You thought you were good to go with your new e-commerce business but have hit a snag.
You had done your research on how to list, sell and ship out your products through eBay, Amazon, and other e-commerce platforms. You'd selected the products to sell and researched competitive price points to offer them. You cut costs significantly by purchasing wholesale from a liquidation supplier like Wholesale Ninjas. You're just waiting for your first purchase-order to arrive so you can sell the products and begin growing your business. Then the supply of liquidation products arrives, and you find many of the items within have discount stickers and store stickers attached to them.
You are not alone: 75% of liquidation products sold in the U.S. have some sort of sticker attached to it. Can you sell items in this condition? Will you turn off customers or violate the policies of your selling platform(s)? Can it cause other unforeseen problems?
Image is everything and customers receiving products covered in stickers may perceive your business as being unprofessional. Alternatively, if you are using stock photos in your listings, customers may become upset that their received products do not look like those in the image you provide or -- as is typical for Amazon listings -- is provided on your behalf. Moreover, despite it being a perfectly legitimate business practice, some buyers may consider reselling items that passed through retail store shelves as somehow being dishonest or a scam. They might feel ripped-off, thinking they could have just gone into the store and gotten a discount themselves. Upset customers may write negative reviews or complain to customer support. For all of the previously stated reasons (and more) many online selling platforms, including Amazon, consider it a violation of policy to sell goods labeled with store-identifying stickers.
But you can still make this buying experience a positive one for the customer by removing those pesky stickers. Some are fairly easy to remove, others not so much. Some come right off when you try to remove them with your bare hand, others need some special tools. I would like to introduce three different tools you can use to remove them. They are:
- Heat gun -- produces a stream of hot air. You may try substituting a hair dryer for this.
- Scotty peeler -- a flat plastic or metal blade for sliding under a label/sticker.
Goo-Gone -- a citrus-based for removing glue, adhesive, or other stubborn residues.
As an experienced online seller myself, I have found these tools invaluable. Here's how to proceed using them.
When you first encounter a sticker you want to remove, simply try to lightly scratch one of the corners loose with your nail and peel it off. Some stickers have pretty mild adhesive and will come right off this way. However, if you start to encounter any resistance removing by hand, stop right there! If the sticker adheres tightly enough to the product, you'll end up damaging the packaging instead of removing the sticker, which can occur easily if the sticker is not placed on plastic or a glossy surface. What's worse than a product covered in stickers is a damaged product. When you realize that you are dealing with an especially stubborn sticker, the first thing to do is reach for the heat gun. Apply heat directly to the sticker for a few seconds. This will heat up the glue between the sticker and the product packaging, liquefying the adhesive and allowing you to safely remove the sticker. Keep in mind that it is easy to damage the product packaging with excess heat. If you have an adjustable heat gun, begin on the lowest heat setting and work your way up from there until you get the desired results. Also do not put the heat gun directly against the sticker or product packaging; allow 3 inches or so of space between the heat gun and the sticker to let air flow. Be aware, too, that different kinds of packaging can take different levels of heat before being damaged. Plastic and blister packs may quickly deform under too much heat. Non-glossy cardboard and paperboard can be sturdy but will still brown or singe if heated too much. Be sure to only expose the packaging to the heat for a few seconds, taking a break and reapplying heat if necessary. Using a heat gun is an art and science. I highly recommend for you to practice this technique with a couple of test products until you feel comfortable. Practicing will help you prevent damaging your products packaging and enhance your heat gun operation skills before you go into live production.
After applying heat, the Scotty peeler comes in very handy. Once sufficiently warm, the flat edge slides right under the sticker allowing you to peel it off with no fuss. Using the Scotty peeler is quicker than trying to using your fingers and much safer, too. The heat gun can easily make the packaging and sticker too hot to touch, especially the metal RFID stickers used for store security and anti-theft measures.
Now, you are almost done, ready to take a product photo for your listings, send an item to the customer or ship it to an FBA warehouse. The last step is to clean up any residual adhesive left from the sticker. If you are lucky, the sticker came off without a trace of sticker residue, but don't be surprised if it's left some glue behind on the packaging. Here is where my third tool comes in handy, the Goo-Gone. Goo-Gone is a citrus-based cleanser, which when applied just a drop to a cloth or paper towel will remove any glue residue left behind through minimal scrubbing. After completing all these steps, you are left with a product in pristine condition ready for its photoshoot or to wow the buyer.
Remember the goal is to give your buyer the most positive buying experience possible, thus receiving a great five-star review and winning a return customer. Removing of these stickers not only ensures a great customer experience but also makes you look like a responsible and professional seller without betraying the source of your products.