Mercari Review: The Pros and Cons I’ve Found After $19,000 in Sales
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Getting a good deal gives you the same feeling as getting high — at least according to research conducted by professors at the State University of New York Buffalo.
My anecdotal shopper opinion confirms it’s true. Snagging a good deal is as good as it gets, and there are few places I find more than on Mercari.
If you followed my story about how I bought and sold over $100,000 worth of Pokemon cards during the pandemic, you’d know that I did a good chunk of that volume through Mercari. Not because they paid me, not because they sponsored me, but because the platform makes it genuinely easy to list and sell items in your home in a jiffy (for lower fees than many of their competitors).
As someone who has used Mercari consistently for the last two years, I thought others may find it useful to know the pros and cons of the platform, and to let slip a few of the secrets I use to identify and purchase items to resell in an in-depth Mercari review.
What Is Mercari?
Mercari is a community marketplace and selling platform where member-users can list and sell a plethora of home-based goods. Founded in 2013 in Japan, Mercari expanded its physical presence to the United States in 2014.
Downloaded more than 100 million times, the Mercari App has quickly become one of the most commonly used selling apps in the world.
Over $100,000,000 in transactions take place on the platform each month.
Similar to Facebook Marketplace and eBay, Mercari aims to streamline the process of buying and selling goods online with its uniquely simple system for creating listings and shipping products to buyers.
Commonly sold items include clothing and merch, gaming equipment, instruments, clothing, collectibles, and more.
Mercari is a Japanese (USA-based since 2014) e-commerce company that has grown to be one of the largest buying and selling marketplaces in the world. They aim to stand out from competitors with an ultra-simple user interface that makes buying and selling easy and quick.Show Hide more
- Legitimate and safe to use.
- Buyer and seller protection.
- Low selling fees.
- Quick and easy to use.
- Local pick-up and shipping options.
- Automated systems helpful (when working correctly).
- Responsive and helpful customer service.
- Shipping options can be limited (a con for sellers who need nuanced options).
- The app can be glitchy at times.
- Can be difficult to navigate the app/website to report problems.
- Automated systems can occasionally fail.
- Not meant for high volume sellers.
Is Mercari Legitimate?
Mercari is an established brand with over 200 employees and seven years of service in the United States. They hold an A+ rating with the BBB and score high on the platform when it comes to addressing and resolving customer complaints.
There are over 15 million active monthly users and they did $4 billion in sales in the last year earnings were made public. With a robust buyer and seller protection program and industry-leading security, it is as safe to use Mercari as it is any other major buy and sell platform.
Getting Started (How Mercari Works)
While you can access Mercari via your desktop browser, it is designed for and most commonly accessed by downloading the Mercari app on your Andriod or iOS-based smartphone or similar device.
Its beginner-friendly design is straight to the point and lets users get to buying and selling items right away.
How to buy items on Mercari
My favorite part about Mercari is how simple it is to use the platform. Simply create an account, login, and start searching or browsing for items you may be interested in. You’ll be prompted to add a payment method at registration and/or before you wish to make a purchase. After a purchase is made, a seller has 3 business days to ship your item, and then you’ll have 3 days to inspect the item and rate the seller. If the item checks out, give the seller an appropriate review. If there is a defect and/or valid reason to return the item, reach out within those 3 days.
This is critically important. Mercari will automatically complete a transaction 72 hours after an item is shown as delivered.
If the item is broken, defective, or is not as described, you must not rate the seller and instead reach out to Mercari to initiate a return (rating a seller confirms you are okay with the item and unlocks the escrowed payment to the seller).
Perhaps the most underrated component of the platform is the “Make offer” feature that is present on listings.
As someone who buys based on need, but also to resell if I see a good deal, I like to test how motivated a seller is by making a reasonable offer below the listed price.
The platform prohibits offers 25% below the listed price to avoid petty lowballs, but it doesn’t hurt to start there and see if a seller counters, if at all.
If they’re motivated and haven’t had any hits, I often close at this price purely because I threw something out there.
Tips for Buying on Mercari
Like I said before, few platforms beat Mercari when it comes to snagging good deals, and a large part of it has to do with their algorithm and the way they allow sellers to promote items.
- If you’re a flipper or reseller, allow “Price Drop” notifications. I strategically “Like” a numer of items I am interested in, especially if the price drops below a certain point. Where Mercari allows sellers to automatically price drop items by 5% each day until it sells, I get notifications when items I am watching keep dropping. If it falls below a certain pre-determined threshold, I’ll snag it.
- Read listings closely and look at pictures carefully. If a seller deceitfully tries to hide something, you’re protected by Mercari’s generous buyer protections, but if you misunderstand and/or don’t look closely enough at an item, your return may not be approved. Do your due diligence.
- Be active. Listings are sorted algorithmically, but a large part of that algorithm is undoubtedly chronological freshness (hence why they allow sellers 10 boosted items every 24 hours). If you’re looking to snag good deals, you’ll best find them under the “Newest” filter in the top right portion of the app.
- Save searches. As a reseller, I like to set up “Saved Searches” for items that I may be interested in; I’ll get a notification when something matches my predetermined criteria and I can decide quickly whether or not to pull the trigger.
- Be a courteous buyer. A seller has to wait to receive their funds until an item has undergone its post-delivery inspection and they are rated. Quickly review your purchases and review sellers accordingly. Again, do not rate a buyer if you have an issue with a purchase. Contact Mercari with any concerns or to initiate a return if something is wrong with an item before rating the buyer.
Mercari Coupon Codes
Frequently, Mercari offers one-time coupon codes for general use across the app. Most often I see $5 off coupons hit my account several times a month. Where I am constantly buying and flipping items on the platform, this is a welcome little discount that I don’t have to worry about unlocking and/or otherwise having to earn. It’s literally just a free $5 credit to use towards your purchase. There is no code entry necessary.
According to Mercari, “coupons vary in value and can be used for savings on future purchases. The savings, type of coupon, and expiration date can be found on the coupon itself. You can easily check to see if you have any coupons and when they expire by going to your profile > Settings > Coupons.”
There are no current coupon codes available at the time of writing. (I’ll update this section if/when they become available).
How to sell items on Mercari
The simplicity of listing items on Mercari is what sets it apart from other platforms. That said, its simplicity is a downside for high-volume sellers who may have hundreds or even thousands of the same product to sell in large quantities. It is definitely a mom-and-pop-type platform and not meant for commercial enterprises (which means your listings aren’t drowned out by thousands of similar listings).
How to Make a Listing
Making a listing is as easy as snapping a few pictures and adding a description. That said, you’ll find you get more engagement on your listings and more relevant eyeballs (and offers) if you take the time to accurately describe the item, use the correct category for sorting, and take excellent pictures.
I like to use as many photos as Mercari allows, which is 12 at the moment. Pictures are a seller’s best friend. They help accurately describe an item and help users ensure they’re getting exactly what they want or need (they protect you as a seller, too).
Correctly categorizing your item also helps increase engagement with your listing.
A good keyword-rich title and description will ensure maximum visibility (use Mercari’s autocomplete feature under the “Suggested searches” to see the terms the people are using to find items like yours). Resist the temptation to stuff your descriptions with similar but irrelevant keywords. Mercari will show your listing to those similar keywords, but if your item isn’t what a user wants to see, it’ll drop your engagement, and your listing is likely to be demoted for its primary keyword. More isn’t necessarily better.
Tips for Selling
- Pay attention to shipping weights. There’s nothing more annoying than getting to the post office and not having enough postage and having to cancel the label.
- Be honest. I have a 5-star review for all 102 transactions. As a result, my conversion rates and final sales amounts are higher as a result of providing a great customer experience. You will make more money as a seller being courteous, and working with buyers when there are issues with your order. Sometimes you’ll lose small battles to win the longer, more profitable, war.
- Be accurate. Great titles, descriptions, and a useful category choice will increase engagement with your listing. Mercari wants to show engaging listings so it’s likely you’ll get an algorithmic boost over similar listings (assuming timing isn’t a variable) if yours is as accurate as possible.
- Use their “Promote” features. Their daily 5% allows for an algorithmic boost and more eyeballs on your listing. Best of all, it’s free. If a user “Likes” your item, you can then offer a custom discount to those users. Both are extremely powerful selling techniques that aren’t available on many apps.
- Use their “Smart Pricing” feature. Another killer, seller-friendly weapon. I tend to price my items on the high side of what the market seems to be paying for similar items. I’ll then use the price drop feature to move down towards the average/slightly above average market price. This helps prevent demonstrably low offers and ensures I get maximum dollar on all my sales.
- Take pictures as you package the item. As previously mentioned, great pictures help protect you as a seller. Of 102 transactions, one of my buyers tried to create a fraudulent return by stating the item I sent him was not the item that arrived. I had taken pictures of my items as I package them and append the label and presented those to Mercari when the buyer tried to send switched-out trading cards in a return. Mercari sided with me as a seller, granted me the escrowed money from the sale, and banned the buyer from the platform.
Shipping Your Item
A pro and a con in and of itself, Mercari’s shipping options are pretty straightforward. Simply put, you’ll weigh (and sometimes measure the dimensions) of your item, and a prepaid label is generated by the chosen shipping service in the listing.
Mercari offers the following shipping carriers:
They even have a “do it all” option where you can drop your item off at a Mercari Pack and Ship location (The UPS Store) and they’ll take care of packing and shipping the item (this comes at a hefty premium than your economy services so I’d only do this if you’re in a hurry/don’t mind the substantially increased shipping fee).
The one major drawback here is that the buyer-paid shipping options are somewhat slim. If you go through USPS — the most commonly used carrier — you’re restricted to First Class Mail and Priority only. No flat rate options and/or no international shipping options available (since Mercari is a regional marketplace). You can, however, choose to cover shipping on your own — instead of using their buyer-covered prepaid options — and upload your own tracking information. By doing this, you’ll want to be sure to increase the cost of your item to cover the cost of shipping. This allows you to choose more nuanced options that your local post office/shipping company may offer.
Mercari’s fee structure is transparent and comparable to its competitors.
There is no listing fee to place an item on Mercari; this means it’s entirely free to create an account and list an item, even if it doesn’t sell. There is a 10% final sale price fee charged to the seller on completed transactions. Lastly, there is a 2.9% + $0.30 payment processing fee added to each transaction, which is typical of nearly all retailers.
Mercari Fee Summary:
- 0 listing fee for items.
- 10% final sale value fee.
- 2.9% + $0.30 payment processing fee.
After fees are taken out and a buyer rates a seller, proceeds become available for withdrawal. Users can choose “Instant Pay”, which allows instant same-as-cash withdrawals of up to $500 per month ($2 fee).
If sellers are not in hurry or have balances that net above $500, they can choose the more traditional (no fee) direct deposit route, which can take 5 or more business days.
“Invite a Friend” Promotion
Mercari is currently offering a promotion called “Get $30.” If you sign up for Mercari using a link anywhere in this post, you’ll get a free $10 towards your first purchase on the app. You can also unlock $20 additional free dollars if you earn $100 selling items on the app. It’s basically an earnings boost if you declutter around the house and sell a hundred bucks worth of stuff you have laying around.
Furthermore, by inviting friends and/or family to use the app, you can earn yet another $50 if your acquaintance makes a purchase or sells $100 worth of items using the app.
Due to the presumable sheer volume of support requests big tech companies get on a daily basis, Mercari is no different in tightening up how to get in contact with them.
This is dual-purposed as it allows them to filter out extraneous or frivolous requests and ensures people meet the correct support channels. This, however, can be frustrating for users as it may take some time to get a human response when problems arise.
As it stands, you can contact support:
- Through the website: Click through the prompts on their Help Center until it takes you to a contact form.
- Through the app: Click “Help Center” in the app, go through prompts until it directs you to a contact form.
- Via telephone: 888-325-2168
- Through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- On Twitter: @mercari_app
- Live chat: Mercari does not offer live chat support at this time.
Mercari Review: My Final Thoughts
As with any selling platform, it is important to protect yourself both as a buyer and a seller. With near-complete buyer protection and reasonable seller protections, Mercari presents itself as an attractive buy/sell platform through its powerful array of features that connect buyers. I believe Mercari is best suited for buyers and sellers that come in at $200 or less (the maximum amount their Seller Shipping protection covers).
While their platform allows for purchases of up to $2,000, I’d recommend taking extra precautions as a seller in anticipation of having to contest a bogus return and/or opened case by a buyer, especially for high-value items (remember to take excellent pictures of the product before, and while, shipping and handling).
Lastly, make sure to track your expenses and document your earnings. While it’s unlikely most sellers will gross $20,000 in a calendar year — the amount at which Mercari automatically issues a 1099-K to the IRS — you’ll still need to report profits to the IRS. Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to reduce your tax burden by tracking fees, shipping materials, and similar purchases made while conducting business.
Related: 41 Easy Ways to Make Money Fast