So you want to sell cloth diapers on Facebook?
I have to admit that before becoming a member of some of the many Facebook groups where Mamas sell, trade and buy cloth diapers, I never could have imagined that there was such an active community of cloth-loving Mamas sending fluff back and forth (and sometimes back again) across the country. Sure, I figured that families might sell their unwanted or unneeded cloth diapers locally on Kijiji or Craiglist, but never in my wildest dreams had I considered this would be done by snail mail.
I spent a lot of time lurking on the Facebook cloth diaper groups, reading posts, deciphering abbreviations, and wondering exactly how all these Mom-to-Mom fluff sales were going down. Now that I know all the ins and outs of selling, trading and buying, I am here to share my wisdom with you so you can get started right away! You might also find my post on Seller Cloth Diaper B/S/T Netiquette.
Today we’ll get started with how to sell your fluff on your favourite Facebook group.
You will need…
- A PayPal account;
- A camera;
- A kitchen scale;
- Ziploc bags and/or a vacuum sealer and sealer bags;
- Manila envelopes, the best size is 10″ x 13″;
- Stamps: Postage prices have increased as of March 31, 2014. Personally, I like to buy my stamps at discountpostage.ca to save some money… but if you’re not selling large volumes, it’s probably not worth it.
1) Get a PayPal account:
For safe, smooth transactions, a PayPal account is absolutely de rigueur. PayPal accounts are free, and not particularly tricky to set up.
Here are step-by-step instructions for setting up a PayPal account. You will only need a Personal Account, and I definitely recommend “verifying” your account by linking your bank account: this will also allow you to withdraw money from your PayPal account once you’ve made some sales! Just have a cheque handy, as you will need those numbers at the bottom of your cheque in order to link your bank account.
You may have already noticed, while lurking in the forums, that cloth diaper sellers speak a completely different language. When it comes to describing the condition of your diapers, you can use the common abbreviations, but I personally recommend giving a thorough description of your diapers in addition to the abbreviated condition you assign.
NWT ~ new with tags
NWOT ~ new without tags
LN ~ like new
EUC ~ excellent used condition
VGUC ~ very good used condition
GUC ~ good used condition
Play Condition ~ here’s a term that really means different things to different Mamas. To me, a play condition diaper is like a shirt you wear for painting or for working in the yard. I don’t put my cherished TotsBots on Wolf Cub when he’s crawling around the farm: I put him in a diaper he can get dirty in…. Which makes me sound crazy, since a diaper is made for dirtying… But you cloth diaper Mamas know what I mean!
This chart is often referred to on forums for assessing diaper conditions, but I recommend providing the following information:
- Age of the diaper;
- Frequency of use (for example: in a large rotation, meaning it wasn’t worn and washed as frequently; only OTB (on the butt) a couple of times; heavily used, etc.);
- Reason for selling: Be honest! Can’t get a good fit? Hate snaps? Looking for boy prints instead or switching to fitteds? Another Mama is probably ISO (in search of) this diaper that’s not working for you. If you’re selling because they leak or smell, have holes, relaxing elastics or any other issues, you must say this upfront. It doesn’t mean they won’t sell, but your prices should reflect this. Some buyers are looking to spend less money for “fixer uppers”;
- Physical condition: Look over each diaper carefully and note stains, snags on the PUL, pilling, elastics, velcro, etc. Mamas who know a certain brand very well may ask for very specific info, such as elastic length, so they can tell if the elastics are starting to loosen.
- Wash routine: Buyers like to know how you cared for your diapers;
- Where you are located, in case there’s someone local to you who is interested.
3) Figure out how you will ship to the buyer and how much it will cost:
Most Mamas post their prices as “PPD,” meaning “postage paid domestic.” In other words, the price they are asking includes shipping to the buyer. This is particularly the case for diapers that you plan to mail lettermail because lettermail costs the same no matter what the destination across Canada. The cost of shipping parcel post or expedited will vary depending on the destination.
Being able to ship an individual diaper as lettermail will mean the difference between making some money on your sale and making none. If a diaper can’t be shipped for a couple dollars lettermail then you are looking at at least $10 to ship it as a parcel. The majority of diapers are shipped as lettermail, which means no tracking number and no insurance: as a seller, you should always confirm with your buyer that they know you will be shipping lettermail. It is rare for diapers to simply never make it to their destination, but not uncommon for mail to be delayed or to be returned to sender for whatever reason. The only way to avoid this is to always ship as a tracked package, which means you will only ever make a couple of dollars per sale, or that you can only sell multiple diapers together, which will make the cost of shipping worthwhile for the buyer. Of the hundreds and hundreds of diapers I’ve sent lettermail, only one never made it, and it was to the States. (I only send as a packet now when sending to the US.) I’ve had one diaper returned for being overdimensioned, but I just re-vacuum-sealed it and sent it again without adding postage.
The diaper in its envelope can be no more than 2 cm thick to fit as oversized lettermail. At the post office, they will see if it fits through the lettermail template. For a diaper to ship lettermail, it needs to be very, very flattened. The hands down most effective way to do this is using a vacuum sealer. The less-reliable, but still frequently used, method is with a Ziploc bag.
Many Mamas will lay a diaper in a Ziploc bag and suck or squish the air out to flatten it as much as possible. You can do this by leaving a tiny crack open at the top of the bag and using a straw to suck out the air, or by tightly rolling the bag and diaper, squishing out the air before sealing it. Then put the diaper in an envelope and use some packing tape to reinforce the edges. Poking tiny holes in the envelope will also help squish additional air out of the envelope. If you purchase stamps and have a scale, don’t bother going to the post office. Most Mamas find that the post office will try to charge for a parcel when an envelope can fit lettermail. “Fitting” lettermail means that the envelope fits through this 2 cm slot:
From all the discussions I’ve followed on Facebook groups, whether it “fits” or not depends on the postie serving you. I personally weigh my own envelopes, put on the appropriate postage and drop in the mailbox. The maximum dimensions for the envelope are 10.9 ” x 14.9 ” x .8 “. (Updated as of March 31, 2014)
< 100 g = $1.80
100 g – 200 g = $2.95
200 g – 300 g = $4,10
300 g – 400 g = $4.70
For diapers that you plan on mailing as parcels, you will most likely want to post your asking price “plus exact shipping.” If you post a PPD price for an item or items shipping parcel, you may end up covering more of the shipping price than you anticipated, depending on where the buyer lives and where you live.
Most buyers will want you to quote them exact shipping. You can do this by getting their postal code and entering the package dimensions into the Canada Post Rate Calculator. Then there will be no surprises when you arrive at the post office!
You can also use PayPal to print shipping labels at a slightly discounted rate. This is how I ship all of my parcels. If you have the buyer’s exact address, you can enter all the info on the “Ship Now” page to find out how much PayPal will charge (select Expedited Parcel for the best rate). Just don’t complete the shipping transaction or you’ll be charged!
Once the buyer has completed payment, you’ll be able to go through PayPal to create a shipping label, provided you have a printer. You can also use PayPal shipping even if the buyer did not pay via PayPal.
4) Figure out a fair price to ask:
This can be tricky. You are free to ask whatever price you want, and many groups have a policy banning any kind of negative comments over pricing. If your price is too high, your diaper may simply not sell. You are free to lower your price, in this case. Price depends on the brand, the print, the availability and of course the condition of the diaper. You can get a sense of what diapers are selling for by spending a bit of time in the Facebook groups. The best approach is to consider how much the diaper is worth new and how used it is. If you bought a diaper, tried it once, and found it didn’t fit, you can probably ask very close to the full retail price, but you would normally make sure it’s not more than the price new once you’ve included shipping. (Most don’t want to buy a used diaper for more than they would pay in store for a new one.) Certain diapers that are no longer available in store will have a higher price tag: AppleCheeks in discontinued colours are notorious for fetching absurd prices. Other brands, like TotsBots and BumGenius, have discontinued a style that is coveted by Mamas: TotsBots bamboo inner and the old style (fully lined inner) BumGenius Elementals are two examples that may sell for $20-$25 PPD in good to excellent condition. If you really need guidance on pricing, send me a message and I’ll try to help you out.
5) Post your diapers for sale:
Try to take detailed and clear pictures of your diapers. It helps to have excellent lighting! If there are any issues, take close ups. Most swap & shop groups have rules for posting for sale: some have specific albums where you should upload your pictures, others have specific info and types of photos that are required. Check this before hand to ensure your posts aren’t removed by admin. It helps to post a description of the diaper in both the photo description and the first comment box.
Mamas interested in your diapers will normally post a comment and/or send you a private message. Sometimes these messages will go to your “others” folder, which isn’t usually visible on mobile platforms.
6) Complete your sale:
You have the right to sell to whomever you choose, but there is some etiquette that is appreciated on most forums, both for buyers and sellers. It is appropriate to go in order of comments and then to work out details via private message. If you prefer to sell your diapers in a lot, you can give preference to a Mama who wants the whole set, and you should indicate this in your description. If you don’t find a buyer for the set, you may decide to “split,” and sell individually.
If you try to respond to a potential buyer in the comments below your photo, make sure to tag them so that Facebook notifies her or your response. Try to private message each other as soon as possible. When a buyer wants to make the purchase, make sure any terms are clear and also make sure she’s aware of any issues with the diaper, if applicable. That way, if the diaper arrives and the Mama has a problem with a stain which you disclosed during your private messaging, you have something to back you up in case of a dispute.
You can either give your email address associated with PayPal to the buyer, who will then go into her account to send you money, or you can send the buyer a money request, using her email address. In my opinion, you should assume the fees of receiving the money through PayPal. The only way to not be charged fees is for the money to be “gifted” to you. This means that the buyer selects the “send money to family or friends” option, and it means the buyer has no protection if you decide to just keep the money and run to the Mexican border with your stash and your cash. Some Mamas who have carried out multiple transactions with each other may do “gift” transactions, but for a first-time transaction, a “goods and services” transaction is the norm. To find out how much your fees will be, you can use this online calculator.
Some buyers may want to pay using EMT (electronic money transfer). This also offers them no protection. Essentially, you will receive an email with links to follow in order to deposit their payment directly into your bank account. This involves no fees on your end, and, like a gift transaction, no recourse for the buyer should you just not hold up your end of the bargain.
It is good manners on the part of the buyer to pay quickly, and it is appropriate for you to request immediate payment. I have had many transactions I assumed to be “completed” only to then have the Mama change her mind two days later and thus not pay. Obviously, don’t mail anything until you receive payment, and don’t consider anything offically “sold” until that payment has been sent. It’s up to you how long you will wait to be paid. Some Mamas may want you to hold until payday, others just need time to put their baby to sleep before paying. I think 24 hours is plenty of time for the buyer to send payment, considering we’re all busy and factoring in time zones too. If you haven’t received payment within a reasonable amount of time, politely message the Mama- she may have just forgotten! Worst case, you may be selling to the next person “in line” in the comments of your photo, or adding a “still available” comment to find a new buyer.
Note that PayPal payment by e-cheque is a bit tricky. A buyer may pay by e-cheque when they have a bank account, but not a credit card, associated with their account. Usually, the credit card serves as a “back up” if ever the user’s bank account doesn’t have the funds to cover a transfer. An e-cheque, like a real cheque, needs time to clear. In the meantime, the buyer could cancel their e-cheque after you’ve sent the diaper. When someone pays with an e-cheque, PayPal will warn you not to mail the item until the e-cheque clears, and you will receive an email when it does. I advise you to wait for that confirmation email.
7) Mail your diapers:
The steps for getting a diaper to ship lettermail are listed in step 3. It’s up to you whether you just affix the stamps and pop in the box or if you want to go to the post office. You should mail in a timely fashion! I personally mail out the same or next day, and let my buyer know if ever there is a delay. It’s nice to send a quick private message to your buyer once you’ve sent the fluff flying.
8) Get your cash:
So how do you literally turn your stash into cash? Well, you need to get the money in your PayPal account into your bank account, and you know the drill from there! To withdraw from PayPal to your bank account is free if you are transferring $150 or more. Below that, PayPal charges a small fee. The minimum withdrawal amount is $15. Alterntively, you can use your PayPal balance to pay for fluff from other Mamas or other purchases from many online retailers.
9) Settle a dispute
Hopefully all of your transactions go smoothly and your buyer loves her new-to-me diapers. If this is not the case, polite and respectful communication is the key! Buyers can go through PayPal’s dispute resolution process, which I have never needed to do. Buyers can absolutely try to scam sellers by inventing defects or claiming to have never received their diaper. This has never happened to me. The best way to protect yourself would be to conduct all transactions using PayPal and to make sure you have a record of your communication with the buyer (a screen capture of comments back and forth on the Facebook group, or simply your private messages).
It’s possible that you missed a defect in the diaper, too. I once sent the wrong diaper to a Mama by mistake: I had two of the same print, and accidentally sent her the one that had stains. I was so embarassed I refunded her the full price, but she would’ve accepted a partial refund. There is a Facebook group for Canadian buyers and sellers where you may find some support if a transaction goes sour.
My best advice is to play nice! Mamas don’t need drama: try to come to a solution that satisfies both parties, and also, take a step back and look at the big picture. Is it a matter of just a few dollars? Don’t sweat the small fluff! If you have a serious problem with a buyer, contact the group admins and leave feedback about her in the Facebook feedback group.
Gotta pay the bills...