Mercari Review: The Ultimate Guide

We bought and sold stuff on Mercari for months, here’s our ultimate review guide to Mercari!

There are hundreds of different places, websites, and apps where you can sell your unwanted items online. Services like eBay, OfferUp, Poshmark, and even Facebook Marketplace all offer a way to recycle your belongings by marketing them to other people. One of the latest and in our opinion greatest (more on this later) apps on the market is Mercari. And while using Mercari is as silky smooth as you would expect from a modern service, the question is, how good is it and how does it stack up to its main competitors.

Did you know?

Before we dissect the good (and bad) of Mercari, let’s have a look at what Mercari actually is, how it works, and how the buying and selling experience fares against its competitors.

What Exactly Is Mercari?

Mercari is a selling app that aims to make it super easy to sell and buy pretty much anything. It follows the trend of other services like eBay and Etsy and arrives in an already packed marketplace. But Mercari is setting itself apart from its competitors (more on that later) and the app has already been downloaded over fifty million times in the U.S. alone with over 350,000 new item listings each and every day.

The service itself allows users to sell the things they have that they no longer need, have outgrown, or never used in the first place. Everything we own has a value to others even if this is not apparent to us. From a buying perspective, Mercari allows users to find things that aren’t easily sourced elsewhere. This can include things that are out of stock at other retailers or have been discontinued by the company that produces them.

Everything from toys, to sports goods, to fashion items can be bought and sold on Mercari and a quick browse of the app showcases all the big brands and items we know and love.

How does Mercari set itself apart from its main competition?

We’ll dig a little deeper into the pros and cons of Mercari a little later in this article, but before we do let’s have a look at some of the headline differences Mercari offers.

Firstly, in the current climate (this review was written during the COVID-19 pandemic) Mercari offers an enticing prospect for both buyers and sellers, no contact transactions. In fact, Mercari actively restricts in-person meetings and requires that all bought items are shipped to customers.

Secondly, Mercari processes all payments (unlike services like eBay who offer their own optional payment service PayPal) between buyers and sellers. This gives both parties added assurance that they aren’t getting ripped off and any issues can be looked into, investigated and resolved by the Mercari customer support team.

Another way that Mercari protects customers is to enforce identification verification on sellers. This makes it easier to dissuade conmen from using the service and prevents them from easily re-joining after they have been found out and banned. The platform uses identification verification and reviews to help ensure all parties are fully informed during each transaction. On top of this, the money paid by the buyer will not be released to the seller until the item is received and is seen to match the description given.

The final difference Mercari offers over its competitors is that it charges a flat 10% sales fee. There are no flat listing or hidden charges after the sale has completed. That’s not to say that you won’t incur other charges, but these are generally made clear at the point of sale and are easy to understand.

How does Mercari work?

Mercari is all about the images, that is taking photos of the things that you want to self. Selling items is easy and the Mercari apps streamlines the process. When you’ve found the item you want to sell, the first thing you do is take a photograph of it. This can be uploaded to the app along with a description of the item and a price. The posting of items is one of the more pleasing parts of the Mercari app and the ease by which you can use the service is up there with the best of its competitors.

From a buying perspective, Mercari allows anybody to purchase an item through the app or via the Mercari website in a similarly easy fashion and offers all the usual search features and categorisation you would expect. Again, the buying side of Mercari is dominated by pictures allowing users to get a good look at an item before laying down their hard-earned cash (of course, descriptions and titles are also present and incredibly useful). If you are happy with item but unhappy with the price, then you can message the seller directly to bargain with them or ask for more information.

Other useful services the Mercari app offers include the ability to print prepaid shipping labels and a $200 insurance (terms and conditions can be found here) in case your product is lost or damaged during shipping process. All these are icing on an already pleasant little cake.

How Do You Sell on Mercari?

We spoke briefly in the previous section about how items are sold on Mercari, but let’s look at the process in greater detail. To sell on Mercari, you will need to follow the following steps either online or using the app:

Step 1: Create a Mercari Account

To create an account with Mercari, you need to either head over to the Mercari website or fire up the app. In both cases, you will find a handy “sign up”. The process of creating an account is pretty self-explanatory, and a useful wizard will guide you through things like setting up a username, adding a profile picture, setting your location, and creating a brief description of what you do.

Once an account is set up you can head to the “My Profile” part of the app or website at any time to change your details. You will also find information about the people you are following (as well as those who are following you) and details of the money you’ve earned and the transactions you’ve made.

Step 2: Verify Your Account

Once you’ve set up an account with Mercari, you may be asked to verify your identity. It is required under Federal law that the owners of Mercari obtain, record, and identify all the users who creates an account with them.

If this is required, you will receive an email or in app notification requesting information and detailing the process of providing it.

You may be required to send copies of your driving license, passport, or other identifying document that includes the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your date of birth
  • Your current address
  • Your social security number

Mercari will only use this information for identification processes and are legally obliged to refrain from selling, renting, or disseminating it to 3rd party companies. Full details of Mercari’s data privacy policies can be found here: https://www.mercari.com/privacy/

If you cannot provide the requested information or documentation, then your account may be suspended or closed and any transactions you have made may be frozen.

Step 3: Sell an Item by Creating a Listing

Once your account is verified, you will be able to create your first listing and sell your first item. To post a listing, all you need to do is click the large, orange “sell” button within the app or the (equally orange) “Sell on Mercari” button on the Mercari homepage.

After clicking the button, you will be guided through the list an item wizard which will initially ask you to upload a picture (or pictures) of the item. Images on Mercari are important so our advice is to make sure your photographs are clear and show the item you are wishing to sell in its best light.

Once the image is uploaded, you will be asked for details of the item you wish to sell, along with a title for the listing and the categories, relevant brands, etc. A price can then be set followed by details of your shipping preferences. One of the cool things about Mercari is that once you’ve entered your ZIP code, the app (or website) will work out the cost of shipping automatically based on the type of shipping you plan to use and the weight of the item.

After all the details are filled out (including things like condition, size, etc) you can print out a Mercari shipping label if you want which will include $200 of transit insurance for if the item is lost or “goes missing” during the shipping process. The cost of shipping using Mercari can be quite expensive but the insurance and the fact that the cost is deducted directly from the sale proceedings make it a convenient method for many.

Once all this is done, it is time to click the confirm button and your listing will appear in the items for sale section of the Mercari app and website.

Step 4. Wait for a Buyer to Show Interest in Your Item

Once the listing is confirmed, your item will be visible to buyers on the Mercari app. Buyers can use the search features of Mercari as well as the category sections to find it. There is even a section for brands (which can be found here). Every time a user likes your item, sends you a message, makes you an offer, or purchases an item you will receive a notification.

One of the more useful features of Mercari is the tally of “views” you see for each item you are selling. This gives you an indication of whether the item is popular or not and can allow you to tweak your listing if necessary. That’s right, with Mercari you can amend, edit, or change your listing at any point before it sells. Things like pricing, shipping details, and photographs can be altered. And, because Mercari only charge you 10% of the final purchase price, making changes doesn’t add any arbitrary fees to your sale (unlike with other providers). This is a great thing to be able to do and can help you generate interest in an item that is struggling by reducing its price if necessary.

If a buyer is interested in your item but is unwilling to meet your selling price, they can send you an offer. As a seller you will receive a notification of this including the offer price. You will then have 24 hours to accept, decline, or counter the offer.

Step 5: The Item Needs to Be Shipped

Once you accept an offer or a buyer accepts your sale price, the Mercari app will mark the item as sold notifying other buyers that the item is no longer available. All sales through Mercari are final unless they fall under their Buyer Protection Guarantee (which can be found here).

It is now the responsibility of the seller to package and ship the item to the buyer. Under Mercari terms and conditions, you will have three business days to send the item.

If you wish to use a Mercari prepaid label (including the $200 shipping insurance mentioned earlier), you will be given the option to “Create Shipping Label” in the app, on the website, or via the confirmation email you receive. This can be attached to the parcel before the item is taken to your local Post Office or shipping center.

Step 6: The Buyer Receives the Item

Once the buyer receives the item, they will have three days to confirm receipt, accept the item as described, and rate the seller based on the interactions they have had with them. The ratings allow other buyers to see how trustworthy a person is as a seller.

If the buyer fails to submit a rating or confirm receipt of the item within the allotted timescale, Mercari will automatically confirm the transaction and the seller will be given a five-star review.

Step 7. Receive Your Money

Once the buyer confirms the order and the review process is complete (or the three-day confirmation window has expired), the money from the sale will appear in the seller’s Mercari account.

The money can be spent on your own Mercari purchases (and the app will try hard to get you to do this) or can be saved up and transferred to your bank account via instant pay or direct deposit methods. Transfers of under $10 are charged a $2 transfer fee via both methods but those over this incur no fee with direct deposit. Just be aware that with direct deposit the money can take a few business days to materialise in your bank account. With instant pay the money will appear almost straight away but you will need to have already verified your identification to be able to access it.

Is Mercari Legitimate and Are There Any Risks?

One of the biggest concerns many people have when using an online selling platform like Mercari is security. Buying online is often fraught with pitfalls and buying used items even more so. Then there’s the risk of bank details being stolen and identity fraud. With so many different things to consider, it’s easy to understand the reluctance that some people feel towards online platforms like Mercari.

So, be wary?

No. While Mercari faces similar security limitations to other online services, in my experience I found it to be a pain free and secure platform with many features in place to ensure buying and selling is relatively risk free.

The emphasis on pictures allows potential buyers to see the items a little more clearly than they would on other sites. Of course, it’s easy to doctor photos or take them from an items “good side” but the ability to get a good view of the things you are buying is reassuring. Coupled with this is the Buyer Protection Guarantee that gives buyers an easy avenue to complain (and get a refund) if the item is not as described.

Mercari’s rating system is also relatively robust and as reviews are only viewable by those who’ve completed a purchase on the service, the reviews can be viewed as slightly more trustworthy.

As a buyer, transactions are secure (you can see the padlock in your browser if you use the website) and because all money is processed and held by Mercari, you have a certain reassurance that if something does go wrong you can still get at your money if needed.

Is Mercari Safe to Use?

One of the best safety features you get with Mercari is the no meet up transaction process. While other services promote contactless sales, they don’t enforce it. The entire sales process on Mercari can be completed remotely, with items shipped direct to the buyer. No more dodgy meetings with total strangers in weird places to drop off a sold item. Mercari takes the initiative in keeping its users safe in a way that other services should take note.

Then there’s the limitation on what can and can’t be sold on the service. Certain items like drugs, counterfeit items, stolen items, vitamins, diet products, and even body parts (yes the Mercari terms and conditions explicitly ban the sale of body parts) are banned so you can feel safe in the knowledge that you aren’t buying something that could be dangerous for your health.

What about customer service?

The Mercari website boasts of its great customer service and any issues you have during a sale can be brought to the attention of their customer service team via a form on the Mercari website or by calling the number on their contact page.

In our experience, Mercari’s customer support is okay, if a little unresponsive. After calling the number from the website I was greeted with a pre-recorded message asking me to leave my name, number, email, address, and item ID as well as a brief summary of the issue. I duly left the information and waited for a phone call. It took nearly 24 hours for a representative to get back to me. They did resolve my issue quickly, but the wait was annoying.

My Final Thoughts: The 3-level Mercari Review

Our 3-level assessment of Mercari

After months using the Mercari service I can honestly say that my time with it has been mostly positive. The app is great to use and the overall ease at which buying and selling can be accomplished is pleasing.

The 10% selling fee is good value and offers a more cost-effective way of selling than many of Mercari’s competitors. It is still important, however, to factor in this cost as well as shipping fees into any sale price to ensure you make as much as you can from your items. Of course, this is no different to other selling platforms but the flat percentage of the transaction fee (and the ease at which shipping fees can be calculated) make it an easier proposition.

Security is also great with Mercari and the enforced non-contact sales process makes each sale feel relatively risk free. Although, as with other platforms of a similar ilk, addresses are shared during the shipping process increasing the risk of things like identity theft. Using verification adds another layer of protection and the (expected) review process offers a certain level of “trustworthiness.”

But let’s be honest, many of these features are expected on a buying and selling platform. Where Mercari really shines is in the little differences it offers. Things like Smart Pricing is unique amongst its peers and allows you to have the price of an item vary based on its demand, making the selling process even easier and increase the chances of it selling. Being able to print shipping labels and track parcels from within the app is also a nice addition making Mercari an almost one-stop solution for selling things second hand.

At the end of the day, we all have a huge number of things we don’t use around us in our homes that may be of value to other people. And while Mercari is a relatively new kid on the block, it is easy to see why it has become so popular so quickly.

We recommend giving it a whirl to see for yourself.

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