Site Review: Decluttering by “Selling” stuff on Listia

Lista is an unusual selling site, similar to Ebay, except no money changes hands. You get “rewards points”, and can buy things with “rewards points”. It’s basically “funny money”. (They also let you accumulate points by filling out surveys.)

These kinds of sites are funny. I was on Simbi before, and I could tell you stories. The basic problem is that without a reference price, or price competition, you just don’t get useful prices.

You can make this work for you, by selling extremely difficult to sell items for a moderate number of points. I almost bought a 99 point pack of postcards. I may well do it.

What is 99 points worth? I guess it depends on how many points you have. You start out with a few hundred free points, and then get points for doing things like adding items to your watch list.

On the other hand, you have some really lame sellers. Someone wants 155k points for a wireless router. It’s worth around $40. Someone else wants 90k points for a DVD burner. Another person is selling an old PC tower, probably with a DVD burner in it, for around 1100 points. That’s a great deal, or is it? 19k points for a $50 webcam? That sounds almost like a good deal.

There are some really good deals on there, too. There’s a USB hub that’s on auction for 1 point, and has $4 shipping. If you want free shipping, that’s 10k points.

If you want to buy points, you can do that. It’s $10 for 5,000 points, or $0.002 per point. Here’s a conversion table:


After accumulating points, you can cash out by purchasing an Amazon gift card, but it costs tens of thousands of points.

The site also supports two other kinds of money: Ink, aka XNK tokens, and Props, aka PROPS. I’m not sure how to list with these prices, but it looks like some sellers are doing this.

The price of XNK has been really low for most of 2020, down near $0.0003 per XNK, but spiking up a few times. This is a sad situation, because it was at $0.02 in 2018. I think what happened was, Listia converted credits to Ink, declared it was worth 14 cents per Ink, and a lot of people exited and sold their Ink. Then, there was so much supply that the value declined to the current price. Now, they are rebuilding with new points, PTS, which seems to be pegged to dollars and Amazon gift cards.

So, let’s get into a few different kinds of sales: get it now, and auction.

Get It Now (GIN) is like “Buy it Now” on Ebay. It’s a fixed price sale.

Auction is like a regular auction.

Any listing can have either, or both, options. However, you don’t get access to GIN until you have gotten 5 positive feedbacks. (This could take several sales if not every buyer gives feedback.)

Shipping can be “free”, a flat price, or “exact shipping”.

I avoided “free shipping” at first, but eventually figured out you need to use it. This is described below.

Sign up for Listia, and help support this site. This is a referral link that gives me some rewards points if you list something on Listia. You will get 250 points right off the bat.

My Journey on Listia

I have a bunch of books. Some are just old books around the house, and some were bought for resale, and haven’t sold. I’m guessing there’s 150 books. I’m going to list them using different pricing strategies, and report back about how much I make, and how quickly the books get sold.

Here’s a picture of the books:

Box of around 20 used books.

Subscribe to the blog to get updates about this story when it’s completed.

Update: Watching Videos

I was seeing no action on my items, and went to YouTube to check out tutorials. I’ll need to alter my strategy, and rewrite this post!

She never bids on things without Free Shipping!

This one is surprising:

This is some more history about Listia:

What happened is that Listia started out as a kind of closed economy, where products went in, turned into Credits, and people were stuck in there. It didn’t matter, because it was fun, and I’m assuming people were finding deals.

Listia created a buyback program, exchanging 1000 credits for $1. Then, at some point, they changed it to 5000 credits for $1. They devalued the credits. The site went into a crisis, as people saw their savings collapse. This was like a small country facing hyperinflation as their market is forced open to the global market.

Listia pursued a whole other fancy: Ink (XNK) cryptocurrency. They converted over to a crypto that worked like credits, but even moreso – Ink was tradeable on some exchange. The idea was that Ink could be used across many sites, and the value would be market-determined.

I suppose that sounds good, if you’ve drunken the capitalist Kool-Aid.

In the real world, stable currencies are managed by bureaucrats. They aren’t market-determined.

The Ink experiment failed. The value shot up, and then dropped.

Chart of Ink prices. It starts high in May 2018 and drops to near zero by Feb 2019, and continues low into May 2020.

Listia then established a new credit, called points (PTS), and converted XNK to PTS. There’s more detail about this at Coindesk. They switch over to PROPS, a different kind of coin, called a staking coin, that’s intended for long term holding, and which vest in three years.

Decided to Offer Free Shipping, and what Happened

I had a few listings with exact shipping, plus a dollar or two. I figured I’d net around 50 cents to 1.50 per book. The problem was, I got no interest at all.

After looking at the auctions about to end, I noticed that every single one of them offered free shipping.

Many had multiple bids, as well. So, obviously, the way to move product was to offer free shipping.

However, I didn’t feel like paying for shipping, and losing money to help the Listia site out. I wanted something, so, I looked around, and saw that there were many products for sale with free shipping, that cost 6,000 pts and up. There were also some auctions for things with free shipping, and the prices were low.

So, I decided to pay for postage, and get points in return. I figured the shipping on the books is around $2.80 to $3.50 for most books. That’s USPS Media Mail postage.

I had to change my strategy: put money into postage, and recover it later by purchasing things.

That’s not going to work for everyone, but, if there’s stuff on the site you want, this could be a way to get it.

Warning: Remember to Use Advanced Options when Listing

I just won a couple auctions, and they started at “0”. I didn’t get any response from the seller. Why? Probably because they aren’t going to sell it to me, because they expected a bidding war and a sale to make some points.

Like I said above, nobody bids on items with added postage. So it’s easier to sell when you have free shipping.

You need to set the price high enough to cover your expenses, or high enough that you don’t mind eating a dollar or two. Click on “Show Advanced Options”, and you can set the price.

Can Books Sell on Listia?

I’m selling a bunch of books on Listia.

They just aren’t likely to sell on Ebay, and I’m boycotting Amazon.

I’ve got my own site, but, it’s moribund, and also isn’t going to get much traffic right now.

Without traffic, you have no views. Without views, you don’t get clicks. Without clicks, no sales. This is the basic sales funnel:

Diagram showing the sales funnel for ecommerce marketplaces. Funnel with wide mouth at top labeled Visitor to Site, then going down the funnel, Views Listings, Clicks on Your Listing, Bids or Buys, Completes Purchase.
the sales funnel for ecommerce marketplaces

It’s hard to measure the sales funnel for Listia because you don’t know the site traffic, views, or clicks. You can get a hint from the “likes”, comments, bids and buys. My best guess is that site traffic is pretty good, and people tend to look at the listings. People are browsing.

The sales for Listia, for me, look like this (Oct. 5 to Oct. 25): 79 listings, 3 sales pending delivery, 3 sold and delivered, 7 open auctions with bids. So, that’s 16% sold or about to sell, in around a month.

I feel like, for this specific inventory, it’s OK.

Pricing to Break Even

I look at two exchange rates: buying PTS, and selling PTS.

The price to buy is 500 PTS per dollar. The price to sell is 600 PTS per dollar. (It’s not really that simple, because of restrictions on exiting. More on that later.)

There’s also a transaction fee for a listing. You’re charged 10% based on the starting price.

What’s the net profit? The formula is (price – fee – shipping) / 600.

I’m listing things at the lower prices of 1800, 1900, 2200, and 2400, to break even. I figure the lower the price, the more likely it is to sell.

Listia has an incentive to list at 99 PTS, and will waive fees for auctions that start at 99 or below.

Why Not Price at 99 PTS?

If you have something that’s in high demand, and you know several people will drive up the price in a bidding war, you can drive excitement by setting the price at 1PTS or 99PTS.

In my case, I know that I have low-demand items.

They should be listed as “get it now” (GIN), but I don’t have permissions for that yet. So, achieving a level to be able to make GIN listings is a goal.

Low-demand items will not have a bidding war. Not enough people want it. Those who bid probably want it at a price below retail. (If they wanted it, and were willing to pay the retail price, they would have bought it.)

Exiting Requires Reputation

You can’t just cash out and exit Listia. Here are the routes I see.

Amazon gift cards are sold in big increments, so you need a lot of points.

If you want a slightly easier path out, you can buy gift cards for other stores, from Lista members.

To bid on gift cards, you need the “wings” badge, which means 5 feedbacks. (Realistically, I’ll need to have $15 in the system in order to get that badge.)

The exchange rate for the in-demand cards, like Walmart, seems to also be 600 pts/usd. I’m looking more at edge-case gift cards, where there are fewer buyers.

The best exit seems to be buying stuff.

If I want a specific book, paying $4 or so for it is a great deal. Unfortunately, the book selection isn’t really to my tastes… but there’s other stuff.

Scams and no-delivers: as noted in one of the videos, there are some no-delivery problems. I recently won four auctions, and, so far, no delivery. Three listings had paid shipping, and two haven’t contacted me to get my money. One has taken my money. One is pending, and it was free shipping. I understand why people prefer “free shipping”.

Update: Getting Props by Being Prepared to List

Listia runs incentive programs to give you additional reasons to list. There are basically two that I’ve seen repeatedly: List 5 Items with Free Shipping and get 25 PTS; same thing, but get 5 PROPS.

While I’m okay with 25 PTS, the 5 PROPS are what I really want. Props raise your level, and when you get to level 20, you get a discount on the listing fee.

Normally you get around 5 PROPS for two feedbacks, so getting 5 for listing is like getting two successful sales (which would cost me $6 in shipping).

So, what I’ve done is gathered my discount books into boxes, and started to photograph them.

Then, I put their titles into my spreadsheet. Here’s the sheet. (It’s kind a mess, but it works for now.) The left column is my “to do”, in the middle is a title, then a description next to it, then an inventory code, and then a location.

Screenshot of part of the spreadsheet I use to keep inventory and prepare for listing.
A peek at my work spreadsheet.

The photos get grouped into folders with a serial number and the title. So “The Woman Warrior”s number is c45, and the folder is “c45 the woman warrior”. This makes it easy to create the listing.

Screenshot of the Listia folder, with subfolders named with the SKU and a brief title.

Each time there’s a bonus incentive, especially for PROPS, I want to be able to knock out 5 listings quickly. So far, I have around 50 listings, and 5 books have sold. (This is pretty good!)

When I make the listing, I try to make it end the next Sunday. I can’t really control the ending time, but I figure the weekend has more online shoppers.

If they end on the same day, I figure that they can see more of my items in the listings. They might buy more than one book.

Progress Reports

Oct 23, 2020

Listed: 75, Sold or Bidded: 9, PTS: 5834 (I paid for 1 item), Props: 32, Level: 18, Reputation (feedbacks received): 3.

I bid and won two books, but the seller hasn’t returned to check that they sold. I bid and won on a DVD, but no word from the seller.

Oct 25, 2020

Open listings: 76, 3 sales pending delivery, 3 sold and delivered, 7 open auctions with bids :: total 10 sales in the queue, 79 total listings, 13% sell through . PTS: 5825, Props: 32, Level: 18, Reputation: 3.

Oct 29, 2020

Open listings: 87, 7 sales pending delivery, 4 sold and delivered, 0 open auctions with bids. 11 sales, 94 total listings, 12% sell through . PTS: 7675, Props: 39.9, Level: 18, Reputation: 4.

Six more listings and I will have 100. I’ll dig the crates some more to find books, and maybe lower some prices. It looks like it’ll settle in to a 10% sell through.

Listing Order and Promotional Opportunities

It’s hard to get seen on the site. The main browse listing shows the “Recommended” items. These seem to be the most bidded-on items.

When someone views your profile, they see the last five things you posted. That is like a sampler of your entire inventory, so it’s important that it be representative of what you’re selling. To me, that means selling only one type of product – and I’m failing to do that because I have books and shirts up.

In the listing, I notice other sellers have some copy that encourages the reader to check out their other sales. I should do that.

The “Ending Soonest” listing is also interesting, because you can get some last-day sales. It’s also a good way to find super-cheap deals, and get ideas for search terms that you can use to snipe things.

Props Taken Away! And a Mailing Trick

I just had my props taken away, twice! I suspect the reason is for re-listing something I’d listed before. I had a bundle of cookbooks, and de-bundled it and listed each one individually.

I think it’s totally legit. The idea is to lower the price for individual books, so more people can afford it.

I also figured out that there’s something called “First Class Mail” that I completely forgot. Many people on Listia sell cards and stickers, and send them in an envelope, using a stamp.

So, “duh”, I forgot that these booklets could be sent this way, too. As long as they’re 3.5 oz or less, they can be mailed.

I have cookbooks that are mostly 2.7 oz each, and a few that were 4oz or above.

The light ones go by regular mail, and the heavier ones go by First Class Package.

100 Props to get to Level 20! OMG! Oct 30, 2020

That seems so far away.

My current status, as of Oct 30, is:

Open listings: 92, 5 sales pending delivery, 6 sold and delivered, 0 open auctions with bids. 11 sales, 101 total listings, 11% sell through . PTS: 11,454, Props: 49.7, Level: 19, Reputation: 6.

I think I’m $31.09 in for shipping. So, at this moment, my exchange rate is 368.41 PTS/$. I have 16,200PTS – 10% pending.

I have not kept track of my spending. I paid $4+ shipping for a book, and won a DVD. I got 2 more books that they probably won’t send.

Nov 1, 2020, Got My Wings, Using Get It Now, and Timing the Auctions

I got my “wings” badge, and now can add “get it now” (GIN) to my listings. GIN is a price that will end the auction. Typically, it’s a lot higher than the starting price.

I’m not doing that. Instead, my GIN price is a little bit higher, around 50 cents to a dollar. (200 to 500 points.) I set the length of the auction to between 15 and 21 days.

I’m also going to try unchecking the “automatically relist” feature, and then try to time the relisting so it’ll end on a Sunday around 7pm PST.

Timing the ending is a trick from Ebay, where you want the auction to end when a lot of people are online to look at auctions.

That time is Sunday night.

Update: Nov 5, 2020

Open Listings: 96, Closed w/winner: 2, Archived: 10, Total listings: 108. 11% sell through. PTS: 14,554, PROPS: 66.7, Level: 19.

Many of my items have been relisted, so I started to turn off the “relist” feature. I also took some items out of circulation, and listed them on Mercari. I think, going forward, I’m not going to cross-list so many items, but just move them from one system to another.

I’m starting to think I should just list items once, and then move them to the next platform. Divide up this moving inventory by product category.

I’m also going to start bundling as appropriate.

November 17, 2020

I’ve been doing a lot of buying on the platform. What I’m noticing is that in-demand products go for prices a bit higher than market (for equivalent elsewhere), but low-demand products products go for less than market, often much less.

This basically gives me some “money” to blow on lowering the baseline prices for items. They’re close to zero+shipping now, but I might be able to go a little lower.

The other thing I’ve started is expiration: let all the inventory expire, and then move it over to Mercari. Media seems to sell on Mercari, if the price is right.

The Mercari marketplace is all about: free shipping, higher prices. For media, this is good, because the shipping is flat, and cheap. A $6 sale nets around $2.25. List everything for $8, and offer it for $6 to people who like it.

(Note that these items were moved from Ebay to Listia.)

Stats: 18K PTS, 94 PROPS, 90 listings, around 5 bidded, 12 sold.

November 28, 2020 Update

I’ve been shopping a lot on Listia, using up points.

So far, I’ve bought some hard drives, soap, CDs, a DVD, needle threaders, a book, and a sticker.

According to the inventory, I’ve sold 24 items out of around 120 items – 20% sell-through. That’s really fantastic, in my opinion, because these were not selling elsewhere.

I have 14,816 PTS, and have spent 22,360 PTS, and a little more pending (I don’t know how much), for a total of 37,176 PTS. To buy this would cost $74.35. This means I’ve spent a little less than that on postage. (I have taken some losses on postage, but I usually break even, at 500 pts per dollar.)

I have saved a lot of money buying things like hard drives. I’ve gone a little posh buying nice smelling soaps. I got a book I want to read, and several things that should sell on eBay.

What to Buy?

Some Listia searches: padded mailer; shipping labels; soap.

I’ve gotten a few “ads” from some of the Lista sellers, so I’m going to help them out and list them here, with links.

I bought a book, The Escape to Candyland from Bradley Simpson, who has written books on Amazon: Dreamstone of Tamalor, Rose of Tolarius, Orcish Dreams, Gems of the Druid.

I bought a DVD from Brenda, of Brenda’s Found Treasures. She has an Ebay Store, and Etsy Store, and a Poshmark Closet.

I bought some seeds, and it turns out the lister was a dropshipper for some seed companies. I’m not mad. The first seeds, some daikon, are growing now.

I bought a sticker from Rachel, and her store is called Poppesque. She sells on Ebay as well.

I’ll try to link up more of the usernames above in the future.

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