  • Asiarooms.com (www.asiarooms.com): it offers good deals on hotel rooms, especially Thai boutique hotels, as prices are very competitive.
  • Blogshops are great if you want to buy and sell locally for everything from apparel and beauty products to baby items.
  • Online forums: look to these websites to sell as they tend to cater to specific interests and products. For example, visit a photography or electronics forum to sell a camera.
  • Ebay.com or Ebay.com.sg: for both buying and selling products online. Ebay is a trusted site and is well set up for sellers and buyers. If you’re selling for the first time, it’s easy to create an account and start right away.

*Name has been changed.

Mark Johnson is a lecturer at Singapore Polytechnic Business School. Before Mark started teaching at Singapore Polytechnic, he was formerly the Merchandise Manager for Office Depot and the General Manager for Gateway Computer Computer.

This article was originally published in SimplyHer May 2011.