What kind of printer should I buy as an online seller?

What kind of printer should I buy as an online seller?

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I get asked by sellers all the time, "What kind of printer should I buy".
Well, it partly depends on where you sell and if you are selling legally as a sole proprietor or LLC, or just selling stuff and hoping your state looks the other way. (Here in California the law is, you can only sell three items in a year as a non-business. Once you sell that fourth item, TA DAH! You're then considered a business and if a licensed competitor reports you, you'll be liable for back licensing fees and compounded penalties. I've already talked about those at length in several videos for both eBay and other marketplaces, and specifically for Mercari sellers). Here is the playlist of SellerThink videos about sales taxes, permits, licenses and selling in California.

If you operate legally with state permits ( ) and any city permits, then you'll want your main printer to be a full sized black and white laser printer. (Video about Laser VS InJet Printers is here > )
Mainly because you will need to keep printed records of every sale you make regardless of which marketplace you sell on for taxes records. You'll need to keep these for a few years. Later, when you have regular profit coming in, and can afford an extra printer, you might want to consider a Zebra or other type of small thermal label printer. These thermal printers print little shipping labels and are what you'll want if you sell on Amazon FBA since you would need to print UPC Bar Codes for products you ship into be handled and stored by Amazon.

Zebra and similar type products have the ink builtin to the labels they print on, so in some ways, they could be more economical for some sellers. If you print on a full size printer like SellerThink does, you have to have toner, and then either full size label sticker paper, or regular paper and tape to attach it to the box. These little Zebra thermal printers have all of those mixed into a single label. The label rolls are stickers so no need to tape them on the box, they have no ink or toner, because the images are basically photographed into the label. Pretty Nifty!
But for most sellers, a basic laser printer that prints in black ink like the one shown below is what you will want. I've discussed the pros and cons of laser printers and inkjet printers in this video ( ) so in this #SellerThink #Community post, I just want to give you a few thoughts about how to save a ton of money. In the photo above, you'll notice a Brother Printer. While I like the HP brand, I've also had problems with the HP brand, especially it's printers. Between 2006 to the end of 2018, I've had one Brother laser printer I bought brand new. Never had any significant problems with it, other than it needing a new drum (which all laser printers eventually need). I didn't buy a new drum, even though I could buy one for about $14 on ebay. At the same time, I've had two inkjet HP inkjet printers that have pretty much fallen apart. The plastic hinges eventually become brittle and break over time. Also, when you consider how much the liquid ink that inkjet printers require and it them up over the year, it's gets really, really, expensive. The other downside of inkjet printers is of course, when they get wet, the ink bleeds. The more fibrous the type of paper you are using, the more it bleeds. The last thing an online seller needs or wants, is to ship a package to a wet or snowy area of the country and have the label smear or become unreadable for the postal clerk. That's bad.

My main USPS office uses the Zebra printer above to print postal labels at its self serve counter and assisted shipping area. SellerThink is Not sponsored by Zebra, but here is a link to their printers.
Instead, I bought the brother printer above and today 12/3/2018 I am putting it into full service along side of another newer Brother Laser printer I bought for $30 new at a thrift store three months ago that has a scanner built-in and runs wireless. This HL-2240 (pictured above) will replace my original HL-2040 today. The HL-2240 has been sitting on a shelf for three years waiting for its turn to play. It's a great day, but its also a sad day, because I hate to retire equipment just because of its age. However, my new printer needed a toner cartridge, and the newer HL-2240 shown above, uses the same toner cartridge, so its more economical to retire the older Brother printer that uses a different toner cartridge so I don't have to take up extra storage space and I can buy the toner for the newer printers in a higher quantity at a discounted price. Bummer. You may be asking, why is he rambling on about printers, and this is why! This HL-2240 above, was used for only one toner lifecycle. That means, its basicly brand new and the original owner got rid of it when its original toner cartridge that came with it, ran out of ink. In other words, it just came out if its "Burn-in period / Adjustment period similar to when you buy a new car, you have to break-it-in. Notice that blue price tag on the upper left corner of the photo? That sticker says, $7.99. Yep! That's right, I bought this currently valued $130 printer for $7.99 at a thrift store. That other newer printer I also mentioned, HL-2280DW that currently sells for $277.00-$400.00 and I got at a thrift store for $29.99 in better condition that the refurbished ones that sell for $277

Brother HL-2280DW currently sells new on Amazon for $354.00

This is the point. These Brother laser printers are highly desirable among online sellers and small businesses. Many times, home owners will buy one and use it until the original toner cartridge is out of ink. Then they give them to a thrift store, because a new OEM (Authentic Brother) toner cartridge from the office supply stores often cost as much as 80% of the original price of the printer. So, these home owners will just spend an extra 30% and just buy the latest model. I've seen tons of like new Brother printers selling at thrift stores for $10 to $40 with a possible profit margin available of around 50% to 280% if you resell them. Personally, I deal with other products and when I look for printers, I am buying for my business. I'd rather spend $7.99 on an otherwise perfect condition previously owned printer, than pay an office supply store $100 to $380 for the newest model. But here is the key! Like anything you buy to resell, you'll need to research how brother printers work and how to test them. Let's face it, when you are standing in a thrift store or at a garage sale or anywhere else that might have a previously owned printer for sale, you will not have access to a computer or monitor or other things to help you test it. If you are lucky, you'll be able to find a power cord and some paper, and it will have toner still in the cartridge, even if is just a little toner. So my recommendation is, go on to the Brother, or any other brand on laser printer website, that you would consider buying, download a few different discontinued and newer models instructions, and study how to test them.

Each printer has a series of tests that can be run without being connected to anything other than power, that will make the machine print a test copy, and a they also have a way to run a diagnostic of the printer and then print a report showing any errors, fails, or problems it has.

Here is a link to the Brother Printers website. SellerThink is Not sponsored by Brother. Check to see if printer prints a clean sheet with readable ink and no lines, and there are not odd noises like grinding teeth, clunks, bonks, shakes or other strange things, and it doesn't jam; and.... the diagnostic print shows no errors and it's color shading chart from light gray to black. If everything looks and sounds good, chances are you found a good printer, if the price if right. Further, since it is an electronics product, many of the more well know thrift stores give you a few days to test it out at home and return it for store credit if it has any problems. Other good signs of a well taken care of printer, is when it's at the thrift store in it original packing material and box. That means whoever owned it, kept the box, however long they owned it. It may not necessarily mean that they took better care of it, but it can add profit value to the printer to be able to show it in the listing photos in the box, and mentioning in the product description details that the box, original packing material are included. If the manual and installation CD or DVD are also included, that's BONUS! Its a great way to save money on a laser printer, especially if you are new to selling online and short of cash. It's also a way to make a good profit if you are experienced with obtaining good shipping prices and have learned how to carefully and correctly ship electronics. But ultimately, buying a printer is a personal choice. I can tell you what has worked for SellerThink and for many other online sellers, small businesses, etc. I can tell you why a Thermal Printer and Laser Printer are better for you than an Ink Jet printer; I can tell you why you may want to choose a Laser Printer over a Thermal Printer, or which one to start out with. But ultimately, you'll need to decide.
I hope this article helps you sell better and sell more. Remember to click and watch the video links above for the YouTube video Laser Printers VS InkJet Printers for reasons why one is better then the other.
Randy Dreammaker #SellerThink

Want to join the conversation on this topic? Pop on over to the SellerThink Community on YouTube at this link where it was originally posted. Log-in to your YouTube account, and you will be able to leave comments and engage the SellerThink Community with your own ideas about which printer a seller should buy. YOUTUBE COMMUNITY PAGE

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