2 Products I Regret Ever Selling – Learn from my mistakes!

I’m what I like to call a niche whore.

I’ve never been loyal to one single niche or product. Instead, I sell whatever item I can get my hands on and that will make me lots and lots of money.

I don’t have the attention span to stick with one item for much longer than a year, even if it’s making me good profits. This is something I love about selling online – I can change it up as much as I like to suit my restless personality.

However, one major drawback is that because I go through so many items, a couple of times in my younger years, I made some bad decisions and ended up selling items that just weren’t any good.

In order to help prevent you from making the same mistakes, I’m opening up some old wounds and sharing with you the stories of the 2 products I regret ever selling.

1. Fakes and replicas… of anything!

I can’t count the times that I’ve written the words “avoid selling fake items” since I started educating other sellers on the basics of e-Commerce. Yet here I am, declaring that I have in the past sold fake items. I’ve sold everything from fake high-end makeup, designer sunglasses, jeans and jewelry.

The reason I regret selling these items isn’t because they didn’t make me any money – in fact I would be lying if I said they didn’t – but the real regret comes from the fact that the while selling these items, I was often left feeling paranoid that I would get caught out by a buyer or even worse, Customs officials who could have prosecuted me.

In the end, although I was young and stupid, I decided the money I was making wasn’t worth the risk and the anxiety attached to selling what are essentially illegal items (gosh, I sound like a criminal when I put it like that!).

Lesson you should take away: Selling fake items is really not worth the risk. I sold these items around 3-5 years ago when they weren’t as common as they are now (at least on the platform that I was selling on). Nowadays, if you list one fake item on eBay or most other marketplaces, your account can get closed before you can say “but my supplier said they were authentic”.

2. Performance car parts from a slack drop ship supplier

The car parts that I were selling were a fantastic niche; At the time, ‘boy racer’ culture was huge and the local economy was booming (2006/2007). People had money to burn on hobby items and I was cashing in big time, making around 150% profit on each sale, and still undercutting all my competitors.

I had the market share and life was sweet. And because I was drop shipping, I even managed to take a 4 month vacation around Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam while still running my business from South-East Asian internet cafes with lousy internet connections (in between snorkeling and cocktail sessions).

However, my successful business was short-lived; after around 8 months, it all came crashing down when my supplier started to get slack and was taking up to two weeks to even send out an order to my buyers.

I had some very unhappy boy racers on my hands!

I did what I could to control the situation: I started managing my supplier and consistently contacting him about my orders and whether they had been dispatched. I ordered some of the items in and held them myself in case a buyer got really stroppy, so I could send the item directly to the buyer, rather than from the drop ship supplier to the buyer.

In the end, too many of my buyers complained about how long it was taking for my items to arrive and TradeMe – New Zealand’s local marketplace – started watching my account.

In the end, my account was closed down permanently because I was 1) not delivering items in the time-frame that I stated in my auctions and 2) drop shipping items in a marketplace that does not allow it.

And just like that, my precious, trust-worthy account with hundreds of feedback scores which I had worked so hard for was gone.

In a way, I was pleased that my account had been closed down: I could finally relax and forget about having to deal with irate buyers or sending irate emails to my supplier.

Lesson you should take away: Never rely on an unreliable supplier and if you can, have a back-up supplier that can supply the same items to you if your primary supplier cannot.

This episode also taught me the importance of establishing a good relationship with my suppliers, especially if you are drop shipping items. Remember that when drop shipping, even though you’re not shipping the items out to buyers, it is still your responsibility to ensure the buyer receives them.

Make sure you always maintain open and frequent communication with your supplier and to really save headaches, use a courier service with tracking numbers so you can keep an eye on how long the drop ship supplier is taking to send items!

Which "dud" products do you regret selling (or buying to resell)?  


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Comments (35)

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Jill on 16:40 10 Feb
Thanks for the honesty! Your blog has made me re-think about a drop-shipper I currently use that seems to be getting bigger than he can handle!
DAINZ ARROYO RUIZ on 16:51 10 Feb
Hehe, I do understand you quite well!! Blessings!... Dainy
Syah on 16:53 10 Feb
Good info sir, Tq
Cliff Dean on 16:57 10 Feb
Very sound advice for all potential importers.
billy on 17:34 10 Feb
you sound like a criminal when you put it that way because you are a criminal. You were deceiving buyers and breaking the law
Jo on 20:36 10 Feb
Yes i learned this same mistake in my case it was a honest mistake as I was told by the supplier they were authentic Zumba DVDs & not replicas,I felt devastated , I see that they are still being sold by others on EBay Australia.
Well put..and well said! on 20:38 10 Feb
I like the personal story you shared, what I'm wondering is, did you arrange a company and did every single product taxed?I'm wondering about that since it's quite hard?Anyways, love the story and that you just left backpacking, enjoying life and cocktails and snorkling..did something very similar:-)Big Hugs! From another Alice
Lynda Mekalick on 20:40 10 Feb
That's a bit harsh, Billy. I presume that you're perfect, huh ?? Not so fast with the crticism !!! Accolades, Alice, it takes real guts to own up to your failings and mistakes. Good for you for admitting them and trying to help others to avoid making the same mistakes.
Lucy on 20:43 10 Feb
It is good blog, and I have same kind of experience, but what is the good niche?
Bob on 21:15 10 Feb
It is unfortunate that you learned the hard way. There is a lot to be said for your words. This stands as a good reminder of what can happen when the focus is diverted even for the shortest time. Good lesson to learn and pass around. Thank you
Janie Kay on 23:10 10 Feb
Thanks for sharing! I am having a hard time finding what I want to sell! I may have found it! Wish me luck. Thanks again for all your words!!
Michael -Computer Trends Canada on 1:39 11 Feb
Just a small suggestion...Might be a good idea to put a "Contact Us" button on your site or in your navigation bar, hey even an email address would be stupendously great, so I could email you and ask you some questions about your service.. Thanks guys... michaelm@computertrends.com Figure you would need that somewhere so you can er..umm.. reply back.. :)
ish on 3:50 11 Feb
"Which "dud" products do you regret selling (or buying to resell)?" Rosetta Stone. Lost my account because of it. Did it and persisted in selling it because I was making 200% to 400% profit. Greedy me! Now have stated all over again. This time very careful and cautious in what i sell.
joseph on 4:21 11 Feb
thanks im new to e commerce and almost made the mistake of ordering some (replica) fake jerseys from china. i wont be selling anything fake thanks...ps we all make mistakes i appreciate your honesty.........
ibriez on 8:00 11 Feb
I feel in your words how much you regret what you've done. And to admit that means you're a man, but you shouldn't wait until after you have your account closed. :-)
Mandy Ellen on 9:18 11 Feb
Thank you for your story I am new to selling and still trying to find "the product" will always want to trade as honestly as I can, just for peace of mind. Your stress levels must have been huge at the end of it all. Peace be with you.
Colette - TopCat2x2 Wood on 16:14 11 Feb
Alice, sounds like you have a couple of there-and-back-again tales of adventure to tell someday in a blog. I’m always up for a good read. :) What’s the point of learning and experiences, especially the hard knocks, if we don’t try and help others avoid the same mistakes? So thank you for sharing some of those pitfalls. You’ve also confirmed my reservations about drop shipping. For those of us into having control over our businesses, dealing with a drop shipper is just asking for an ulcer LOL. Colette TopCat2x2
Someone on 5:30 12 Feb
Wow, what a story. Thanks for sharing. :)
Karen on 7:57 12 Feb
Thank you for sharing, and I appreciate your honesty. I enjoyed reading your article because it simply states what all of us alreay know, and believe me several of us have learned our lessons in business over the years. I wish you great success in your future ownership!
KOFI ESSEL-MENSAH on 1:48 13 Feb
What a great story!!! Your honesty will be opening new doors for you soon. Watch that happen!!!
mark on 20:57 13 Feb
Thanks for sharing your experiences and letting us to avoid making the same mistakes.
Alice Delore on 21:31 13 Feb
Thanks for all your comments and well wishes, guys!

Also great to hear some of your own experiences too, thanks for sharing :)

Just remember that when you do find yourself in a pickle with your business, you are usually in good company: Most successful business people I know have lost all their money or had their business crumble all around them, only to pick up the pieces and try again.

Just remember that failure only comes when you DON'T learn from your mistakes.
James Meyn on 20:07 14 Feb
I agree with the replicas. I too sold replicas, but I sold them with other genuine items. Well, that didn't work out so well because the customers looking for the real deal thought everything was replicas, and those searching for replicas thought the originals were way over priced. I heard many parents tell their kids "We can get the real thing at the mall" as they would walk away. I just wanted to yell, "It is the REAL thing" to those parents. I don't think it would've mattered though either way.
James Meyn on 20:09 14 Feb
I would also like more stories about the Salehoo members (staff) trials and successes. I would like to know where each of the staff have been successful, and where they could have improved to be more successful. I personally have more faith in people if I can have a kind of background on the person. See where they were successful, and that they continue to be. More articles like this would be excellent.
Randy Lower on 23:49 15 Feb
I respect Salehoo for that honest post. I have had my problems as well ,and yes, feeling like a criminal myself . Wanting to make that sale even after the USDA pulled a product, I still tried to find the product from another company to fill that order ,shame on me! I'm glad it wouldn't of been profitable and I decided to refund the money back to the customer ($150.00) order .But I felt good about what I did and want to always do that with my customers .Alice, you're a big person for being honest and helping others . I'm still growing my company and always looking for the best dropship companies that are in the nutrition, health and healthy environment arena. Thanks Alice and the whole SaleHoo team,and Alice you're not a niche whore , maybe a niche escort , let's keep it classy ... NutriWiseGuy By the way I didn't understand what I got with SaleHoo , I thought I was getting products and companies all in one .I was disappointed in spending the money for my membership. What ! It's just a consulting firm? But now i 'm so grateful I did , I love the information SaleHoo has provided , and the dropship companies I've found. So no Boo Hoo for SaleHoo. I love being a member , thanks! NutriWiseGuy
Ames Crafts on 0:43 17 Feb
Thank you for having the courage to share your story. I am very concerned in using drop shipping because I tried hard building a reputation and the thought of only to have someone else ruin it is too much of a risk for me right now. The other option is buying in bulk and that's a risk too. I can see the appeal, I would also love a 400% mark up! I buy jewelry and sell them at flea markets. So far so good. I make more money this way than online. It's nuts that it's cheaper for me to buy jewelry than making them.
Alice Delore on 3:04 18 Feb
Hi Ames Crafts,

I would hate to put you off using the drop ship method just becuase I have had a bad experience - I've also had plenty of good experiences with drop shipping! What I wrote above is just one instance :)

Buying in bulk is only a risk if you don't do sufficient market research - but with thorough market research you can certainly feel confident in investing in a bulk wholesale lot.

You need to compare how much the same or similar items sell for on eBay or the marketplace you wish to sell on with how much you can buy the items for.

It sounds like you have a good thing going with selling your items at flea markets - well done! I'm not surprised that you make more money at the markets than online - jewelry is highly competitive, especially on eBay!

Thanks for sharing :)
Heather on 0:10 22 Feb
I would just like to know how to get started selling things. I am a young mother of three girls and know one thing... how to count money... LOL. I just have no idea where to start. I would love to sell a multiple of things ranging from handbags and belts to figurines and porcelain dolls. I just have no idea where to start. I don't want to handle my merchandise either. I would rather receive payment and have the product shipped from a wholesale distributor. Is this even possible? Please feel free to email me mz_masters@cox.net.
rick on 3:37 26 Feb
If I put something on e-bay at auction with a starting bid of $0.99 and a sell now price of $25.00, is the minimum amount I will recieve is $25.00 and I can refuse to sell if that price is not met?
rob Mandrak on 19:15 10 Mar
Hey Alice, what is the main reason people decide to go and resell on amazon rather than building a website and scratch the niche ?
Alice Delore on 3:16 25 Mar
Hi mandrak1976 ,

Generally speaking, most sellers start with selling on a marketplace because it is a little easier than selling on your own website.

Although you can usually earn better profits when you sell on your own website (there are no listing or selling fees!), it can take a lot of money to build a website (or time if you do it yourself using a website builder).

With marketplaces like Amazon, you get a lot of traffic coming to the websites everyday which gives sellers the confidence about selling there. With a website, you have to work very hard to get traffic to it which is a tough task!

If I was starting out, I wouldn't dive straight into selling on my own website, I would start with a marketplace.

I hope that helps to answer your question!

Thanks :)
rob on 13:11 25 Mar
Thank you Alice. I do have a website from another business but it is not retail. However I feel confident to do what I need to do in order to have my own website and build that traffic and also do Amazon and eBay. Thanks for replying.
Frenzied Shopper on 8:19 11 Jan
Great Post. Lost amazon account to a shady dealer selling fake dvds as a wholesaler - had a warehouse in LA and everything. Learned a big lesson there.
Solomone Koroi on 7:26 8 Jun
Great post Alice The Bible has nothing good to say about those who cheat or are dishonest in their dealings with others. God is the embodiment of truth, and dishonesty is a insult both to God and our neighbor. Honesty in the Bible: Deuteronomy 25:13-16 You'll go a long way with your honesty.
Anne on 19:47 6 Jun
I agree with Billy! It was very criminal despite your lackadaisical expression of "guilt". I sold a GoPro Hero2--a REAL,authentic, brand new GoPro on ebay--unopened box--(I've sold over 200 items including personal preowned Coach bags, $400 Oakley & Revo sunglasses, high-end cosmetics, etc...ALL REAL!!) anyway--the buyer complained it was some sort of "prototype", it was missing parts and claimed I told him to disassemble it!! I was forced to give him a refund after he mailed back a fake GoPro and was out hundreds of dollars because of this SCAMMER!! Ebay found it in his favor! I've had repeat customers and great feedback!! It's criminals that ruin it for us honest people just trying to earn some extra money for our families!! I see fakes all over ebay and I know people have "stealth" accounts, etc--but I can only list a certain amount per month now while the scammers bring-in big bucks selling knock-offs?! Eff that! People SUCK! Idc who repents--I don't like criminals! Not in the present OR the past!! I don't fall for people's Manipulative "I've changed" BS!!


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